Gotham’s Dark Knight Vs Himself- The Top 5 Batman Movies (Live-Action) | Ranking The GenreVerse

The Top 5 Batman Movies (Live-Action) | Ranking The GenreVerse

Who is the Batman? Well, it’s Bruce Wayne, but a whole crap-ton of actors have played the rich dude turned caped crusader. Why so many actors? Because there have been so many movies! Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939 for Detective Comics, Batman has crossed over into every medium from video games to Anime. However, it’s the movies that really get the most attention off the printed (or digital) page.

With the recent release of The Batman, we figured it would be smart to rank the top 5 Batman movies. What would have been really smart was to have this ready for release last week, but here we are! The rules are simple, the top 5 movies with Batman in the title, starting with Batman 66 and going through The Batman. However, we’re only discussing the live-action flicks. Sorry, but the animated films will get their time to shine on another day.

#5: Batman Begins- 2005 (The Bat: Christian Bale, Director: Christopher Nolan)

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The Dark Knight Trilogy was a sleeper hit. Despite the huge success of this film’s sequel, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins didn’t quite hit the spot for people in theaters. Grossing $358 million world wide against a budget of $150m is barely breaking even, but the movie found success on home video.

Starring Christian Bale as Bruce/Batman and directed by Christopher Nolan, this origin story took a more grounded and darker tone than the previous decade’s Shumacher films. Although, Batman Forever almost made this list, but that’s a story for another day. Bruce trains with Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul and his assassin league, The League of Shadows, before returning to Gotham after realizing assassins are a bad thing. It’s a bit more nuanced than that, but you get the picture. He gets some assistance from Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman, for tech and gear and heads out into Gotham to fight the bad guys.

Enter the Scarecrow. Played by Cillian Murphy, this villain goes for the “scare the pants off you” approach. He’s not alone though as Bruce also deals with crime boss Carmine Falcone and Ra’s has to come back in for the big finale.

Some stuff is campy, like the “playboy” Bruce scene, and the pace feels choppy at times, but the movie delivers a solid Batman experience with some deep cuts from the source material. We couldn’t move on without mentioning Michael Caine’s GREAT take on Alfred Pennyworth, but there’s another film to talk about him more with.

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#4: Batman- 1989 (The Bat: Michael Keaton, Director: Tim Burton)

1989 was the year of the Bat. While Superman had proved to be a Hollywood success, most comic books properties were seen as kid’s stuff and everyone thought of Adam West’s Batman when it came to the Dark Knight. However, Tim Burton directed Mr. Mom himself into superhero history. 1989’s Batman proved that Batman was more than camp… mostly.

Michael Keaton’s take on Bruce Wayne was great and he paired nicely with Jack Nicholson’s Joker. The weirdness of Burton is felt throughout the film, especially during the musical bit. However, it’s a truly classic Batman versus Joker tale. It blends elements of the 80’s darker comics with the camp of Batman 66, and delivers some cool visuals.

It’s product of its time, but it still holds up. It benefits from nostalgia, but that classic logo and Danny Elfman’s score are forever embedded into the public consciousness.

RELATED:  The Top 5 Versions Of The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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#3: The Dark Knight- 2008 (The Bat: Christian Bale, Director: Christopher Nolan)

While Batman Begins failed to light the box office on fire, The Dark Knight burned it to the ground. Bale and Nolan returned and were joined by Heath Ledger as the Joker. Tragically, Ledger would pass before the movie’s release, but his performance is one of the best things ever filmed. Aaron Eckhart plays Harvey Dent/Two-Face and Bruce gets a recast love interest, Rachel, via Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Bale is solid as Batman, but still iffy as Bruce, and Caine continued to be a great Alfred. The best part of Caine’s Pennyworth is he explores the familial relationship with Bruce in a way the older films didn’t and The Batman barely touched. Caine is an amazing actor and he really delivered on Alfred.

It’s all about Joker though, isn’t it? From the magic trick to burning the money, and most definitely the hospital scene, Ledger OWNS this movie. His interactions with Batman are intense while his time with criminals and Harvey Dent are unnerving. This is almost a Joker movie instead of a Batman one.

Dent is good, but Eckhart’s makeup and FX are lacking. The love story is blah, but that’s mostly because Bale is blah as Bruce. Which is weird because we see more Bruce than Bat. Although, he’s usually in Bat mode on the inside during those scenes.

