When The Lego Batman Movie’s opening narration declares DC ‘the house that Batman built,’ that’s not just some idle boast. For almost 30 years, dating back to before superhero/comic book movies were really a fully-fledged genre in their own right, the Caped Crusader of Gotham City has been one of the most bankable box office properties around.
Not only that, but the Batman movies have also tended to go down just as well with critics. Tim Burton’s initial two Bat-movies were widely acclaimed for their unique vision and tone, whilst Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy rank among the best-reviewed – and, for a time, most commercially successful – comic book movies ever.
Wait, was there another Batman director in between those two, and another one since…?
Oh yes; Batman may have barely been off the big screen since 1989, but the franchise has definitely had its share of ups and downs – and a good few creative decisions that have left many Bat-fans shaking their heads in disbelief.
We’re not talking about simple lapses in logic (e.g. where did the Penguin get the blueprints to the Batmobile in Batman Returns), or blatantly impossible physical feats (take your pick): these are part and parcel to comic book movies, and should largely be accepted.
Instead, our focus here is on the moments when the Bat-movies brought in the wrong people, struck the wrong tone, or seemed to fundamentally misunderstand the characters and the world in which they exist.