Ranking the Batman flicks from worst to best.

Batman in my opinion is the best comic book film film franchise of all time, but which films are his best? Which are his worst? In this editorial I give a definitive list ranking the eight full length live action feature films featuring Batman from worst to best. Please enjoy!

Follow GuardianDevil:
By GuardianDevil - 12/3/2013
Batman is commonly argued to be the greatest comic book hero of all time. A large contributing factor to his popularity is most definitely his amazing movies. Overall Batman is my second favorite film series just a hair behind Star Wars. To this day, no other comic hero or team has had as many critically acclaimed films as Batman. Think about it, Spider-Man has had three critically acclaimed films, Superman has had two, Iron Man has had three (although I feel the latter two don't deserve it), the X-Men have had three, The Avengers have had one, but Batman has had FIVE. Still no other comic character has been able to match Batman's success in film. But which of his films are the best? Which are the worst? I give you my list of live action Batman films from worst to best as well as a brief review of each one. Thanks for reading and please share your opinions at the end of the article!




Batman (1966)


In 1966, the first full length feature film starring the caped crusader was released. It was a spinoff of a highly successful TV Show. This movie may have been good by the non-existent standards of the 1960's but compare it to any modern day comic book movie and this film is pure crap. Perhaps it's because I didn't see it back then but in the present, that I despise it so. Perhaps if I had seen it when it first came out I might have liked it. But it was just so campy, corny and poorly made I don't see how even the most die hard fan could actually like it. I'm not saying that I don't respect this movie, Adam West and Burt Ward for what they did to the comic book genre I'm just saying that I straight up don't like this movie in the least. Judging by 2008-present standards, or 2000-present standards, or even 1989-present standards or hell even 1978-present standards this movie sucks.

Overall rating: 1/10





Batman & Robin


Batman & Robin was released in 1997 and it was the fourth film in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman film series. Batman & Robin was met with severe hate and bashing from both fans and critics as well as general audiences. Rightly so, because this movie is the living embodiment of the word "stupid". George Clooney is just stupid as Batman, Arnold Schwarzenegger acts so stupid as Dr. Freeze, Robin and Batgirl are stupid, Bane is stupid, Ivy's plot is stupid, Freeze's plot is stupid. Everything about this movie is straight up stupid. The acting is terrible from most involved, the campiness is beyond me, Clooney is horrible, most of the acting and dialogue is horrible. However, I give this movie a 4.5 stars out of 10. There are actually four legitimate reasons as to why it is not a 0 or a 1 out of 10 and those four reasons are: A) Ivy is hot as hell. B) It's so stupid that it's hilariously fun and funny. C) I absolutely LOVED this film as a kid, now I've come to realize how bad it is but even watching it now is kinda nostalgic. D) Ivy is hot as hell. Those are four reasons why I find it watchable, not a good movie by any means in fact so terrible that it's fun to watch and laugh at how bad it is, as well as pause the screen and stare at Uma Thurman for a while.

Overall rating: 4.5/10



Batman Forever


Batman Forever was released in 1995 and it was the third film in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher as well as the last piece to the original, classic Batman trilogy. Many people tend to forget that before Joel Schumacher screwed the Batman franchise and the comic book film franchise as a whole, he made a perfectly watchable and good film in Batman Forever. Batman Forever was the product of Batman Returns' box office failure. Of course Batman Returns did very well critically, but I think we all know that company executives are much more concerned with making big bank than getting approval from critics. What happened with Batman Returns was that it was too dark and adult for the young audience that was watching. Thousands of kids went in smiling and happy but came out scared as heck, some of them even crying. (yes, I'm being totally serious) Toy sales went down, word of mouth was hurting admissions, not a good situation for Warner Brothers even though Batman Returns was really good it just wasn't a made for the masses film. That's where Warner Brothers replaced the dark and grotesquely amazing Tim Burton with Joel Schumacher, and planned to make a friendlier, funnier Batman flick. Which they did, although still not as good as either of it's predecessors Batman Forever is still a good film. It is more kid friendly but it's not as bad as something like Batman & Robin. The story in the film is just alright, but sufficient. The replacement of Michael Keaton for Val Kilmer was disappointing but wasn't detrimental to the film. It was cool to see Robin's origin story, Tommy Lee Jones made for a silly but lovable Two-Face. But where this movie shines and what gives it a 6 stars out of 10 is it's villain the Riddler. Jim Carrey is a great actor, and the casting of him as The Riddler is brilliant. Frankly I loved the Riddler from this movie, he was the perfect depiction of the character from the comics. He's got the wild and crazy hair, the wild and crazy suit, the wild and crazy personality. Sounds like The Riddler to me. Perhaps I'm biased because I saw this as a kid too but I still think of it as a pretty good film. Not as bad as everyone says. Heck while we're on comic book movie three-quels, I like Batman Forever more than X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 3 and Superman 3. It's about a tiny bit below Iron Man 3 but still nowhere near The Dark Knight Rises. (which we'll talk about in a minute)