The action is upped, the stakes are increased, and the memorable moments are endless, but this isn’t the most complete Batman feeling movie. There’s still something missing.

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#2: The Batman- 2022 (The Bat: Robert Pattinson, Director: Matt Reeves)

We won’t waste time with Twilight memes or talking about problems during production, we just want to say that this is a great BATMAN movie. Robert Pattinson kills the physical acting in a BAD ASS Batsuit. Paul Dano does the Riddler of the 21st century, and Zoe Kravitz brings some sassiness back to Catwoman. This was great as Anne Hathaway’s version was boring, but that’s not necessarily her fault. Matt Reeves delivered a near perfect take on a young Batman from his director’s chair, and to help wrap up the gift that is this movie, Michael Giacchino created a real atmosphere with his music.

The Batman focuses heavily on… Batman. We spend more time with the Dark Knight in his suit than any movie before hand. Don’t quote us on that, but it sure feels like it. His detective process and crime fighting process are under a microscope in this film. Past movies do not cover this well. Also, Pattinson mastered acting through his body language and eyes. He delivers a presence on screen that no other Batman has.

Bruce isn’t the focus in this film, and therefore doesn’t get a lot of thought. Although, his untamed hair came off more like a scene-kid leftover from 2006 than a tormented man ignoring his appearance. The approach the film takes with this side of the character makes us think we may be seeing the origin story of THE Bruce Wayne play out. Andy Serkis’s Alfred feels hollow due to the lack of Bruce. However, there’s so much potential here, hopefully we’ll get more between them in the future.

The Riddler is menacing but manages a few genuine, albeit dark, humorous jokes. Dano’s breakdown when confronted with a flaw in his plan is wonderfully performed. However, we have to mention Colin Farrell’s Penguin and how much he owned every frame of film he’s in. The reverse-slasher car chase, nice horror movie touch there Reeves, is arguably the best set piece of the film and Farrell’s reactions are perfect. The scene oozes with Michael Myers intensity but Penguin is the victim that had sex and gets got by the slasher… or Batman in this case.

This movie is packed full of comic book goodness, but it doesn’t quite feel like the most complete Batman movie. There is something missing from the last two entries. A little bit of color, and just a little bit of camp… a little.

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#1: Batman Returns- 1992 (The Bat: Michael Keaton, Director: Tim Burton)

We’re not sure how angry some of you are at this pick, but we have a feeling there are more than a few that are screaming how right we are. 1992’s Batman Returns brought Keaton and Burton back to Gotham to deliver the quintessential Batman movie. The aesthetic, action, and dialogue feel more like a Batman comic book than any other movie. A healthy dose of strange, a grimy Gotham, and a non-killing Batman… WAIT! DIDN’T HE  KILL A CLOWN IN THIS MOVIE?

We talked about how good Farrell’s Penguin was in The Batman, but let’s talk Danny DeVito’s Penguin. DeVito delivers a creepy and disgusting (in the best way) take on Oswald Cobblepot. Combining physical acting with cleverly campy lines, the Penguin manages to remind us of the comics without feeling out of place or too silly. Burton’s Gotham is a perfect match for this bird.

That bird comes with a cat though. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman eats up each moment of camera time. Like many Batman villains, especially in Burton-verse, Catwoman is a bit unhinged. However, Pfeiffer brings that across in style. Also, she allows for extra Christopher Walken time, and his Max Shreck is a treat.

Keaton is top notch as Batman AND Bruce Wayne. His take on Wayne has always been the best as he manages the business side with then personal side better than any other. We get snark and we get heart, and we get it without feeling any cringe. Well, at least nothing more than normal early 90’s cringe. His Batman voice isn’t over the top (looking at you Batflek) and he managed to deliver the right amount of humanity through the character.

Batman Returns offers a solid Batman, solid Bruce, solid villains, and a solid Gotham. All of that, in better balance than any of the other films. Do you ever wonder why Returns is so many people’s personal favorite? Have you ever noticed how much Batman: The Animated Series feels and looks like Burton’s world? This is the best blend of everything you think of when it comes to Batman and his world. It may not be the best film on this list, but it’s the best BATMAN movie on this list.

How does your Top 5 Batman movies list compare to ours? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe or follow on YouTube or your favorite podcast app.

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