Batman is definitively a cool superhero. From dating supermodels and spending bundles as Bruce Wayne to constantly thwarting thugs and supervillains, his life is one big gothic adventure. Unfortunately, when someone has been around as long as The Caped Crusader — who was originally introduced in 1939 — some chinks in the armor are bound to show up. And for Bats, who’s had the benefit (or detriment) of nine live-action outings on the big screen, those chinks can be awkward for fans and consumers alike.
Regardless of which Batman era one prefers, they all house a few WTF moments. From his early days as a campy crime fighter who shares a bed with his young ward, to his more recent days as a stubbled, traumatized murderer, filmmakers have created moments that burn fan memory just as the death of Bruce’s parents haunt his. That being said, these campy flubs, most of which fall under the “so-bad-its-good” category, still supply a bevy of material to quote and crack jokes over.
We’ve already poured over the Dark Knight’s best moments on the big screen, so without further adieu, let’s get nuts and check out his worst. Here is Screen Rant’s take on the 15 Worst Batman Movie Moments Of All Time.
15. “You Wanna Get Nuts?!” – Batman
Tim Burton’s Batman is a terrific film. Even with Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy hogging the spotlight, this 1989 blockbuster stands the test of time through Burton’s inventive design and Jack Nicholson’s gung-ho Joker. Michael Keaton, the subject of heavy scrutiny upon being cast as the titular hero, gives a classic Burton-esque performance as an eccentric, isolated sucker for black turtlenecks.
Then there’s the scene in Vicki Vale’s apartment. Trapped by The Joker and his goons, a vulnerable Bruce is stuck having to get by without gadgets or his concealing cowl. His choice of action? Probably the most un-Bruce Wayne decision ever captured on film. The billionaire proceeds to bash in a vase with a fire poker and scream “You wanna get nuts!? Let’s get nuts!”, completely eradicating the coolness that’s vital to the character. It’s a memorable moment, no doubt, but mainly because it’s so odd — even The Joker looks a little confused. On the bright side, the scene has become a choice selection for anyone attempting a Keaton impression.
14. Silver Snow Batman Suits – Batman & Robin
Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) is the most shoehorned character in Batman movie history. Nothing about her presence is relevant to the plot, nor is her lack of a British accent despite having been reworked as being from England/Alfred’s niece! Yet somehow, she’s given a suit, fighting abilities, and a chance to be part of the team — just because. Barring these bungled attempts, the biggest Batman & Robin (1997) sin that Batgirl takes part in is when the trio finds time to change from normal uniforms to their specially made silver snow suits.
It’s comical how little sense this makes. Schumacher doesn’t even attempt to throw in a throwaway line explaining when or why they had time to make the swap, let alone how Batgirl has one despite joining the crew ten minutes before. Apparently dying Uncle Alfred was well enough to make one for her just in case. If this isn’t proof Warner Bros. wanted a feature-length toy commercial, we don’t know what is. These extraneous outfits can be spotted from 1:07 onward in the video above.
13. Batmobile Driving Simulator – Batman Returns
In Batman Returns (1992), The Penguin (Danny DeVito) sends some of his goons to sabotage the Batmobile. But rather than rig it to explode or plant a tracking device to discover Bat’s true identity, the sewer freak decides to install a remote control system so he can make Batman look like… a bad driver. The resulting chase, smashing between cuts of a confused Caped Crusader and an awkwardly excited Penguin, comes off juvenile instead of menacing.
For a character so committed to being nasty, as the rest of DeVito’s crazy good performance suggests, reducing him to a tubby kid in an undersized kiddie ride feels like a distinct detour from Gotham and a sharp turn into Burtonville. Driven home by Danny Elfman’s funhouse musical score, it’s a moment that suffers in comparison to the scene that precedes it: a sensual, dangerous exchange between Bats and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). The contrast, perhaps intentional, is both jarring and unflattering. Also, what is the green stuff spewing from Penguin’s mouth?
12. The Worst Batwing Ever – Batman
Long before Joker and Batman went head-to-head in The Dark Knight (2008), Tim Burton assembled a similar showdown in his 1989 original. This time, instead of the Batpod, Gotham’s favorite son charged at The Joker in the Batwing — complete with missiles, machine guns, and a detailed target system. Given that the clown prince killed his parents and just unleashed poison on the entire city, it’s understandable (if a little extreme) for Batman to want to cut him down. That’s how things look, anyway, as he sets his scope directly on The Joker, who looks more than welcoming of the bullet shower from above.
And yet, he completely misses — with everything. Missiles explode behind the man formerly known as Jack Napier, while machine gun turrets crack the pavement beneath him. The capper to this inexplicable design flaw would come moments later, as Joker pulls out a lengthy pistol and manages to crash the Batwing with a single shot. Maybe he just wanted to scare The Joker and not actually kill him, but Burton could’ve made this a little more obvious, as The World’s Greatest Detective instead comes off like The World’s Worst Shot.
