I must confess- Batman and I have a rather troubled relationship. You know how some people just don’t get Star Wars and why everyone loves it? Well, that’s what Batman is for me. Out of all of the versions of Batman I only really love 1 of them. Only 1 would make my top 200 favorite movies list.
That’s not to say that I hate them. In fact, most of them I find watchable and even enjoy, but it’s just not my fandom.My biggest problem with most Batman movies is that Batman gets sidelined in favor of the villains. I like my superhero movies to be about heroes not villains.
That said, I’m going into this week’s Batman v Superman with an open mind and perhaps less insane expectations than the fanboys. I hope I will like it!
Nevertheless, it had been years since I had seen most of the Batman films so I gave them all a rewatch. I decided to do kind of a Hit Me with Your Best Shot treatment to all these movies and picked one shot that I think captures the movie best and then add a few thoughts on each film:
(For my thoughts on all the Superman movies click here)
Batman 1966- charming and completely ridiculous. Wears out its welcome at nearly 2 hours but the villains are silly fun and Adam West is very dapper as Batman. I like how everything is labeled. That cracks me up. This is my favorite example of the labeling I will just add because I think it is so funny. They label the entrance to the bat cave and Dick and Bruce’s poles.
Batman 1989- I didn’t like it. People talk about Michael Keaton being so great, but he’s hardly in the movie. Next time you watch it pay attention to how much dialogue and screen time Keaton actually has and it will surprise you. Jack Nicholson as the Joker just shouts a lot. I mean there’s a long unnecessary Prince musical number in the middle? I don’t get the appeal to be honest. Even the makeup I don’t really like. Batman Returns- Starts strong and Penguin/Catwoman are creepy and memorable. But it gets too fetishy for my taste. Almost no Batman in this film- like seriously there are long segments with the villains and then Batman/Bruce Wayne appears briefly. Cinematography and art design is cool and feels like a Tim Burton movie, so at least it has that going for it. The Penguin running for office plotline is a snoozefest. It scared me as a little girl and definitely has some horror elements but now it feels more icky than scary for a good chunk of movie.Batman Forever- Jim Carrey is fun as Riddler but Tommy Lee Jones is awful. For a movie meant for children it earns its PG-13 rating with violence and sensuality. Plan by Riddler to overtake all the brains in Gotham with his TV device sure gets implemented quickly and is very silly. It needed to be developed more but instead we get lots of shouting, lame action and Nicole Kidman spouting 90s era pop psychology. The whole movie is silly and special effects look really bad. Batman and Robin- Some so bad its good appeal. Unfortunately even that is marred by a surprising amount of male erotica (and female) for a film made to sell children’s toys. The action is ridiculous with characters defying gravity and having powers that don’t make sense. The one liners are groan inducing especially from Arnold and Uma Thurman is so bad. Careers were ruined all over the place. Batman: Mask of Phantasm- Love it. My favorite Batman movie. I love the animation, and I love the relationship between Bruce and Andrea Beaumont. It’s a Batman movie actually about Batman! Imagine that! The script is so good. I particularly love the conversation at the end with Alfred and Bruce about walking the line between good and evil. Mark Hamil is fantastic as the Joker and he is used more sparingly than Dark Knight. Great Shirley Walker score. (I’ll do a full review of this one of these days)Batman Begins- Overlong but I like it because it is about Batman. I think the cinematography is good and I like that it embraces comic book sensibilities a little bit more than other Nolan films (microwave emitter and all). Liam Nieson is good as Ra’s al Ghul and one of the more complex Batman villains.Dark Knight- I’m not as high on this as everyone else but it is well done. Heath Ledger is great. I’m just not that into crime dramas and think the movie suffers when Joker is off screen. Plus, Harvey Dent’s transformation is so sudden from renegade DA to threatening to kill a child. I needed more time with him and Rachel to buy their relationship and the drastic change. Batman/Bruce Wayne is lost a bit because Joker is so strong. But I totally get why you love it so don’t kill me.Dark Knight Rises– I like the more hopeful tone and Anne Hathaway is great. Bane’s Marxist revolution and the focus on manipulating the masses is interesting. More focus on Batman/Bruce Wayne than Dark Knight. I like my Batman movies to be about Batman! There is too much of Bruce watching the action instead of participating and Marion Cotillard character is weak. However, as with all the Nolan films, it looks great and is well done. It was better than I expected it to be (I saw for first time a few weeks ago).In general, I guess I’m just not that big of a Batman girl but we’ll see how Batman v Superman does. Maybe it can win me over? Here’s hoping! Can any of you relate to my feelings on any of these films? What do you think of them? I would love to hear your thoughts.
My Family Movie Night youtube review of Batman 1966
13 thoughts on “All Batman Movies Quick Thoughts”
Mmm…I agree. I never got the rabid love for The Dark Knight. I have nothing against the movie, but I think the only really great thing about it is Heath Ledger’s performance. Everything else is kind of meh.
I like the 1966 Batman. It’s simply my kind of humour. And Adam West is for me to this day the only life-action actor who managed to convince me in the role (or in the version of Batman he was supposed to play).
I think you are right, the animated movie is the best one, mostly because it is the only one which is actually about Batman, while still telling an engaging story.
Yeah I was really impressed with Adam West this go around. What do you think of the Burton movies? I was surprised how much 1989 Batman didnt work for me. To me it did not hold up at all.
And I’m totally with you on the problem with most of these movies being the underdevelopment of Batman as a character. The villains always take over.
They are style over subject matter. I respect them for their role they played into defining Superhero movies, but I never loved them either.
Yeah that’s good way to put it.
To be honest, I have not seen many of the Batman or Superman films, but have seen some of them in passing. I am still more familiar with Batman.
The Dark Knight was already a dark film, but knowing that the role pretty much killed the actor that played the Joker kind of left a sour taste in my mouth. I have watched Batman Returns the most out of all of them though.
I prefer animated versions of Batman, rather than the live action, since more can be done, and I feel like more depth is given.
I never really thought about Dark Knight quite that way but it is a good point. While the film isn’t solely to blame for Ledgar’s addictions it probably didn’t help.
I totally agree with you on the animated versions. I want to see some of the Superman animated films because I wouldn’t be surprised if I feel that way about him as well.
I’ve never seen the 1966 Batman film, but I’ve seen the rest.
It’s totally different than the rest. More of a comedy.
I have to agree with your summaries 100%. The animated Batman was by far the best (I still love the series along with the animated Justice League shows). I don’t think WB has yet make a really good Batman movie. I really, really wish they’d focus on Batman as being a brilliant man – a detective – rather than just focusing on his fists and gadgets (and villains). Since you aren’t a fan of the hero, you probably aren’t interested, but there’s a (long!) series of stories called Cat Tales by Chris Dee that are fantastic Batman stories (and they are free online). Completely Elseworlds, of course, since they aren’t created by DC, but a whole lot of fun.
Anyway, fun look at Batman in film.
Cool! I will have to check that out. It’s nice to find someone that agrees with me on Batman movies