RANK ‘EM: Straight-Up/Inspired-By Animated Film Adaptations

With the release of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART TWO, there have now been 7 classic Batman stories/graphic novels that have been brought to life as animated films.  Some have been “inspired by,” while others are straight-up adaptations.

Of course, all Batman movies are adaptations of Batman comics, and the filmmakers involved with each pull from the source material.  However, for this exercise, I’m only counting those that are directly based on one specific, and classic, Batman comic book story.

So, here is how I think these movies stack up against each other to date.  And let me emphasize “to date,” as I hope that a few other classic Batman comic book stories/graphic novels get either type of adaptation treatment in the future.

FYI’s: I’m counting the adaptations that were originally released as 2-part movies as 1 film.  Also, I’m not counting the BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY release since it was billed as a “DC Showcase Animated Short” (and it’s more of an extension of UNDER THE RED HOOD, anyway).  In addition, I’m not counting BATMAN vs. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES because, frankly, I’ve never watched it!  But feel free to include it in your own rakings.


7) BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

Full disclosure: I don’t dislike the original graphic novel, but I never thought it was awesome and frankly, think it’s a tad overrated.  Also, I’m not one that hated the Batman/Batgirl “thing” that was added to the animated film, either.

Essentially, TKJ animated movie IS the graphic novel — sans the Batman/Batgirl “thing” — so I’ve never really got the, well, dislike it got from a lot of fans.

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: THE KILLING JOKE

6) BATMAN: HUSH

I’m very “meh” on the BATMAN: HUSH comic book story.  I don’t hate it, but it ain’t on my list of classic Batman comic book stories.  There’s some great stuff in it (i.e. Batman/Catwoman), but it’s “just ok” in my book.  I think it gets the praise it does mainly due to Jim Lee’s fantastic artwork and the story is overlooked.  (HEART OF HUSH > HUSH.)

As far as the movie, it’s well-made and enjoyable…you know, OK.

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: HUSH

5) BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

For years, I lobbied for and hoped that GBG would be given turned into an animated Batman movie as the graphic novel is one of my favorite Batman comic book stories of all time.

It did.

And I liked it a lot.

The changes and additions to the story were actually welcomed to me and I had no issue with the identity of the Gotham Ripper.

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: GOTHAM BY GASLIGHT

4) BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD

Based on the BATMAN: UNDER THE HOOD comic book storyline/graphic novel, this film leans toward being more of a straight-up adaptation, but there are just enough changes to allow it to stand on its own.

It’s been considered one of the best animated Batman movies since it came out and it’s stood the test of time.  Hell, I’d say the movie is better than the comic book on which it’s based!

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: UNDER THE RED HOOD

3) BATMAN: YEAR ONE

BATMAN: YEAR ONE is my favorite Batman comic book story of all time and its animated film adaptation is it to a T…which might be its only “fault” — and I use that term very lightly.

Why?

I prefer the “inspired by” treatment given to these sorts of films and don’t mind if they change things a bit so I don’t know exactly what happens in the story and how it ends.

On the other hand, why would you alter such a tight, relatively short, and classic Batman story?

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: YEAR ONE

2) BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

Simply a great adaptation of a great and classic Batman comic book story.  Peter Weller voicing Batman was an absolutely fantastic choice for voicing the older Bruce Wayne/Batman.  As far as my personal preference for straight-up adaptations, ditto with what I said about YEAR ONE.

RELATED | BOF’s Review of BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS

1) BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN 

Yes, I’m judging it as one film, even though it was released in 2 parts.

Hands down, not only is TLH movie the best of the straight-to-home animated DC films to date, it’s right up there with rightfully revered BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM.

Hell, I’ll go even further and say it’s one of the best Batman movies, PERIOD — live-action or animated.

RELATED | BOF’s Reviews of BATMAN: THE LONG HALLOWEEN, PART ONE & PART TWO


Well, there you have it.  Honestly, there’s not a clunker in the bunch and I’ve personally enjoyed all 7 of these films, so the difference between spots is minimal…except between #1 and the rest of ’em.

How do rank these 7 (or 8, for those including BvsTMNT) animated Batman movies?  What classic Batman stories would you like to see get the animated movie treatment (BATMAN #251/”The Joker’s Five-Way Revenge!, dammit!)?  Discuss in the comments section below! – Bill “Jett” Ramey

ALSO READ | Michael Uslan’s Animated Batman Movie Wishlist

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