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CSBG Archive

You Decide ’11 – Best Batman Movie?

Each day this month, I posted a different poll question – each poll lasts five days, and I’ll reveal the results of the finished polls every Tuesday.

This way, for this month, we can see what our readers feel about various comic book questions. For a month, you folks will decide! Click here to see the other questions that you can answer as well as checking out the latest poll results!

Read on for the last poll question!

Note live action feature film (which is why there is no option for any animated film or any Batman film serials).


I look forward to be the only person who didnt vote for “The Dark Knight” (voted for Batman Begins)

Mark Hamilton

March 1, 2011 at 3:50 am


I definitely agree with ‘Batman Begins’ as the best. While ‘The Dark Knight’ was a great film, the Harvey Dent/Two-Face ending felt like it was a bit tacked onto the Joker story.

“The Dark Knight” is overrated. It’s “Batman” (1989) or “Batman Begins.”

bernard the poet

March 1, 2011 at 4:00 am

Has to be Adam West’s Batman.

There’s a scene in it, in which, Batman uses an Edgar Allan Poe poem to seduce Catwoman. I used those lines verbatim on every first date I went on for about ten years.

I bet no-one has ever got laid quoting Christian Bale.

“I bet no-one has ever got laid quoting Christian Bale.”


I don’t think so either, but this list comes down to Heath Ledger’s Joker for me.

Best line of the week so far, though.

Tom Fitzpatrick

March 1, 2011 at 4:32 am

Not even a question.


As long as we’e talking live action movies, it has to be Dark Knight, no contest.

If we could include all Batman in other media, I still prefer the classic Batman: the Animated Series.

No “Mask of the Phantasm”? That had a theatrical release dude, it counts.

m121, I’m with you.

As it stands, I had to go with Adam West. Yes, I loved Burton’s Batman when it came out, but which one has actually brought the most joy to my life? The one with Bat Anti-Shark Repellent, of course.

This should be expanded to include the Halle Berry Catwoman movie, just so we could know how many people click on the wrong button by mistake in these polls.

I agree with M121, Mask of the Phantasm really should be on the list. Until Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it was (IMO) the best Batman movie.

I get the feeling a lot of people will vote Batman Begins over the Dark Knight as almost a backlash to the latter’s popularity.

I did not like Batman Begins very much. I wanted to watch more of the “Bruce Wayne: Ninja” movie and they had to ruin it by adding the Bat costume…it didn’t seem to fit the movie at all.

The Dark Knight on the other hand was definitely the “Joker” movie…could have probably removed all of Bale’s lines and it would still be the best Batman movie ever…likely a better movie altogether. The Dark Knight is my favorite Bat movie…but I think we can still get a better BATMAN movie. I never really feel like people are scared of him…or that he has any detective skills at all. Meh.

I look forward to be the only person who didnt vote for “The Dark Knight” (voted for Batman Begins)

I didn’t vote it for the best. In fact I think it’s tied for 2nd worst with Batman Forever and above Batman and Robin. So you’re not alone in that respect. I’m pretty sure though I’m the only one who didn’t vote for Batman Begins either. Boring ass movie.

Batman 1966 if only because it taught me that “Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb.”

Live action!…Mask of the Phantasm was awesome.

The Dark Knight…by far. Begins is good as well, but the other stuff… not so much.

Every time I hear people say that Nicholson was good as the Joker I just shake my head.

Great actor. Terrible Joker.

One great movie, two pretty good ones, and four piles of stupid.

TDK gets my vote easily.

Count me in the crowd that would have voted for “Mask of the Phantasm” had it been listed.

The Dark Knight drags horribly when the Joker is offscreen. Batman is easily the least compelling figure in that film, which is a pretty serious flaw. With that said, I’d still rank it the best of the films listed, though Mask of the Phantasm is still the best Batman movie ever, and I enjoyed Under the Red Hood a great deal more than TDK overall.

Batman (1989). I don’t need a “real world” Batman to make the character interesting on the big screen. If I could vote over again, I might even vote Batman Returns on account of Michelle Pfeifer. She has been the most watchable love interest for Batman on film. I think a spin-off film with her as Catwoman would been a fun film.

Nolan’s Batman movies would rank next with Schumacher’s Batman and Adam West at the bottom of the list. Not because they’re bad movies, or not just because they’re bad movies, more because they’re not an aspect of Batman that appeals to me.

I went with ’66 Batman simply because it never stops being entertaining. I used to watch it constantly as a boy and now my three year old daughter is addicted to it. Works for me because I get as much out of it as she does. Batman Begins and Dark Knight for as good as they are get a bit tiresome after the third or fourth viewing. ’66 Batman I’ve seen at least a dozen times in just the last month and I still find something new to marvel at every time I watch it. And sure DK has Ledger doing an amazing Joker but ’66 has the mad genius of Burgess, Gorshin and Romero. Top that superbly casted sundae off with the Hemilton/Repp chocolate sauce and the Ward/West cherry on top and you have the recipe for one of the sweetest classics ever.

My favorite line (of the moment): “They maybe drinkers, Robin, but they’re still human beings.”

