15 Best Animated Batman Movies (According To Ranker)

15 Best Animated Batman Movies (According To Ranker)

When it comes to movies, Batman’s live-action features understandably attract the most attention. The likes of Tim Burton and Michael Keaton’s take on the superhero, as well as Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale’s, undoubtedly left big legacies for Batman in pop culture.

RELATED: 10 Strongest Characters In Batman – The Animated Series

However, as one of DC Comics’ most popular superheroes, the Dark Knight has also amassed an impressive catalog of animated movies. Ranker’s voting community included some of these features in their crowd-contributed list of the character’s best movies ever. The best animated Batman movies range from original stories while others adapted acclaimed arcs from Batman’s pantheon of comics.

Updated on March 30th, 2022 by Guillermo Kurten: The Batman has brought on yet another spike in the Dark Knight’s mainstream relevance, and when the best animated Batman movies are sorted by Ranker, there are a lot worth mentioning from the hero’s expansive catalog.

15 Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)

Batman and Superman in front of an explosion in Public Enemies promo art

• Available to stream on HBO Max

As the duo comprising the “World’s Finest” epithet, both Superman and Batman were ripe for DC Comics’ animated projects, including this adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuiness’ comic. 2009’s Superman/Batman: Public Enemies received a generally positive reaction, pitting the two against iconic supervillain Lex Luthor, who has since been elected as President of the United States during a severe economic depression.

The two remain suspicious of Luthor, which, of course, turns out to be warranted as part of his agenda was to demonize the heroes. At the same time, Batman and Superman are facing the threat of a meteorite on a collision course with Earth.

14 Batman Hush (2019)

Batman and Hush split in half with the supporting cast in the background

• Available to stream on HBO Max

In a somewhat converse to Justice League: War’s reception, Batman: Hush was well-received by critics, but fans were much more lukewarm to it. Though it doesn’t measure up to the acclaim of The Long Halloween or Dark Victory before it, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s comic book arc of the same name was one of the best Batman comic arcs of the 2000s.

Critics generally felt this movie adaptation improves the source material by plugging some plot holes, but audiences seemed to feel like the creative liberties taken to the plot cheapened the comic’s take on the story revelation.

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13 Son Of Batman (2014)

Damian as Robin leaping through Gotham with Batman

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Son of Batman serves as another adaptation, this time of beloved comic book/Batman writer Grant Morrison’s landmark Batman and Son arc. The comic was the first to introduce Damian Wayne, Bruce’s first biological child by Talia al Ghul, who would eventually become the latest Robin.

RELATED: 15 Most Iconic Batman Comic Panels

The introduction is expectedly tumultuous, with Talia essentially throwing the angry young killer at him. The animated movie got a moderately positive reception from critics, but fairly mixed from audiences. Criticisms mainly went an uneven mix of dark grittiness with the “cartoon” feeling of Saturday morning shows.

12 Justice League: War (2014)

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and Shazam in explosive promo art of JLW

• Available to stream on HBO Max

2014’s Justice League: War is a more controversial entry, as the few critic scores aggregated on Rotten Tomatoes have it evenly mixed, but the audience score on IMDb shows general audiences were warmer toward it.

The story centered around the New God Darkseid launching an invasion of the earth while serving as a sort of origin story for the formation of the Justice League. This DC Animated Movie Universe endeavor was what helped drive forward this shared world, eventually leading to its conclusion years later in Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.

11 The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest (1998)

Joker, Superman, Batman and Lex Luthor on the poster for The Batman Superman Movie

• Available to rent on Amazon Prime Video

Despite mediums outside of comics having a predilection for pitting these two iconic heroes against each other, Superman’s friendship with Batman in the comics is one of DC’s best dynamics. Collecting three episodes from the beloved Superman: The Animated Series, the two teamed up for a movie adopting their iconic “World’s Finest” epithet.

The Batman Superman Movie: World’s Finest chronicles the duo’s first official team-up in the DC Animated Universe. Their first meeting is unsurprisingly on the rocky side, but a plot involving the Joker and Lex Luthor brings the heroes together. The movie is an entertaining, nostalgic romp with two of the most celebrated iterations of the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel.

10 Justice League: Doom (2012)

JLD promo art with Batman holding up a Batarang with the League's reflection

• Available to stream on HBO Max

One of the best Justice League movies as well as Batman, Justice League: Doom is a loose animated adaptation of the famous JLA: Tower of Babel comic book arc where the Dark Knight’s contingency plans get stolen and used against the League. In this version, supervillain Vandal Savage essentially takes the place of Ra’s al Ghul from the comic as the former hires Mirror Master to hack into the Batcomputer.

Even with the creative liberties taken from the source material, it’s a well animated and compelling story with a unique and ambiguous conflict at its core. Likewise, the quality is bolstered further by the iconic Kevin Conroy, Tim Daly, and Susan Eisenberg reprising their roles from the DCAU as the DC Trinity.

9 Batman: Year One (2011)

Batman leaping forward in Year One cover art

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Frank Miller’s Year One is commonly accepted as Batman’s definitive origin, making it a matter of time before DC adapted it into animation. This story arc shows fans Bruce Wayne’s early days as the nocturnal vigilante, back when organized crime and systematic corruption ruled more so than Batman’s colorful cast of rogues.

The small-scale and crime-focused noir story fits the character and Gotham City naturally, showing what a fledgling Caped Crusader was like before he became the seasoned veteran so many have come to love. Year One’s animated adaptation was admittedly too short, but it mostly did well in capturing the core spirit of what made the comic so revolutionary.

