Batman has had a storied history when it comes to movie outings. From straight up awful to cinematic masterpieces – we’ve had a plethora of great films. Not all have been live action – some of the best Batman movies have come in the form of animation. With the release of The Killing Joke getting closer, we decided to take a look at the 5 best animated Batman films:
5. Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero
To many die-hard fans of Batman, Mr. Freeze is considered more of a sympathetic villain instead of a cold hearted killer. That type of thinking first really came about in this film. This is one of several successful animated films that came out of the era of Batman: The Animated Series. Like numerous films to follow, it gave depth to its characters – especially Mr. Freeze and is frankly the character’s only good film appearance (as well all remember Batman and Robin). It was a dark and layered story that has great re-watch ability.
4. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
Batman Beyond was the spinoff of the highly successful Batman animated series. While it didn’t garner the same level of popularity as its predecessor, it did have a fantastic animated film during its run. The film centers around the new Batman, Terry McQuiness, facing an old enemy -The Joker. It allowed for new stories and opportunities while having a good mix of old and new. It was a nice hybrid of classic Batman with a futuristic feel and plus – the final confrontation between Batman Beyond and the Joker was certainly one for the ages.
3. The Dark Knight Returns: Parts I &II
Yes, it’s two parts but given that it is one whole story split into two parts – in my mind, it’s one movie. Dark Knight Returns is one of several animated films based directly off a comic book arc and it did a great job of adapting it. It reflected Frank Miller’s style incredibly well and told a great story. It showcased the all-out slugfest of a fight between Batman and Superman.
This is the comic book story that the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice will be heavily influenced by.
So, if you want to get a sense as to what that movie will be about, this is the one to check out.
2. Batman: Under the Red Hood
Another adaptation of a comic book arc, Under the Red Hood proved that animated DC films weren’t for kids anymore. It’s dark and violent – like a story with the Red Hood should be. Red Hood excels due to its large cast of characters but never having it feel too crowded. It told a fantastic story, one that was more personal and dark than anything seen before. It explored other characters and sides of the Batman universe, such as Red Hood and Nightwing. The voice cast, despite not having its usual staples like Kevin Conroy or Mark Hamill, is incredibly solid with great performances from Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, and Neil Patrick Harris.
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Unlike the other films on this list, Mask of the Phantasm actually got a theatrical release in the early 90’s. The film came amidst the popularity of Batman: The Animated Series and certainly lived up to its predecessor. While the film initially bombed, it found new life when fans got word of how good it was. It was unlike any Batman cartoon see before as it was dark, yet told an incredible story. Introducing a completely new villain, Mask of the Phantasm was part mystery, part action film, part crime drama. With a different take on the origin of the Bat and his relationships with given characters, it told a truly unique adventure. Boasting the all-star combo of Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamill as Joker, the film is an absolute must watch for any Batman fan!
What did you think of the list? Let us know in the comment section at the bottom of the page!