And for those mentioning “Mask of the Phantasm”, if you’re going to open up that can of worms, I’d rather vote on the best Batman: TAS episode or movie. I really feel that “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker” is tops, but there are many episodes of the show that are better than “Mask”.

I’ve bought a couple episodes on iTunes and I got the first season on dvd for Christmas, and I can’t believe how packed that season was with thrilling character origin episodes that stand up very well so many years later.

Bat. Shark. Repellent

Anything else need to be said? ;).

1. Dark Knight
2. Batman Begins
3. Batman ’89
4. Batman ’66
5. Batman Returns
6. Batman Forever
7. Batman & Robin

And keep in mind, the top three, maybe even four, are among my ten all-time favorite films. Holy Bat-Celluloid!

bernard the poet

March 1, 2011 at 8:57 am

There is a lot to admire in The Dark Knight, but I’m afraid my heart sank a bit when the Joker visited Harvey Dent in hospital – “My God! I’ve already been sitting here 2 hours and now they’re going to start an entirely new film”.

I think the reason the Mask of Phantasm stands up so well is that it is a straightforward adventure story with a superhero as the main character. Most live action superhero movies don’t have the confidence to do this. The main character always has to go on a “journey”. So in Spiderman, Peter Parker learns that with “great power comes great responsibility”, in Spiderman 2, he tries to give up being a superhero, but learns that with “great power comes great responsibility”, in Spideman 3, he starts dressing like a goth, until he realises – you guessed it – that with “great power comes great responsibility”. Inevitably, the audience is sick of the whole formula by then and the studio discover that they have to re-boot the whole franchise. Compare that to James Bond, who has never felt the need to examine his life or explore the morality of his profession, he’s still going strong after fifty years.

A hope we get a Worst Batman Movie poll!

I lean toward Batman Forever. Kilmer is my second-favorite Batman, but the movie’s desecration of Two Face is blasphemous and we are subjected to Tommy Lee Jones’ acting nadir. Jim Carey was dead to me after this.

Batman and Robin embraced the stupid so fully that it is hard to even think of it as a film. It’s like counting the Star Wars Christmas Special as the seventh Star Wars movie.

Lord Paradise

March 1, 2011 at 9:14 am

Turns out Dark Knight is actually a really awesome movie and deserves about 80% of the praise it receives, and Tim Burton is a hack

BATMAN ’66</em:
On the plus side, it had the best versions of Robin and The Riddler that I have ever seen. Lee Meriwether had decent chemistry with Adam West. The fight scenes are less terrible than you might remember.

On the minus side, it had its tongue firmly implanted in its cheek and, therefore, accidently gave rise gruesome sub-genre of comics aimed at "grown-ups". Caesar Romero really was not very good as the Joker. The plot was absurd and illogical.

On the plus side, it totally re-invented Batman visually. It brought a half-dozen terrific innovations to his modus operandi. Jack Nicholson was actually both funny and scary as The Joker. Michael Keaton did a nice little bit at the party with Michael Gough that brought the Bruce-Alfred dynamic home for me. Kim Bassinger as Vicki Vale was the most plausible love interest for Batman ever.

On the minus side, the plot is absurd and illogical. The fight sequences are the weakest of any of the films. The ending is anti-climatic. The movie is grossly over-stuffed with minor characters that add little and occasionally detract from the main plot.

On the plus side, Michelle Pfeiffer is amazing as Catwoman. It is the best version of that character, since it perfectly places her in an interesting contrast with Batman. Danny DeVito is interesting as The Penguin. His henchmen actually bring something extra to the party. It extends and deepens the brilliant visual world of the first movie.

On the minus side, the plot is absurd and illogical. The movie is over-stuffed with minor characters, who detract from the main action. The movie has a Batman who is maybe a shade darker than some fans prefer (e.g. killing a henchmen), so it opened itself for criticism.

On the plus side, it opened with the first truly great Batman fight on film. Jim Carrey did a decent Frank Gorshin impression. Nicole Kidman was really, really beautiful.

On the minus side, the plot was absurd and illogical. Tommy Lee Jones was awful as Two-Face. Val Kilmer played Bruce Wayne as an American James Bond. Chris O’Donnell was a total wet blanket as Robin and, therefore, utterly missed the point of the character.

On the plus side, they used Paul Dini’s origin for Mr. Freeze.

On the minus side, it was dollar-for-dollar the worst movie ever made. It was a rambling, plotless mess. One actor was worse than the next. It almost killed the superhero movie genre.

On the plus side, the plot made sense! The Bruce-Alfred chemistry was fantastic. To the extent that it changed characters from the comics, it actually improved them. It made the whole business feel plausible. Christian Bale is very good as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

On the minus side, it sort of squandered Arkham Asylum as a setting. Katie Holmes and Bale had terrible chemistry.

On the plus side, the plot is pretty good. There are some nice twists and turns. Heath Ledger gives a great performance as The Joker. Aaron Echhardt is great as Harvey Dent. Gary Oldman essentially becomes Jim Gordon. Best Batman fight scenes ever filmed.

