Total Recall: Batman Movies

With The Dark Knight Rises hitting theaters, we take a closer look at the Caped Crusader's big-screen adventures.

Batman

The Masked Manhunter. The Caped Crusader. Bats. You know who we're talking about, film fans, and chances are you've had this Friday circled on your calendar since Warner Bros. announced that July 20, 2012 was the day The Dark Knight Rises would be arriving in theaters. The conclusion of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, Rises is one of the year's most anticipated releases, and in honor of this momentous occasion, we decided to dedicate this week's list to a (mostly) fond look back at the Bat in all of his cinematic guises. With the Bat-signal blazing, it's time for Total Recall!


79%

Batman: The Movie

For a Batman interpretation frequently derided for its campiness, Batman: The Movie has a surprisingly high number of quotable lines and memorable scenes. Remember how the dynamic duo deduce that all their archenemies -- Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, and The Joker -- are working together to take over the world? Or the insane logic Robin consistently applies to Riddler's questions that always turn out to be right? But the best bit has to be the one highlighted below. It involves bat ladders, shark repellent Bat-spray, and a high seas encounter with an exploding Megalodon. "Holy Cornball Camp, Batman!" exclaims Scott Weinberg of eFilmCritic.com, "This movie's a hoot!"

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71%

Batman

One of the most hyped movies in Hollywood history, and one of the finest examples of movie tie-ins and cross-promotion (so successful it made t-shirt bootleggers filthy rich), Batman is also one of the weirdest event pictures of all time. Director Tim Burton jettisoned the plots (if not the dark tone) of Bob Kane's original comics, and came up with set designs reminiscent of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and freakish, brooding characters similar to... well, a Tim Burton movie. Particularly compelling is Jack Nicholson as the Joker, who gleefully relishes his plan to kill the citizens of Gotham City with lethal gas. Michael Keaton makes for a subdued Dark Knight, a hero who dispenses vigilante justice while living a morose existence in Wayne Manor. A precursor to more complex comic book adaptations, Batman made piles of money, and the bat-logo was ubiquitous in the summer of 1989. "Burton brings back film noir elements to the new Batman, elevating it to a dark, demented opera," wrote Jeffrey Anderson of Combustible Celluloid.

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81%

Batman Returns

Tim Burton has said he always sympathized with monsters, and so, for his sequel to Batman, he gave audiences not one, but two empathetic, pitiable villains. The Penguin (Danny DeVito) is a deformed orphan who leads an army of aquatic, flightless birds from the bowels of Gotham City. The Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a frumpy secretary who is killed by her boss (Christopher Walken) after she learns of his evil schemes but is brought back to life by a group of cats. Teaming up against Batman, the pair plans an assault on the city above. Batman Returns is so cold and dark it makes the first installment look like Amelie by comparison, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it still made a killing at the box office, and was Burton's favorite of the two Batman movies he helmed. "Of all the Batman pictures, this is the most striking, atmospheric and effective," wrote David Keyes of Cinemaphile.org.

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81%

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

Before the Nolan Batman movies, Mask of the Phantasm offered the most articulate exploration of the Bruce Wayne character. While the movie takes the action that made The Animated Series such great afternoon fun and expands it (but avoiding cheap, empty thrills that having a big budget can afford you), it also showers loving detail on a pivotal romance in Bruce's life and an affecting scene of Bruce begging for release at his parents' gravestone. It's the rare movie that shows its protagonist for what he is: essentially insane. "[Mask of the Phantasm] managed to soar above the theatrical Batman adaptation," states Kevin Carr of 7M Pictures, "And would remain the best Bat Movie to hit the big screens until Batman Begins shook things up in 2005."

Comments

Bradley J.

Bradley J

Seen Batman Begins and Dark knight and looking forward to Rises. I've never been all into batman but I'm very excited! Great list!

Jul 16 - 07:02 PM

Emily Kordovich

Emily Kordovich

Watch them! I hear they connect with the movie, so get your fill of background story. It's worth it, I swear! :)

Jul 19 - 03:50 PM

Jason H.

Jason Huang

cannot wait for TDKR!!!

Jul 18 - 04:11 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Batman Begins is far and away my favorite, followed by Batman Returns.

Jul 18 - 04:14 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

My personal list, excluding Phantasm (because it ties into the BTAS universe) and the '66 version, which is awesome in its campiness, but doesn't really fit in with the others.

01. Batman Begins
02. The Dark Knight
03. Returns
04. Batman '89
05. Forever
97. Cancer
98. AIDS
99. Batman & Robin

From all I heard about Rises, it will probably claim the #3 spot, moving the previous #3, and all below it, down a notch.

