But first, it’s important to note that this list comes with an important caveat: only theatrically released films that feature Batman as the main protagonist will be counted. As such, films that feature Batman as part of an ensemble cast, like Batman v Superman or The Lego Movie, will not be included — the same goes for direct-to-video movies like Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker or Batman: Under the Red Hood. So with that in mind, let’s begin this retrospective on Batman’s greatest movie moments.
The most memorable scene from this campy classic features Adam West’s Batman trying to dispose of a bomb on the Gotham City boardwalk, only to find innocent bystanders at every turn. He runs into a marching band, a mother with a baby carriage, and even a group of nuns, much to his frustration. It’s a perfect showcase of the absurd, over-the-top comedy that made Adam West’s Batman special, rivaled only by the shark repellent scene from the same film.
This scene from the climax of Tim Burton’s Batman encapsulates all the aspects that make the film so unique. There’s a memorable visual setpiece, a cool vehicle in the form of the Batwing, some iconic lines from Jack Nicholson’s Joker, and of course, a Prince track playing in the background. It’s a microcosm of everything great about this classic Batman movie.
From the spectacular to the personal, this scene in Batman Returns lets Michael Keaton and Michelle Pfeiffer flex their acting chops in this tense yet intimate confrontation, in which Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle clash over their opposing ideologies. The dynamic between Batman and Catwoman is at the center of this movie, and this scene features their actors at their very best.
This animated feature, a spin-off of Batman: The Animated Series, includes a series of flashbacks showing Bruce’s early days as a vigilante. But while young Bruce plans his war on crime, he also falls in love with fellow socialite Andrea Beaumont, and becomes tempted to give up his oath of vengeance in order to pursue a happy married life with her. In this scene, a conflicted Bruce breaks down at his parents’ grave, with no idea which path he should choose. In his own words, “I didn’t count on being happy.” It’s an emotional, chilling moment that shows Bruce at his most vulnerable, and it’s made even better by the performance of Kevin Conroy.
This moment is a subtle one, but it somehow manages to elevate the campy scene around it into something more. While Bruce Wayne is at Haly’s Circus watching the Flying Graysons perform, Two-Face shows up with a bomb, intending to kill the whole crowd unless Batman gives up his secret identity. And without hesitation, Bruce stands up and declares that he’s Batman — only to be drowned out by the panicking crowd. Even if nothing comes of this attempted self-sacrifice, it’s a testament to the character of Val Kilmer’s Bruce that he’s willing to so readily give up his secret identity for the sake of saving lives.
While Batman & Robin is more concerned with camp than pathos, there’s one brief scene of genuine emotion that stands high above the rest of the film. Near the film’s climax, George Clooney’s Bruce Wayne visits the ailing Alfred, sharing a tender heart-to-heart with him before the final battle begins. It’s a touching scene that seems to come out of nowhere in an otherwise goofy movie.
One of the most compelling aspects of Batman Begins is watching the process of Bruce Wayne’s training before he takes up the cape and cowl. The film’s most gripping scene is a montage showcasing Bruce’s training under the League of Shadows, centered around a swordfight between him and Ra’s Al Ghul atop a glacier. This sequence showcases the brilliant combination of striking visuals and engaging writing that makes Christopher Nolan’s trilogy so beloved.
What more can be said about this scene that hasn’t been said already? One of the most gripping moments of The Dark Knight is this chilling confrontation between Batman and the Joker, in which the legendary nemeses engage in a clash of wits and ideals. It’s an absolutely unforgettable sequence in a movie full of them.
It may be the most controversial entry in the Nolan trilogy, but The Dark Knight Rises still boasts what’s perhaps the best fight scene in any Batman movie. In this memorable battle, Batman finally goes up against a physical equal in the form of Tom Hardy’s Bane, who utterly demolishes him. It’s a knock-down, drag-out brawl with some intense action, grim atmosphere, and quotable dialogue.
This animated film is without a doubt the funniest Batman movie, and one of its earliest scenes shows exactly why. Bruce returns home triumphant after a busy night of crime-fighting, only to spend the following scene wandering his lavish mansion in awkward silence. He microwaves lobster for dinner, eats it in total silence, and then unwinds by watching Jerry Maguire. Seeing Batman spend such a mundane, lonely evening on his own is jarring in the best way. It’s a scene that’s hilarious and melancholy in equal measure, making it the perfect setup for the rest of the film.
After spending the entire film avoiding the question of whether he’s doing more harm than good for Gotham, Robert Pattinson’s Batman is forced to confront the consequences of his actions in the film’s climax, when he realizes that Riddler and his followers were inspired by his example. Recognizing that his obsession with vengeance has brought out the worst in him, Bruce decides to change his vengeful ways and become a true hero to Gotham, starting by saving the people trapped beneath rubble in the flooding building.
At first, the people are too scared of Batman to follow him. But before long, Batman leads the people to safety, serving not as a symbol of fear, but a beacon of hope. As he stands beneath a blazing flare, Batman has quite literally stepped out of the darkness and into the light. It’s one of the most impactful scenes in the film, and the perfect culmination to Bruce’s character arc.