On the minus side, Bale’s growly voice and the Batmobile as Tank play worse then second time around. Over-stuffed with minor characters that hurt the re-watchability to bigger degree than you would think.

Everyone chill out! Batman & Robin was the coolest!

I really like Batman ’66 for it’s tone, Batman ’89 for having a unique and damncool visual sense, and (believe it or not) Dark Knight for the plot. I’d give 1/3rd point to each of ‘em.

Annoyed Grunt

March 1, 2011 at 9:54 am

The film snob and comic geek in me are hating the 7 year old who desperately wants to vote for Batman ’89

Begins, followed by 89,

The list says Live Action pretty clearly, thus no animated movies (that’ll be another poll, I suspect)

But come on man, no Batman XXX parody?! Hehe, kidding.

Ricardo Marques

March 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

Batman Returns:

1 – Michelle Pfeiffer in leather

2 – That beautifully disgusting Penguin

3 – Gotham City’s architecture

I liked TDK but thought it was overhyped and overrated. Begins tops it as my favorite and therefore got my vote.

(Prior to Nolan’s revamp, Batman and Returns shared the top spot.)

The Dark Knight: Best Batman fight scenes ever filmed.

ARE YOU SERIOUS? Jerky cameras, incomprehensible quick cuts of closeups on elbows, kneecaps and teeth with what sounds like mattresses being slapped together as sound effects…THOSE are the best Batman fight scenes ever filmed? Maybe you should add a disclaimer, like “Best Batman fight scenes ever filmed in 2008 by Chris Nolan” THAT I’d agree with.

I would have voted for “The Mask of the Phantasm”, because it actually has a mystery for the dark knight detective to solve.

1. Batman 1966: humor, romance, action, it has it all
2. Batman 1989: still the last live action DC film I’d call good
3. Batman Forever: at least it was funny
4. Dark Knight: Ledger’s Joker is by far the worst ever
5. Batman Begins: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
6. Batman & Robin: Arnold’s freezemizer song scene avoids the basement
7. Batman Returns: an utter catastrophe from start to finish

The film snob and comic geek in me are hating the 7 year old who desperately wants to vote for Batman ’89

Exactly. It’s impossible for me to be objective about that movie. I mean, objectively the Nolan movies are better, but Batman ’89 was a movie I watched ad infinitum as a kid, on a loop with Ghostbusters I and II and Robocop. I have seen that Batman movie hundreds of times and I love it every time.

Jerky cameras, incomprehensible quick cuts of closeups on elbows, kneecaps and teeth with what sounds like mattresses being slapped together as sound effects…THOSE are the best Batman fight scenes ever filmed?

The jerky camera is not to everyone’s taste, but I think it is a good way to deal with Batman. The whole idea is that he is disorienting and, therefore, able to defeat groups of armed thugs. The jerky camera does a nice job of conveying that sense to me.

Regarding the quick cuts, there is no reason that shooting a superhero fight scene like a musical (i.e. static camera, use of stunts and practical effects) should not work. However, it has not worked yet. The best alternative to me is rapid cutting, which Nolan used pretty well.

Burton Batman.
I absolutely can’t stand the Nolan films

1. Batman Returns
2. The Dark Knight
3. Batman Begins
4. Batman (1989)
5. Batman Forever
6. Batman & Robin

I can’t overlook the flaws of any of these films and working in the film industry has destroyed any “cinema magic” for me. So, as much as I dislike it today, I’m going to vote for the one of these where I saved up all my quarters and rode my bike four miles so I could see it on the big screen – Batman Forever. Sometimes nostalgia is too powerful that it can’t not win.

Only live-action Batman?

No thanks.

Give me ’66 or give me death.

I don’t think there is a great fight in any of the Batman movies. There’s barely any good ones.

Matt Lazorwitz

March 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I would ahve voted for Mask of the Phantasm if it had been an option, as it did a great job of balancing Batman, Bruce Wayne, and the villain, which I find is the problem with most of the live action Batman films.

1) Returns
2) Begins
3) 66
4) TDK
4) 89
5) Forever

I have not seen, nor will I ever see, B & R

Regarding the quick cuts, there is no reason that shooting a superhero fight scene like a musical (i.e. static camera, use of stunts and practical effects) should not work. However, it has not worked yet.

I disagree, plenty of films shot well choreographed superhero style fight scenes. The Matrix, Oldboy, Live Free or Die Hard, Equilibrium. Oldboy for example especially shows that quick cuts aren’t necessary to show realism (although why anyone would want to do Batman realistically rather than bombastically is beyond me):


Nolan’s boring fight scenes weren’t created out of any type of necessity, just poor imagination.

I don’t think there is a great fight in any of the Batman movies. There’s barely any good ones.

I agree that Batman movies don’t have any great fights, but at least Burton’s did have one great moment. The scene where Batman fights the guy with two swords. Sadly it was way too short a scene, like 30 seconds. Still, 30 seconds more great fighting than both Nolan films combined.

