Tim Burton and Michael Keaton kick-started the Batman movie series to great success before Joel Schumacher's neon-drenched sequels irked the hardcore fanbase. For all the fun we've had with the superhero on film, it's still impossible to overlook the fact that its been a wildly inconsistent movie franchise.
With The Dark Knight Rises fast approaching, Digital Spy highlights the best and worst of the DC Comics hero on screen.
Batman arrives (Batman 1989) - Best!
After the striking opening titles - a camera creeping through a stone bat symbol to Danny Elfman's majestic score - Burton introduces his Caped Crusader taking down two small time Gotham crooks. Michael Keaton convinces right off the bat, and the scene immediately sets him apart from '60s predecessor Adam West.
"I'll get drive-through" (Batman Forever) - Worst!
If there was a moment to pinpoint exactly when the Batman franchise started to go downhill, then this could be it. Perhaps it was funny on paper? Maybe it's for the neat fast food tie-in as evidenced below? All we know is this exchange between Alfred and Bats is enough to elicit audible groans.
The Joker's surgery (Batman 1989) - Best!
"Mirror... Mirror!" After dropping into a vat of acid, Jack Nicholson's Jack Napier gets facial reconstruction from a dodgy backstreet surgeon in a bid to save his face. Things don't go to plan, and the below scene is the first time we hear The Joker's maniacal laugh. The fact that The Simpsons parodied this scene shows you just how good it is.
Arnie's chilling one-liners (Batman & Robin) - Worst!
As Mr Freeze, Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a series of clunking puns enough to send a shiver down anyone's spine. "You're not sending me to the cooler!" / "The iceman cometh!" / "Ice to see you." You get the idea...
Where are you? (Batman Begins) - Best!
After spending a good chunk of 2005's reboot exploring Bruce Wayne's origins, Christopher Nolan unleashed his Dark Knight in this tense docks scene. The best part in his takedown of Carmine Falcone's goons is the final moment in the clip below...
Batcard (Batman & Robin) - Worst!
"Never leave the cave without it..." *shudder*
Michelle Pfeiffer becomes Catwoman (Batman Returns) - Best!
It's crazy to think it, but Michelle Pfeiffer wasn't Tim Burton's first choice to play Catwoman. Annette Bening was originally pencilled in to play Batman's feline adversary but had to drop out when she fell pregnant. The below scene, showing a manic Selina Kyle putting together her skintight outfit, is one of our favourites from Batman Returns.
Alfred lets Vicki Vale into the Batcave (Batman) - Worst!
Spending years as Bruce Wayne's trusted confidant, butler Alfred (Michael Gough) suffers a serious lapse in judgement when he lets Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) - an investigative reporter - into the Batcave, thus blowing Bruce's cover as Gotham's mysterious masked hero.
The Joker's pencil trick (The Dark Knight) - Best!
"I'm gonna make this pencil disappear."
Nipples on the Batsuit (Batman Forever, Batman & Robin) - Worst!
"They put nipples on the batsuit. I didn't know they would do that," said George Clooney last year. Had he seen this suiting-up montage, maybe he'd have had second thoughts?
Share your highlights and lowlights from the Batman franchise in the comments below!