If you haven't been able to tell, I love Batman. Fortunately for Dark Knight fans everywhere, DC has not slacked on their animated films. They are often word for word with the source material, and because they are animated, they feel like a comic book. Combine classic stories with amazing voice-over work, and you have some of the best superhero films of all time. Batman leads the way, and here are his five best animated feature films.
5. Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
Featuring Kevin Conroy as Batman, Neal McDonough as Deadshot, Hynden Walch as Harley Quinn, and Troy Baker as the Joker, this tie-in to the Arkham series was more centered on the Suicide Squad, but had Batman play a major role as the antagonist. The style was visually impressive, though not quite as good as some films further down the list. The story itself was decent, a good heist film with a lot of action and mayhem. Overall, it was a very good film, but it wasn't as good artistically as some of the others, and those higher on the list are just far and above more impressive. It receives a 7.4 on IMDB, and I would give it about the same.
4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
A classic of classics, this film followed the quintessential Batman: the Animated Series, and featured legends Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker, and Bob Hastings and Commissioner Gordon. It receives a 7.9 rating on IMDB, and it deserves it. You have the beautiful style of the 90's cartoons, with an excellent story with stellar acting. The only two things that I would find wrong with this film would be the clean, sterile nature that the film and show had (nothing wrong with it, just a personal opinion) and the obviousness of the villain. Beyond that, it deserves the praise it gets.
3. Batman: Year One (2013)
Featuring Ben Mackenzie and Bryan Cranston as Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon respectively, this is one of the more well-known graphic novels of the Dark Knight. It follows the two young men as they try to find their own ways to fight crime and save the city of Gotham. So, it's as much a film about Gordon as it is Wayne, and that makes for a thrilling story. The 2011 feature, based on Frank Miller's classic novel contains one of the most iconic scenes in Batman lore (and one of my personal favorites):
I honestly have no bones with this movie. Beautiful artwork, amazing story, and a classic novel adapted nigh perfectly, it's sad that this film only receives a 7.4 on IMDB. However, I would say that it's only second to two films. Those are, of course, the two that you are about to see.
2. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Bruce Greenwood (Batman), Jensen Ackles (Red Hood), and John DiMaggio star in a tour-de-force, Dark Knight style. We see one of the most tragic deaths in Batman lore, and one of the best renditions of the Joker ever. Care to see it? No? I'll share it anyway:
If you've made it through that, and you're still okay, then I applaud your cold-heartedness. This film received an 8.0 on IMDB's rating scale, and a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is rather impressive. It is a heart-wrenching story with plenty of action, and something that is often overlooked: a beautiful score. Personally, it may be my favorite, but, the next film has one thing that this one didn't.
1. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Parts 1 and 2 (2012)
Perhaps the greatest Batman film (live action or animated) of all time, The Dark Knight Returns is an epic two-parter featuring Peter Weller as Batman, Ariel Winter as Robin, Michael Emerson as the Joker, Mark Valley as Superman, and David Selby as Commissioner Gordon. An 8.3 IMDB rating makes this the highest rated Batman animated film, and the third highest of all Batman films (behind Dark Knight and Dark Knight Rises).
This Frank Miller story is a powerhouse, showcasing an older, rougher Dark Knight and his fight against some of his most powerful foes. This is one of those adaptions that almost copies the comics in both lines and shots. Classic lines such as "This isn't a mud hole. It's an operating table, and I'm the surgeon", and "In all your private moments, I want you to remember the one man who beat you." fill the two movies. What makes this movie so special? Well, besides the Bat-tank...We see Superman, getting his tail whipped.
Perhaps the greatest comic book fight of all time came to life in this film. For its amazing story, beautiful voice-over work, score, epic fights and over-all "batmanishness", The Dark Knight Returns is the best animated Batman film.
So, what do you think? We will be getting a Killing Joke film in the near future. Could that take its place on this list? Is there another film that you think deserves to be on this list? Be sure to let me know in the comments!