I think the reason the Mask of Phantasm stands up so well is that it is a straightforward adventure story with a superhero as the main character. Most live action superhero movies don’t have the confidence to do this. The main character always has to go on a “journey”. … Compare that to James Bond, who has never felt the need to examine his life or explore the morality of his profession, he’s still going strong after fifty years.

As I understand it, Hollywood-style movies are supposed to have a three act structure. Script guru Syd Field described the acts as “get him (or her) up a tree, throw rocks at him (or her) and get him (or her) down”. Well … Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were kind of geniuses at getting their protagonists up into proverbial trees.

Nearly every Silver Age Marvel Comics origin story involves getting its protagonist into some kind of mess. They are nearly perfect First Acts. The problem with Marvel Comics as a source material is that Stan Lee never, ever got the protagonist down. He just kept chucking rocks until he got bored and hired someone else to chuck rocks. As a result, the vast majority of superhero films have issues in their third acts.

Ian Fleming wrote novels. Novels have a beginning, a middle and an end. The Bond producers slowly hammered that into a formula over the course of adapting his 14 books. You can almost guess how the first 30 minutes of any Bond film will play out from a one sentence description of it. After seven Batman films, there is no formula in sight.

Batman 66.

Adam West, the only actor who looked like Bruce Wayne. Burt Ward, the only actor who looked like Dick Grayson. The best Batman- and Robin-costumes, the best Batmobile, the best music and the best opening. Silly – yes. But unlike the Batman in all other movies this Batman has a heart and a soul.

Classic scenes: the poem (“Ich seh dich bei Tag in Gedanken, ich seh bei Nacht dich im Traum und mit dem Glanz deiner Augen, verzauberst du Zeit mir und Raum” – I still remember it to this day) and the wonderful funny harbour scene.

I like this movie since I saw it the first time in 66 or 67.

If it was opened up outside of live action, I’d have voted for Mask of the Phantasm.

The Dark Knight. Legder’s Joker was a surprisingly fresh take on the character, Nolan is a fantastic director, and the plot, while crazy, works and feels like a Batman story. Begins is a close second, but it doesn’t have Ledger’s Joker. ’89 I hated. It looked interesting, but Nicholson was a bad Joker. I’ve never seen Returns, it’s been a while since I’ve seen Batman & Robin and I’ve only seen a little of ’66. I can say that Forever is one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. It’s not even enjoyable in a so bad it’s good way like I remember Batman and Robin as being. The villains are completely wrong, the acting is horrible and the plot is crazy, and not in a good way. Batman and Robin was better than Forever. The Dark Knight was the best one.

@ T.

Here is the thing, none of the really great superhero-style fights involve someone in a costume. It is amazing if you stop and think about it.

Superhero costumes may be like monsters in horror movies in that they work better when you see less of them.

Ronald Kearschner

March 1, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Apparently I really need to see MASK OF THE PHANTASM.

I think Ledger was a better villain, but Nicholson was a better Joker.

Batman 89 has the best overall package – best Gotham city, best costume (I like the yellow oval, sue me), best score, best merchandise, most restrained running-time and best Batman. Keaton’s performance looks better and better each time Bale delivers another line like a parody of a pro wrestler.

But Mask of the Phantasm is also awesome.

Michael Keaton Batman sucks

Adam West all the way!

bernard the poet

March 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

@ Dean: “Here is the thing, none of the really great superhero-style fights involve someone in a costume. It is amazing if you stop and think about it.”

Superman v Zod, Ursa & Non in Superman II, is showing signs of age, but is still the best slugfest yet filmed.

@T, have you seen Luc Besson’s Leon (it might have a different name in the US), that’s how a Batman fight scene should be done.

It is possible to have great fights while wearing capes. Check out some Zorro and Three Musketeer movies.

bernard, yes you’re right, Leon is another great fight scene in a movie that would have been a great style in a Batman flick. It was released as The Professional in the US.

Mutt, Blade’s trenchcoat effectively acted like a cape as well but still allowed for great fight scenes. Maybe the problem is the heavy rubber suit? Nolan announced he was giving Bale a lighter, more mobile suit for Dark Knight and I thought that would fix the fight problems in the movie but if anything the scenes got worse the second time around.

One thing that makes The Dark Knight lose a lot of points for me: the sound mix.

No other Batman movie (even Begins) forces me to make such a choice between having explosions and crashes come blasting out of the speakers, making the neighbours complain, and not being able to make out the goddamn dialogue when I watch it at home.
In an era where people are forced to live in ever-smaller and thinner-walled condo apartments, the trend for ever more obnoxious audio mixes on movies sold for home viewing is inexplicable.

The Crazed Spruce

March 1, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Batman ’66 was campy fun, but played more like an extended episode of the series than a movie in its own right.

I rewatched all the Burton and Schumacher Batman movies not too long ago. They really didn’t hold up as well as I’d have liked.

So that leaves Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And with all due respect to Heath Ledger, I thought that Batman Begins was, all in all, a better movie.

Mask of the Phantasm. No point in voting if it’s not there.

Mask of the Phantasm. Best movie no doubt.

I’m pretty sure I’m the only one voting for Batman Forever. Still, I’m going to be very upset if it loses to Batman Returns.

