ScreenAge Wasteland Ranks the Theatrical Batman Movies

Just in time for Joker, ScreenAge Wasteland is proud to present our community’s ranking of the theatrical Batman movies.

Seven people (whether is was staff, commenters, or Twitter followers) took part in sending us their personal rankings of the Batman films. We then assigned them points (top spot got 11, last spot got 1) and tallied the scores. In the event that someone hadn’t seen a Batman film, a multiplier was added to bump that film’s score up to what it would have been if all 7 people had seen it.

So step out of the darkness and see where each Batman film placed. And feel free to agree or disagree with where a film ranked in the comments below!

11. Batman & Robin (1997) | 9 points

  • This film feels like a musical that had all the musical numbers taken out at the last minute. Every set piece feels as though it’s designed to set up a song that never comes. It’s 100% a misfire, but thanks to Schwarzenegger and it’s deliciously gay set design, it’s never boring. – Sailor Monsoon
  • Two words: Bat nipples. – Mitch Roush
  • Is it possible for this film not to be at the bottom of the list? In the pre-internet days of 1997, I remember being excited about another take on Batman…and then having that excitement give way first to confusion and then to despair as I watched the dynamic duo floating through their fight scenes, the villains churning out a string of terrible puns, and the plot lurching from one miserable sequence to another. Even back when I was somehow oblivious to Joel Schumacher’s design excesses, I knew I was watching something ghastly. – Ben McClure
  • So much promise in a movie. Clooney’s Batman could have been perfect, Silverstone’s Batgirl could have been great, Thurman’s Poison Ivy was casting perfection. However, Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze was the worst case of miscasting EVER! The story wasn’t bad, but the dialogue was horrible. I recall looking at my watch thinking, “Is this thing over yet?” – Ralph Hosch

10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) | 23 points

  • The warehouse fight was pretty good and makes me wish Snyder had made a Batman film instead. Unfortunately, he didn’t. While not as big a piece of shit as Justice League, almost nothing about this works. Eisenberg was woefully miscast, the sequel set-up scenes are distracting, Wonder Woman’s inclusion is pointless, Doomsday looks like garbage, Cavill is still given nothing interesting to do, and the plot is all over the place. I like Snyder but he was the wrong person to take the reigns of the DCEU. – Sailor Monsoon
  • You have to give the movie some points for having such high aspirations (and for the coolness of actually putting Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman on the screen together for the first time). There are some good moments —like Bruce Wayne plunging headlong into the collapsing city at the movie’s start— but mostly it’s a storytelling and character failure which disastrously fails to take advantage of the incredible opportunity implied in its premise. – Ben McClure
  • Oh boy, do I love this film, and I ain’t afraid to admit it. The tone is grim and dark, and I thoroughly enjoy Affleck’s gruff, old Batman and wish we could have received more films with him as the caped crusader. Everyone likes to heap so much hate towards this film, but overlook some of the truly great moments it offers up. – Vincent Kane
  • This film is more novelty for me; the first time Superman and Batman are in a film together adding Wonder Woman to the mix. It’s a fun film, but troubling since Batman seems so obsessed with ridding the world of Superman. Snyder can put together some amazing visuals, story-wise not so much. – Ralph Hosch

9. Batman Forever (1995) | 24 points

  • Carrey and Jones seem to be having fun, but nobody else is, especially the viewer. It’s over produced, lifeless and unpleasantly gaudy. It’s like being stuck in Liberace’s bathroom for two hours —everything looks both cheap and expensive at the same time, which makes no sense considering it’s being used to decorate a shit house. – Sailor Monsoon
  • A delicious blend of vibrant 90’s campiness; equal parts fun and incredibly rewatchable. As a pre-renaissance comic book flick, Forever knows exactly what it is leaning into it with Jim Carrey-laced gusto…and I still have all the mugs. – Mitch Roush
  • Although this isn’t one of my favorites, it’s still enjoyable. I always liked Val Kilmer and thought he was a decent Batman and Bruce Wayne. I still get a kick out of Jim Carrey’s Riddler and didn’t mid the more cartoony feel that Schumacher brought to this entry. The problem really is that there isn’t anything memorable here except Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” of course. – Vincent Kane
  • Val Kilmer’s Batman is good. However, Schumacher’s insistence to have fluorescent lighting everywhere is distracting. Where are these spinning fluorescent symbols coming from?? Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face are good additions as baddies, but the over-done over-sexed Nicole Kidman’s Dr. Chase Meridian was a bit much. Chris O’Donnell’s Robin was bearable. Elliot Goldenthal’s theme is pretty good, even if it’s been mostly forgotten. – Ralph Hosch

