We'll soon see in theaters who wi..."/>

We'll soon see in theaters who wi..."/>

We'll soon see in theaters who wi..."/>

Ranking every Batman and Superman movie


We’ll soon see in theaters who wins in a fight, but who had the greatest movies: Batman or Superman?

Batman and Superman are undeniably the greatest two superheroes of all time. After gaining popularity in the comic book world, it was only natural for both caped crimefighters to make a splash in Hollywood. Each of them would go on to make many feature films over the past several decades, starting with Superman’s first flick in the early 50s with Batman following close behind in the 60s. With instant success, producers would continue to use Batman and Superman as the source of more films for years to come.

When it comes to these Batman and Superman films, the results from each superhero’s on-screen adventures have varied in quality. Each have provided some incredibly entertaining and well-made movies, while also turning in a few embarrassing entries. So while we’re waiting to see the two comic book heroes finally duking it out on the same screen in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, I went ahead and ranked every Superman and Batman film together to find out which one of the two has had the greatest film, and which one had the worst.

Putting together all of these films into one definitively ranked list wasn’t easy, but I did it; be sure to let me know in the comments section if I got the order wrong. Now on with the list!

Next: 15. Let's kick some ice

15. Batman and Robin (1997)

The Dark Knight gets the unfortunate honor of heading the worst title on this list, and that is without question. Batman and Robin was not only a terrible Batman film, it’s one of the worst comic book movies ever seen in theaters. At this point in the franchise, producers thought just having Batman in a movie was enough to make it great. That was not the case, as this movie proved that not even Batman, as awesome as he truly is, could save it.

There aren’t many, if any, redeeming qualities about this film. The script was just awful, full of nothing but ice-related puns which were made even cheesier when delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger. George Clooney himself has gone on record to declare his regret for taking on this movie, having apologized personally to Adam West for embarrassing the character. Indeed, Batman lost a lot of credibility when this joke of a movie hit theaters, and the Caped Crusader was forced to take a break from the big screen for years. If it wasn’t for getting lucky with a talented filmmaker like Christopher Nolan creatively pulling Batman back up from the brink, Batman and Robin very well could have caused permanent damage to the legacy of the superhero.

Next: 14. 4 was 1 too many

14. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

There’s no way to sugarcoat this, Superman fans: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is one of the worst movies ever made. With production values that equal those seen in Tommy Wiseau’s The Room, the movie had disastrous special effects, even resorting to reusing the exact same shot of Superman in the air every time he flew in the movie. The only positive qualities the movie has are two excellent lead actors in Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman, although this film is certainly a blemish on each of their careers.

Aside from the problems mentioned above, The Quest for Peace is practically filled to the brim with plot holes. These include such antics as Lex Luthor cutting Superman’s supposedly indestructible hair with hedge clippers and Lois Lane magically being able to breathe in outer space. As a fan, I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to a certain extent when watching a movie about a superhero in blue tights from another planet, but Superman IV went far above and beyond that line with its ridiculousness and could be considered on-par with the dreadful Nintendo 64 game as the worst forms of entertainment the Man of Steel has ever had to offer.

Next: 13. His first movie wasn't his best

13. Superman and the Mole Men (1951)

All the way back in 1951, the Man of Steel made his first feature film appearance with Superman and the Mole Men. The feature doubled as the pilot for the Adventures of Superman TV series that would soon follow and air for several years in the 50s. The film starred George Reeves as the titular superhero, and the story followed Clark Kent and Lois Lane traveling to the deepest oil well in the world. There, they happen across humanoid creatures residing in the earth, and it’s up to Superman to save the day when a feud forms between the “Mole Men” and the locals.

Make no mistake, George Reeves was a marvelous actor and an excellent Superman, and the Adventures of Superman TV series was pretty fantastic as well. However, this particular Superman outing hasn’t exactly held up well over time. George Reeves hadn’t fully adjusted to the role quite yet, and the plot was pretty ridiculous (even for that time period’s standards). It’s unfortunately rather dull for a Superman movie, albeit with moments of charm here and there. Even for the biggest fans of Superman, though, one viewing of this movie is probably all you’ll ever want to have.