Batman Returns!

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman is amazing! Her interaction with Batman, Bruce and Max are all top notch. My favorite scene is when they are on the dance floor – and she admits to Bruce she wants to kill Max. Such emotion! Love it!

Batman and Robin is the only one I dont like. Just a bunch of one liners. Not personalities, just card board cut outs.

I’m going to have to rewatch both of Nolan’s films (been meaning to for awhile now!) Can’t remember alot of what happens – only seen them once (Dark Kinght) and Twice (Begins).

I liked “Dark Knight” but mostly for Heath Ledger’s performance. Bale’s Batman voice is so ridiculous even Letterman makes jokes about it. He has no chemistry with his female leads, and how could they compare to Kim Bassinger or Michelle Pffeifer’s Catwoman? My vote is for the first Batman movie. If the internet was around when Michael Keaton was cast, it would surely have split in two. I still think he’s the best at playing both roles, Bruce Wayne and Batman.

Of the “serious” films, I like the Dark Knight the best. But I can’t bear to watch it in its entirety again. And based on that fact, I voted the 1966 Batman as the best, because no matter how many times I watch it, it still entertains a lot.

just three stranded thoughs:

1: Tim Burton
2: Michelle Pfeiffer (as Catwoman)
3: The film stars a superhero (unlike some 21st century movies I don’t want to menion)

I think the salient question here is which of these Batmen would win in a fight.

Not the Jokers, because it’s pretty clear Cesar Romero would wipe the floor with the others,

Cream Cheese Alchemist

March 1, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I’m more inclined to say BB:ROTJoker. Live action-wise, Batman Begins. But the moment someone gets to Anarky, that’s my new favorite. Nolan, he’s smack dab in the Joker vs Batman dichotmy you set up.

Only among Internet comic book fanatics the result of this poll can be in any doubt. Any other segment of the population, DARK KNIGHT would win by a landslide.

I would be stating the obvious by saying Internet comic book fans are a strange bunch.


Maybe it’s the same as I’ve seen in many of those polls. People who go for the strange choice feel the need to defend their choice loudly. People who go for the obvious choice will often not even write a comment. So it seems like you’ve been momentarily thrown in a strange alternate reality where DARK KNIGHT was a critical failure (the same alternate reality where Wolverine isn’t the most popular X-Men).

And I have to get if off my chest. I sort of loathe the 1966 movie, and I feel only lukewarm about Tim Burton’s efforts. It’s not only that I loved the Nolan movies. It’s that I dislike all the others too.

Only among Internet comic book fanatics the result of this poll can be in any doubt. Any other segment of the population, DARK KNIGHT would win by a landslide.

I would be stating the obvious by saying Internet comic book fans are a strange bunch.

Why do Internet comic fans bash other internet comic fans so much. I don’t think this comments thread is playing out any differently than a real world discussion at all. Just like in the real world there’s a bunch of people loving the Dark Knight, a very small minority saying it’s good but overrated or outright sucks, and people coming back to say those naysayers are insane. My real life Dark Knight conversations with non comic fans haven’t been that different from this comments thread.

Rene@ Insulting people because they don’t agree with you? Looks like your alot like the comic book fans you seem to loath. How about you get off that high horse and realise that your opinion – yes, opinion – isn’t the be all and end all….

I think it’s a safe bet any message board group is going to vote differently than the masses by virtue of being a message board group. Quick- what are you doing Saturday night? I’m seeing the original Tron in 70 mm.

Personally, I think Dark Knight is like Empire but without a conclusion. For me, born the same year it came out, It was a great cliffhanger and it was great seeing such lows. Right now, I’m digging Brave and the Bold so much more. I don’t mind a tragic Batman but Nolan’s has left us with one who’s serving a life sentence. I find it kinda emo. But if we get that dawn, I’ll probably like it much more. And if Anarky shows up… I’m sold. The real one, mind you. Not the one I mistook for Sgt Hatred.

Relax, guys.

I didn’t say their opinion was wrong. I didn’t say their opinion is somehow worth less than the opinions of non-geeks.

I should have clarified two things:

1) I don’t deny that I am geek myself too.

2) I didn’t mean “strange” as a bad thing. Strange is just strange. Unusual. Different. I mean, there seems to be a surprisingly large number of anti-Dark Knight posts. Isn’t that unusual and different?

Heh, another thing I’d like to say is that people with very different opinions from “popular wisdom” have my admiration too, even though they also slightly irritate me.

I always admired T. for feeling no shame for hating DARK KNIGHT while everybody else is praising it. It takes personality to not bother with what the majority thinks. Also that one dude, Jack Norris, that seems to loathe 1980s Marvel comics while everyone else is praising it.

I would like to have that much self-confidence.

I have to say that I still am partial to Batman Returns even after all these years. It’s the only Tim Burton Batman film that feels like it has Tim Burton’s sensibilities in it. Danny DeVito’s Penguin is a gajillion varieties of awesome, I loved the take on Selina Kyle and I found the script sharp and witty. Michael Keaton is also superb, making a much better, tougher, Bruce Wayne and Batman than he did the first time out.

