Top 30 Animated Iterations of Batman

Top 30 Animated Iterations of Batman

Ranking of the top THIRTY animated versions of the Dark Knight. SPOILERS for all the shows and films listed.

The ranking system takes into account the character himself, the story, and the animation. SPOILERS for all the shows and films listed.

Honorable Mentions: The New Scooby Doo Movies, “The Caped Crusader Caper” (1972)

Scooby

Voice: Olan Soule

Scooby Doo was all the rage back in the ‘70′s and had many cameo performances from popular pop culture icons of the time. Among those episodes is one featuring Batman and Robin. As you can assume, the dynamic duo are in the prime of their campiness, but any time the caped crusader teams up with the Shaggy, Scooby,and the gang, it’s worth mentioning.

HISHE (YouTube)

HISHE

I mentioned this in “20 Best Animated Iterations of Superman” but these videos on YouTube are absolutely hilarious and everyone should go watch them!

30. Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015)

Animal Instincts

Voice: Roger Craig Smith

Roger Craig Smith reprised his role as Batman for this straight-to-DVD film (previously voicing the Dark Knight in 2013′s Arkham Origins video game). Unlike many of the other films and shows on the list, this movie is targeted towards kids, and you can tell. There are some cameos from other members of the Justice League and Bat Family and some cool character designs – if you’re bored and you’ve exhausted the rest of the options on this list, then by all means watch it.

29. JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (2014)

Trapped in Time

Voice: Diedrich Bader

Another kid-friendly iteration of Batman and the Justice League, this film features all your favorite characters but severely lacks in story and dialogue – which can be assumed given it’s nature. I do, however, really like the animation and character designs. It’s a fun little story that came out back when DC released Justice League: War – which had some fans claiming to like this movie better because of the changes made to their favorite characters in New 52′s War. Again, if you’ve seen everything else, it’s worth watching.

28. Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003)

Voice: Kevin Conroy

A rare swing and miss from Bruce Timm and co., this film didn’t capture the magic of previous movies from the same team. The story itself isn’t really on par with what the Timmverse had been known for and the twist ending is rather predictable. Though the animation and voice acting is what you’d expect from these guys, the overall movie was underwhelming.

27. LEGO Series

LEGO Batman

Voice: Troy Baker/Will Arnett

No matter what story they insert him in, LEGO Batman is a surprisingly faithful iteration of the caped crusader. In an almost satirical manner, they take Batman’s character tropes to the extreme resulting in some hilarious stories and great dialogue. They’re all very enjoyable and entertaining and I always look forward to the next installment of the Batman LEGO series.

26. New Adventures of Batman (1977)

Batman

Voice: Adam West

Adam West jumps into the recording studio and voices Batman in this seventies television series. The batsuit is clearly influenced by the one West wore during his run as the Caped Crusader in the sixties. For it’s time, the animation is actually very good and anyone who enjoys Batman ‘66 will likely find this entertaining.

25. Super Friends (1976-81)

Super Friends

Voice: Olan Soule

Several generations grew up watching the Super Friends fight Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom in this television series. This series was one of the last to air before Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns and featured a very campy Batman along with Dick Grayson’s Robin always by his side – something that would drastically change over the next few decades That said, many still find the show entertaining if taken for what it is.

24. Beware the Batman (2013-14)

Beware the Batman

Voice: Anthony Ruivivar

Beware the Batman was an unfortunate casualty of Cartoon Network’s premature cancellations of DC properties. The animation is very different from what we’re use to but also very fluid and sleek and I really liked it. The show itself featured a more unique, almost Earth-One-esque Batman and had a decent run before it was axed. Were it given more time to find it’s footing I’m sure it would rank higher on this list.

23. The Batman vs Dracula (2005)

The Batman

Voice: Rino Romano

The Batman saw his first and only film feature event in this battle with the legendary Dracula. The movie proved to be entertaining, but the story is a bit weak and can’t really match up with the other options with similar demographics that you’ll see higher on the list. Though, the writers did create a very well written character and the animation is very good. It was a nice take on the character and a fun story.

22. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Flashpoint

Voice: Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne)/Kevin McKidd (Thomas Wayne)

Many fans loved DC’s adaptation of The Flashpoint Paradox, I was not one of them. While I realize that the source material is violent, I feel they went a little too far in the animated version. Also, the Batman that is featured for most of the film is Thomas Wayne in a an alternate reality and they do a very good job with him, but while he is still Batman, he’s not the Batman that we’re ranking. That’s why the film is ranked so low. There are, however, a couple of scenes with Bruce Wayne’s Batman, including one at the end where Flash brings back a letter from Thomas to Bruce from the alternate universe. It’s a very powerful scene and was adapted perfectly.

21. Justice League: War/ Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2014/2015)

War

Voice: Jason O’Mara

These movies were used to usher the New 52 into the animated medium, but both have been very disappointing. To its credit, War does do a good job of grasping the character of Batman, and there are some entertaining scenes that involve his very different first meetings with members of the Justice League; most notably with Hal Jordan/Green Lantern at the beginning and Superman later on. Batman is not around as much in Throne of Atlantis, and the movie really isn’t very good compared to the rest on the list. While the Batman character is designed rather well, most of the other superheroes, including Superman and Aquaman are less…proportionate. But as much as I don’t like about these new DC animated movies, they write a good Batman and deserve to be in front of some of the other options.

20. Son of Batman (2014)

Batman and Son

Voice: Jason O’Mara

Damian Wayne’s animated movie debut saw Batman’s world completely changed upon learning that he had a son who had been raised by Ra’s al Ghul, and the boy’s mother, Talia al Ghul up until this point. Talia then leaves the boy with Bruce which creates a lot of problems for the entire Bat family. Damian is hard-headed, a bit of a jerk, and very deadly as he was trained to be an assassin since birth. There are some good fight scenes and the animation is pretty consistent, given that there is no Superman with a size 67 neck. The final battle with Deathstroke is actually exciting and O’Mara seems to settle into his role as Batman, but he’s still no Kevin Conroy.

19. Batman vs Robin (2015)

Robin

Nightwing

Voice: Jason O’Mara

A soft adaptation of the New 52′s Court of Owls story arc sees Damian Wayne recruited by Talon creating a divide between he and Batman. The animation is exactly like Son of Batman, War, and Throne of Atlantis but the fighting seems much improved and much more fluid. The fight between Batman and Talon is one of the better fight mechanics I’ve seen in the DC animated universe as they look to truly be using a form of martial arts rather than just punching, ducking, and throwing.. That said, the shoehorning of Damian into the Court of Owls’ storyline does not work. The arc in the comics is awesome and this really takes away a lot of the focus put on the court and it’s effect on Batman as they, instead, focus on Damian’s relationship with Bruce.

18. The Dark Knight Returns: Parts I and II (2012-13)

TDKR

TDKR

Voice: Peter Weller

Considered one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, the animated version of The Dark Knight Returns is also one of the best adaptations in the DC animated universe. While I was never a fan of the character designs in the novel, the animation is Grade A, the voice acting is great, and everything is just very well done. That said, this story is not considered canon and features and older Batman trying to save Gotham, leading to an epic showdown with Superman in part II. While it’s a great story, it revolves around a non-canon Batman, whose younger counterpart can be seen in Frank Miller’s All Star Batman and Robin (don’t waste your time).

17. Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998)

Arnold

Wait…not that one!

SubZero

That’s better.

Voice: Kevin Conroy

This film tried to play off the success of the critically acclaimed episode “Heart of Ice” from Batman the Animated Series. It didn’t capture all of the episodes magic, but it was still a great new chapter chronicling Batman’s fight against the broken-hearted Mr. Freeze. Love the animation and the voice acting as Mr. Freeze and Batman are given great performances.

16. Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-11)

Batman

Voice: Diedrich Bader

This series harkens back to the silver age of comics and sees Batman team-up with a new character each episode, much like the comic book of the same name. Bader’s voice acting is great for the style of the show and it definitely has a very devoted fandom. It’s campy and quirky and works if taken for a silver-age series. I’m not the biggest fan of it, per se, but I understand the draw.

15. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)

New Frontier

Voice: Jeremy Sisto

An awesome movie that sees the formation of the Justice League in a golden age-type setting. While he isn’t featured all too much in the film there are some great scenes with Batman, including one that sees him save a small boy from a cult like group, but as he goes to grab him, he realizes that the boy is very afraid of him. After that we see Superman visit him in the Batcave where he explains his new costume and recruitment of Robin by saying “I set out to scare criminals, not children”

14. The Batman (2004-08)

The Batman

Voice: Rino Romano

Often overshadowed by the Timmverse, The Batman was a very solid series that aired on Cartoon Network for four years. The series chronicled Batman’s crusade early on in his career and saw several cameos from members of the Justice League and Bat Family. The designs are sharper and animation more fluid than the Timmverse and they even had an episode paying homage to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. This remains a very well written Batman and a solid show that should be seen by all Bat fans. There are some oddities in character design, like the Joker, but I think that was them trying to distance themselves from the Timmverse.

13. Young Justice (2010-13)

Young Justice

Young Justice

Voice: Bruce Greenwood

While he is not a main character in another of these prematurely cancelled Cartoon Network shows, Young Justice does a really good job with a more team-oriented Batman than we usually see in the animated universe. In the show, he leads/guides the Young Justice team from afar, although he does see some action every now and again. There are a few scenes that explore his relationship with Dick Grayson’s Robin and present him as more of a father figure and are very enjoyable. He can also be seen urging Superman to accept Superboy in another episode. While not as isolated as other iterations, he is still very faithful to the Batman character.  I really enjoyed this version of the character and felt that he was the best written member of the Justice League, along with Black Canary. While Young Justice was only given two seasons, it developed a huge fan base and is really a great series.

12. Batman Beyond/ Return of the Joker (1999-2001)

Batman Beyond

Joker

Voice: Kevin Conroy (Bruce Wayne)/Will Friedle (Terry McGinnis)

After Batman The Animated Series, Bruce Timm and co. decided to take the character and franchise in a completely different direction. They fast forwarded years into the future and explored the early career of Bruce Wayne’s new protegé Terry McGinnis. Kevin Conroy reprised his role as Bruce Wayne and did an awesome job portraying an older version of his Batman. Bruce, himself, was old but written perfectly and is exactly what you’d picture when thinking of and eighty year old Batman. Batman Beyond is still a great watch and recommended to anyone who has somehow gone this long without seeing it. The only animated feature associated with the series is Return of the Joker, in which, as you may have guessed, the Joker comes back to Gotham. His presence is a harsh reminder of his final act of evil which is explained in a haunting flashback that sees him and Harley kidnap and brainwash Robin/Tim Drake until he overcomes his brainwashing and “kills” the Joker. This is easily one of the best scenes in all the Timmverse; it is essentially their version of the Jason Todd death.

11. Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

Arkham

Voice: Kevin Conroy

This is another great film that focuses more on the Suicide Squad than Batman himself, but the scenes that he does appear in are perfect examples of what he is to the members of the squad. The film really captures the fear he conveys and injects into some of the most dangerous characters of the DC universe. From story to animation to voice acting, this is an awesome movie and personally, I hope that the upcoming Suicide Squad movie is influenced by this film at least a little bit.

10. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)

Batman

Voice: William Baldwin

A very entertaining film that explores DC’s multiverse; while there are a lot of characters, Batman gets more than his share of epic scenes, including one in which he outwits Superwoman, getting her to breath in noxious gas, another where he tricks the other Flash into sacrificing himself to save Barry, but none better than his final line delivered to Owlman before defeating he and his team, “ There is a difference between you and me… We both looked into the abyss, but when it looked back at us, you blinked.” The animation is great and William Baldwin’s performance is more cerebral than others on this list which really works for this Batman.

9. Year One (2011)

Year one

Year one

Voice: Ben McKenzie

Another Frank Miller adaptation chronicles a young Bruce Wayne’s transformation into Batman. I really enjoyed the animation and character designs of this film, which mimic that of the graphic novel. Although Ben McKenzie’s performance can feel a bit wooden at times, he does a good job for what he’s asked to do and really delivers in some of the more epic scenes. This is a very faithful and enjoyable adaptation and includes some scenes that we’ve seen in live-action in Batman Begins.

8. Justice League: Doom (2012)

Doom

Doom

Voice: Kevin Conroy

This soft adaptation of the Tower of Babel storyline sees Batman’s contingency plan fall into the hands of Vandal Savage, who assembles a team to enact revenge on the Justice League. This story really captures the essence of Batman and his paranoid self. He is portrayed as a bit of an outsider from the rest of the team and doesn’t really want any of their help, including one scene where he denies use of Wonder Woman’s healing lamp even though he is severely injured. Their grasp of the character is no more apparent than at the end, when the League is voting on whether he should remain a member of the team, and he says “If you people can’t see the potential danger of an out of control Justice League, I don’t need to wait for a vote – I don’t belong here” and drops the mic.

7. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

Apocolypse

Voice: Kevin Conroy

Set after the events of Public Enemies, this film focusses on the introduction of Kara Zor El/Supergirl and her attempt to find her way on Earth as well as live outside of the Superman shadow. There’s some good humor in this movie, including one scene where Kara destroys Batman’s extremely expensive computer and Clark promises to pay him back on his reporter’s salary. We also get some great scenes between Batman and Kara, as he doesn’t fully trust her and her lack of control over her powers. The most epic scene though, comes at the end when Batman challenges Darkseid, because that worked out so well last time, and threatens to blow up Apocalypse. Darkseid delivers a great line, saying “Well played. Have the Kryptonian or the Amazon taken that gamble they would have lost. They do not have the strength of character to destroy an entire planet to achieve success. But you, a human? You kill your own kind to win battles; an admirable quality.” This film gets the character and Kevin Conroy gives another outstanding performance. The animation again mimics that of the graphic novel it’s based on and is very well done.

6. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Public Enemies

Public Enemies

Voice: Kevin Conroy

As mentioned in Superman’s top 20 list, this film perfectly epitomizes the brotherly relationship between Batman and Superman. Throughout the movie they continually work together against a world skewed by Lex Luthor’s presidency. In the end, Batman pulls a very Batman move by sacrificing himself to save the day, after which Superman goes off on Lex claiming “He was my best friend, and you just killed him” I really love that scene and Tim Daly’s performance as Superman is perfect, as is Kevin Conroy’s throughout. They truly are the best two voice actors for their respective characters. The character designs are different, but, like Apocalypse and Year One, they mimic the artist’s style from the source material which I think is a very cool concept. There is also some great action in this film as we are treated to multiple action scenes that include a plethora of super powered beings.

5. Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)

Gotham Knight

Gotham Knight

Gotham Knight

Voice: Kevin Conroy

Probably the most unique entry on the list from an animation standpoint. This film saw several different anime studios put together their very own short story and then combined them all to make up this segmented film. The high quality animation varied giving us many different takes of the caped crusader and the city of Gotham, as well as some secondary characters. It was really solid throughout and the highlight of the project. The stories themselves were faithful to the character, including a great one in which a group of kids tell each other of their run in with Batman on their way to the park. Each story is altered by a child’s imagination until the Dark Knight, himself, shows up at the end. It’s a really enjoyable watch and every Batfan should make sure to see it.

4. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

Red Hood

Red Hood

Voice: Bruce Greenwood

This story sees the resurrection the second Robin, Jason Todd and his return to Gotham under the guise of the Red Hood. The opening scene portrays the death of Todd years before the main story takes place and it definitely one of the darker scenes in all of the DC animated universe. Throughout the film we see Batman struggle with his greatest failure literally coming back to haunt him and we get some great scenes between him and his supporting characters including Nightwing, Red Hood, and Joker. Bruce Greenwood gives a stellar performance, as does Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, and Neil Patrick Harris as Red Hood, the Joker, and Nightwing respectively. This is truly a fascinating story and another must-see, as is everything from this point on.

3. Justice League/ JLU (2001-06)

JLU

JLU

JLU

JLU

JLU

Voice: Kevin Conroy

After Batman Beyond, Bruce Timm and co. were given the rights to create and produce and new Justice League series and they didn’t disappoint. They carried their Batman and Superman characters over from their respective solo series and, while Superman took some time to adjust to the team format, Batman cemented himself as one of the best characters immediately. The writers wrote him considerably darker and more brooding to show the contrast between he and the rest of the heroes. There are so many great moments from Batman throughout the series even though he’s facing much higher stakes and more powerful enemies than he had in his solo series. Also, his romance with Wonder Woman was executed perfectly and the resulted in the birth, or resurrection, of a ship. Scenes with them usually saw Wonder Woman trying to break the exterior shell of the Batman as he spurned her advances as only Batman can do until some of the later episodes when it was suggested that there was a relationship in the works. Lastly, there is an episode titled “Epilogue” that acts as a finale to Batman Beyond and Batman The Animated Series in which Terry talks to Amanda Waller about whether he is a clone of a, now  90-something-year-old, Bruce Wayne. It’s an awesome episode!

2. Batman: The Animated Series/ New Batman Adventures/ World’s Finest (1992-99)

BTAS

BTAS

BTAS

BTAS

Voice: Kevin Conroy

The one that started it all. This show was influenced by Tim Burton’s Batman movies of the late 80′s and early 90′s and brought a very dark, very real representation of the character to Cartoon Network. This show is known as one of the truest forms of the character in television and film, including some crack detective work that we’ve yet to see from a live-action version. It also expanded well out of its target market and brought in viewers of all ages. This is the main difference between this series and the movies made now; the new movies try so hard to appeal to adults to a point where it seems forced, whereas this show just immediately found the balance. It appealed to both adults and kids without forcing anything — it never talked down to kids and was never dumbed down and was better for it. Not only that, it was responsible for changing the origin story of Mr. Freeze in the award-winning episode“Heart of Ice”  as well as creating the popular character Harley Quinn. They used just about every member of Batman’s rogue gallery and many of his allies all to perfection. It also served as the introduction of Kevin Conroy’s Batman and Mark Hamill’s Joker, both of whom are considered the official voices of each character by fans today. The score is absolutely magnificent and the opening montage legendary.

1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Phantasm

Phantasm

Phantasm

Phantasm

Voice: Kevin Conroy

The theatrical film connected to Batman The Animated Series took everything great about the show and made probably the best theatrical representation of the character in this origin story. We explored Bruce’s early career and how he almost quit being Batman before ever really starting when he proposed to Andrea Beaumont. Unfortunately, she was unable to fulfill the obligation and we got to see the birth of the Batman; we were also given a quick, not-too-detailed origin of the Joker. From West to Keaton to Bale, this movie is considered the best Batman theatrical release in regard to capturing the essence of the character. The team was finally able to develop a plot and hash it out over 90 minutes giving us a thrilling story, something they were unable to do in thirty minute episodes. Bruce Timm and co. understood who Batman was and delivered a truly fascinating and unique take on the character’s origin story, This is a must watch for any comic book fan and is the greatest animated iteration of the Dark Knight.

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