One hot property DC can always rely on is their Batman content. From the many animated series to his live-action film, Batman will sell. The same applies to his animated feature films, having more cartoon movies than any other DC character in their extensive universe. There is no doubt DC understands the intelligent financial decision to bank on their most popular character. That being said, there have been so many animated Batman films over the years, it has been difficult to narrow it down to just ten. At the end of the article, we will be including honorable mentions for those that were not included on our list. But now, let us glide down to the streets of Gotham City and take a look at Batman’s ten greatest animated feature films.
Also Read: DC Animated Films: Ranking The Top 10
10. Batman vs. Robin (2015)
The sequel the film Son of Batman, coming off as a major arch in Damian Wayne’s story throughout the DC Animated Movie Universe. Combined with the excellent storytelling written by Scott Snyder when he revamped Batman during the New 52 by creating the Court of Owls storyline. The question “Who would win in a fight? Batman or Robin” is answered considering this is Damian Wayne, a far deadlier and formidable Robin. Since he is the heir to Bruce Wayne, more is at stake in this animated film. With the Court of Owls and the Talon working together to manipulate the mind of Damian to bring his father down, Bruce is also faced with the challenge of uncovering the truth behind this secret ancient organization. Can Damian learn from his father and control his lethal tendencies? Will Bruce allow his feelings for his son get in the way of stopping him from making a terrible decision? Who are the Court of Owls and their personal assassin, Talon? All the answers are uncovered in this exhilarating film, if you don’t want to take the time to read Snyder’s acclaimed comic.
9. The Batman vs. Dracula (2005)
Set in the world of the 2004 animated series The Batman, the first and only animated film set in this universe. The Batman faces off against a new supernatural force in Gotham, Dracula. While on the run from Batman, The Penguin finds himself in a graveyard and comes across an ancient tomb. He accidently resurrects the Count, who then proceeds to use his manipulation powers to control the mind of the Penguin. Now under the spell of Count Dracula, The Penguin will assist him in transforming Gotham City into his own personal Transylvania and make Vicki Vale his new bride. Now Batman must craft a cure for this vampirism to save Gotham’s citizens from becoming tenants to the land of undead vampires. An often underrated animated film in DC’s collection, The Batman vs. Dracula is an exciting action horror film that takes place in the middle of the five season series and comes off as an ultimate test for this variation of The Dark Knight. Acting as a stepping stone for this Batman as he becomes Gotham’s silent protector.
8. Son of Batman (2014)
An adaptation of 2006’s Batman and Son, written by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert and took place between Batman #655–658. While not a page-by-page adaptation, it still takes a lot of references from its source material. After the League of Assassin’s are attacked by Slade Wilson and his hitmen, their mission is a success when they manage to execute Ra’s Al Ghul. Talia makes the decision to leave her son Damian in the hands of his father, Bruce Wayne. While Talia regroups the League, Damian is left with his father to understand the other side of a life he never knew. Fueled with rage and the craving for a kill, Bruce must teach his son to control his lethal tendencies and refrain from killing. Teaching film the phrase “Justice, Not Vengeance”, it’s up to Damian now to obey his father’s wishes and prove himself as a rightful heir to both the Robin mantel and the Wayne family or continue down the path of the Al Ghul’s as a relentless dictator.
7. Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
Based in the Arkham universe, taking place between Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum. Assault on Arkham is more of a Suicide Squad story, rather than a Batman one. For this bout Amanda Waller recruits the supervillains Black Spider, Captain Boomerang, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, KGBeast, Killer Frost, and King Shark and force them on a suicide mission. If they fail or derive from the mission, a nano-bomb in their neck explodes, if they succeed they will receive time off their prison sentence. Their mission is to infiltrate Arkham Asylum and retrieve a thumb drive inside the Riddler’s cane, which contains sensitive information about the Squad and Waller’s secrets. Things begin to go against the Squad’s favor when Batman discovers the team’s intention in the Asylum and makes his way inside to stop them. At the same time, the Joker is locked up in the Asylum and turns Harley Quinn into a hostile co-worker. Now the newly appointed Suicide Squad must complete the mission with the Joker and Batman standing in their way, or be terminated.
6. Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
Another underrated animated film from DC’s collection, crafted not as a singular story but instead as multiple stories in an anthology. Kevin Conroy returns for this anime style Batman film by the producers of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Six separate stories written by Josh Olson, David S. Goyer, Brian Azzarello, Greg Rucka, Jordan Goldberg and Alan Burnett. Exploring the different aspects of Batman and the world he inhabits, giving audiences an in depth look at the Caped Crusader and why he is the legend we know him as. Each segment gives us a unique perspective of Batman and a look into his world that we never thought imaginable. Notable stories include Have I Got a Story for You as we follow three teenagers as they tell their iteration of seeing Batman for the first time. In Darkness Dwells takes Batman deep into the sewers to locate Cardinal O’Fallon, but comes in contact with Killer Croc and The Scarecrow. And Working Through Pain explores events in Bruce Waynes life before he returned to Gotham to become Batman, accepting the teachings of a foreign woman named Cassandra to teach Bruce how to control his physical pain. Each story comes with a pivotal moment in Batman’s mythos and each comes off more and more entertaining as we watch the man become the Legend.