Overall rating: 6/10




Batman Returns


Batman Returns was released in 1992 and it was the second film in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman film series. Tim Burton's second stab at Batman is the movie that pissed off parents everywhere and left dozens of children crying. Hey, that sounds like a good movie to me. (laugh out loud, I'm just kidding!) But seriously though, that is a part of the reason why I really like Batman Returns is because it is NOT a made for the masses film. Which I feel is a good thing, because it means the filmmaker has a legitimate purpose for making it rather than just making money. I feel that makes it a more quality film in most cases. Anyways, Batman Returns is a truly great movie and I feel ashamed of ranking it this low but that's to the fault of the other four amazing Batman films. Batman Returns has not one, not two, but three main villains. People say TASM2 is gonna suck because any movie so far with three villains sucked need to watch Batman Returns. Danny Devito is great as The Penguin, he nails the outcast, grotesque, deformed creature with an inferiority complex. Christopher Walken is great as Max Schreck (who I do believe is an original creation am I right?) But where it shines the most is Michelle Pffeifer as Selina Kyle/Catwoman, I still believe that her performance blows Anne Hathaway and that Halle Berry crap clear outta the water! Pfieffer is snake-y, sexy, sadistic and seductive just like the comic book character. I also prefer the look and feel of the costume used here over any other live action iteration of Catwoman. To tell the truth, Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman is my all time favorite female role in a comic book movie. Of course, Keaton is great too and so is Gough as Alfred Pennyworth the butler. I saw this movie as a kid as well, but not in theaters. While most of the other kids got frightened, I was always one of those strange children who thought gross and creepy stuff was cool. I thought it was the awesome-est thing ever when I saw Catwoman pull a live bird out of a cage and eat it right there and then. I love Batman Returns...

Overall rating: 7.5/10



The Dark Knight Rises


The Dark Knight Rises was released last year in 2012 and was the third and final entry into Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. The Dark Knight Rises seems to be a film where there is no middle ground. It is either overrated or underrated. On one hand you'll hear a few proclaim it as a masterpiece and the best superhero film of all time. (far from it, but in my opinion still a great film) On the other hand you'll hear dozens griping about stupid tiny little issues like Bane's voice or "too many plot holes". Both of which are stupid reasons to hate because these so-called "plot holes" occur in every film out there and if you're going to hate one movie because of it you must hate them all if you're not a hypocrite. Look at The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Spider-Man 2 or The Avengers. Those are widely considered the best superhero movies of all time and they have their share of plot holes but no one ever hates on those. Secondly, the argument about Bane's voice to me proves that comic book fans are indeed the most spoiled and ungrateful group of fans out there. I mean seriously, Christian Bale and Tom Hardy give great depictions of Batman and Bane but all we do is whine that their voices aren't the way WE want them? Or Hugh Jackman is the PERFECT Wolverine and devotes thirteen years of his life to a character that both he and we love and we complain that he's too tall? Those things and others like that prove to me that people are just ungrateful. You take what you get! If what you get is crap (like Batman '66, Ghost Rider, etc.) then throw it away. Don't hate a film for specific, insignificant things like voice, size, etc. that's not what defines a character. With all that said, I do have one particular problem with The Dark Knight Rises: The climax. I thought that Tom Hardy's Bane was a beast all the way through until the climax where we learn that none of his story, motives or character development was true but he was really just a lapdog for some random chick who's got a grudge against Batman. In my opinion this scene came incredibly close to completely ruining a great villain, it didn't ruin him but it did lower the villain portrayal down quite a few points. Other than that, everything else in The Dark Knight Rises is great. I think why it is hated is due to it's competition with The Avengers. People saw it as DC vs Marvel: pick a side, and most chose The Avengers. So they felt a need to trash The Dark Knight Rises. Rises is a great movie that falls victim to a LOT of unfair thrashing.

