We’ve seen a spectacular amount of superhero movies over the past few decades, but the one that holds by far the most votes for the best superhero movie of all time – ‘The Dark Knight.’ However, recently, ‘The Batman‘ came out, and some fans started comparing it to Nolan’s masterpiece, even saying ‘The Batman’ tops it. So, which movie is actually better?
While ‘The Batman’ has undeniable qualities and is a well-constructed adaptation of the source material, it simply isn’t a match for one of – if not THE – best superhero movies of all time. That doesn’t mean ‘The Batman’ is a bad movie, but ‘The Dark Knight’ is a masterpiece.
There are plenty of reasons why I believe ‘The Dark Knight’ has the clear upper hand, but it’s only fair to look at both films more closely and try figuring out what makes them great. Once we know more, we can then compare the films adequately and argue why one beats the other in a head-to-head matchup.
What makes ‘The Batman’ great?
‘The Batman’ is a 2022 movie about DC’s Bruce Wayne, Starring Robert Pattinson in the titular role. The movie is in a different universe from the DCU, where Ben Affleck has portrayed the Caped Crusader.
Despite initial backlash from one part of the fanbase about Pattinson getting the role, the movie garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews, pumping a 7.8/10 IMDb score and an 87% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Pattinson was praised in the role, just like the rest of the cast, led by Paul Dano as the Riddler.
And indeed, both Pattinson and Dano thrived in their roles, which made a solid backbone to carry the dark, somber atmosphere of the film. The writer and director Matt Reeves put a whole new twist to Gotham City and created a version of Batman we haven’t seen on the big screen.
And yet, for Batman comics fans, ‘The Batman’ felt familiar. For the most part, the pace of the plot’s unraveling matched the overall feel and atmosphere of the film while maintaining a respectful approach to the source material.
While the stakes aren’t as high in ‘The Batman,’ the movie cuts deeper into Bruce Wayne’s psyche and personal struggles that make him feel… darker, I guess?
The one thing I struggle with is the runtime. Don’t get me wrong – some of my favorite movies of all time all clock over three hours of runtime, but in ‘The Batman,’ it sometimes felt dull and unnecessary.
I’ve read reviews of people saying they never felt like that during the film, but honestly, I caught myself looking at the clock on my phone, and I hardly ever do that in a theater. It kind of lost me during several sequences.
However, one can’t deny the qualities and purity of comic book storytelling in ‘The Batman.’ It’s a great movie that was executed better than I imagined. As it pertains to ‘The Batman’ matching or even besting ‘The Dark Knight,’ I’m not that convinced.
What makes ‘The Dark Knight’ great?
‘The Dark Knight’ is the second movie of Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight’ trilogy. It came out in 2008 and has been widely regarded as one of the best superhero movies of all time. Now, the other two movies in this particular trilogy – ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ – are phenomenal films as well, but ‘The Dark Knight’ stands alone as the undisputable best.
Why is that, though? What makes ‘The Dark Knight’ such a phenomenal movie?
Well, first of all, I believe that Christian Bale crushed the role of Bruce Wayne in every aspect. He’s righteous, yet violent at times, carrying a hatred in himself that lashes out in several instances while provoked by the Joker.
Oh, the Joker! How about arguably the best Joker in Batman’s history in movies? The late Heath Ledger brought something deeply magnificent to the role, being amusing, chaotic, and disturbing in equal parts. It felt as if Ledger had immersed himself in the role so profoundly that not even he knew what, how, and when he was going to do.
As the Clown Prince of Crime says himself – disrupt the system ever so slightly, and everything becomes chaos. The Joker’s unfathomable unpredictability instills that chaos in the viewer, always keeping you on the edge and always going completely off-script.
Another thing that made ‘The Dark Knight’ uniquely phenomenal is the outstanding performance of the entire cast in general. You can’t pinpoint one major supporting character that wasn’t brilliant.
Michael Cain was likely the best Alfred ever, offering fatherly advice and help to Bruce Wayne when needed but challenging and calling him out when needed as well. Aaron Eckhart was hands down the best Harvey Dent/Two-Face we’ve seen on the big screen.
Morgan Freeman was outstanding as Lucius Fox. Maggie Gyllenhaal had amazing chemistry with Christian Bale as Rachel. But, in my humble opinion, the biggest supporting punch in this film came from Gary Oldman, aka Commissioner Gordon.
Gordon had arguably the best-written character arc out of all his Batman movie appearances, showing his virtue, poise, and deep trust in what Batman symbolizes. You know you have the recipe for absolute success when you pair good writing with an even better performance from an absolute acting legend.
Its 150-minute runtime feels as if only a blink while delivering each segment of the story masterfully from start to finish. It starts amazingly and then builds up to a climax that perfectly closes the Joker storyline. And then, instead of piping down into a closure, it delivers yet another poetic ending to the story of Harvey Dent.
And then, you realize that it is also the end of Batman. Not the death of Bruce Wayne, but destroying what Batman symbolized, destroying what it meant for Gotham. He takes the fall so that Gotham doesn’t lose their new symbol of hope – Harvey Dent.
There’s not much you can find wrong with ‘The Dark Knight.’ It’s worthy of the ‘masterpiece’ mantle, which is witnessed by a staggering 9.0/10 IMDb score, a 94% audience score, and Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes.
Is ‘The Batman’ better than ‘The Dark Knight’?
When it’s all said and done, it will be incredibly hard for any superhero movie in the future to dethrone the sheer spectacle of ‘The Dark Knight’ as the best superhero movie of all time – at least in my book.
‘The Batman’ is a great movie in what it does, but it’s simply not in the same stratosphere as Christopher Nolan’s all-time great film. The cast is also phenomenal in ‘The Batman’ – with Pattinson, Dano, Zoe Kravitz, Colin Farrell, Andy Serkis, Jeffrey Wright, etc. But, ‘The Dark Knight’s’ lineup is nearly impossible to match.
And, sure, the Joker is simply a better villain than the Riddler – although Dano brought us a completely new portrayal of the character – a polar opposite to Jim Carrey’s ridiculous, pink-haired madman. Still, Ledger had one of the best acting performances ever, not just in the superhero genre but generally.
It’s unfair to even compare, but that’s what ‘The Batman’ is up against. In every aspect that ‘The Batman’ is subpar or average in, ‘The Dark Knight’ is great. In every aspect that ‘The Batman ‘is great in, ‘The Dark Knight’ is outstanding.
‘The Batman’ doesn’t need to outshine ‘The Dark Knight’ to be considered great. It stands in its own right as its own interpretation of the Caped Crusader that works on multiple levels. I sincerely hope another one is coming, and it’ll polish off the weaker sides of the first film, just like ‘The Dark Knight’ polished off what was missing in ‘Batman Begins.’
What do you think? Which movie is better? Let us know in the comments!