The Batman movie genre has been defined by the Christopher Nolan trilogy and has become the standard to which all future titles will be compared to. I know that’s what you’ll all be thinking when Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice comes out, but while these films stand as the flagships of the franchise, they’re not the only full-length features that deserve praise. So before the next Batman movie comes up, check out some of the greatest Batman animated movies of all time.
Batman: Year One
Batman: Year One chronicles the first year Bruce Wayne transforms into the Batman and it does it in a very straightforward way, mirroring the graphic novel of the same name by Frank Miller. Year One delves further into Miller’s classic comic by following the beginning Bruce Wayne’s Batman career, giving us a glimpse of the growth of our less confident hero, as well as James Gordon aka Commissioner Gordon. Making Year One a must-see for anyone interested in the history of the Dark Knight and the honourable Commissioner. Not to mention that the action sequences are all top-notch.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
If the previous item focused on Batman’s first day on the job, this one depicts his retirement. Making the decision that he is too old to safely and productively patrol the streets of Gotham, Bruce Wayne decides to end his career as Batman. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker showcases everything that’s right with the Batman Beyond series, combined with staple characters, the infamous nemesis’ the Joker, as well as the introduction of Terry McGinnis taking up the mantle of Batman.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The Batman seen in Mask of the Phantasm is a darker version that today’s fans are probably used to, but he is still the voice of moral guidance throughout the story, which makes him the hero every kid could look up to. The writing is fantastic, with the added ties of Batman’s origin story, multiple flashbacks as well as delving into his romantic life.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 and Part 2
Based on Frank Miller’s 1986 comic book, the animated adaption of The Dark Knight Returns is dark, violent, and incredibly mature. Though not really over-the-top in terms of what our society is used to violence-wise, the film and depiction of Batman is definitely the most aggressive on this list. Anyone who was pulled in by Christopher Nolan’s darker take on the Batman universe will respond positively to this portrayal of the Dark Knight as well.
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Batman: Under the Red Hood employs a slightly more traditional animation style than The Dark Knight Returns in the sense that it’s reminiscent of many other DC universe TV series and movies. However, the creators managed to accomplish this without making it look dated or lazy. Everything looks beautiful while maintaining a style that DC fans have grown used to when it comes to animated movies. This film is a combination of everything that makes a good animated Batman movie, combining important events from the Batman universe with new storytelling. Specifically by taking one of the most memorable events in comic book history, the brutal death of Robin (the Jason Todd incarnation), and exploring the long-term consequences of it. The result is something new that can be appreciated by long-time fans and newcomers alike.