All the Batman Movies
Batman. The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. The World’s Greatest Detective. These are names and descriptions given to one of comic’s best known and most beloved heroes. Batman, along with his ‘real life’ alter-ego Bruce Wayne, is probably better known to people than their own mayor or national representatives. Since Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman in 1939, the superhero’s popularity remains extraordinarily high. Even though the character originated from comics and boasts a healthy TV presence, Batman’s popularity undoubtedly derives from film. Batman movies have generated tens of billions of dollars around the globe, have been seen by billions of people and are the recipients of several awards, including three Oscars.
Each movie is a story in its own right, but they keep certain things consistent: 1. Bruce Wayne, a billionaire playboy, is actually the caped crusading Batman, 2. Batman is assisted by his trusty butler, Alfred, 3. Batman lives and works in Gotham City, a sprawling metropolis, riddled with crime and colorful criminals, and 4. Batman has no super powers, but must rely on his wits, training and ingenuity.
Below, we look at all thirteen of the Batman movies to date.
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Release Date: July 30, 1966
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Burgess Meredith, Cesar Romero
Length: 105 minutes
Description: Based on the prime-time television show that aired from 1966 to ’68, this film has the same spoof-filled gags and premises. It depicts Batman as a straight-laced, utterly capable crime fighter, who works with a host of zany gadgets (e.g. ‘Bat-phone’, ‘Bat-rope’, etc.). He and Robin fight a Rogue’s Gallery of bizarre criminals, including The Joker, Catwoman, The Riddler and The Penguin.
Takeaway: The movie did so-so in theaters but has grown in popularity since. It spawned two animated sequels in the twenty-teens, the second of which was released a few months after star Adam West’s death.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: The Caped Crusader running back and forth with a Looney Tunes-style Acme bomb, that he can’t throw away safely for a couple of hilarious moments.
Release Date: June 19, 1989
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams
Length: 126 minutes
Description: The first true big-budget Batman film. It stars Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The movie keeps some of the camp from the sixty’s film and tv show, but has a darker, more serious edge. It starts near the beginning of Batman’s career. There is no Robin, Boy Wonder, and Gotham is just beginning to know about its iconic vigilante. We get flashbacks of Bruce Wayne’s parents’ death when he was a boy. The film also shows the full creation of The Joker, from his time as mob enforcer to his transformation into irredeemable maniac.
Takeaway: The film brought a more serious Batman to the big screen in an enjoyable movie with a satisfying finish and a setup for more stories.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: Jack Nicholson’s scene-stealing portrayal of the Joker.
Batman Returns (1992)
Release Date: June 19, 1992
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken
Length: 126 minutes
Description: Director Tim Burton’s sequel to his 1989 “Batman” blockbuster. The main cast returns. There’s still no Robin, though Michelle Pfeiffer comes aboard with a remarkable performance as Catwoman. Danny Devito plays a somewhat disgusting version of The Penguin. The film is just as stylized as its predecessor, though the mood stays dark despite its added campiness.
Takeaway: Michael Keaton solidifies his performance as a memorable Batman/Bruce Wayne. There’s good chemistry between him and Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. The story bogs down occasionally but ends credibly enough when all’s done.
Unique Thing You’ll See In No Other Batman Movie: Michael Pfeiffer doing several of her own stunts, including multiple back flips to land perfectly in front of Keaton and Devito, as a jewelry store explodes behind her.
Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (1993)
Release Date: December 25, 1993
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner
Length: 76 minutes
Description: An animated Batman tale that explores how his early days as a crime fighter came together. Even though it’s a cartoon, this was the most serious Batman story to date. It showed a young, conflicted Bruce Wayne, torn between love and his new calling as The Dark Knight. We’re introduced to a new villain, The Phantasm, whose identity is tied to that lost love, and ultimately helped give us the Caped Crusader we’ came to know.
Takeaway: A gritty story of tragedy and perseverance, this film managed to give us new insight into Batman, The Joker, Commissioner Gordon, and the villain Phantasm himself.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: The first time Batman dons his cap and cowl, and Alfred’s shocked reaction to seeing it.
Batman Forever (1995)
Release Date: June 16, 1995
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Christ O’Donnell
Length: 121 minutes
Description: Tim Burton and Michael Keaton left the successful Batman franchise in 1995 and were replaced by Joel Shumacher (director) and Val Kilmer (Batman). Jim Carrey came on board as The Riddler, and Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Harvey Dent/Two-Face. We also finally get the appearance of Robin, played by Chris O’ Donnell. The film was just as stylized as the Tim Burton movies, though the style became less gothic and more art-deco.
Takeaway: Batman Forever was a successful changing of the guard, almost in spite of itself. The new lead was charming and engaging, and the story was brisk, if not entirely memorable.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: A Robin origin. Remarkably the only one from any of these films.
