It’s safe to say that Batman is one of, if not the most rebooted characters/franchises in the world. We have seen many actors take on the role, and many directors take their shot at creating a new and unique movie.
We’ve had our beloved and light-hearted Adam West in the 60’s. Then came along Tim Burton and gave us a darker version with Michael Keaton playing the role of Batman in the late 80’s. Then came a rough patch for our caped crusader in the 90’s with director Joel Schumacher and starring George Clooney, haunting our dreams with the infamous “Bat-Nips”. Thankfully, Christopher Nolan redeemed Batman and Gotham city with the timeless Dark Knight trilogy, with Christian Bale donning the cape of The Dark Knight. And finally Zack Snyder basically “Zack Snydered” Batman, as Ben Affleck played the role of the surprisingly violent, killing-machine.
And now, with the release of The Batman, we’ve seen Matt Reeves directing Robert Pattinson, our least favorite vampire, playing the role of our favorite caped crusader. The movie, actually the film, exceeded my expectations by a mile and a half. And now, it’s time to do what we shouldn’t do, but love to do; see where The Batman ranks among other Batman movies, the good ones at least.
THE DARK KNIGHT
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone. The Dark Knight is not only the best Batman film, it is the best and most complete film based on a comic book. And one of the best films ever made.
A cohesive plot that balances the world of Bruce Wayne and Batman, with a menacing Joker played by the late Heath Ledger. The Joker doesn’t only challenge Batman and his moral code, but also Bruce Wayne and how he views the city. As the Joker said, it is a fight for Gotham’s soul.
What makes The Dark Knight the best Batman film is not the Batman element of it all, but the fact it feels like an original film. With themes such as modern terrorism, order vs chaos, political corruption, mob crimes done in a noir style. The Dark Knight made Batman and Joker feel like new original characters, and Christopher Nolan made a timeless film that set a standard that’s too good to ever reach. It is a near perfect film.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
An under-appreciated masterpiece, due to comparison to its previous sequel. The Dark Knight Rises completes the epic Dark Knight Trilogy with style and awe.
A grand spectacle rounding off the great saga of the dark knight, Batman faces Bane in a battle, quite literally, for the soul of Gotham. However, what makes this film an incredible piece, is not fighting Bane. But the entire plot and how it unfolds.
A Bruce Wayne broken by time and fate, is unaware of the storm brewing to bring Gotham to its knees. But we see the will and resilience instilled in the city, as they too rise to fight the menace that is Bane.
This film is not a Batman story, it is a Bruce Wayne film that has an incredibly well done character arc.
Starting off as a broken Batman, Bruce realizes a great threat to Gotham. Naively donning the cape, he is beaten in an intense showdown against Bane. However, Bruce Wayne realizes the truth of escaping “the pit”. He must embrace his true humanity and be afraid of what every human fears; death. And that is an incredibly well done character arc.
The third spot on this list is tied with the fourth, however, if I have to give the spot to a movie, it’s The Batman. Credit goes to director Matt Reeves and cinematographer Greig Frasier, who produced a stunning film that defied the odds.
The Batman is the “most Batman” movie we have ever seen. We finally see him as the great detective that he is. We finally see Gotham as we have seen it in comic books and the video games, gritty and dark. And we finally see a noob Batman, which is a fresh new take on the character.
In this grim, hopeless city, we get a Batman that believes in redeeming it, but he has the wrong approach to it. Branded as “vengeance”, he chooses the path of being a vigilante rather than a symbol of hope and true justice. This set up a great arc. When he chooses to help the people of Gotham in a beautifully shot sequence, we finally see the pay off for the character development.
But what about Bruce Wayne? Which is the biggest issue in this film, very little Bruce Wayne. Pattinson portrays an emo Bruce Wayne, and he does so in the worst possible way. We don’t fully understand Bruce Wayne, and why he chooses to become Batman. Batman is incomplete without Bruce Wayne, we need to understand why he chooses to wear the mask and cape. Living and seeing the corruption he is living in, that has infested Gotham’s DNA. This is one of the main reasons he chooses to don the cape.
It wasn’t easy ranking The Batman higher than Batman Begins, but in all honesty, this is probably the right spot for it. Batman Begins is one of those movies where if you watch it again and again, it keeps getting better and better. But there are some things missing from it, such as well done fight scenes, but that was done on purpose.
I understand why director Christopher Nolan chose to utilize the quick camera movement, with close-ups and not really showing what is happening during the fight sequences. Nolan wanted Batman to seem like a shadow, like a myth. His enemies barely see him, but we barely do too. In a superhero movie, this takes away a necessary element; the element of hype.
But this film tells a great origin story, in fact the best one we’ve seen to date. A great balanced plot between Bruce Wayne and Batman, seeing Bruce Wayne develop his alter ego, it was all done in a cohesive manner that told a properly structured story.
Learning it is not who he is underneath that matters, but what he does defines him. Bruce chooses to draw his own path, and save Gotham in the way he sees necessary.
If you watch Tim Burton’s adaptation today, it would look a tad outdated. However, Burton did kickstart the whole fad for superhero movies, and gave them a more serious tone.
On top of creating the first serious comic book movie, we had memorable performances by Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker.
In a goth.…Gotham city (is that the origin of the name?), we get out first dark….dark knight. Keaton’s portrayal is still the standard of excellence to this date. He definitely left his mark on the character. As for Nicholson’s performance, it is deemed to be the second best, or even the best according to some, Joker we have seen.
And there you have it, the best Batman movies and where The Batman ranks amongst them. Comparing these movies is unfair, as each movie has a unique element that sets it apart, and this topic will always be subjective. But who are we kidding? We love to compare superhero movies and see which one is our favorite, and perhaps raise some controversy in the process.