I concede that it gets a bit muddled in the last third or so, as it tries to decide whether it’s going to go with the Daniel Waters script or the Wesley Strick uncredited rewrite, but I found the whole thing strange and dark and engrossing and also reflective of the artists’ sensibilities. Like the best Batman comics, really.

And the opening sequence from when the Bat Signal is flashed to Batman’s arrival to take on the circus gang is flipping awesome. I think it’s my favourite sequence from a Batman movie, ever.

Yes, that circus gang fight scene was pretty inspired and fun.

Voted for Batman Begins just because Mask of the Phantasm wasn’t an option. BTAS Batman > All Live Action Batmen.

I actually liked Batman Returns. Fun movie…lots of stars

And those penguins were pretty scary. I dig having different versions of Batman now that I think about it.

Had to vote for Batman Begins, but for Alfred and Lucius, and Ra’s.

I do think Keaton had the best balance of Batman/Bruce Wayne.

I actually liked SubZero more than Mask, but the DCAU version of Mr. Freeze is tragic and awesome at once.

“Batman Begins”. It was the most realistic take on Batman’s origin ever, while still being a great movie in itself.

Batman Returns deserves extra consideration Burton giving Paul “PeeWee” Reubens the part of the Penguin’s father. I should have switched my vote to BR instead of Burton’s first movie.

Based on the Batmobiles Adam West;s Batman wins hands down. Lets hope the next film gives us a decent Batmobile . The Tank might have been practical but its not half as cool.

These plols are always so funny how everyone’s taste is derived from the era they came of age in.

I go with Batman Begins as the best… um…”grim and gritty” movie :-)

Dark Knight….boy ppl love this one like its a top 10 all time. I don’t know…Its great for people who love modern movie making, camera work, pacing, etc, . The acting and writing of the Joker character really is perfect. They lost me with the Two-Face story, it never transcended being cartoonish in a movie that tried so hard to be about realism.

Batman 1989….Words can not explain how the months leading up to June 1989 were absolutely ruled by Batman is coming!!!11!!! in my podunk town junior high. I probably drew about 100 Batman logos for friends lockers and notebooks in those months. After that, it couldn’t help but be a let down. Keaton and Nicholson were poorly cast.

I think it depends on one’s fandom bent as well. I thought it was awesome that Batman Begins had references that I picked up on as a weekly comic reader but they were integrated in a way didn’t detract from my far less geeky cousin’s enjoyment of the movie too.

Peter, I came of age in the 1980s, but I’m not a big fan of Tim Burton’s Batman movies. I never thought they came even close to capture the character’s essence. Poorly chosen actors, carnival-like settings, silly backstory in the case of Selina, etc. I feel like they almost work, if you totally forget the comics.

I feel like Nolan’s movies totally get what the character is about, even though they still retain some things I dislike from the Burton’s movies, like the over-emphasis on armor and cool gadgets. Nolan’s Gotham also feel like the comics’s Gotham, and I think that detail matters a lot. Gotham is a main character in Batman stories. Nolan also rightfully emphasis Bruce’s parents, Jim Gordon, and his Two-Face is exactly like the one in the comics too, even though you felt it cartoonish.

@ Rene:

I (obviously) love comics, but I do not understand the insistence that deviation from contemporary comics are “wrong”.

Everyone working on Batman after Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson were doing an adaptation. Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams adapted the original comics one way and Steve Engelhart and Marshall Rodgers did it another. In that sense, Frank Miller (or whoever) is no different from Tim Burton or William Dozier. They are all doing adaptations in different media.

The deviation itself didn’t bother me as much as the attitude behind it. There used to be a general opinion among movie makers and TV execs that all this comic book crap would never be accepted by the general public, so they had to change it all. Growing up in the period I did, I was painfully aware of this.

That amazing, loving, Richard Donner Superman movie seemed to be the major exception. Everything else was Superfriends or campy 1960s Batman or the Hulk TV show with David Banner or the awful Captain America movie, etc. I almost liked the Tim Burton movie when I first saw it. Yes, it changed everything about Batman, and Tim Burton admited more than once that he had disdain for comic books, but at least it was less campy than people were used to in superhero adaptations. Beggars can’t be choosers, right? I sincerely thought we’d never get anything better.

Man, when I saw Batman: the Animated Series, and soon after the X-Men’s first animated series, I cried. Dude, I cried. It seemed like the first time in my life that I saw some respect for the original material (that amazing Superman movie was a bit before my time). And then lots of more or less faithful adaptations with the X-Men movies, the Spider-Man movies, the Batman movies, the Watchmen movie, the Iron Man movies.

So now I am a lot more accepting of some movies and TV shows not being all that faithful, because we’ve had a lot of very faithful ones that were successful. The general attitude of disdain for comic books isn’t there anymore. So if someone now wants to change stuff around because it could be interesting, I won’t get pissed. Different times. But I still find it hard to watch the Tim Burton movies again, as they were made in the Condescending Age.