Overall rating: 8/10



Batman (1989)


Batman was released in 1989 and was the first installment of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman film series. Batman of 1989 is what I'd call a truly mind blowing movie, the first comic book movie to be THIS great. In my opinion Batman of 1989 is by far the best of the classic comic book movies. It most certainly outlives all three of it's sequels, and in my opinion it beats all four of the classic Superman flicks. Batman of 1989 was great for a few reasons, the first of which is the tone of the film. The tone of the movie manages to feel dark and realistic but at the same time it feels like it was pulled straight from the panels of a comic book. Something that all three of it's sequels as well as all three of Nolan's films still haven't done. This movie nailed the tone of Gotham and Batman's universe in the noir, classic feel that we still haven't seen again. The second reason Batman of 1989 is a great movie is the way it was casted. Michael Keaton was very good as Bruce Wayne, and pretty good as Batman although personally I still prefer Christian Bale. Gough was a great Alfred although Caine was way better. However Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale is still my 2nd favorite comic book movie love interest of all time (1st is Michelle Pfieffer as Catwoman, 3rd and 4th are Famke Janssen and Gwenyth Paltrow as Jean and Pepper) and one of the few that doesn't annoy me. But it's Jack Nicholson that brings the movie up to it's level of greatness. Jack Nicholson in my opinion is the greatest comic book movie villain of all time, I still prefer him over Heath Ledger. Don't get me wrong, Ledger's Joker was AMAZING but I personally felt that Jack Nicholson nailed the classier, more stylish Joker I know from the comics. Jack felt more noir than Ledger, I prefer that type of Joker. Overall, Batman of 1989 is still in my top 6 or 7 comic book flicks of all time and one of the best in my opinion.

Overall rating: 9.5/10


The Dark Knight


The Dark Knight was released in 2008 and is the second installment of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy as well as the sequel to 2005's Batman Begins. Christopher Nolan's sophomore attack at the caped crusader is widely considered to be the best and greatest comic book movie of all time. While I would disagree as there is at least two and maybe three others that I like better, I do agree that is one of the best comic book films ever and even one of the very best films of our time. It has everything, an epic story complete with strong villains, twists, etc. A strong character arc for two of the heroes "you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain." Along with straight up AMAZING performances from everyone with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhall who I feel is straight up HORRIBLE. But Michael Caine is amazing as Alfred, Gary Oldman is amazing as Gordon, Bale is a really good Bruce, Eckhart is a great Two-Face and Ledger is an amazing Joker even though I still prefer Jack Nicholson's iteration of the character. Overall, The Dark Knight is an amazing, mind blowing, thought provoking movie on every level.