8. Batman: The Movie (1966) | 27 points

  • A perfect recreation of the comics of the sixties. It bombards the viewer with weaponized camp and outlandish, over the top moments. It all works because everyone is not only in on the joke, but is giving it their all. – Sailor Monsoon
  • Adam West is a better Caped Crusader than Christian Bale; I’m fully prepared to die on this hill. Not to mention, the villainous trio of Gorshin, Meredith, and Romero is simply delightful. – Mitch Roush
  • This is a silly movie but at least everyone —cast, crew and audience— knew that up front going in. It’s got one laugh-out-loud moment (Batman and the bomb), and of course, includes Bat-Shark Repellent. Aside from that it’s forgettable, though harmless. – Ben McClure
  • I grew up on Adam West’s Batman and he was my first exposure to the Caped Crusader. It was just good and wholesome fun. I loved all the characters and the colors with how it felt like its own world. – Vincent Kane

7. The Lego Batman Movie (2017) | 32 points

  • The Lego Movie never really should have worked, but it did and a part of that was Will Arnett’s take on Batman. The first five minutes of this movie is just pure brilliance. – K. Alvarez
  • Y’all, it’s an animated lego movie about Batman! Plus, this cast is pure fire from top to bottom. What’s not to love?! – Mitch Roush
  • This is basically a parody of all things Batman and it’s absolutely hilarious. The opening scene alone is one of the best scenes in all of Batman films. Will Arnett’s voice just captures the Batman character so well. – Vincent Kane
  • I was expecting a lot more, to be honest. Lego Batman is like Friends‘ Joey Tribbiani; he works great as a supporting character, but can’t hold the viewer on his own. Plus, the movie turned Dick Grayson, one of my favorite DC characters, into nothing but the butt of numerous jokes. I will give the film credit where credit is deserved for whenever they leaned into the outlandish parts of Batman’s history. – Marmaduke Karlston

6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) | 39 points

  • It’s not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be, but it’s still the weakest of the Nolan trilogy. – K. Alvarez
  • Cotillard, Hardy, and Hathaway were all marvelous (duh!). So much so, they managed to make this film gripping despite the bloated 164 minute runtime. – Mitch Roush
  • I never understand people’s issue with this entry. The Dark Knight Rises is fantastic from beginning to end. That Airplane kidnap opening is easily one of the best scenes in movie history. Tom Hardy as Bane was really great as was everyone else involved. There are just too many great aspects to this film for some to dismiss it the way they do. – Vincent Kane
  • I don’t know where to begin. Bale’s final Batman was long overdue for me and I reveled at peoples dislike for the ending. Robin that’s not really Robin; Bruce Wayne retiring with Selena Kyle… it’s too much for me. Terrible terrible terrible ending for the trilogy. – Ralph Hosch

5. Batman (1989) | 44 points

  • This film did for me what Blade Runner did for others. It transported me to another world, almost like my own but more fantastical. It’s a world littered in art deco skyscrapers where vigilantes dressed as bats hide in the darkest alleyways, a clown can become prince of the city, and clowns haunt the sewers. It’s a world I desperately want to live in. – Sailor Monsoon
  • I know I’m supposed to like this movie, with its memorable performances and auteur direction from Tim Burton, but I don’t. I find it stilted and artificial, with a hero as unlikable as its villain. It’s probably a bit hypocritical that I enjoy Batman Returns so much more than this one, as it has a lot of the same problems, but there’s a humanizing element in Bruce’s relationship with Selina that’s missing here. – Ben McClure
  • I loved the darker tone of this superhero film because we were used to bright colors, smiling heroes and goofy antics. This movie gave us some of the best scenes in superhero history and two definitive portrayals of Batman and the Joker. Michael Keaton was and still is my Batman, and Jack Nicholson could not have been a better choice for the Clown Prince. – Vincent Kane
  • Visually stunning, Tim Burton’s first outing with Michael Keaton is a classic. If you were in the theatre for it, you got a chill when Keaton pulled the street thug to him and uttered, “I’m Batman.” Jack Nicholson’s Joker was fantastically over the top! Bonus points for Danny Elfman’s iconic score which is still instantly recognizable as Batman’s even 30 years later! – Ralph Hosch

4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) | 49 points

  • Considered by many to be the best superhero film of the 90s, Mask of the Phantasm manages to fit three origin stories and a murder mystery in a mature, noir adventure in about as much time as it takes to watch three episodes of the cartoon. Conroy and Hamill are still the voices I hear in my head when I read a Batman comic. – Sailor Monsoon
  • This movie blew my mind as a seven year old kid, and holds up beautifully. Conroy and Hamill giving us an iconic showdown in the thick of a brilliantly nuanced, original story is masterful. – Mitch Roush
  • Arguably the best depiction of Batman and Bruce Wayne on the big screen or anywhere. Phantasm showed more depth to the Bruce Wayne character then we had ever seen before or since. – Vincent Kane
  • The Batman animated movie hits all the right places for me; great background visuals, great animation, amazing cast of voice actors. However, the story was good, but not great. Shirley Walker’s opening theme and score is candy to my diabetic ears. – Ralph Hosch