Batman and Robin (1997)
Release Date: June 20, 1997
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Christ O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone
Length: 125 minutes
Description: Joel Shumacher’s swan-song from the franchise. This film featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as the villain Mr. Freeze. Uma Thurman played the devious Poison Ivy and Robert Swenson played the villain Bane.
Takeaway: The film was a disastrous self parody. By his own admission Shumacher didn’t take the making of it very seriously, concentrating most of his energies on simultaneously shooting his admirable feature “A Time To Kill”. The box office dud sank the movie franchise, and Warner wouldn’t try another Batman film until 2005.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: Batman with nipples.
Batman Begins (2005)
Release Date: June 15, 2005
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy
Length: 140 minutes
Description: Director Christopher Nolan re-booted the Batman franchise in this film starring Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne. The film provided a rich back-story to the Caped Crusader’s origins, including the death of his parents, his disaffection as a young man and his training under the tutelage of the master criminal Ras ‘al Ghul.
Takeaway: Batman Begins brought the character back to the big screen in commanding fashion. Though its numbers were squelched by the lingering disappointment of “Batman and Robin”, the film was hailed at the time by fans and critics as “the ‘Batman’ movie we’ve been waiting for”.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: The creation of many of Batman’s iconic tools and weapons.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Release Date: July 18, 2008
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman
Length: 152 minutes
Description: This film picks up shortly where “Batman Begins” ended and takes off like a rocket from there. The story follows the rise of the purely sociopathic Joker. Batman and his allies fall to their knees and must rise again and again, facing tragedy after tragedy, including the transformation of prosecutor Harvey Dent into the murderous criminal Two-Face.
Takeaway: With the return of a stellar cast and a fan base anticipating great things, Christopher Nolan surprisingly overachieves. The Dark Knight was the first billion dollar-earning Batman movie, deservedly so for both story and performances.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: Heath Ledger’s cant-look-away Academy Award winning portrayal of The Joker.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Release Date: July 20, 2012
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
Length: 164 minutes
Description: Nolan returns for his last outing as director of the Batman franchise. Tom Hardy joins the continuing cast as the main villain Bane, while Anne Hathaway plays her own version of Cat Woman. It is the story of Gotham in trouble. The city is threatened, and Batman must make the ultimate sacrifice to save it.
Takeaway: Another outing for Nolan and another billion-dollar earner, though not up to the same level of excellence as it immediate predecessor.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: The best on-screen portrayal of cat woman in a batman movie thus far.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Release Date: March 25, 2016
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Length: 152 minutes
Description: More a sequel to Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ and a sequel to his (and Joss Whedon’s) Justice League, this film nevertheless is the first introduction of Ben Affleck’s take on The Dark Knight. His version is more buff and a lot more jaded. In this film he fears and loathes Superman for the destruction the man of steel caused in his fight with the Kryptonian Zod.
Takeaway: Despite trying gamely, this movie does only scant justice to the persona of Batman. Affleck’s portrayal is good in theory but uneven in execution at times. The film did well in terms of box office but was roundly panned by fans and critics.
Unique Thing You’ll See In No Other Batman Movie: Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman arrives.
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Release Date: February 10, 2017
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson
Length: 104 minutes
Description: Though the title would seem to tell all, this is a surprisingly novel take on the Batman story, that is amazingly less a spoof than some of the live action fare.
Takeaway: A very successful and well-liked addition to the movie versions of Batman.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: Batman riding in a Lego car
Justice League (2017)
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Starring: Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot, Jason Mamoa, Henvry Cavill, Amy Adams
Length: 120 minutes
Description: The DC superhero team up film that was inevitable but plagued with production issues. Like “Batman vs Superman” this film has a conflicted version of Batman as a character. Bruce Wayne is essentially responsible for getting the League together and resurrecting Superman to fight an otherworldly threat. The character goes from commanding to world-weary to jovial, sometimes in jarring fashion.
Takeaway: The jury is still out on this film and may be for all time. Personal tragedy made the first director, Zack Snyder, leave the project. His replacement, Joss Whedon, did a less than decent job. Snyder later came back and did a new version of his own. No consensus seems to exist about whether the many moves were worth it. As far as Batman is concerned, it’s mostly a wash.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: Superman and The Flash racing to a tie
Release Date: October 4, 2019
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy
Length: 122 minutes
Description: This standalone tale of the origins of Batman’s most formidable foe is less a Batman story than a ‘how the Joker influenced the rise of Batman’ told within Joker’s own movie. Joaquin Phoenix gives a monumental performance as the Joker. Everything else follows the gravity of that.
Takeaway: What there is of Batman/Bruce Wayne is amazing, in that it points to a connection between hero and villain only lightly touched upon all the way back in the Tim Burton first film.
Unique Thing You’ll See in No Other Batman Movie: The Joker doing a dance that frightens and compels no matter how many times you see it.[mashshare]