Jul 18 - 04:41 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

Hmm, from what I've heard it might take the number 1 spot, but hey, different strokes.

Jul 18 - 06:00 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Hmm, that's encouraging, I've been purposefully trying to avoid anything related to that movie, only occasionally glimpsing a review that is confirmed to be spoiler-free and reading the RT consensus. So I guess we'll see...

Jul 18 - 06:33 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

What's encouraging me to think like this is from what I've heard, it takes the romanticism and emotionalism of Begins while also having Dark Knight's scope and ambition.

Jul 19 - 02:25 AM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

Watcher, I commend you for that list. I thought I was the only one that believed without a doubt that Batman Begins was far superior to The Dark Knight.

Jul 18 - 06:27 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Yeah, I think TDK is far grander in scope and ambition, but it has too many inconsistencies and overlooks to pull off everything it wants to. Conversely, Begins is far more conservative in regards to what it wants to accomplish, and so pretty much satisfactorily delivers on all accounts.

Jul 18 - 06:34 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

They're both so amazing, but the difference is Begins is a better movie for Batman, and Knight a better movie for the villain. Thats why I'd have to agree with the two of you, Begins is number one! I expect TDKR to take 2nd place.

Jul 18 - 07:33 PM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

You and watcher are not. I also like Begins best. Dark Knight was sensational, but Begins was a more satisfying film for me--tighter plot, better story. (IMO)

Jul 19 - 08:20 AM

Sean Briscoe

Sean Briscoe

I always liked Batman Begins better as well.

1) Batman Begins
2) The Dark Knight Rises
3) The Dark Knight

If I was rating only the villains it would be a different story.

Jul 21 - 09:19 PM

Bong Abueg

Bong Abueg

One of the first reviews actually said that if you loved Begins better then The Dark Knight, you're gonna love The Dark Knight Rises as it brings the movie full circle. I'll come back here after you see Rises and see how your list comes up.

Jul 19 - 02:09 AM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

Yeah, me personally, I loved the themes in Begins much better than the themes in Dark Knight, and I've heard a few reviews even say that Rises connects more to Begins than Dark Knight, so I'm pretty much excited over that.

Jul 19 - 05:15 AM

Jose Viveros

Jose Viveros

LOL @ cancer and aids...that's hilarious dude.

Jul 19 - 06:54 AM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

Haha--almost agree completely. Begins is my fave followed by Dark Knight. I would switch Returns and the 1989 Batman. And it appears that you don't absolutely hate Batman Forever--I didn't...thought it was merely OK. But, yeah, hated Batman and Robin worse than anything.

Jul 19 - 08:18 AM

Keoki H.

Keoki Harrington

Good to see people actually see Begins as the better movie. I enjoyed Dark Knight as much as anyone, even saw it 5 times in the theater for the love of the Joker on screen(a favorite villain of mine, also loved Nicholson's take). But after 5 times, all the other huge kinks in the movie as a whole came glaring through.
I honestly think most people were mesmerized by Ledgers performance, and were able to discount or ignore all of DK's outstanding flaws. I certainly did on the 1st watch.
Batman Begins on the other hand, was virtually flawless in it's execution as a film. It didn't have the pop of the "Joker", but it didn't need it. It formed the mythos of the comic hero on film just right.

Jul 19 - 11:52 AM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

I know it's not necessarily cool to like what's popular, but I still enjoyed TDK a ton more than Batman Begins. BB's was a good movie and a nice way to kick off the series, but judgy Katie Holmes, awkward teenage Bruce and an underutilized Liam Neeson and Ken Watanabe can't compete with the grand scope of TDK, Ledger's powerhouse performance and the all around superior action and suspense choreography. There's nothing in BB's that competes with the Hong Kong abduction, The Bank robbery or the semi-flip for action or teh interrogation scene, any of the Joker scenes or the end sequence for drama and suspense.

Jul 19 - 05:05 PM

Spirit Bear

Martin Tam

I actually really enjoyed the flash backs that Bruce has with his father and him using the stethoscope. I found that really meaning, as opposed to the Dark Knight when things were far more about the Joker and less internal conflict within Bruce Wayne--even though Rachel died.

Jul 19 - 03:58 PM

Peter W.

Peter Winters

I would put Cancer after AIDS

Jul 20 - 09:49 AM

Donavon Bray

Donavon Bray

Rises is definitely number 1. For it being almost three hours, I kept wishing it was longer and hoping it wasn't over yet. lol I didn't think I would say this, but it is my favorite Batman movie of all time.

Jul 20 - 10:38 PM

Aryaamaan V.

Aryaman Vaideeswaran

Thank you! Now while Dark Knight Rises is my favourite, I have always preferred Batman Begins to The Dark Knight.