3. Batman Begins (2005) | 53 points

  • Gritty without feeling dour, and realistic without losing that comic book appeal, Begins is the perfect palette cleaner. It washed away the taste of shit left by the previous entries by adding new things to the mythos and retold Batman’s origin in a new and exciting way. – Sailor Monsoon
  • Hot Take: Batman’s never had a great origin movie. There, I said it. Feel free to @ me. – Mitch Roush
  • Even though there are ways in which The Dark Knight is more powerful, I like Batman Begins the best because it’s the most legitimately about Bruce Wayne as a character out of every film on this list. Christopher Nolan’s visceral, immersive storytelling is perfect for a story about how this troubled man turns into a masked vigilante with a rigid moral code. It was the Batman movie I’d been waiting for for years. – Ben McClure
  • I feel like this one gets overlooked because of how good The Dark Knight is but Begins is beautiful and filled with amazing scenes. Seeing some new villains on the screen in Scarecrow and Ra’s al Gul really helped sell this origin story. Christian Bale did a fantastic job not only as the Bat, but also as Bruce Wayne. – Vincent Kane

2. Batman Returns (1992) | 62 points

  • This is Burton at his most creatively insane, for better or worse. It’s two hours of watching your favorite toys all fighting in an inkwell and it’s glorious. – Sailor Monsoon
  • Way better than Batman in my honest opinion. Darker, with 100% less Prince. Not that there is anything wrong with Prince, it just felt out of place. Oh and Catwoman …meow! – K. Alvarez
  • Hot Take: Michelle Pfeiffer deserved an Oscar. Hotter Take: This is Tim Burton’s best film. – Mitch Roush
  • Batman Returns stands almost entirely on the strength of its performances and characterization.  Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken and especially Michelle Pfeiffer all show an absolute commitment to their roles, macabre weirdness and all, that keeps the viewer engaged in the midst of what would otherwise be a narrative mess. Plus, Keaton and Pfeiffer have really nice chemistry as a couple. – Ben McClure

1. The Dark Knight (2008) | 69 points

  • An ambitious crime epic of unprecedented scope with moral complexity and non-stop thrills. Not to mention one of the greatest performances of the 21st century. This is entertainment on par with The Empire Strikes Back. – Sailor Monsoon
  • I know it’s been said before, but it’s such a damn good performance by Ledger that it is a shame that he passed and didn’t get to take the Joker further. – K. Alvarez
  • The best crime thriller since Heat AND arguably the best comic book flick ever made. As far story structure is concerned, put the Nolan brothers’ script in the film school syllabus. – Mitch Roush
  • I’m always sort of annoyed at how no one calls out the Joker for what a liar he is–this supposed “lover of chaos” is actually a meticulous and detailed planner. Aside from those small quibbles, it’s not just a great action film, but a great crime movie, with many memorable performances. – Ben McClure
  • I don’t know if any superhero movie will ever top The Dark Knight as my favorite. It’s one of the best movies of all time regardless of genre. Christopher Nolan shot an incredible crime thriller that just happened to have comic book characters. It’s a gorgeous film that gets better with each rewatch. Lastly, you cannot forget just how tremendous Heath Ledger was as the Joker. There are times where I will just skip to the Joker’s scenes because of how stellar and fun they are to watch. – Vincent Kane
  • Whereas I’m not the biggest fan of Christian Bale’s Batman, this movie makes up for it solely due to Heath Ledger’s Joker and an amazing story. Ledger’s performance earned him a well-deserved Oscar. Eckhart’s “crispy” Two-Face was standard bag-guy fare and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Rachel Dawes was hit or miss. – Ralph Hosch
  • The Dark Knight Trilogy has always managed to have instantly quotable lines from its main antagonists. While it’s more fun to talk like Hardy’s Bane, nothing beats asking someone, “Why so serious?” – Marmaduke Karlston

The Dark Knight unsurprisingly took the #1 spot with Batman Returns not too far behind in second. Based on this data, it looks like The Dark Knight Trilogy and the Tim Burton-era films are considered the high mark for the caped crusader.

Thank you to everyone who participated in SAW’s second community ranking!

How does your ranking of the theatrically released Batman films look? Share your ranking in the comments below!

Joker hits theaters October 4, 2019.

Author: SAW Community

A group effort by the entire gang.