The first week of March 2022 will finally unveil the much-anticipated “Batman” reboot simply titled “The Batman”. Taking over the mantle would be Robert Pattinson as the new Bruce Wayne/Batman role, with Matt Reeves of the last two “Planet Of The Apes” rebooted franchise fame in charge of “The Batman”. The trailer looks promising and I sure hope the final product is just as good.
While we wait for the release this March, here are the eight “Batman” movies ranked from worst to best.
8) Batman & Robin
I still remember when I first saw “Batman & Robin” at the cinema. It was bad. So bad that I’m not sure what Warner Bros. and Joel Schumacher — who passed away in 2020 — were thinking at the time. Here, Schumacher continues with the same campy tone previously seen in “Batman Forever” and dials it up a few notches more. In other words, he goes all out to ensure that “Batman & Robin” becomes a 125-minute elaborate jokefest.
Remember Bat nipples? Or perhaps the gratuitous close-up shot of Alicia Silverstone’s behind as Batgirl? Then, there’s a cringe-worthy scene where Batman (George Clooney) whips out his Bat Credit Card and quips, “Never leave the cave without it”. The fact that Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman have to resort to atrocious performances as Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy are simply painful to watch. Even if the whole thing is meant not to be taken seriously and to be enjoyed as it is, there’s no excuse for “Batman & Robin” to end up like this. Of course, if it wasn’t for this movie, we wouldn’t be getting an appropriately darker and more serious reboot of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” a few years later.
7) Batman Forever
It was the beginning of the end for “Batman Forever” when Warner Bros. decided to make their third “Batman” movie more… family-friendly? The result turned out to be a massive hit when it became the highest-grossing movie in 1995. But a box-office hit does not equal quality because “Batman Forever” is wrecked by a poor casting choice, notably Val Kilmer’s wooden performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones both ham up their antagonist roles as the Riddler and Two-Face. And don’t get me started with Nicole Kidman as Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Dr Chase Meridian.
6) Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice
The title itself seems like a dream come true, particularly for comic-book fans. I mean, we’re talking about featuring two of DC’s biggest and most popular superheroes fighting each other. It’s just too bad the execution itself is a bloated mess. We do get the aforementioned fight scene towards the final third act but it feels rather anticlimactic, thanks to a certain WTF moment. (Those who have watched it should know.) The saving grace includes the decent introduction of Ben Affleck as an older and jaded Batman and of course, Gal Gadot’s memorable cameo as Wonder Woman.
5) Batman Begins
The big-budget embarrassment of “Batman & Robin” single-handedly ruined the once-lucrative franchise. But it wasn’t until eight years later when then-indie filmmaker Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) came on board to reboot the franchise. Nolan proved to be a good choice as he takes “Batman Begins” to where it belongs: a darker tone of a “Batman” movie but with an added sense of grounded realism.
“Batman Begins” has more emotional stakes highlighting the origin of Batman and particularly Bruce Wayne’s treacherous personal journey. Christian Bale does a great job playing the title character while Liam Neeson delivers a memorable antagonist performance as Ra’s al Ghul.
Way before Tim Burton sealed the deal with his appropriately dark and gothic take of Batman, the title character was more of a goofy type, thanks to the 1960s series starring Adam West. The Tim Burton version was a cultural phenomenon at the time of its release in 1989, beginning with his distinctive visual style of Gotham City and Michael Keaton’s perfectly understated performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
But most people who have seen “Batman” would remember Jack Nicholson’s iconic portrayal as the sinister Joker.
3) Batman Returns
Tim Burton’s follow-up to 1989’s “Batman” sees the director delving deeper into the dark and the macabre. In other words, “Batman Returns” feels more like a grim fairy tale than a comic-book movie — a result that isn’t as successful (financially speaking) as the previous one. Shame that Michael Keaton ended up playing second fiddle to Danny DeVito’s Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The latter two, of course, deliver respective iconic performances of their lifetime. Still, Keaton shares terrific chemistry with Pfeiffer while Burton’s overall visual style complements the tone well enough.
2) The Dark Knight Rises
An underrated gem if you asked me, particularly when compared with “The Dark Knight”. Christopher Nolan returns for the third and final “Batman” movie, where he successfully wraps up the trilogy, albeit with an open ending. The cast is all top-notch, notably Christian Bale’s engaging performance as the title character and Tom Hardy’s imposing antagonist turn as Bane.
“The Dark Knight Rises” also features some of the best cinematic action setpieces ever made (the opening mid-air ambush and the brutal fight between Batman and Bane come to mind). Not to forget Anne Hathaway’s memorable supporting role as Selina Kyle, where she share great chemistry with Bale’s Bruce Wayne/Batman.
1) The Dark Knight
It may be 14 years old, but “The Dark Knight” remains the ultimate “Batman” movie. (Well, we’ll have to see how “The Batman” fares against this one.) The reasons? Well, there are plenty of them, beginning with Christopher Nolan structuring his comic-book movie like an epic crime drama in the vein of Michael Mann’s “Heat”.
Then, there’s Heath Ledger, whose unforgettable performance as the mysterious Joker elevated “The Dark Knight” to the next level. His performance is so good that he even overshadows Christian Bale’s role reprisal as Bruce Wayne/Batman. It’s a pity that he was gone too soon at the age of 28 but I’m glad the Academy recognised his incredible performance with a posthumous Oscar win for Best Supporting Actor.