Next: 12. This one seemed to go on 'Forever'

12. Batman Forever (1995)

By the early 1990s, Batman had become pop culture icon who had amassed an even larger fan base after dominating the box office with two critically-acclaimed movies. With Batman and Batman Returns, director Tim Burton and actor Michael Keaton had brought to life everyone’s favorite comic book detective with a pair of excellent feature films. Despite this, Warner Bros. decided Batman needed to have a more lighthearted, cartoonish tone to be more mainstream, and replaced Tim Burton with Joel Schumacher. Sensing early on what a disastrous decision this would turn out to be, Michael Keaton turned down their offer to reprise his role as Batman, even though they were offering $15 million dollars.

As expected, especially in hindsight, Batman Forever was merely a shell of the former greatness that the Dark Knight had become after the previous two films. The new colorful and cheeky, over-the-top feel of the movie only made it harder to take it seriously, and it just wasn’t as engaging. The cast involved, including Val Kilmer, Jim Carrey, and Tommy Lee Jones, are certainly not terrible actors, but the stories and costumes were so bad that even their collective talent was completely buried in this overall mess of a movie.

Next: 11. The 3rd time wasn't the charm

11. Superman III (1983)

When Christopher Reeve had made Superman America’s favorite superhero with two incredible Superman movies, it seemed like the Man of Steel could do no wrong in Hollywood. So with Christopher Reeve once again donning the tights for another big budget adventure in Superman III, fans of the superhero were expecting another blockbuster. Unfortunately, that excitement would morph into disappointment upon actually watching the movie.

Like Batman Forever, this second sequel featured a dramatic drop in quality from the previous installments in its franchise. For some unknown reason, producers opted to take the series in a more comical direction, focusing more on humor and less on adventure. Right away you can see the problem, right? Superman is basically synonymous with adventure, and not really someone we turn to when we want to hear a joke. With the Man of Steel essentially serving as a side character in his own movie to the comedic musings of a phoned-in performance by Richard Pryor, Superman III can be a hard movie to sit through. It’s still worth a viewing for big fans of Superman, as Christopher Reeve nails his performance as the last son of Krypton— a true bright spot in an otherwise rough sequel.

Next: 10. Perhaps he shouldn't have

10. Superman Returns (2006)

I’ll tell you right now that I was very excited for Superman Returns when the movie was in development. It had been nearly 20 years since the Man of Steel had been seen on cinema screens, but with Christopher Nolan picking up the pieces with Batman to breathe new life into the Dark Knight’s franchise, I had high hopes the same could be done for Superman. Serving as an homage sequel to the first two movies, the film wisely chose to ignore Superman III and Superman IV, and that further exacerbated my excitement as they were only looking at the best Superman movies for inspiration.

Unfortunately, Superman’s return was a bit… dull. Newcomer Brandon Routh wasn’t terrible as the new Clark Kent, but he didn’t blow audiences away either. That sentiment about the lead actor can represent everything else about the movie, which can all be summed up with one word: mediocrity. We had definitely seen a lot worse from Superman in the past, but we had also seen much better. There was just a disappointing lack of excitement for this mostly lifeless adventure, and while it was nice to see Superman back in theaters again, most of us were still hoping for something more.

Next: 9. The weakest of a trilogy

9. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan has become an icon in both the film and comic worlds for the way he resurrected the credibility of Batman with Batman Begins and permanently made him one of the greatest pop culture icons with The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader was enjoying a new rush of mainstream popularity as a result of these movies, and audiences were lined up when the conclusion to Nolan’s Batman film trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, premiered on theater screens. Sadly, while still a decent film, this movie easily stands out of the weakest of Nolan’s three Batman adventures.

The biggest problem with the movie may have been the primary antagonist in Bane. The character was an odd choice for a lead villain, and he was especially hard to take very seriously after witnessing the antics of other amazing bad guys in the film franchise like Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Joker. With Bruce Wayne incapacitated for the majority of the film, there was also an unfortunate lack of Batman in action, which wasn’t a good thing considering the length of the movie. While the flick isn’t inherently terrible, a nonsensical ending only threw another damper on the film’s quality, and perhaps it was for the best for the series to conclude here.

Next: 8. Wham!

