We’ve had some great conversations this week regarding sequels, returns and revamps of old, classic characters, much of this surrounding our beloved Batman. He’s Gotham’s Dark Knight. He’s a beacon of hope. Almost all of us have grown up with a version of him in comic books, on the television screen and/or on a movie screen. And this got us ticking, what’s the best version of Batman? Is he best suited as an animated caped crusader? Or is he supposed to be on the big screen taking down Heath Ledger and Jared Leto? Here’s what our staff thought…
I loved all the Nolan Batmen when they came out (DK Rises to a slightly lesser degree), but those are so much about sustained tension (save Batman Begins) that I rarely feel like re-watching. I think the one that sticks with me, oddly, is Batman Returns, which is probably the weirdest superhero movie ever made. I’m fascinated by Oswald Cobblepot, the bridge creature who hires political consultants. “Could be worse, my nose could be gushing blood,” is a memorable line, and his penguin funeral is still one of the weirdest f*cking things I’ve ever seen in a popcorn movie, which was even weirder when I was 10 or whatever.
Tim Burton’s Batman movie from 1989 will forever be THE Batman movie for me. If you didn’t live through its release, let me explain what it was like for 9-year-old me at the time: Every single comic book had an ad for the Batman movie plastered on the back cover. Everyone was wearing Batman T-shirts. Prince was No. 1 on the radio for months with the Batdance. So, to say it was a cultural phenomena would be underselling it. Game of Thrones had nothing on Batman when it was coming out.
And then the movie itself — my first exposure to Tim Burton! So dark and strange and completely different from anything I had seen on the four television channels my rabbit ears picked up. That movie upped the ante for all entertainment moving forward in my life, and was largely responsible for pushing me away from saccharine network sitcoms and into the back corners of the video store where the weird horror, fantasy, and sci-fi VHS tapes resided.
I have a strong affection for all things Batman, and there are movies and TV shows that are objectively better and that I enjoy or revisit more, but personally, I find Batman: The Brave and The Bold delightful. Revisiting the Silver Age Batman with modern sensibilities makes the show incredibly funny, and best of all, it went out on a high note.
The Tim Burton Batman movies arrived at a sweet spot for my appreciation of both Batman and Tim Burton. Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is a remarkable achievement, but if we’re talking favorites, I have to look over to my shelf containing box sets of Batman: The Animated Series, as shepherded by the great Bruce Timm. He approached Batman’s world like he approached his art: Remove all the unnecessary details and emphasize what matters, be it reducing Batman to little more than a strong jaw and a scowl or using Gotham as a setting for larger-than-life clashes between good and evil — with an emphasis on the shadowy territories between the two.
I am a Marvel girl through and through, so when I was 15 and Batman Forever was released, I was more about the moody soundtrack and my virulent crush on Jim Carrey than I was about Batman. I realize now that while my after-school afternoons were nothing without Batman: The Animated Series, I can never turn down the campy, ridiculous romp that is the original ’60s Batman TV show with Adam West. The puns, the BIFF, POW, ZAP effects, the way it was like they were making the only show they could afford, so let’s get drunk and put on costumes and make a freaking Batman show. I watch the IFC marathons every chance I get, and it’s just purely the lightest, silliest entertainment a girl could ask for from a Dark Knight. Holy Dad Jokes, Batman! Sign me up forever.
Okay, Batman junkies. Sound off below with what you think is the best Batman movie or TV show…