When Tim Burton was at Disney, they tried to get an another animator (Andreas Deja?) who had more of a classic Disney style to incorporate Burton’s designs for the Black Cauldron but he found there wasn’t much he could do, that the drawings were good the way they were. There are things I admire about Burton’s work on Batman, mainly giving me a first look at many thing I came to love, but I would prefer to watch his more personal work than his Batman. I find it overemphasizes the villains, bears the fingerprints of studio execs from the Condescending Age as Rene mentioned, and there’s been so many other takes I prefer more.

As for Schumacher’s Batman (and, for that matter, Singer’s Superman). Again, very much a hodgepodge. BTAS had a wonderful episode about different Batman interpretations that included Joel’s. It’s just as if the studio stopped Dr. Frankfurter in the middle of his “anticipation” line. I realize a corporate entity can’t just jump ahead with a gay Batman, or even his Authority doppelgänger, but I sort of resent this attempt to play both sides of the culture war. (and yes, that’s one of the issues I’m addressing in my own work)

@ Rene:

I get what you are saying, but I am not sure how much of a difference it makes. Whatever the attitude of the film-makers toward the source material, they ultimately had to make their own Movie, TV Show or Cartoon. Those adaptations have to stand or fall on their own.

You could hardly ask for a more faithful adaptation than Zach Snyder’s WATCHMEN, but it is an overly static movie that does not give nearly the quality of thought to the film medium as Moore & Gibbon’s masterpiece did to comics. Conversely, BATMAN BEGINS made huge changes from BATMAN: YEAR ONE and Batman comics. However, the movie works extremely well on its own terms.

Richard Donner and Tom Mankiewicz brought their own ideas to their Superman film(s), just like Tim Burton & Co. brought their own ideas to their Batman films. The “S’ shield as a family crest was new. Ursa and Non both made their debuts in SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE. Jonathan Kent pre-deceasing Martha Kent was a new idea in S:TM.

The big difference between the pre X-MEN Marvel adaptations and those DC adaptations was that the new ideas in the DC stuff were mostly good and the new ideas in the Marvel stuff were mostly bad. That is not a mark in favor of greater fidelity to the source material.

It’s about the spirit. Honestly I though Saturday Morning Watchmen, a viral video, was a better adaptation than the film itself, which struck me as closer to fan art. I’ve come to suspect the way to do a faithful Watchmen Adaptation would be as a morning news show or something. The movie had traces of it, as did the supplemental video. In going from print to film, maybe we see snippets of Rorschach’s YouTube account or clips from an upcoming interview with him, the shrink being a guy from 60 minutes or Dateline. Breaking news. Etc.

@ CCA:

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons had given a ton of thought to the medium of comics and its history. They wanted to talk about the subtext Gold and Silver Age superheroes, the culture that created them and what was possible within the medium. That is what made it so difficult to adapt.

In theory, a film-maker could have embraced the spirit of WATCHMEN and given some thought early film serials (i.e. the Golden Age), the William Dozier influenced TV stuff (i.e. the Silver Age) and Burton stuff. Piecing together different styles to indicate different time periods is a technique that works well in both comics and on film.

Well, I’m not sure bringing in WATCHMEN as a counterexample to the virtues of faithfulness cuts it with me, since I DO like the WATCHMEN movie, and I’d rather watch it a few more times than going through the Burton BATMAN movies. But really, expecting the WATCHMEN movie to give the “quality of thought” to the movie medium that the WATCHMEN comic did to comics… you were not expecting much from Zach Snyder, were you? :) Perhaps walking on water?

I feel like this is futile, since a lot of it is subjective, but I feel like Richard Donner changed or added a few details while still keeping the spirit of the comic book Superman very much intact. The same way that making Spider-Man’s web organic doesn’t change the dynamic of Spider-Man, while making Reed Richards a pathetic, underconfident nerd with no leadership qualities changes quite a bit of the FF dynamic, turning the team into a bunch of freaks with little purpose, instead of daring explorers.

I think Burton’s Batman has the second kind of change. The drive and determination that makes Batman… Batman shines through in the Nolan version, but Michael Keaton seems like a vaguely melancholy man that is not impressive in the least without gadgets. Burton’s Gotham and his entire movie have a dream-like quality, a sort of fairy tale quality, that I don’t think befits Batman. The animated series too is set in a timeless world, but more of a movie noir world that is very Batman, while Burton’s is… I don’t know. It worked amazingly with Edward Scissorhands. Not with Batman, IMO. It lacks punch.

There were many things I dig about the Watchmen movie but I do think it could have really pushed it more. As it stands, I consider it a companion piece more than a standalone, a cinematic illustration similar to the Potter movies. I would say something like Robert Altman’s Long Goodbye captures more of the spirit of Watchmen, from the hero behind the times down to the recurring elements like the film’s title song repeated throughout- even as supermarket Muzak.

I don’t think we’ve gotten a complete lift from panel to screen. Maybe we never will- different medium and wider audience. But then I look over at Superman secret origins that just came out in hardcover. It plays like a movie. I think we’re closer.

