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Rank Quest: Batman

Rank Quest: Batman

In a world where lists have run rampant and no one is brave enough to rank them, House Ryokuro does that thing.  Not because it’s easy, but because…actually, no, that’s exactly why. This is RANK QUEST. You may have heard of Batman in your travels. He is, as you might eventually guess, a man that

In a world where lists have run rampant and no one is brave enough to rank them, House Ryokuro does that thing.  Not because it’s easy, but because…actually, no, that’s exactly why. This is RANK QUEST.

You may have heard of Batman in your travels. He is, as you might eventually guess, a man that dresses like a bat. He also fights crime, which is something most men that dress like bats don’t do. His parents were murdered when he was a boy, but that’s a minor detail that most people forget. Despite this relatively simple origin, there have been a myriad of Batmen, and now is the part of Rank Quest where we rank them.

10. Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns

Do you like your superheroes flawed?Do you like it when those flaws are so prominently displayed and romanticized that they somehow become the defining traits of that character for decades to the point that no one can really remember what that character was like before? Welcome to the world of The Dark Knight Returns, where Batman nearly punching Superman to death with Kryptonite gloves is one of the more upbeat moments.

9. George Clooney’s Batman

Mostly here as a gigantic “fuck you” to The Dark Knight Returns, George Clooney’s whimsical take on Gotham’s protector is still notable for his introduction of the Bat-Nipple, and for the Bat-Nipple to be immediately overshadowed by every other insane thing in the movie Batman & Robin. He also manages to swing wildly between enlightened and sexist, rather than just being sexist the entire time.

8. John Batman

This Batman was an Australian explorer and entrepreneur in the early 1800s who helped found what would eventually become Melbourne. Batman bucked the convention of simply stealing land from the Aboriginals and instead offered them a stupidly exploitative treaty. Far from the philanthropic “Bruce Wayne” interpretation, John Batman was charitably described by a contemporary as “the vilest man I have ever known.”

7. Batmantis

By day, he is mild-mannered keyboardist, Zorak. By night, he is BATMANTIS, who both shivers with power AND aches with disease. That’s quite a combo, you have to admit. The reign of Batmantis was short but memorable, as he got to talk to Lee Meriwether, suggested shooting the theory of evolution, and escaped the episode without getting blasted by Space Ghost, which was something of a novelty.

6. Red Son Batman

Ancient philosophy tells us that “in Soviet Russia, man bats you,” and thus we are introduced to this ushanka-rockin’ Dark Knight fighting a guerilla war against Superman’s Communist state. This version of Batman is paranoid, slow to trust, and…um…he’s Russian! Totally different! Also, he blew himself up with a bomb he swallowed, which no other Batman has ever done.

5. The Zebra-Batman

Peanut butter and jelly. Stockton and Malone. Zebras and Bats. Some things just go together, so it was no surprise that Batman was bathed in some sort of bullshit cosmic energy and became the Zebra-Batman! Possessing a tremendously inconvenient magnetic field and an overwhelming urge to graze, Zebra-Batman made quick work of his Rogues Gallery before joining the secretive Z-Unit and eventually becoming its top agent. Zebra-12 has a poster of him in his foot locker.

4. Christian Bale’s Batman

Easily the most thoughtful, serious take on the Caped Crusader, Bale’s Batman brooded with the best of them. He also dated a woman who was both Katie Holmes and Maggie Gyllenhaal, destroyed stately Wayne Manor, nearly destroyed Gotham, and then faked his own death so he could run away with Catwoman. He also had the worst “Bat-voice” you ever heard, but he wasn’t trading ice puns with Schwarzenegger, so we forgive. We forgive.

3. Batman: The Animated Series

Capturing the best aspects of the Batman character and imbuing him with intelligence, compassion, and complexity is something that even the best Batman stories over the years have failed to do. That it all came together in a 1990s cartoon is nothing short of a miracle. The Animated Series thrilled both children and adult children alike.

2. Adam West’s Batman

It was the ’60s, man, and things were wild. Adam West blasted into your TVs every week at the same Bat-time and the same Bat-channel, ready to beat up ridiculously-costumed henchmen, activate conveniently-labeled Bat-devices, and spend an inordinate amount of time “climbing” walls. West’s Batman was the ultimate do-gooder, even if he did kinda mix up the United Nations.

1. Batman: The Animated Series

Who are we kidding? Kevin Conroy is still the definitive voice of Batman, and Mark Hamill is still the ultimate Joker. Harley Quinn, now one of the most popular characters in DC Comics, was born here. If the Batman of the comics and movies will ever shed his sociopathic leanings and return to being a decent, well-meaning, kind human being under that cowl, it will be creators who grew up watching The Animated Series who will guide him back.

 

Rank Quest will return…

Alex Rhoades
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