It’s no secret that Batman is one of the richest (literally) characters in cinematic history. With year’s worth of stories across comics, live-action and animation. Some may even argue that animation has been the franchises best outlet. ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ is a prime example, setting a blueprint to how we judge Batman projects today.
Everyone has their own opinion on how they see the character. So take this countdown with a grain of salt. There’s lots of diverse interpretations of the caped crusader that’s gone around. Naturally, we all have our favorites. Let’s take a look at some of the best animated stories that perfectly represent its titular character.
Batman: The Long Halloween
How could this not be on the list? An animated feature based off one his best stories. Batman: The Long Halloween is a two part movie that dives into Batman as a detective. After a pattern of murders on holidays leaving the same calling card, Batman, James Gordon and Harvey Dent attempt to crack this mystery killer.
It’s a perfect example of Bruce’s growth as a hero. Teaching us that even the world’s greatest detective can make mistakes. Featuring many of his rogues, nobody is out of suspicion.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Batman Beyond is a clear cut standout, connecting the events of The Animated Series and having someone else dawn the cape and cowl than Bruce Wayne. Terry McGinnis faces his biggest challenge as Batman yet when The Joker somehow returns. Together, Terry and Bruce must revisit a dark event to uncover how exactly Gotham’s clown prince is even alive, or if it’s even him at all.
One of the darkest stories that’s not exactly suitable for the kids. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is a culmination of the past, present and future of The Dark Knight.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
An accurate comic-screen adaptation of Frank Miller’s work comes in the form of another two-part feature. Exploring an older Batman in an unrecognizable Gotham City. Bruce embarks on a one last mission to set order in his city. Taking place in an alternate timeline, he’s joined by Carrie Kelly, Robin, to stop a gang of mutants.
Later in the part two, Bruce has to deal with an older Two-Face and The Joker. Pushing him to the edge for one last time. This leads to confrontation with Superman, who’s concerned for Bruce’s whole out of retirement plan. I think you know where that leads.
Batman: Under the Red Hood
One of the fan favorites, Under the Red Hood explores Batman’s greatest failure, Jason Todd. The second Robin who was murdered by The Joker before Batman could save him. This movie explores the aftermath of those events and perfectly describes Batman’s no kill rule in the process. No matter how bad things get, no matter who gets taken from him, if he crosses that line he’s just like the rest of them.
The plot consists of a mysterious red hood figure making headway into Gotham’s underworld. Murdering his way to prove a point, Batman is forced to confront his biggest failure in more ways than one. One of the most emotional and action packed animated movies there are.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Was there any guess besides this one? It’s the definitive Batman story. Shedding light on Bruce’s past and forcing him to realize the cost of being Batman. It’s the icing on the cake with Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill at their best.
When a masked vigilante similar to Batman’s M.O. starts killing mobsters, Batman is framed and quickly needs to uncover who the killer really is. With a heartbreaking ending that connects Bruce’s one true love with Andrea Beaumont and her tragic past. Both of them know love isn’t in the cards, if only there was another way. Mask of the Phantasm is the caped crusader at its best, how does your list differ?