8 Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

Justice League Flashpoint Paradox Animated Movie

• Available to stream on HBO Max

While DC’s efforts in the DC Animated Movie Universe didn’t close out well for some fans, The Flashpoint Paradox is cited as one of the comic publisher’s best works in animation. Director Jay Oliva was behind several of DC’s greatest animated movies, and this one did well in adapting The Flash arc from the pre-New 52 comics.

RELATED: 10 Things Only Comic Book Fans Know About Batman & Penguin’s Rivalry

Seeing anti-hero or evil versions of beloved heroes may not always translate well into live-action. However, Flashpoint Paradox makes good use of its medium to wholeheartedly embrace the inherently wild nature of the source material.

7 Batman: Assault On Arkham (2014)

Members of Suicide Squad swinging through Gotham with Batman in the background for Assault on Arkham's promo art

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Though Assault on Arkham is a Batman movie, many fans also saw it as a better take on the Suicide Squad than the 2016 theatrical film. And unlike some other movies on Ranker’s list, this was an original story that took place within Rocksteady’s praised Arkhamverse.

Taking place two years before Arkham Asylum, it centers on the Caped Crusader dealing with a breakout on Arkham Island involving Task Force X. It was a good piece of supplementary material for the gaming universe, showing different conflicts at play in a fast-paced plot. From Batman trying to thwart the Riddler, to Harley going rogue in breaking Joker free, and the gradual regression of the Suicide Squad’s dynamic makes for an exciting watch.

6 The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1 (2012)

Banner for The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Another one of Miller’s best works was The Dark Knight Returns. It’s one of Batman’s best comics to influence the Dark Knight Trilogy, taking an alternate, politically-dystopian spin on the character. Some fans understandably think that, while a great story, it’s been misconstrued in terms of perceiving Batman as a character.

However, when viewed from its intended “Elseworlds” lens, it was compelling in its own right and the two-part animated adaptation did well in faithfully capturing that. The translation of Miller’s artwork to the screen was seamless, and Peter Weller stands as one of the Dark Knight’s best actors for his performance.

5 The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

Lego Batman

• Available to rent on Apple TV+

Batman has long since become a character acclaimed for being a crime-noir superhero. But even though those are the most well-received, it’s nice for a character with so many different shades of interpretation to veer back into playful camp. The Brave and the Bold animated series was a good serialized take for this, but The Lego Batman Movie has genuinely become one of fans’ favorite Batman movies.

RELATED: 10 Best Live-Action DC Movies, According To IMDb

It won’t get the same level of praise the aforementioned ones do, but many enjoyed this in its own right for being a lighthearted palate cleanser. The likes of Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, and Rosario Dawson’s performances made for a wonderful and charming alternate experience.

4 The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (2013)

Poster artwork for Batman The Dark Knight Returns Part 2

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Like with the initial movie, the quality of The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 closes out Miller’s dystopian saga in a suitably explosive fashion. All of the pros from the first part carried over, with Weller’s performance as Batman once again a highlight. However, Part 2 had the added boon of including Michael Emerson’s uniquely disturbed rendition of the Joker.

Similarly, Mark Valley’s Superman was another great voice opposite Weller’s Batman. Seeing both of the hero’s chaotic fights in the movie’s crisp art style and animation was worthy of the comic’s reputation.

3 Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (2000)

Batman standing atop a building with the Joker's face looming in the background in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker's cover art

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Batman Beyond was the breakout cult hit that no one asked for when it came to the Dark Knight’s mythos. The DCAU in general is loved among DC fans, and Return of the Joker is one of its best movies. Terry McGinnis’ Blade Runner-inspired Batman was a novel idea to reinvent the character and was more than capable of being the new leading man.

Pitting him against Bruce Wayne’s most bitter enemy also proved to be exciting to watch. Joker’s “revival” didn’t feel cheap like the idea sounds on paper, and watching McGinnis break down the Clown Prince of Crime by pushing the right buttons was cathartic — especially since the Joker has only ever known how to toy with Bruce.

2 Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)

Under The Red Hood

• Available to stream on HBO Max

The adaptation of Jason Todd’s dramatic resurrection is held in particularly high regard. That’s partly due to putting to screen a landmark event from the Batman mythos, as Jason’s death is cemented within the Caped Crusader’s mind as his greatest failure.

RELATED: 10 DC Heroes Darker Than Their Villains

Likewise, the core cast of Bruce Greenwood, Jenson Ackles, and John DiMaggio as Batman, Red Hood, and Joker respectively was superb. The latter two were notably solid, with Ackles emotionally conveying the angry, tortured soul that is Jason Todd. Meanwhile, DiMaggio’s Joker holds up incredibly well, even with Mark Hamill’s iteration held as the gold standard.

1 Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (1993)

Batman extending his flowing cape with the titular Phantasm's mask looming overhead

• Available to stream on HBO Max

Even in the face of Burton’s game-changing movies and Nolan’s acclaimed modern classics, Mask of the Phantasm can is commonly decreed by fans as the best Batman movie. The DCAU has had plenty of its praises sung, but this movie is its crowning achievement when it came to expanded works.

Like much of BTAS, Phantasm is an original story that introduces a new antagonist in the form of the titular Phantasm. The plot expertly blends a noir period piece with tragic romance, as well as being a definitive example of why Batman is one of DC’s greatest heroes. As of now, Phantasm is arguably the most psychologically fascinating and emotionally profound Batman movie.

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About The Author

Guillermo Kurten
(292 Articles Published)

Guillermo Kurten is a journalism major at the University of Houston. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, he now resides in Houston. He is a fan of pretty much anything involving nerd culture. Video games, comics, movies, TV, anime, manga, you name it. He also has experience writing about soccer, specifically, the German team Bayern Munich.

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