Holy shit Batman you’re fighting Superman this week!
In honor of Batman V Superman, this week I’m counting down my top ten Batman film, both animated and live action.
The 60s Batman show was way before my time but I have seen some episodes and the camptastic film from 1966. The Adam West Batman isn’t the depiction of the cape crusader I like the most but I do really enjoy a silly, fun take on a character who is usually humorless. And some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.
Batman Returns (1992)
After Tim Burton made the extremely successful 1989 Batman, the studio let go of the reins and gave him freedom to make a weird, creepy, completely Tim Burton Batman film and it’s pretty awesome. It may not be very true to the comics but if you look at Batman Returns as just a film and not a ‘Batman’ film it’s really good. It’s classic Tim Burton in his prime, making a crazy and unforgettable gem.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The Batman Animated Series is one of the greatest animated shows ever and Mask of the Phantasm encapsulated the spirit of the show perfectly in 75 minutes. You get a mix of some of your favorite characters, as well as some really cool new ones, in a plot that keeps you guessing and completely engrossed the whole time.
Batman: Year One (2011)
Frank Millers take on Batman is without a doubt the greatest representation of Batman ever. So when they announced they were turning Year One into an animated film, I was beyond excited. I had a couple of issues with how they handled the adaptation but overall it was very well done. Bryan Cranston’s voice as Jim Gordon was great casting and I really wanted to see him play Gordon in the live action films (although J.K. Simmons is pretty awesome too).
Christopher Nolan is always credited as bringing new life to Batman on the big screen but I think Tim Burton should be given equal, if not more praise for defining what cinematic Batman looks and feels like. Without Tim Burton’s Batman, we’d still be watching the Dark Knight in his underwear, fighting sharks with Shark Repellent Bat-Spray. Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson give two great performances, in one of the most important films in comic book history.
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Marvel are dominating the cinematic world but DC having been making some of the best animated films ever and Under the Red Hood is one of the best ones they have put out. The action is incredible, the story is fantastic and makes for some of the most heartfelt scenes in any Batman film. There’s a lot of fan favourite characters and despite not having the regular Batman voice actors, everyone is played very well.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final film in Nolan’s Batman trilogy was pretty divisive. I happen to fall on the side of loving this film and at the time of it’s release thought it was the best in the trilogy. Now looking back I can see some flaws but I still think it’s an incredibly well crafted film. Tom Hardy was amazing (and he had a hard job following Heath Ledger), Anne Hathaway was surprisingly one of the best aspects of the film and that first fight between Batman and Bane… Holy back break Batman.
The Dark Knight Returns
So for my number 3 film I’ve picked part 1 & 2 of The Dark Knight Returns because they’re basically one film split into two to make more money. This animated film adaptation of the classic Frank Miller story, is the best adaptation of anything ever! It doesn’t hold back, it’s violent, it has every weird aspect of Miller’s Graphic Novel, along with all the greatness he created, all the characters and overall captured everything Miller did back in the 80s, to redefine Batman as the greatest character in any form of media.
Batman Begins (2005)
I’ve watched Batman Begins several times now and every time I’m always amazed how they managed to fit so much into one film. The first in a series of comic book films usually fail to tell an origin story, yet still have a good villain, in my opinion Nolan did both better than most films do one. Christian Bale was amazing and Liam Neeson was great too. I loved the way Nolan used a lesser known villain and weaved him into Batman’s origin, to create both characters at the same time. The rest of the cast Nolan setup for future films are all great and there isn’t a weak link anywhere. I still think Hans Zimmer’s score for Batman Begins, is the best of the three he did for Batman and became apart of the character like Danny Elfman’s score in 1989. Batman Begins is the best origin story ever told and is one of the best depictions of Batman ever.
The Dark Knight (2008)
It was probably pretty obvious but I can’t deny The Dark Knight is the best film to ever feature Batman. It’s one of my favourite films and I’ve seen it a hundred times. It may not capture the essences of Batman from the comics or make me feel like I’m watching a live action comic book but if you’re just judging it on the quality of the film, The Dark Knight is the best. Nolan took the characters and brought them into the world he wanted to create, it just so happens that world is one I could watch forever. It almost seems redundant to talk about how great Heath Ledger was but I have to at least mention his iconic performance as The Joker because every Batman is only as good as his Joker. The Dark Knight, for better or worse, changed comic book films and how non-nerds view them and will forever be remembered as the greatest achievement of Batman’s cinematic career.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
Next Week: Richard Linklater Films