Jul 22 - 11:57 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

It's hard to compare the different styles. I still love the Burtons, love the 60s show and animated series (for different reasons), and I prefer "Begins" to "Dark Knight". Big surprise: I loathe the Shooz era.

Jul 18 - 04:48 PM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Agreed. Batman Begins is a tighter story, realistic enough to give weight to its characters and situations, but fun and fantastical enough to maintain the spirit of a traditional superhero film. Iâ??ve also always found it more resonant on an emotional level. Iâ??m not a fan of the genre at all, but I do love this film. I wish I could say the same for TDK. Sorry. Just not a fan.

Jul 18 - 08:32 PM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Well, I like "Dark Knight" pretty well, and I wouldn't call myself a 'fanboy' but I did spend a good chunk of my childhood reading comics, and Batman was my favorite, so I guess I'm more sympathetic to the genre, even if comic movies tend to underwhelm me more often than not. Somewhere as a teenager, I put the costumes aside and started focusing more on "serious" films, music and pictureless books.

BTW, I've found that I prefer "Begins" in B&W, and I recommend watching it that way. The shadow contrasts are amazing, and it eliminates the dark yellow (ie, urine) color that Nolan had given his Gotham. If I have one criticism of it, it's that it's cut a little too quick in general.

Jul 19 - 09:04 AM

Linda B.

Linda Burke

Oh, I see. You're one of THOSE people, Janson. Dark-Knight likers. You should be ashamed. Everyone hates that movie. I'm clearly in the majority ;)

Jul 19 - 09:12 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Linda B Regulating ;}

Jul 19 - 09:18 AM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

ATTENTION YOU UNFATHOMABLE FINKS!!!

Batman: The Movie (1966) is available for free on YouTube, although I've had on DVD for the better part of a decade. The film IS endlessly quotable:

"You risked your life to save that riffraff in the bar?" --- Robin
"They may be drinkers, Robin, but they are also human beings!" --- Batman

"Batman and Robin are fully deputized agents of the law!" --- Comm. Gordon
"Support your police --- that's our message!" --- Robin

"Answer affirmative, Batman! We sold a war surplus submarine last Friday; a pre-atomic model, to some chap named...uh...P.N. Guin!" --- Navy Officer

"Robin, listen to these riddles, tell me if you interpret them as I do. One, what has yellow skin and writes?" --- Batman
"A ballpoint banana!" --- Robin
"RIGHT! Two, what people are always in a hurry?" --- Batman
"Rushing people....? RUSSIANS!!!" --- Robin
"Right again! Now, what would you say they mean?" --- Batman
"Banana...Russian...I GOT IT! Someone rushing is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck!" --- Robin
"PRECISELY ROBIN!" --- Batman

"What is the scheme, sir?" --- Alfred
"Tonight, Bruce Wayne will be going out on the town with Ms. Kitka!" --- Batman
"A not displeasing chore, sir!" --- Alfred
"Indeed, I've rarely met a girl who is such a potent argument for international...relations!" --- Batman

And also don't forget the best copy of the Gotham City Times ever printed. The main article is BRUCE WAYNE AND GIRL COMPANION KIDNAPPED! However, look underneath the headline and you will read this: Attractive Girl Friend Seized in Brazen Snatch. (Gold nuggets courtesy of screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.)

Jul 18 - 04:51 PM

tgibfo

Matt Ritchey

Great list but - and I can't believe I'm dorky enough to know this - Robin's answer to the riddle is "Somebody Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck" - it's a threat against Miss Kitka, the Russian reporter.

I'm gonna..... go.... build something with tools and spit and drink beer now.

Jul 18 - 05:15 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

POW!

(Thanks for the correction and enjoy the beer!)

Jul 18 - 05:18 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Ha, and my personal favorites: "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!," and, "Hand me down the shark repellent Batspray!"

Jul 18 - 06:39 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Almost forgot: "Confound it: the batteries are dead!"

Jul 19 - 07:43 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Q: "What weighs six ounces, sits in a tree, and is very dangerous?"

A: "A sparrow with a machine gun!"

Jul 19 - 09:12 AM

rle4lunch

Chad W

My wife quotes this ridiculous line all the time. That's quite possibly the most insane thing Robin ever said.

Jul 19 - 01:57 PM

Jnas Haux

Jnas Haux

I also recommend Batman: Under The Red Hood, which came out in 2010. One of the best.

Jul 18 - 05:00 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Jensen Ackles really made Jason Todd come to life in that. The bitterness and anger were palpable.