Overall rating: 10/10




Batman Begins


Batman Begins was released in the year 2005 and was the first installment in Christopher Nolan's legendary Dark Knight Trilogy. I am probably in the vast minority here as the vast majority prefers The Dark Knight. I personally felt that Batman Begins had almost everything that The Dark Knight had, but other things that made it better. Batman Begins had amazing casting and performances on every level, as well as a mind blowing story, great villains and a strong score. That's everything that Batman Begins had that The Dark Knight had as well, but to me Batman Begins is the better film because it had more passion from the actors and more emotion and depth in the characters. I also like it the best because it is the first and still the only personal Batman movie. In every other Batman movie whether it be great or terrible, Batman always plays second fiddle to his legendary villains. Not so in Batman Begins, this movie manages to be both a personal character search as well as a film with two fantastic villains in Liam Neeson and Cilian Murphy and at the same time have a strong story and be arguably the most thought provoking film of all time. It IS incredibly interesting and thought provoking because it dives into themes of symbolism, fear and the duality of man and how as a mortal man Bruce can only do so much but as an immortal symbol he can save the city through fear. Batman Begins to me is not only the best Batman movie, it is the best comic book movie of all time in my opinion. And it is also my second favorite movie of all time, of any movie. (first place has got to go to Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Overall rating: 10/10


Well, thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts and opinions in the usual place.
DISCLAIMER: This article was submitted by a volunteer contributor who has agreed to our code of conduct. ComicBookMovie.com is protected from liability under "safe harbor" provisions and will disable users who knowingly commit plagiarism, piracy, trademark or copyright infringement. For expeditious removal, contact us HERE.
2
LIKE!
22 Comments
JohnnyRoss - 12/3/2013, 5:59 PM
Adam West is the definitive Batman.

just kidding
MrCameron - 12/3/2013, 6:21 PM
Good list. Glad to see someone else appreciates Batman Begins as much as I do.
WeaponX93 - 12/3/2013, 7:46 PM
So glad someone feels the same way about Nicholson's Joker. I prefer the sillier Joker because that's how the comics portrayed him. Batman Begins is my favorite Bat-Movie and my third favorite CBM. It's too hard for me to choose between Bale and Keaton.
caseykelderman - 12/3/2013, 8:22 PM
No way Batman 1966 is worse than Batman and Robin! Batman and Robin the worst, and I mean worst CMB ever!! Batman '66 was suppose to be cheesy and even though it is also terrible I would still give it a 3/10 while Batman and Robin gets a 0/10 for me.
Tainted87 - 12/3/2013, 8:45 PM
I actually agree with your picks, although I'd definitely rate them differently.

TDKR... I can't get off it, I'm sorry. The Dark Knight probably spoiled me into thinking that the next outing in that continuity would be just as plausible, just as thrilling, just as gripping.

Bane was awesome, love Tom Hardy. I've got nothing against Christian Bale's Batman, but Nolan definitely should have made him more committed, more intelligent... but that's hardly Bale's fault.

There's just so many STUPID and important plot elements that fail spectacularly, and the worst part is - we're supposed to swallow it.

Example...
Bane takes the whole Stock Exchange captive, and uses the copied fingerprints to use Bruce Wayne to make him go bankrupt. We're not getting into any technicalities here, nothing about signing a registry, or the fact that Wayne being spotted for the first few times in 8 years would be a big deal.... let's just think about the first part there.
Bane and his mooks held the Stock Exchange at gunpoint. Everything that goes on would be voided. There are obvious walls of protection to be had there.

We the audience are told that this is legitimate. Yes, Fox tells Wayne that in a few weeks they MIGHT (how could it be hypothetical???) be able to prove that it wasn't him, but it's just ridiculous.

The clear cut writing objective was to make Bruce poor. It's like having Selina shoot Rachel in the back right in front of Bruce and have him fall in love with her right then and there to make room for their romance.
--

It's not just that circumstance, either. You get plenty there, such as the military sending in ONE special ops team and then pulling back; or the entire police force going into the sewers; or automatic gun-wielding mercenaries being overcome by a not-so-surprising UNARMED police Zerg rush; or Gotham flourishing in the wake of the bomb with no fallout/pollution whatsoever; or Batman not only recovering, not only walking on thin ice, but defeating Bane in combat with a broken back.

We're supposed to back all of this up. We're supposed to be dumb in the brain.

