With Batman v Superman: Failure to dawn getting DPed with serrated dildos right now, let’s get are minds away from all that and look at the best of the dark knight’s littler seen films, the many great animated flicks that didn’t even make it to cinema (well except one).
Batman: Under Red Hood
Released 2010 (six years ago! Fuck), it quickly gained a reputation for being one of the very best batman films ever, not just animated. Visually inspired with Nolan’s gritty down to earth style; Under Red Hood is the adaptation of Judd Winick’s own batman stories, Hush and Under the Hood, both of which he manages to improve upon, tightening the narrative and sharpening the resolution greatly. The strength of this caper comes from its intriguing mystery and lean into the detective elements of Batman (something NONE of the live-action films want to do!), on top of the very emotionally charged look at Batman’s character, as it retells and develops the death of Jason Todd’s Robin, and how that redefined Batman.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The classic one. This one actually was released in theaters all the way back in 1998, but did badly because of how terrible the live action films were around then (Batman and Robin destroyed soooo much). But unlike those travesties, this film has just gained more and more praise over the years; mostly for its complex portrayal of Bruce Wayne and the development of how his personal life, far beyond the death of his parents, defined his Batman identity, for good and for worse. Spin that round another engaging mystery of a new villain out to settle old scores, and you have one of the seminal original Batman stories. Really if you’re a fan and you haven’t seen this yet, what’s wrong with you?
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
The only movie based on the sometimes underrated Batman Beyond series, that may not be as classic as the original animated show, but definitely had its own thing going. Anyway, this film made the smart choice of focusing on the original Batman just as much as the new one, Terry Mcginnis. So not only do we get a compelling look at the younger Batman as he fights to define what the cowl means to him, but we also get some just plain fucked-up development for the original cape crusader, as his legacy is put into even darker contexts with the reveal of his last bout with the Clown Prince of Crime.
Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
Okay, it’s not a Batman film, but a Justice League one that focuses on The Flash. But it’s more than worth a watch just for the universe the story takes place in. After the Flash does some wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff he ends up in an alternate universe from the normal DC fare; a much darker one, where Bruce Wayne died instead of his parents, Clark Kent never landed in Smallville, and many more tweaks that ripple throughout this complex and bleak DCU. The central plot around Flash is emotionally compelling enough, but it’s really the messed up elseworld setting that takes the grizzled cake here.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Two full length movie adaptions of the seminal Frank Miller graphic novel, best viewed as one complete film….what else do I need to say? Is it as good as the comic, no, but it doesn’t miss anything out, and finds plenty of smart ways to blend the famous narration into it without becoming exposition heavy. So if you want the real take on the story, and not the patch work #inspired one BvS has given us, this is a must see for all Batman fans.
Honestly, almost all of DC’s animated films. I’ve missed some classic ones here for the sake of diversity; and though clearly not all great, DC’s been doing strong work in the animation front for years, delivering time after time entertaining adaptations, that either lead into their vastly growing continuity like with the last five Batman films; or with some straight adaptations, like the highly anticipated Killing Joke due later this year.
So if the live action DCCU has ya down, depressed, and ready to go on a Superman sized massacre, just look to the straight to DVD basket for the real DC connected universe.