8. Batman (1966)

While Batman has mostly been best served when presented as dark and mysterious, Adam West had already proven back in the 1960s that the Caped Crusader can, in fact, work just as well as an over-the-top superhero. With bright and colorful imagery mixed with cheeky humor and comedic undertones, 1966’s Batman: The Movie is a stark contrast to what we’ve seen in Tim Burton and Christopher Nolan’s film franchises, but it oddly enough is just as entertaining.

Here’s what this old movie has that movies like Batman Forever and Batman and Robin did not: charm.  There was just something endearing about the way Adam West and Burt Ward portrayed Batman and Robin, and even all of the villains were rounded out with an equally excellent cast. It may not be as dark or as dramatic as most iterations of Batman, but it’s damn sure a lot of fun to watch. Obviously, it’s a feature film based on the popular TV series which was airing at the time, and as such, they go hand in hand. The movie’s campy nature only worked to its benefit and if you enjoyed this movie, you’ll definitely like the TV series even more.

Next: 7. The start of a new Batman

7. Batman Begins (2005)

We all know the basic story of Batman’s origin, but it had never been fully explored before Christopher Nolan’s 2005 film, Batman Begins. Most of us knew about young Bruce Wayne witnessing his own parents getting murdered in cold blood which would lead to him becoming Batman, and these events have been touched on in other films, but Christopher Nolan wanted to devote an entire film to showing the full course of events that led from a traumatized young boy to become Gotham City’s savior.

Audiences were going to be taken beyond the execution of Thomas and Martha Wayne and well into Bruce’s growth into adulthood, where he would learn his techniques and perfect his craft on his quest to become the Dark Knight.

An excellent casting choice in Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne gave Batman Begins a great start, and the phenomenal directing talent of Christopher Nolan effectively restored quality to the Batman character. It was very interesting to see how Batman truly came to be, answering a lot of questions that I always wondered when it came to Batman’s rise to prominence. The movie set the foundation for an excellent Batman story that carried over into its sequel, The Dark Knight, helping make that movie the blockbuster juggernaut it became.

Next: 6. Revitalizing a superhero

6. Man of Steel (2013)

When Superman had seemingly dropped the ball after his long-awaited return to film in 2006’s Superman Returns, the red and blue superhero would fly back onto the shelf for another several years, not seeing another box office outing until 2013. That was when the world saw the release of Man of Steel, the newest entry of the Superman franchise. Learning from the mistakes of Superman Returns, Warner Bros. had decided to reboot the franchise completely, signing on Henry Cavill to play the titular superhero.

Fortunately, Superman had fared better on the big screen this time around. While not perfect, Man of Steel gave audiences a bit more adventure than Superman Returns and was certainly more compelling. The movie was enjoyable and fans of the last son of Krypton should be happy that it made it so good to see Superman in cinemas again. Man of Steel doesn’t exactly shatter any new ground and sometimes leans in the way of typical Hollywood action movie fanfare, but at the same time, it was still a lot of fun to watch. And while I couldn’t say Henry Cavill is the greatest Superman there’s ever been, he did well as Clark Kent and I’m eager to see him go at it with Batman in Batman v. Superman.

Next: 5. A super-underrated sequel

5. Superman II (1980)

The production of Superman II was plagued with problems, and odds were against it being a well made and successful movie. Director Richard Donner had mostly completed the movie when he was forced out of his spot. When the new director, Richard Lester, came on board, he realized he’d have to film at least 51% of the scenes used in the movie to get the full director’s credit. To accomplish this, Lester ended up re-shooting many of Donner’s scenes, and for an outsider looking in, that seems like the kind of problem that can be detrimental to the quality of a movie.

Somehow, though, Superman II came out as a high quality movie. The story was compelling, made even better by the acting talent of Christopher Reeve and Gene Hackman and the visual effects were stellar. Even Reeve has gone on record to say that he feels Superman II is the best of the series, and many fans out there agree. While some of the humor ventures into slapstick territory, it never goes too far (like Superman III would do) and the film remains entertaining from beginning to end. It’s always unusual for excellent movies to have sequels that are just as iconic, so Superman II deserves recognition for that.