Never mind all the differences and deviations from the comics - the stupidity and laziness that went on in the writing is just unforgivable. It's not supposed to be hammy and silly like the 60s Batman, or it's spiritual successors like Batman and Robin or Batman Forever - it's supposed to be a conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy, a supposedly prestigious place in cinematic and comic book movie history.
Lhornbk - 12/3/2013, 8:57 PM
I'm not gonna comment on the whole list, except to say I would turn things around some. I will completely disagree about Batman Forever. It was terrible, actually worse than Batman & Robin. Robin's origin was about the only good thing in it (along with Nicole Kidman.) People complain all the time about Arnold's over-the-top campy performance as Freeze, but Jim Carrey was just as bad (and IMO worse) as the Riddler. Jim Carrey is NOT a good actor, he basically plays just a slightly different version of himself in every movie. And as much as I hate to say this, Tommy Lee Jones was just as bad as Two-Face. The plot was even dumber than Batman & Robin (really? They just wanted to steal everyone's thoughts? Really?)

As for the idea that Batman Returns not being made for masses somehow makes it better, I call BS. I hate this arrogant, high and mighty attitude that many have that movies that appeal to large amounts people are usually terrible, and that making a film that won't appeal to the masses automatically means you care about making a good film. That is utter nonsense. All that shows is that the director has some egotistical attitude that his vision is perfect, and that if people don't like it that means they're dumb. Remember, comics and superheroes are still primarily for kids, and making a Batman film that is too scary for kids is just wrong (while I personally loved TDK, I have a similar complaint about it, although the scary parts of that film probably go over the heads of most younger children, unlike a scary Penguin who wants to kill children. That is why I rank Avengers higher than any of the Nolan films.)
Batman 89 is so boring to watch. Batman Returns is far superior to Batman 89. I count all three of Bale's flicks as one big movie, and it is the best cbm trilogy yet.

@ Tainted87, get the freak over a damn movie about a man who dresses up as a bat. I can't believe you're so butt hurt about this movie.
Tainted87 - 12/3/2013, 9:00 PM
It itches.
GuardianDevil - 12/3/2013, 9:23 PM
@Lhornbk
Many made for the masses films turn out boring in my opinion. Look at Transformers 1 & 2, National Treasure, Iron Man 2, Pirates of the Carribean 2& 3, Attack of theClones, The Amazing Spider-Man....bad films?? No, not at all, but they all lag and get boring in my opinion. Some made for the masses films are quite good like the first Pirates movie, The Avengers, Dark of the Moon, Iron Man, etc.

I don't think all made for the masses movies are bad I just feel it makes a film more authentic when a director makes the film he originally wanted to make and doesn't tweak it just to make it more popular. I find it more authentic filmmaking that's all, no need to get your panties in a wad my friend!
MightyZeus - 12/4/2013, 12:45 AM
Good list but mine differ's from your's. The only four Batman films i really love:
1. Batman Begins
2. The Dark Knight
3. The Dark Knight Rises
4. Batman 89

The rest is considered to be utter crap.
fortycals - 12/4/2013, 6:22 AM
1) batman89=brilliance. To me Keaton is the best all around batman/wayne. Jack's Joker was the perfect balance of funny and crazy. Gotham city felt like the Gotham I always imagined. Only thing I don't like is that they killed the Joker.

2) tdk= great. I'm an admitted Baleman hater. I think he is a great Wayne though. Ledger carried this movie to where it is on my list. If it had a better Batman it could easily be#1

3) returns= great. These top three are so close imo that they could easily be switched around. My problem with this one is the way they drop vicki vale like a bad habit. Having her and selena in the movie could have been a interesting dynamic, but she is cast aside and forgotten about, with one line of dialog.

4) BB=great. Once again I think it's liam that carries this one. Every time he is on screen is brilliance.

