Superman and the Dark Knight have had a long history on our cinema screens. Some of it good, some of it bad. So with the two finally sharing screen time in this week’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, what better time to look back on their various solo outings over the years and decide once and for all, which is better franchise?
In this special instalment of our weekly Top 5, we’re counting down the best and worst moments of both film series’, tallying the results before reaching our final verdict.
May the least shitty hero win!
THE BEST MOMENTS
5. SUPERMAN RETURNS – SHUTTLE RESCUE SEQUENCE
Bryan Singer’s contribution to the Superman franchise was short lived, and yes the much derided Superman Returns was misguided in many ways, but this scene early on in the film shows us what could have been. Re-introducing Superman to both us and the characters, the scene gives Supes the chance to be heroic in a genuinely thrilling sequence that I urge you to re watch. What a shame it all went downhill from here.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – THE RETURN OF THE BATMAN
Kicking off with Bane’s bank robbery and quickly turning into an all out Bat-chase involving most of the cities police force, this first appearance of The Dark Knight occurs almost an hour into the film, but is more than worth the wait.
3. SUPERMAN – CLARK SUITS UP
The first Superman paved the way for comic book films at a time when they’re simply were none, and although its dated pretty badly in the years since 1978, there’s a certain innocence to it that can still be admired in 2016. There’s no better example of this than in the film’s first proper transformation of Clark into Superman. All the tropes are there: the phone booth, the swelling theme music, the crowds on onlookers…except back then they weren’t tropes, they were being introduced for the first time.
2.BATMAN – BATMOBILE CHASE
Batman has evolved somewhat over the years, but one thing people still love about the early Tim Burton films is the design of the Batmobile, which is showcased best in this extended chase sequence. The scene has it all really: the car, the girl, the gatling gun; and whilst it might not have that gritty edge that Nolan brought to the series, it still feels like Batman, something director Joel Schumacher never accomplished with his two entries to the franchise.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT – THE SWAT CAR CHASE
A great action sequence is one where you sit on the edge of your seat, thrilled because you have no idea whats going to happen next. And when I saw The Dark Knight for the first time at IMAX, I remember having that exact reaction during this roller coaster ride of a scene that occurs just over the halfway mark of the film. From the Joker’s destruction of the Tumbler, to the Bat-pod pursuit and final semi trailer flip; its exactly what fans of the comic book hoped for and more.
THE WORST MOMENTS
5. SUPERMAN – SUPERMAN TURNS BACK TIME
I’m sorry, I know the first Superman is looked upon fondly by many, but I just cannot accept that Superman has the ability to turn back time when things go to shit. Its one of those convenient plot devices that once introduced makes every other threat that follows feel obsolete. Worst of all, the manner in which he carries out said time-foolery by flying backwards at the speed of light is like something out of an episode of Captain Planet.
4. SUPERMAN III – SUPERMAN FIGHTS CLARK KENT
There’s not much that I can really add to this as the subject line says it all: A drunk Superman fights Clark Kent. The whole scene is clumsily executed and unintentionally funny, leading me to conclude that the screenwriter himself must’ve been sloshed when he wrote the scene in the first place.
3. BATMAN FOREVER – BAT FLIRTING
One of the many faults of Schumacher’s contributions to the Bat-franchise are his casting choices, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Batman Forever. Not only do we have the misjudged performance of Jim Carrey as the Ridler, we also have the extreme overacting of Nicole Kidman as Batman’s supposed love interest, Dr. Chase Meridian. The cringe factor reaches its climax during this bedroom scene in which Val Kilmer shows up in full bat suit, supposedly thinking it’ll help him get some. Thankfully it doesn’t, but the damage to the audience has already been done.
2. SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE – SPACE RESCUE
In a film where Superman moves the moon and rebuilds the great wall of China, this scene is just about as ridiculous as it gets. Zero gravity fighting, the Flash Gordon-esque villain, and the damsel in distress seemingly breathing in space with ease. This entry in the Christopher Reeve canon single handedly killed off the franchise, a mistake Joel Schumacher would also make ten years later…
1. BATMAN & ROBIN – THE WHOLE MOVIE
A colossal pile of bat guano from start to finish, Batman & Robin is more like a porno than a comic book film, taking the visual aesthetic Shumacher introduced in Batman Forever and camping it up to new cringe worthy levels. There’s so much wrong with the film it’s hard to pick just one moment (The nipple batsuit, the terrible puns from Mr. Freeze, the character of Bane, the character of Batgirl, every damn character!) so instead lets allow Cinema Sins do the job for us. Behold, everything wrong with Batman & Robin in one 19 minute sized chunk!
And its Batman by a bat nipple! With three of the best moments and only two of the worst (which I think we can chalk up to Christopher Nolan’s much loved trilogy), Kal-el just hasn’t had the same good fortune as Bruce on the big screen. Hopefully he’ll be able to make up for it with Zack Snyder’s latest outing for these two much loved characters.
So did we get it wrong? Do you think Superman has fared better on the silver screen than we give him credit for? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.