3. Batman Begins
“A personal favourite of the Dark Knight trilogy. The staggered tiers of villains structure really works (Falcone > Scarecrow > Ra’s Al Ghul) to prevent it getting bloated, but for once the narrative is actually about Batman’s journey. It’s not flawless – Rachel Dawes is a little insipid and her romance with Bruce is the weakest part of the movie – but, on the whole, it’s a gritty take on Batman which stills retains its comic book sensibilities. Something I would argue the later films lose somewhat.”
2. Batman Returns
“You might not like the lack of Batman screentime or the kooky tone, but you can’t deny that Batman Returns is an endlessly fascinating film. Easily the superhero movie with the most going on under the surface, Returns deliberately sacrifices a clear plotline to become a character-driven meditation on the freaks of society and the duality of the self. Fittingly for a film obsessed with the significance of masks, Batman Returns is a psychosexual gothic fairy tale masquerading as a popcorn-munching blockbuster.”
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
“Can I be controversial here? For me, Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman film ever. Not necessarily the overall best movie to star Batman, but the one that best represents the character. Showcasing his detective work, his no-killing rule, the duality of his personality and his commitment to crime-fighting, none of the live-action films get Batman as well as this one. Add in some gorgeous dark deco animation, a glorious score from Shirley Walker and an engaging, character-driven story, and you have the Citizen Kane of superhero animation.”
P.S. In case you were wondering, Mask of the Phantasm gets on this list because it received a limited theatrical run before going straight to home video.
P.P.S. This list is just one massive Bat-fan’s honest personal ranking of the Batman movies. I’d love to hear about your faves in the comments!