Jul 18 - 06:28 PM

tgibfo

Matt Ritchey

Great list but - and I can't believe I'm dorky enough to know this - Robin's answer to the riddle is "Somebody Russian is going to slip on a banana peel and break their neck" - it's a threat against Miss Kitka, the Russian reporter.

I'm gonna..... go.... build something with tools and spit and drink beer now.

Jul 18 - 05:15 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

POW!

(Thanks for the correction and enjoy the beer!)

Jul 18 - 05:18 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

POW!

(Thanks for the correction and enjoy the beer!)

Jul 18 - 05:18 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

Hmm, from what I've heard it might take the number 1 spot, but hey, different strokes.

Jul 18 - 06:00 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Hmm, that's encouraging, I've been purposefully trying to avoid anything related to that movie, only occasionally glimpsing a review that is confirmed to be spoiler-free and reading the RT consensus. So I guess we'll see...

Jul 18 - 06:33 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

What's encouraging me to think like this is from what I've heard, it takes the romanticism and emotionalism of Begins while also having Dark Knight's scope and ambition.

Jul 19 - 02:25 AM

MANBAT

Meh McMehson

DANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANANA

BATMAAAAAAAAN.

Jul 18 - 06:11 PM

Lenny M.

Lenny Monroe

Watcher, I commend you for that list. I thought I was the only one that believed without a doubt that Batman Begins was far superior to The Dark Knight.

Jul 18 - 06:27 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Yeah, I think TDK is far grander in scope and ambition, but it has too many inconsistencies and overlooks to pull off everything it wants to. Conversely, Begins is far more conservative in regards to what it wants to accomplish, and so pretty much satisfactorily delivers on all accounts.

Jul 18 - 06:34 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

They're both so amazing, but the difference is Begins is a better movie for Batman, and Knight a better movie for the villain. Thats why I'd have to agree with the two of you, Begins is number one! I expect TDKR to take 2nd place.

Jul 18 - 07:33 PM

Jimmy G.

Jimmy Gee

You and watcher are not. I also like Begins best. Dark Knight was sensational, but Begins was a more satisfying film for me--tighter plot, better story. (IMO)

Jul 19 - 08:20 AM

Sean Briscoe

Sean Briscoe

I always liked Batman Begins better as well.

1) Batman Begins
2) The Dark Knight Rises
3) The Dark Knight

If I was rating only the villains it would be a different story.

Jul 21 - 09:19 PM

bigbrother

Bigbrother .

Jensen Ackles really made Jason Todd come to life in that. The bitterness and anger were palpable.

Jul 18 - 06:28 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Hmm, that's encouraging, I've been purposefully trying to avoid anything related to that movie, only occasionally glimpsing a review that is confirmed to be spoiler-free and reading the RT consensus. So I guess we'll see...

Jul 18 - 06:33 PM

dudemeister

dude meister

What's encouraging me to think like this is from what I've heard, it takes the romanticism and emotionalism of Begins while also having Dark Knight's scope and ambition.

Jul 19 - 02:25 AM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Yeah, I think TDK is far grander in scope and ambition, but it has too many inconsistencies and overlooks to pull off everything it wants to. Conversely, Begins is far more conservative in regards to what it wants to accomplish, and so pretty much satisfactorily delivers on all accounts.

Jul 18 - 06:34 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

They're both so amazing, but the difference is Begins is a better movie for Batman, and Knight a better movie for the villain. Thats why I'd have to agree with the two of you, Begins is number one! I expect TDKR to take 2nd place.

Jul 18 - 07:33 PM

The.Watcher

The Watcher

Ha, and my personal favorites: "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!," and, "Hand me down the shark repellent Batspray!"

Jul 18 - 06:39 PM

Christopher Kulik

Christopher Kulik

Almost forgot: "Confound it: the batteries are dead!"

Jul 19 - 07:43 AM

Janson Jinnistan

Janson Jinnistan

Q: "What weighs six ounces, sits in a tree, and is very dangerous?"

A: "A sparrow with a machine gun!"

Jul 19 - 09:12 AM

rle4lunch

Chad W

My wife quotes this ridiculous line all the time. That's quite possibly the most insane thing Robin ever said.

Jul 19 - 01:57 PM

Devin Stevens

Devin Stevens

They're both so amazing, but the difference is Begins is a better movie for Batman, and Knight a better movie for the villain. Thats why I'd have to agree with the two of you, Begins is number one! I expect TDKR to take 2nd place.

Jul 18 - 07:33 PM

preciliano Beltran

preciliano Beltran

While batman is not my fav superhero he has the most compelling origin and movies that make marvel's movies look child like. I hope the reboot is grounded and not over the top

Jul 18 - 08:15 PM

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