5. Batman: Year One (2011)
Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller and illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, taking place between Batman #404–407 in 1987 and considered on the list of Greatest Batman Stories. An origin story that shows the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne and the long term effects it has on Bruce Wayne. As he makes his way through foreign countries and learn to become a force for good back in Gotham City. We are also introduced to James Gordon, as he moves to Gotham City with his pregnant wife and makes an effort to clean up its streets to create a safe place to bring his unborn child into. With an all-star cast of Bryan Cranston as James Gordan and Ben McKenzie as Bruce Wayne/Batman, who is known for his role as Gordon in the CW series Gotham. Both McKenzie and Cranston manage to deliver excellent vocal performances to accurately bring Frank Miller’s graphic novel to life. The story has also been referenced heavily in feature films, including Batman Begins.
4. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
Taking place in the DC Animated Universe, from the acclaimed series Batman Beyond. We follow as young new Batman in Terry McGinnis as he is mentored by an aged Bruce Wayne as the new protector of Gotham City. After years of being Batman, Bruce asks Terry to give up the suit when the Joker returns from the grave. With a new crew and new look, the Joker is back to once again wreak havoc on Gotham City. However, what makes this Batman story so memorable and deserving of a top five placement on our list, is the flashback sequence explaining the fate of Tim Drake and the Joker. Dark material from what is supposed to be a children’s film, Return of the Joker is a twisted tale about facing your past and overcoming forces beyond your abilities. The entire cast of the animated series return to reprise their respective roles, including Mark Hamill with his infamous Joker voiceover. A cataclysm story in the DC Animated Universe, and quite possibly one of the darkest in the Batman mythos.
3. The Dark Knight Returns (2012/2013)
Another adaptation from Frank Miller included in the long resume of incredible Batman’s storylines, so accurately adapted they split it into two parts. Taking place once again in the future, with an aged Bruce Wayne. Gotham falls susceptible to a new lethal gang known as the Mutants, going as far as brutally murdering Gotham’s citizens. Wayne makes the decision to put back on the cape and cowl and reclaim his city from the Mutants. Following alongside is new recruit Carrie Kelly to fight for the heart of Gotham with Batman. However, the reprisal of The Dark Knight also sparks life in some old foes and allies. The Joker witnesses Batman’s return and decides to make his return as well, unleashing his charming psychotic nature on Gotham once again. At the same time, the United States has issued a law banning all costumed heroes from participating in outside activities not in line with the government. Since Batman works for himself, the President sends the Man of Steel to put The Dark Knight in his place. Much inspiration from this story has been applied to other iterations of media, including the design of Batman in 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
2. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Adapted from the storyline that took place in 2005 and 2008 Batman #635-641, 645-650 written by Judd Winick. Retitled from Under the Hood to Batman: Under the Red Hood, and featuring the voice talents of Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, John DiMaggio as The Joker and Jensen Ackles as Jason Todd/Red Hood. This film also features segments from the 1986 comic A Death in the Family, when Jason Todd is murdered by the hands of the Joker. Which is where our story picks up, as Batman attempts to cope with Jason’s death. However, a new vigilante makes his presence known in Gotham and dubs himself the Red Hood. An elite foe with incredible marksmen abilities starts putting Gotham’s corrupt criminals on notice, even bringing down the powerful Black Mask. Red Hood emerges to take over Batman’s job, but with more permanent results. Now Batman must stop this mercenary and uncover his identity before he takes complete control of Gotham’s criminal organizations. A daring and emotional story, that asks you questions about Batman’s morals and actions in a way you never thought before. The film was later revamped with an interactive upgrade in 2020 with yet another retitle, Batman: Death in the Family.
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The first animated feature film by DC with a theatrical release, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is an untold origin story that fans never expected. Following all of the similar beats of a Batman origin story, we take a wide turn when the character Andrea Beaumont is introduced into the mix. When Bruce Wayne begins a life of vigilantism in Gotham City to begin his destiny as the Caped Crusader, everything comes to a halt when he meets Andrea. Falling in love with Andrea, Bruce decides to purpose and she accepts the offer. However, things take a turn when she suddenly leaves, setting Bruce on his inevitable path to become Batman. In the present day, a new enemy is plaguing the streets of Gotham, only known as the Phantasm. The Phantasm shows up and starts taking out multiple crime bosses throughout Gotham, even discovering the Joker to be tied into the organizations. A deeply emotional story about the choices Batman makes for the greater good, and the final blow to his heart before he faced the truth of his fate.
Honorable Mentions Include: Batman vs. Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman: Bad Blood, Batman: The Killing Joke, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight.
Also Read: 10 Best Batman Moments in Animated Movies