Top 5: Batman Movies

In honor of today’s release of The LEGO Batman Movie (which I saw last night), let’s countdown our favorite Batman films in this week’s Top 5 Friday!

5) Batman: Mask of the PhantasmIt’s been a while since I’ve seen this film, but I remember being very much impressed with the story and what all it did for Bruce Wayne as a character instead of just focusing on Batman. In my post about how I would re-do the DCEU, I mentioned how I would include this film, or at least part of the plot of this film, in one of the stand-alone Batman flicks simply because it (re)defines his character on an emotional and romantic level that I had not seen before. It’s entirely unpredictable, and just when you think you’re able to guess what the Phantasm is, it flips your expectations on their head. This film most certainly gives our “stoic” hero a heart and adds a lot to the character that you won’t get much in many other animated comic book films (as far as I know). Most definitely, this is a Batman film that is worth a watch whether you’re into Batman or not.

4) Batman Begins. This is the Batman that I grew up on; my mom, sister and I rented it from Blockbuster when it came out on DVD in 2005, and I loved it. A lot of people grew up Michael Keaton’s Batman and Jack Nicholson’s Joker with Tim Burton’s directing… and Joel Shumacher’s as well, I suppose. To me, however, Christian Bale was the only Batman that existed. Before I watched this, I had seen Batman: The Movie many, many times as a kid, and I saw a glimpse of Tim Burton’s Batman from 1989. Christopher Nolan was the best thing that could have happened to the character back in 2005 after George Clooney’s film murdered the character for almost an entire decade. Nolan was coming off the praise of Following, Memento and Insomnia, and has proven that he knows how to tell a story with characters who the audience can understand… which is what Batman needed. Nolan showed us that a good Batman film needs character at the forefront instead of glowing lights and cheesy jokes.

3) Batman: Under the Red Hood is one film that people are begging Ben Affleck to adapt into his solo Batman film (which may be DOA as of now) and that’s because the story is just absolutely iconic. Give us a Batman film with an enthralling story, great villains (yes, TWO!), a plot that pushes our main character in a new and terrifying direction, and fan service that will please those who aren’t even well-versed in the Batman lore. The flashbacks are really what sell the film as they give us more information that it absolutely critical for the rest of the story, and result in callbacks that blew my socks off. This is my favorite animated Batman film because it did everything it was supposed to and more; it’s its own prequel and its own sequel as well as being a standalone film that anybody can enjoy. The twist ending is shocking for those who don’t know what to expect (I knew) and will most likely make you want to watch the whole thing over again after finishing it. I highly recommend this film.

2) The Dark Knight Rises is the epic conclusion to the most perfect trilogy to have come out in the last decade. Testing our hero in ways that he has never been before, this film delivers a villain for the ages that bests Batman as well as Bruce Wayne. Being better than the second film in this trilogy would be impossible, but raising the excitement and expanding the story was something that this film did with flying colors. I’ve seen it countless times and it’s easily one of my favorite movies to ever hit the screen; I made sure to see it four times in theaters, twice bootlegged before the blu-ray release, a few times upon the first few weeks of owning it (legally), and many times since then. No matter how many times I revisit the film, I’m always emotionally impacted by the ending on a level that no other superhero film has ever done for me. Redefining scale, scope and sheer excitement, this Batman conclusion is better than we ever could have hoped it to be, and in no way does this film disappoint or become predictable or recycled. Worth a watch? Not watching this film is a crime.

1) The Dark KnightWhat many people consider to be the best superhero movie, and even one of the greatest movies ever released, is this sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins. What Nolan did with the character of  Bruce Wayne in that film was actually define his character, and focus on him rather than the flashing lights, grotesque aesthetic, or nipple-armor from the original four Batman films. Putting an emphasis on story rather than spectacle was the smart movie, and it worked out because that film led to two sequels being made, allowing this trilogy to become one of the most beloved film sagas of all time. This film did a very similar thing as Spider-Man 2 did in deepening the character by raising the stakes. The Joker is Batman’s greatest foe for a reason, and it’s because they’re so alike in so many ways: they are the same person, but on opposite sides of morality. It’s a beautiful hatred that they share, and one of them wouldn’t be possible without the other in this story. This is the film that introduced Christopher Nolan as one of the finest directors working today, which he has proven that again and again since then.

Well, that’s my list! Any films that you think I should have included (Tim Burton’s, maybe)? What’s your list look like! Let me know and be sure to stay tuned for more movie content! As always, thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon!

Published by Blake Carson Schwarz

Indiana University graduate in Media and Creative Writing. I love to write my own stories as well as experience the work of others. On this site, I post reviews, essays, and other fun posts that I hope you have as much fun reading and I have writing. Please share any comments you have, I'd be happy to hear what you think! *Never a critic, always a fan*

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