FEATURE: Ranking All of the Batman Movies

Categories Film, Uncategorized

It’s day 1 of Watchtower of Babel’s 25 days of Batman v Superman! We will be bringing you original content daily until Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters March 25th. It is my pleasure to present you with our first official post in our countdown!

Batman is a pop culture icon and the legend of Batman has been passed down from generation to generation. Seeing how Ben Affleck is the seventh person (sixth on the big screen) to don the cape and cowl, we will be ranking all of the previous Batman films. There is no special system in place when it comes to the ranking order. This is just my opinion, and should be seen as such. Without further ado; Batteries to power, turbines to speed, and here we go!

8. BATMAN & ROBIN
Released in 1997
 Taking the number eight spot on the list is Batman & Robin. This film is easily the worst Batman film ever made, and it is probably the worst comic book film ever made. We have George Clooney as Bruce Wayne/Batman working along side Chris O’Donnell as Dick Grayson/Robin. This film has no redeemable qualities. The acting is phoned in and the plot makes zero sense. We have Arnold Schwarzenegger (Victor Fries, Mr. Freeze) teaming up with Uma Thurman (Pamela Isley, Poison Ivy). First off they have completely different goals; Freeze wants to well, freeze the world over, and Ivy wants plants to rule the earth. Why are they teaming up when they want two completely different things? Add in the random Batgirl character and we have a monumental disaster. This could have been a good movie, but director Joel Schumacher just didn’t know what he was doing. The characters are bland and uninteresting, the plot is not focused, and the use of Bane was criminal. This is everything fans of the Batman mythos hates; it’s the living embodiment of what non comic fans see when they think of Batman and Robin. This film almost killed the character. We didn’t see Batman in theaters for almost ten years, and we haven’t seen Robin ever since! 
7. BATMAN FOREVER  
Released in 1995
Batman Forever takes the number seven spot, and while it’s hundreds of times better than Batman & Robin, it’s still pretty bad. Here we have Val Kilmer wearing the bat-tights, and Chris O’Donnell making his debut as the Boy Wonder. This film starts off pretty well. We see Robin’s origin story done almost 100% accurate, and Kilmer is actually a decent Batman. Sadly, things start to go off the rails fairly quickly. We have Jim Carrey as The Riddler which is literally just Jim Carrey in a green suit. The biggest problem with this film is The Riddler. He progressively gets worse and worse through out the film. He slowly becomes such a caricature (of the character) towards the end of the film, and it’s so disappointing because the Riddler is a great character! We also have Tommy Lee Jones playing Two Face, another wasted performance. This film had a lot of things going for it that would have made a great film, but they couldn’t bring it together. This just shows that Joel Schumacher did not know what to do with this franchise. We had a good Batman and great actors playing great villains, but it just didn’t come together.
6. BATMAN: THE MOVIE
Released  in 1966
Holy cinematic debut! Batman: The Movie is the first feature film starring the Caped Crusader. Adam West and Burt Ward  reprise their roles as the dynamic duo, along with all of Batman’s rogues gallery. Being a fan of the ’66 television series, I thought I’d love this movie, and while it stays with the theme of the show we see some major differences. The movie is about Batman villains; Joker (Cesar Romero), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and The Riddler (Frank Gorshin) teaming up to dehydrate the United World Organization Security Council. No, I’m not joking they actually do this. Now you would normally think that something this stupid would be at the bottom of the list, but they actually pulled it off. With a film full of wackiness like shark repellent bat-spray, dehydrated councilmen, and Batman not being able to get rid of a bomb; we get a really fun film! The plot is a little crazy even for the ’66 series’ standards, but the over-the-top performances from West, Meredith and Romero make this a guilty pleasure.
5. BATMAN RETURNS 
Released in 1992
Michael Keaton reprises his role as Batman in Batman Returns. In this film we have Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as The Penguin. Batman Returns definitely has more of Tim Burton’s style than the 1989 Batman film. This movie is far from purrfect (see what I did there?), but it still has its moments. Michelle Pfeiffer is fantastic in the role of Catwoman, and Michael Keaton is still incredible as Batman. Many of the film’s problems stem from having weak villains. The Penguin and Catwoman are very campy and it doesn’t quite fit with the tone that was established in the first film. This is dissapointing because DeVito and Pfeiffer could have done so much more with their roles. If Burton had turned it down a notch this film would  have ranked higher on the list. It’s still a fun film, but its a very Tim Burton film.

4. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Released in 2012
The Dark Knight Rises is the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. This film is the worst in the series, but Nolan’s worst is still pretty good. We have Christian Bale reprising the role of the dark knight, and he does a fantastic job. Batman has been out of the game for a long time, and Bale portrays this beautifully. We also have Anne Hathaway playing Catwoman, and she kills it! No one else has done as good of a job bringing Catwoman to life. Tom Hardy plays Bane in this film, and while he’s 1000x better than the monstrosity we see in Batman & Robin, there is still much to be desired. Bane could have been such a great character, but they ended up making him Talia Al Ghul’s lapdog. The whole Talia twist was unnecessary and brought down the film. In spite of all of that, I still love this film! The Dark Knight Rises is no masterpiece, but it is still a great film.
3. BATMAN (1989)
Released in 1989
Batman (1989) is the film that changed the game. Michael Keaton was (controversially) cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman and shocked the world with his performance; while Jack Nicholson brought the Clown Prince of Crime to life. This film changed how the world viewed Batman. While most thought of him as the campy character from the 60’s series; this film made people see him as the dark knight. Tim Burton reinvented the entire way people see superhero films with Batman. Nicholson and Keaton defined the roles of Joker and Batman for decades. Kim Basinger (Vicki Vale) and Michael Gough (Alfred Pennyworth) were also great in their supporting roles. I love watching this film every chance I get, and it still holds up pretty well. The film is defiantly a classic, and while it does have some flaws, it’s still a fantastic watch.
2. BATMAN BEGINS
Released in 2005
Batman Begins is the first film to come after (that disaster of a movie) Batman & Robin. With Christopher Nolan in the director’s chair and Christian Bale under the mask; many fans hoped that this would be the film that made Batman cool again, and it did. Batman Begins did something that the previous incarnation’s of the character did not even attempt to do, and that was giving Batman an origin story. Of course, we know that Bruce Wayne saw his parents murdered in an alley, and we know that he trained himself to become the world’s greatest detective and master crime fighter; however we’ve never seen how he accomplished these things. Nolan showed us how an orphan turned himself into the ultimate crime fighter. Fighting new villains like Scarecrow and The League of Assassins really gave Batman a fresh start. Michael Caine (Alfred Pennyworth), Katie Holmes (Rachel Dawes), Gary Oldman (James Gordon), and Morgan Freeman (Lucius Fox) make for an incredible supporting cast; while Liam Neeson (Ra’s Al Ghul) and Cillian Murphy (Jonathan Crane, Scarecrow) make terrific villains. This film is definitely one of the best origin stories in the superhero genre. Batman Begins is what brought Batman back from the brink of death, and if there’s anything to learn from this film it’s this: “Why do we fall? So that we learn to pick ourselves back up”.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT
Released in 2008
Coming in at number one is The Dark Knight. The second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, The Dark Knight, is considered one of (if not) the best superhero films of all-time. Christian Bale returns as The Batman and faces his toughest foe yet, The Joker (Heath Ledger). The Dark Knight is almost a flawless film. The story, pacing, acting, and directing could not have been better. Most of the cast returns from Batman Begins with the exception of Katie Holmes, but Maggie Gyllenhaal does a great job playing Rachel Dawes. Aaron Echart is an exceptional Harvey Dent and Heath Ledger kills it as the Joker. The one problem I have with this film is that it felt more like a Joker story than it did a Batman story, but it’s done so well that it’s something to easily overlook. The Dark Knight is the bar that all comic book movies are trying to reach. No superhero film has come close to the quality of The Dark Knight, and as of right now I’m not sure there will be. This is one of the rare times where everything just clicked. Hopefully down the line we’ll have another superhero film that’s on par with The Dark Knight.
Batman has been around for over 75 years and with each version being drastically different from the next it’s hard to say which is the definitive take on the character. From Adam West to Ben Affleck, each Batman is special in their own unique way. How would you rank the Batman films? Do you agree? We’d love to here your opinion, just tweet us @WatchtowerBabel on twitter and let us know. Our 25 days of Batman v Superman continues tomorrow; with a ranking of all of the Superman films. Stay tuned for more Batman v Superman coverage all month long.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice hits theaters March 25th, 2016.
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Michael Thomas

Deputy Editor-in-Chief at WOBAM! Entertainment
Just a nerd on the internet writing about what he loves.
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