Next: 4. At least this 'Return' went over better than Superman's

4. Batman Returns (1992)

Like the previous entry, Batman Returns was one of those rare sequels to an outstanding film that damn near matches its predecessor in terms of quality. Tim Burton had impressed critics and audiences alike with his 1989 film Batman, and Warner Bros. wanted to strike the iron again while it was still hot. With Burton back at the helm and star Michael Keaton putting the batsuit back on, the result was an amazing movie and one of the better outings in Batman lore.

Following up Jack Nicholson’s stint as the Joker with an equally interesting new set of villains seemed impossible, but that’s exactly what happened in Batman Returns. Danny DeVito co-starred as the Penguin in one of the most unique and memorable portrayals of the character, and Michelle Pfeiffer gave the flick some extra spice with her Catwoman. Michael Keaton nailed his role as Bruce Wayne just as he had done previously, as well. Tim Burton’s version of Gotham City, a place that’s comical yet dark, put our characters in a unique environment that made this movie a sight to behold. Considering how well Burton’s first two Batman movies turned out, it’ll be forever puzzling as to why he was replaced for the third film.

Next: 3. Nolan's greatest outing

3. The Dark Knight (2008)

While most of the movies on this list come with a variety of opinions from the fans, you’d be very hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t like The Dark Knight. As Christopher Nolan’s follow-up to Batman Begins, the film picked right up with the introduction of Batman’s arch-nemesis, the Joker— this time played by the late Heath Ledger. As the Clown Prince of Crime unleashed his own methods of mayhem across Gotham City, Batman does whatever it takes to track him down and put a stop to the insanity.

The Dark Knight is a thrill ride that grips you from the start with a compelling storyline, and keeps you interested with amazing action and awesome visuals. The acting talent across the board is immeasurable, with the likes of Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman all contributing to the film’s engaging storyline. The movie reminded everyone in the new millennium just how awesome Batman truly was, with director Christopher Nolan making the most of the Caped Crusader’s true potential. The Dark Knight is a cinematic marvel that not only serves as an excellent comic book movie, but just an outstanding, well-made film that should serve as a basis of inspiration for future Batman films.

Next: 2. The No. 2 DC superhero

2. Superman: The Movie (1978)

I’ll say outright that there will never be another Superman movie as great as Christopher Reeve’s first entry as the Man of Steel in 1978’s Superman: The Movie. It had everything you could want as a fan of Superman. Even diehard, loyal Batman fans have to admit that it’s a fantastic film that deserves serious credit.

The visuals were top notch, a result of the film having a budget which had been the highest ever for a feature film up to that point. And the superhero himself was expertly cast with Christopher Reeve, a man who’d make you think, “Holy crap, that looks like Superman,” even if you had just seen him walking past you on a busy street.

The plot featured the most compelling version of Superman’s basic story of arriving on Earth from Krypton, growing up in Smallville, and subsequently developing a relationship with Lois Lane. The filmmakers had apparently gone through such great lengths to develop a faithful adaptation of the comic book character that even Superman’s creators were stunned, with one of them commenting that Reeve “really is Superman”. That, in a nutshell, helps explain what made this movie so great. When watching it, you really almost feel like you’re looking at Superman flying around in the air, a true comic book superhero come to life.

Next: 1. The greatest Batman movie ever made

1. Batman (1989)

At the end of the day, Tim Burton’s first Batman film from 1989 takes the cake as the best movie ever put out by either Batman or Superman. There’s a certain charm about it that makes it the most entertaining movie of them all, and I could watch it over and over again. Despite initial skepticism that a comedic actor like Michael Keaton couldn’t be taken seriously in the film, Tim Burton stuck to his guns and brought in the Beetlejuice actor who brought his blend of charm and wit to Bruce Wayne. The always amazing Jack Nicholson squaring off against him as The Joker made for one of the most entertaining battles of good against evil ever shown on a theater screen.

Burton’s Batman deserves an extra dose of credit for serving as the inspiration of the equally amazing Batman: The Animated Series, as well as shaping the mold for what all future superhero movies needed to be. It’s fun, with Bruce Wayne being witty, charming, and likable, but only when he needs to. Scenes of the Caped Crusader in action felt very real, and when watching the film, you nearly get lost in Gotham City. I’m not going to bother waiting to see if there will ever be another greater Batman film, because it’s likely not going to happen in this lifetime.