Top Ten Batman Movies
In honor of 'The Batman,' which opens in theaters on March 4th, Moviefone counts down the best Batman movie of all time!
Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, Batman has remained a beloved character in pop culture for over 80-years. There have been over a dozen live action movies made about the character since his big screen debut in 1943, as well as several animated features and cameo appearances.
Oscar winning actors like Christian Bale, George Clooney, and Ben Affleck have all played the role, and acclaimed filmmakers such as Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and Zack Snyder have made movies about the Caped Crusader. The latest incarnation of the character will hit theaters on March 4th when director Matt Reeves' 'The Batman' starring Robert Pattinson is released.
In honor of the release, we thought it would be a perfect time to countdown the top ten Batman Movies of all time. For this list, we are including any live action or animated film featuring the Dark Knight as long as it was originally released theatrically. Also, we did not include 'The Batman,' as it was just opened in theaters, but you can read our review here.
Best Batman Movies to Watch
10. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Following the death of District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman (Christian Bale) assumes responsibility for Dent's crimes to protect the late attorney's reputation and is subsequently hunted by the Gotham City Police Department. Eight years later, Batman encounters the mysterious Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the villainous Bane (Tom Hardy), a new terrorist leader who overwhelms Gotham's finest. The Dark Knight resurfaces to protect a city that has branded him an enemy.
The third of Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight Trilogy,' it is the most over bloated of the three movies. The film introduces two new villains in Bane (Hardy) and Talia al Ghul (Marion Cotillard), as well as Hathaway's Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Robin John Blake, which was a lot to juggle. Still, Bale is great as an older Bruce Wayne and his big fight scene with Bane seems ripped right from the comic book pages.
9. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
A continuation of the groundbreaking 'Batman: The Animated Series,' 'Mask of the Phantasm' marked the first animated Batman movie to be released in theaters. The animated movie acts as a prequel to the TV series, and features an original story, as well as Mark Hamill as the voice of Joker.
8. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. With Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
Directed by Zack Snyder as a follow up to 'Man of Steel,' Affleck's Batman is an older, morally defeated version of the character, which we haven't seen on film before, reminiscent of the Batman in Frank Miller's classic graphic novel, 'The Dark Knight Returns.' While some elements of the film were disappointing, it is cool to see the two titans battle each other on the big screen.
7. Batman (1966)
The Dynamic Duo (Adam West and Burt Ward) faces four super-villains, Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.
Based on the classic 1966 TV series, the movie is a cheesy and goofy interpretation of the source material, but it's super fun. Adam West was Batman for an entire generation, and the film (and the series) work as a great introduction to the character's mythology for young kids.
6. Batman Begins (2005)
Driven by tragedy, billionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) dedicates his life to uncovering and defeating the corruption that plagues his home, Gotham City. Unable to work within the system, he instead creates a new identity, a symbol of fear for the criminal underworld - The Batman.
The first of Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight Trilogy,' the movie was a well received reboot to the franchise after 1997's 'Batman & Robin.' Bale played a perfect Bruce Wayne, and was surrounded by a terrific cast that included Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine. This was the first movie to show Wayne's early years as a crime fighter, and it sets up what is to follow in the rest of the series.
5. Batman Returns (1992)
While Batman (Michael Keaton) deals with a deformed man calling himself the Penguin (Danny DeVito), an employee of a corrupt businessman (Christopher Walken) transforms into the Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
The second of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton's Batman movies, the film adds two iconic villains in Penguin and Catwoman, as well Christopher Walken's crazy performance as the evil Max Shreck. 'Batman Returns' is even darker than the first movie, and is actually a Christmas film with seminal performances from DeVito and Pfeiffer.
4. Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
Determined to ensure Supermanan's (Henry Cavill) ultimate sacrifice was not in vain, Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) aligns forces with Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) with plans to recruit a team of metahumans to protect the world from an approaching threat of catastrophic proportions. The task proves more difficult than Bruce imagined, as each of the recruits must face the demons of their own pasts to transcend that which has held them back, allowing them to come together, finally forming an unprecedented league of heroes.
Now united, Batman (Affleck), Wonder Woman (Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) may be too late to save the planet from Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds), DeSaad (Peter Guinness), and Darkseid (Ray Porter) and their dreadful intentions.
A superior re-cut of the dismal 'Justice League,' 'Zack Snyder's Justice League' is actually a very good Batman team-up movie. Ben Affleck's older and more experienced Batman is haunted by the death of Superman and blames himself for what occurred.
This version of the movie also features some incredible additional scenes, including one with a post-apocalyptic Batman leading a new team that includes the Joker, allowing for the only time in DCEU history where Affleck's Batman and Jared Leto's Joker share a scene together.
3. The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
A cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick (Michael Cera).
In many ways, 'The Lego Batman Movie' captures every element of the character from the comics that fans love. Incorporating everything from the 'Batman' TV series to Tim Burton's 'Batman' to Christopher Nolan's 'Dark Knight' series, the movie plays homage and pokes fun at everything that has come before.
Will Arnett's arrogant performance as the title character is hilarious, and Zach Galifianakis as the Joker brings entirely new dimensions to the relationship between the hero and the villain. The movie is also the funniest Batman film since 1966's 'Batman'.
2. Batman (1989)
Batman (Michael Keaton) must face his most ruthless nemesis when a deformed madman calling himself "The Joker" (Jack Nicholson) seizes control of Gotham's criminal underworld.
For many years, Tim Burton's 'Batman' was the gold standard when it came to comic book adaptions. Burton's dark aesthetic fits the character perfectly and Michael Keaton is arguably the best Batman ever! At the time, seeing legendary movie star Jack Nicholson chew up the scenery as the Joker was thrilling, but the performance is seen as a bit over-the-top now, while the movie is still considered one of the best superhero movies of all time.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as the Joker (Heath Ledger).
Michael Keaton may be the best live action Batman of all time, but Christian Bale is the best Bruce Wayne ever! The second of Christopher Nolan's series, 'The Dark Knight' is not only the best film in the series, it's the best Batman movie of all time! Bale really masters his dual role in this film, and the supporting cast is again excellent including Gary Oldman and Michael Caine.
But its Heath Ledger's Oscar winning performance as Joker that really takes this film to the next level. The cat and mouse game he plays with Batman is right out of the comics, and the police station interrogation sequence perfectly illustrates the relationship between Batman and the Joker.