Every Live-Action Batman Movie, Ranked

The Dark Knight movie poster

Michael Keaton in Batman Returns

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


5. Batman Returns (1992)

Best Christmas movie ever? Tim Burton’s Batman Returns is not as good as the first movie, but it takes a lot of risks, surprisingly making it one of the darker Batman films. The plot follows The Penguin, played by Danny DeVito, and a businessman, played by Christopher Walken, who team up to take down the Batman. Michelle Pfeiffer accidentally gets involved and becomes Catwoman. So, yeah, standard superhero stuff.

However, it’s the dark mood that really shines. The Penguin is both monstrous and yet sympathetic, and he makes a good counterpoint to Michael Keaton’s Batman. DeVito’s Penguin seems to be over the top, but there’s a subtlety to the role that is surprisingly deep. An overall great film with excellent atmosphere.

Christian Bale in Batman Begins

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


4. Batman Begins (2005)

Christopher Nolan ushered in a very different Batman than any we had seen before on the big screen. Instead of the comic-booky approaches that Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher took, Christopher Nolan settled for a more realistic approach. Batman Begins sees Bruce Wayne training in Asia under ninjas and then he becomes one himself. Christian Bale growls his way through every Batman scene, creating a new version of the character.

You know, the only thing really holding this movie back is the villain. Don’t get me wrong. Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow is fantastic. But his arc could have been better, and having Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul be the real villain felt like a cop out. It’s a great movie, but it definitely feels like a starting point.

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne The Batman.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


3. The Batman (2022) 

One thing I’ve kind of always disliked about the various Batman movies is that none of them really tackled the detective side of the character. Sure, we’ve gotten the bruiser version in Ben Affleck, the perfect Bruce Wayne in Michael Keaton, and the calculated Batman in Christian Bale, but it wasn’t until Matt Reeve’s The Batman, that we actually got the detective version of the character with Robert Pattinson, and it was wonderful.

Set in Batman’s second year as a crime fighter, The Batman introduces us to brand new interpretations of The Riddler (A super creepy version performed by Paul Dano), The Penguin, and Catwoman. But, we also get new interpretations of Alfred and the Batmobile as well. All together it creates a Batman that feels familiar, but also dramatically different in all the best ways. 

Plus, this is the most “Batman” Batman movie ever, since Robert Pattinson is in costume for almost the entire movie. If I have only one complaint, it’s that the movie could have been a bit shorter (Matt Reeves’ Batman epic has a runtime of two hours and 55 minutes), but otherwise, it’s one of the most unique and exciting movies featuring the character. Fans will be loving this movie for years to come. 

Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


2. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton knocked it out the park on his very first try with a superhero movie in 1989’s Batman. Michael Keaton is a lot of people’s favorite live-action version of the character, and there’s a good reason why. He plays both a convincing Bruce Wayne, as well as a convincing Batman.

Then, you have Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Nicholson’s transformation from Jack Napier to the Joker is one for the ages. He taunts Batman and looks like he’s having a great time doing it. The Joker has obviously had a lot of different interpretations over the years (including Joaquin Phoenix’s Oscar-winning performance), but Jack Nicholson’s is the closest live-action one to the comics that I can think of (other than Cesar Romero), and probably the most enjoyable. But, it isn’t the best…

Heath Ledger as The Joker

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)


1. The Dark Knight (2008)

There are those who believe that the only reason we now have 10, rather than five, possible Best Picture nominees is because The Dark Knight was snubbed for the 2009 Oscars, and I 100% buy that. The Dark Knight is one of those rare comic book movies that transcends the genre and is just a great movie overall, “comic book movie” be damned. Christopher Nolan’s crime epic features a horrifying Joker, played by Heath Ledger. His character makes Christian Bale’s Batman all the more compelling, as there is this great back and forth of ideals between them, making the conflict feel almost tangible. The Two-Face stuff could have been a bit better (or left out entirely), but you can’t always get what you want.

That said, The Dark Knight is not only the greatest Batman movie of all time, but many would say, the greatest “comic book movie” of all time, too, and it’s mostly because it takes itself seriously and it actually works. Think about this. The first Iron Man also came out in 2008. While that was definitely an enjoyable film, most would argue that none of the movies in the MCU have ever measured up to The Dark Knight. That’s how groundbreaking this film was, and still is, actually.

And that’s the list. The legacy of Batman (and ultimately The Joker, since the two characters are basically the yin and yang of each other) will undoubtedly persist for years and years to come. But, what’s your favorite Batman movie? For more news on the Caped Crusader, make sure to swing by here often. 


Source: cinemablend.com

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