by Cameron Tejeda | staff writer
I’m a huge Batman fanboy, so I couldn’t wait until next year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice to write about him. Batman has influenced my life immensely. I’ve read comics, watched the movies/TV shows, and played the videogames. There’s just something motivating and inspirational about the guy. I mean, I would wear a Batman mask everywhere if I could. I know, I’m sad and pathetic, but it’s for the vigilante of the night. He’s more than a man, he’s a symbol of justice! Alright, now that I have that out of my system we can talk about my ten favorite Batman movies.
- Batman Returns (1992)
After the original Batman movie, Tim Burton gave us this second installment. Now while I’m not a huge fan of Burton’s Batman films, I do respect them for popularizing the character and portraying a darker side of the Caped Crusader. Michael Keaton returned to play Batman, and I think he did a solid job. Danny DeVito does a great job coming across very disgusting and evil, but I do wish we got a Penguin who was a little more sophisticated as he is in the comics. Michelle Pfeiffer is great to look at as Catwoman, but I wanted something more to her character. With all that being said, Batman Returns is a very entertaining movie that anyone can have fun with.
- Batman (1989)
I already said that I’m not the biggest fan of Burton’s take on Batman. One of the reasons being that Batman has no problem killing in his movies. But in 1989, Tim Burton gave everyone a serious take on the character. And while I do enjoy the campy Adam West TV series made in the 60s, I prefer the darker versions of Batman. Michael Keaton stars as Batman, and like I said earlier I think he was fine. We just didn’t get enough emotion from his Bruce Wayne. Jack Nicholson did a good job as the Joker. He was silly at times, but you could always see that that there was something messed up about him. Like it’s sequel, Batman is a fun time with some cool scenes. I like Batman and Batman Returns almost equal, but I decided to give Batman the edge simply because it was first.
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
This movie is set in the same universe as the phenomenal TV show- Batman: The Animated Series. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill give their iconic takes on the voices of Batman and the Joker. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini team up again to direct and write the film as well. They did a really great job telling the origin of Batman mixed with the present, where Batman is tracking down a new mysterious threat. This new vigilante starts killing different criminals in Gotham, and because of the resemblance, Batman gets blamed for the murders. I really enjoyed the flashbacks that occurred because it shows what Bruce Wayne had to sacrifice in order to become the Batman, and also explains some of why Bruce is always so serious. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an amazing animated film with the great voice acting talents of Conroy and Hamill.
- Batman: Year One (2011)
Based on the comic book of the same name, Batman: Year One is an animated film about the first year when Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. It has such a great atmosphere for Gotham City, as you can really tell how bad the city has become. This pushes Bruce to want to clean up the streets and make Gotham a better place. Bryan Cranston voices James Gordon- one of the few good cops left in Gotham. The film really gives us how Gordon and Batman become allies. Overall, Batman: Year One is a great movie that shows how the Dark Knight started out his crime fighting career.
- Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
This animated movie has a dark and enthralling opening that shows Jason Todd (the second Robin) being murdered by the Joker while Batman is racing to save him. This follows the comic book storyline “A Death in the Family” where the Joker beats Robin with a crowbar, and then blows him up. After that, the film fast forwards to when a red hooded vigilante who doesn’t mind killing shows up in Gotham. Soon we learn that the Red Hood is Jason Todd, and that he was brought back to life by Ra’s al Ghul. This leads to an incredible and heartfelt finale that wraps up one of the best Batman stories ever told.
- The Dark Knight Returns part 1 (2012)
Based on Frank Miller’s 1986 graphic novel the “The Dark Knight Returns”, this animated film tells the story of a 55 year old Bruce Wayne who comes out of retirement. It has been ten years since Bruce last went into action as the Batman, and the city is flooded with a gang called the Mutants. Wayne decides it is time for him to fight crime and become the Batman once more. This movie, along with part 2, is very dark. Batman is a lot more brutal, and it shows in some of the best animated fight scenes ever. There is one particular fight between Batman and the Mutant leader that takes place in a mudhole, and it is very hard-hitting. The score for the film also adds to the epic feel of the movie.
- The Dark Knight Returns part 2 (2013)
Part 2 continues the last half of The Dark Knight Returns, and it is thrilling to watch. The Joker comes back after his period of absence to wreak havoc on Batman. You really get the sense that Joker feeds off Batman, almost like the Joker cannot exist without the Dark Knight. This movie continues the brutality of the first part. Don’t let the animation make you think this is a child’s movie, because it’s not. There is a confrontation between Batman and the Joker that takes place at a carnival and in a tunnel, and it is disturbing to watch. It’s a very gruesome scene. Batman then has an epic fight with Superman, which he suits up for in mechanical armour to take down the Man of Steel. The new Batman v Superman movie coming out next year is actually borrowing some elements from The Dark Knight Returns.
