Cinematic Batman: Worst To First- Part One

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In case you did not know (or haven’t been beaten over the head with it by DC) 2014 is Batman’s 75th birthday. He is still looking spry for an older gent and continues to kick ass every month in multiple comics.

This isn’t about comics though, this is about the Caped Crusader’s cinematic adventures which range from the genre-defining to the mind-retarding. Who else can claim that?

Superman, damn.

What is it with DC movie properties?

9. Batman & Robin

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Let’s start off with the obvious low point. Batman Forever made more money than Returns and Warner was filled with hard-ons for more Batman. Joel Schumacher came back to direct and since Val Kilmer was a massive douche to deal with, they got fresh-out-of-the-E.R. George Clooney to play Batman. Uma Thurman was cast as Poison Ivy because she could look cool doing the Batusi and make Janeane Garofalo bearable in a romantic comedy. Then, Arnold Schwarzenegger was Mr. Freeze because…why the fuck not?

What was released was a cinematic abortion that almost killed the movie franchise of the most popular comic book character in the last thirty years. Bat nipples, bat asses, bat crotches, ice puns, Alicia Silverstone trying to fit in a bat suit even though she is nowhere near the size she was in Clueless. Why was Poison Ivy working with Freeze who wanted to cover the world in ice? Wouldn’t that be detrimental to plants? Maybe? The Bat credit card, bat skates, Bane in a gorilla suit, trying to make us believe that Vivica A. Fox is actually beautiful. This movie is a 90 minute long nut kick.

I will give Schumacher credit for being honest and saying that the studio pressured him to lighten up the movie to sell toys, making it essentially a bad movie. Your honesty is appreciated. Too late, but appreciated.

8. Batman Forever

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Remember the summer of 1995? Weren’t we all kissed by a rose on the gray? We were getting a new Batman and we had a love song with a man who looked like he had lost a fight with a broken beer bottle to tell us. Michael Keaton and Tim Burton could not come to terms with Warner for a follow-up to Returns, so Warner let Batman be the new James Bond. Keep the series going with a new actor playing the role. The plan lasted two movies, just 21 short of the James Bond franchise.

Val Kilmer took over the role of Batman fresh off of his amazing performance in Tombstone. If only he could have acted like Doc Holliday the entire movie.

“Nygma, I’m your huckleberry”.

SOLD!

It gets credit for bringing Robin into the mix, even though he looks like he is 27, making the orphan stuff harder to take. Making Dick act like a pissy Jason Todd was also annoying.

Tommy Lee Jones decided to take his Oscar from The Fugitive a few years earlier and forget all the acting ability that won it for him. Instead, he did his best Jack Nicholson as Two-Face. His partner in crime was Fire Marshall Bill, I mean Jim Carrey as The Riddler. Together they team-up to rob Gotham’s jewelry stores and let Riddler suck everyone’s thoughts or brain power or something. As the movie progresses, Carrey wears tighter unitards revealing more and more of his balls. If it had been a half hour longer he would have just had a tattoo put on his body of a question mark with his balls being the period.

The rub about Batman Forever is that it is not a bad movie. Do not let that sentence fool you. That does not say it is a good movie. It says it is not a bad one. I can see what Schumacher was going for. He was transitioning Burton’s darker tone of the first two to his own love of all things neon.

7. Batman Begins

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While Batman & Robin may not have been a franchise killer (you can only say that if it was the last Batman movie), it damn sure put him on the shelf for eight years. Luckily Warner liked the vision director Christopher Nolan showed for a reboot. Think of Warner executives (who I am assuming are not Batman experts) greenlighting a movie with no Joker, no Penguin, no Two-Face. Rather, Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow would be the villains, as well as the star of American Psycho being Batman. For a comic fan that is awesome, but for movie execs, that showed a set of balls.

Don’t get me wrong, Begins does have some wear on it after nine years (NINE…shit). Katie Holmes was the weakest part of the movie when it came out and time has not done her any favors, especially when you compare it to Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight. Being a Scarecrow lover I wish Cillian Murphy had more to do instead of being Ra’s’ bitch. Minor things.

After Batman & Robin we really should have considered ourselves lucky we got another Batman movie at all. The fact we got a good start to a great trilogy of films means we hit the Batman lotto scratch card bonus.

6. Batman: The Movie

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Yeah, it is this high. My list, my rules. Batman: The Movie was released after the first season of the Batman ‘66 series and has The Joker, Catwoman, Riddler and Penguin teaming up to…do something. Who the hell knows? It is all about dehydrating people into dust and being able to rehydrate them to human form because, science.

Adam West is his pervy best as he puts the moves on Catwoman, who is acting like a Russian journalist. When he thinks her dead he threatens to kill all of the bad guys. Yep, Bruce wasn’t fucking around when it came to Russian tail. I can’t say I blame him, Lee Meriwether always gave me weird below the belt feelings when I was a kid so I could associate with his anger.

If only we could figure out the formula for his shark repellant spray.

Plus, can we not agree that this is one of the greatest scenes in Batman history?

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5. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

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Batman: The Animated Series, to me, will always be the quintessential version of the character on TV or the big screen. Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and the host of other writers combined with the finest voice cast assembled to bring Batman to younger audiences and influenced a generation of future comic book writers. The only theatrical release of TAS was every bit as good as the best episodes in the series’ three year run.

What Mask of the Phantasm does is something no movie version of Batman has done successfully: told a love story with Bruce Wayne that is as good as the Batman story. It almost makes me wish we could get a real version of Andrea Beaumont someday, but I know the character would just be screwed up. Leave well enough alone.

Our children could only be so lucky to get a version of Batman half as good as this. Luckily all 85 episodes and Mask of the Phantasm are available on DVD. Parent the shit out of them about Batman.

And so ends Part One of our list. Discuss what are your favorite Batman movies below and keep an eye out for Part Two coming soon!

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One response to “Cinematic Batman: Worst To First- Part One”

  1. […] See Part One of our countdown here. […]

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