5) batman 66= good. Unlike most people here I grew up in a time where camp did not automatically make something bad. Yeah it didn't take itself seriously, but it still was incredibly funny. I dare you to watch that movie and not laugh, even at the parts that weren't jokes. If you don't you have no soul. I've seen it a million times and still get a kick out of seeing bats pull out a can of shark repellent. This movie falls into the its so bad that it's good category. Bat eyebrows beats batnipples any day.
BatManiac - 12/4/2013, 8:24 AM
1) The Dark Knight - 10/10
2) The Dark Knight Rises - 10/10
3) Batman Returns - 10/10
4) Batman Begins - 9.5/10
5) Batman 1989 - 9/10
6) Batman 1966 - 5/10
7) Batman Forever - 2/10
8) Batman & Robin - 1/10
relentless1 - 12/4/2013, 9:52 AM
worst to best?

Batman & Robin
Batman (1966)
Batman Forever
Batman (1989)
Batman Returns
The Dark Knight Rises
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
HOTSHOT - 12/4/2013, 10:48 AM
" Christian Bale and Tom Hardy give great depictions of Batman and Bane but all we do is whine that their voices aren't the way WE want them? Or Hugh Jackman is the PERFECT Wolverine and devotes thirteen years of his life to a character that both he and we love and we complain that he's too tall? Those things and others like that prove to me that people are just ungrateful. You take what you get! If what you get is crap (like Batman '66, Ghost Rider, etc.) then throw it away. Don't hate a film for specific, insignificant things like voice, size, etc. that's not what defines a character. "

Bravo sir! You just made my night and gave me some hope.

And I agree with this list 95%. I would put the 60s Batflick over that other crapper any day. The reason? It's more fun. The crappy Schumacher version not only went over the top but also tried to be serious at times ( and failed). The 60s version gave me what I expected. It was corny and didn't try to pass itself off as anything but. Points for that.
BlueLanternKnight - 12/4/2013, 5:09 PM
What's wrong with Batman '66? It was silly but fun. Considering it was aimed towards kids because they were the majority who watched the TV show, I'd say it succeeded in what it was going for.
Anyways my worst to best list is:
Batman and Robin
Batman Forever
Dark Knight Rises
Batman '66
Batman Returns
Batman Begins
Batman '89
Dark Knight
solidsnake512 - 12/4/2013, 5:37 PM
My list
1 Dark Knight
2 Batman 1989
3 Dark Knight Rises
4 Batman Begins
5 Batman Returns
Forthas - 12/4/2013, 6:48 PM
I don't understand why the same ten people go from site to site trying to appear "different" by attempting to convince people that Batman 89 and Batman Begins are better than they are. Yes it is someones personal opinion but there is NO objective measure to show that Batman Begins is better than The Dark Knight. It made less money, has a lower critical rating, does not have the same level Oscar attention, nor is the central vilians in Batman Begins even comes close to what was achieved in The Dark Knight. The Dark Knght broke the billion dollar barrier for a Superhero film. Other than "this is my opinion" what can be stated that shows the movie is better? The same with Batman 1989. It was a good - not great movie that benefitted from being the first Batman. The haze of nostalgia makes people think it is greater than it was. But there is no way it is a better film than The Dark Knight Rises.
PeterBenjaminParker - 12/4/2013, 7:05 PM
I'd just like to point out that Batman Returns has a mutant Penguin, a zombie Catwoman, and a Batman that blew up a clown, yet is somehow against killing.

Just let all of that information sink in for a bit.
BenjiWest - 12/5/2013, 5:20 AM
You forgot Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. Highly underrated film.
1.) Batman Begins - this is the ultimate comic book origin film. Unlike Burton's films this film actually gave us the story of Bruce Wayne. This almost made you believe a person could be this driven. Batman '89 is pure Joker film almost, I mean he was shoehorned into Batman's origin. Mask of the Phantasm manages to successfuly explore both Batman's and Joker's origins.
RobGrizzly - 12/5/2013, 10:34 AM
I like it!
Since I think Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are all 10/10 movies, Any one of them are acceptable answers for me
KingEmperor - 12/8/2013, 12:23 PM
And here all comes TDKR hate...
sirbonesalot - 12/9/2013, 3:33 AM
TDKR is #1 the only argument against it is: Why didn't Bane take his knee brace(s)????? Riddle me that fanboys!

Please log in to post comments.

Don't have an account?
Please Register.