- Batman Begins (2005)
After the catastrophe that was Batman and Robin (a movie that should burn for all eternity), we got a reboot from director Christopher Nolan called Batman Begins. It was the start of a truly special trilogy. This movie has a phenomenal cast of actors including Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, and Liam Neeson. Nolan used this cast to perfection, and gave us a Batman movie that was grounded to reality. I mean, if you watch his Dark Knight Trilogy, you will find yourself thinking “Somebody could actually do this in real life”. Sure, they would need billions of dollars, and eventually they would die, but they could still do it for awhile. This movie tells the origin of Batman, and why Bruce Wayne decides to do this. That is something I’ve always appreciated about Batman Begins. You really get the motivation behind this character. He’s not just some lunatic who dresses up like a bat (I’m looking at you Tim Burton). Liam Neeson is great as Ra’s al Ghul, as is Cillian Murphy playing Scarecrow. The soundtrack for the film by Hans Zimmer is amazing and very inspirational. It makes the scenes in the movie that much more impactful.
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Christopher Nolan delivered us the conclusion to The Dark Knight Trilogy in 2012. It had huge shoes to fill after the last installment, and it didn’t disappoint. I remember seeing this movie in theaters when I was 12 years old, and I was completely blown away. This was the film that made me the Batman fan I am today. It takes place 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, and Gotham is peaceful until Bane takes over the city. I love the character of Bane in this movie. Tom Hardy did an amazing job portraying him. He has this presence about him that is very intimidating. Even his voice was menacing, almost like Darth Vader’s. I also really like how we get to see the most of the real side of Bruce Wayne. In the past movies we see a lot of the billionaire playboy persona that Bruce must use to hide his identity. In this movie we see a broken and emotional part of him that I don’t think we saw before. Christian Bale is spectacular as Bruce Wayne, and so is the rest of the cast in their roles that returned from the first two films. The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t even feel like a Batman movie, it feels like an epic war film. I really enjoyed the whole Batman and the police, versus Bane and his army of criminals aspect of the film. Anne Hathaway came on board to play Catwoman, and I really liked her as this character. She was kind of flirty and seductive, but she was also smart and could fight. The Dark Knight Rises also has my favorite fight scene of all-time. It’s the fight between Batman and Bane that takes place in a sewer, and it is choreographed to perfection. Every hit just felt so real and brutal, and the decision to not include any background music added to the raw beating our hero received. The score composed by Hans Zimmer is once again epic, and if you’re working out, I recommend you listen to this soundtrack. It will make you 35% stronger (I’m just kidding), but seriously it is really powerful and motivating. Some people complain about plot holes while watching this movie, and to them I say that when a film has as great acting, visuals, music, and story as The Dark Knight Rises has, then it doesn’t take anything away from the movie.
- The Dark Knight (2008)
Nolan completely out did himself with this second installment to create one of the best movies of all-time. The Dark Knight opens up with a phenomenal and thrilling scene of a bank robbery staged by Joker, and never let’s up. Heath Ledger was absolutely amazing as the Joker, and he gave a performance that is truly special. He was creepy, intelligent, disturbing, and a bit funny at times. All these elements added up to a villain that was a great match for Batman. In the scene where Batman interrogates the Joker, you can tell Joker knows all of Batman’s morals. Throughout the movie he tries to make Batman break them. You can actually see where the Joker is coming from with his philosophies, and that is the best type of villain. All the actors give perfect performances, including some new faces like Maggie Gyllenhaal and Aaron Eckhart. Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes as the character of Rachel Dawes from the first movie, and I thought she did a lot better. Aaron Eckhart did amazing as Harvey Dent/Two-Face, as you can really feel the pain and loss that turns him evil. Bale is once again the Caped Crusader, and while a lot of people didn’t like the gruff Batman voice, I personally loved it. And of course Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman are wonderful in their roles. I especially liked Gary Oldman as James Gordon. The Dark Knight feels so realistic, as almost no CGI was used. Instead, practical effects and great stunt work were used to perfection. The vehicles Batman uses like the Tumbler and the Bat Pod are awesome, and the costume looks tactical and stunning. Zimmer makes a lot of scenes so much better with his soundtrack, and the film just all came together perfectly. It wraps up with an ending that gives me goosebumps everytime I watch it. The Dark Knight is not just a great Batman movie, it’s a great movie in general.