Now where’s Anarky? That’s my favorite Batman movie waiting to happen. I just saw that graffitti guy on the news and thought back to Anarky.

I was extremely impressed that Zach Snyder managed to get so much of the comic’s extremely complex plot into a movie, and that he got 5 out of 6 very unusual protagonists to be almost exactly like they are in the comic. That was an accomplishment that really impressed me. But to expect the movie to be as revolutionary to cinema as the comics was for… comics, it didn’t strike me as a realistic expectation.

As for Batman, I just remembered something John Byrne said once, refering to writing for the Marvel/DC franchises. There are two ways to go about it, you can think “how can I tell a good Batman story” or you can think “how can I use Batman to tell the kinds of story I usually tell?”

Deep down, my problem with the Burton movies is exactly that. You may like or dislike the Nolan movies, but he tried to tell Batman stories the best way he could. I don’t get that feeling with Burton. He told a Burton story that happens to have characters that are a little like those in Batman comics, and not a Batman story.

But they’re not bad movies in themselves. I just don’t think they’re good Batman movies.

@ Rene:

I guess that I have a much shorter checklist of what constitutes a Batman story than you do. My take is that part of the charm of superheroes is that they are pretty simple characters and, therefore, leave a lot of room for interpretation. What I want is for the adapter to bring something of themselves to the story. Both Burton and Nolan did that in their different ways.

Well, maybe. I feel the same as you do with characters like King Arthur and Robin Hood. Simple characters that you can interpret in a lot of ways, and it’s interesting to see all the different takes.

But with Batman and other superheroes, I guess I just can’t discard my years of experience reading about them in the comics, that I still consider the primary source. And I know that the characters have changed several times in the comics, and I accept that, but there are certain limits to what I’m going to accept, I admit.

My comics reading of Batman goes from the 1970s to the 2000s. Many changes, but also many constants. The Nolan version fits into it fine, the BTAS version is just a little sanitized for children, but still very much what you could find in the 1970s. Most of those DC Animated Movies also have versions that I recognize. I think there is a lot of room for change and interpretation while keeping inside the boundaries.

Not the campy 1960s Batman, obviously. Or Burton’s Batman, that is a few steps outside of the Batman norm of urban noir and right inside urban fairy tale. Not that they’re automatically bad for that. Just not my Batman. I actually love a few of the other Burton movies. Edward Scissorhands is a favorite of mine. But at the time I thought the Crow movie looked more like Batman than Burton’s movies.

1. Batman 1989
2. The Dark Knight
3. Dark Knight Rises
4. Batman Returns
5. Batman & Robin
6. Batman Forever
7. Batman Begins

1. Batman (89) – Dark and original. Keaton still owns the cowl
2. The Dark Knight – Ledger was fantastic but somethings wrong with Bale’s Lungs
3. Batman Begins – Great origin story and Bale is at the top of his game
4. Batman Returns – Darker and Keatonier the most fun batman of them all

5. Batman the Movie (66) – It is what it is and that’s better than forever
6. Batman Forever – Not all bad…just not too good

Dishonorable Mention: Batman & Robin – If you’ve seen it god bless…if you haven’t avoid it at any cost

1. Batman 1989
2. Batman Returns
3. Batman & Robin
4. Batman Forever
5. The Dark Knight Rises
6. The Dark Knight
7. Batman Begins

1. Batman 1989
2. Batman Returns
3. Batman & Robin
4. Batman Forever
5. Batman The Movie
6. The Dark Knight Rises
7. The Dark Knight
8. Batman Begins

Note 1: I dont care what people think of me Heath Ledger Joker is EMO and GAY.
Note 2: Two Face is so stupid in tdk.

Note 1, Bob, you’re absolutely right. Given how the Joker and Clayface were done in the mid00s Batman cartoon, I think that was the point. BBMountain wasn’t the only reason Ledger was cast, but it was a factor.

The Dark Knight – It has a great plot, the actors essentially become the characters, and it has an origin story for two-face. Not to mention it being one of the only films that portrays Batman in his traditional roll as a detective. The Joker is intense; however not a carbon copy of the comics of the animated series, Batman’s greatest enemy has his best off screen treatment in this film.

Batman Begins – This film draws from Frank Millers “Batman Year One” and is the best adaptation of Batman’s origin on the big screen. It was the first film that portrayed Batman as more than just a guy in a suit.

Batman 89 – The film’s style is so Tim Burton, and also very rooted in classic expressionism. It was the best version of the Joker of its time, but it also became the backbone for Batman the animated series.

What can I say, everything after that isn’t very good. I enjoy Batman: the animated series from the 90’s. As for the other films on this list I think they are all extremely mediocre. Batman Returns would have to come next though, followed by Batman Forever, than batman 66 and batman & robin

Ameen Makanvand

August 2, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Batman Returns is absolutely the best Batman movie, however my second pick is Batman Begins. The only thing that annoys me with the Nolan trilogy is that everything has too realistic, leaving no room for creativity. Having said that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight were good, I found The Dark Knight Rises quite boring and prefer the wierd quirky pervertedness of the Burton Batman films over anything else

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