11. Batarang Defeated by a Poodle – Batman Returns
Batarangs are the definitive Batman weapon. The number of people they’ve injured, rescued, and subdued over the years is impressive, especially in comparison to less beneficial toys like the *sigh* Batwing. But in Batman Returns, a film in which the hero’s luck is less fortuitous than usual, not even his signature weapon can get by unscathed. Throughout Returns, Bats falls victim to the dastardly scheme of three separate villains, but in this key sequence, the real perpetrator is a cute white poodle.
No joke. Not only does the unnamed dog deliver a bomb that blows up a storefront, it intercepts Batman’s remote control batarang mid flight with no difficulty. Nevermind the fact that the batarang just took out three combat ready goons, this pup chomps down on the highly technological (and highly awesome) device as if it were a tossed milkbone. Burton drives home the silliness of the whole exchange with Batman’s double-take; kind of funny, but something the scowling hero should never do. There definitely needs to be a few modifications made to dog-proof those damn things.
10. Batmobile Driving up a Wall – Batman Forever
Director Joel Schumacher altered the entire Batman franchise when he took the reins in 1995. He reinvented Gotham City as a CGI-happy, statue-obsessed metropolis, threw nipples on the Batsuit (more on that later), and presented the world with a brand new Batman: Val Kilmer. But nowhere was Schumacher’s affinity for change more apparent than with the new Batmobile, which came complete with neons, giant fins, and static rims emblazoned with the Bat symbol. Not enough? Schumacher had more.
As the cherry on top of this outrageous design, the director dropped in rear jets so that it could drive diagonally; because apparent lack of mobility was such a ‘bummer’ in prior installments. Sure enough, a back alley chase in Batman Forever forced the billionaire hero to drive up a wall — not a steep incline, mind you, but literally a 90 degree angle. Needless to say, it defies all roadblocks of logic while leaving the rest of reality choking on brightly colored Bat dust. Tommy Lee Jones’ maniacal screaming seems almost believable by comparison.
9. “MARTHA!” – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
One of most debated Batman moments in recent memory, this noisy exchange arrives right as the Caped Crusader (Ben Affleck) is set to impale Superman (Henry Cavill) with a Kryptonite spear. Supes conveniently exclaims that Lex Luthor is going to “kill Martha,” and Batman has a PTSD-induced freakout that overpowers the hatred he previously held for the Man of Steel. The Dark Knight’s “Why did you say that name?!” response less than a year old, but it’s laughable context undermines the drama that director Zack Snyder tries so hard to convey in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Who, with their last breath, would use their mother’s first name in lieu of “my mother!” or “a hostage!” or any one of a dozen more helpful phrases? Apparently, the same Superman who gets fooled by Kryptonite smoke bombs on more than one occasion. But this is about Batman, after all, and his 180 degree turnaround because Martha was his mom’s name winds up the least convincing element in a film loaded with inconsistency.
8. Fighting Off Penguins with Bombs – Batman Returns
Danny DeVito’s Penguin is pure creepiness, adorned with grotesque makeup and a mean streak that feels more than worthy of Batman’s attention. His namesake followers, on the other hand…not so much. Tim Burton’s boldest, and in many ways, least beneficial change to the Penguin story is to grant him command of hundreds of actual penguins — an interesting idea that fails to translate with any hint of believability. Seemingly inspired by the bomb-toating poodle from earlier in the film, the director decides to up the ante by strapping explosives to the back of every penguin in Gotham.
In a scene that shows off the underrated Batskiboat, Batman is forced to navigate through the city’s sewer system while dodging these deadly henchbirds. At one point, a particularly committed penguin sets up, aims, and fires at Bats, forcing a slick maneuver and a side look (0:39) that acknowledges this wackiness more than any other moment in the film. Don’t worry, none of them were harmed during the Batman Returns shoot.
7. “I Thought She Was With You” – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Bear with us to the end on this one, folks.
As a film, Batman v Superman wallows in depression and personal rage with such perverse joy that whenever it tries to break from it’s super-seriousness, things get worse. The crowning achievement of this saccharine humor arrives in the final act, as Batman finds himself defenselessly face-to-face with a CGI monster meant to be Doomsday. Before the beast can blow Bats away, however, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) arrives on the scene to deflect the blast, allowing Superman to drop in and plan the next line of attack.
The image of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman together onscreen should’ve been a historic moment (which the trailers foolishly spolied). Instead, we’re given a wincing exchange where Batman counters a Superman comment with the clunker “I thought she was with you.” Yikes. It’s the kind of line typically written out of a first draft, but somehow, it was pedaled as a trailer moment. Couple the line’s meh-ness with that it makes zero sense (Batman has no reason to believe that Wonder Woman is with Supes; he’d already done a bit of homework on her at this point, and there’s no point in lying to Superman about it here) and it all adds up to a moment that should have been left on the editing room floor.
6. Bat Skating – Batman & Robin
Besides ruining puns for the rest of mankind, Mr. Freeze is also responsible for allowing Batman and Robin to bring out some of their most useless Bat toys. Case in point, the ice skates that can be activated by heel clicking. Aside from the possibility of accidentally hitting one’s heels together, is this something the dynamic duo constantly have in their bag of tricks? Or is it only when they go out for a Mr. Freeze call? Either way, this nonsense segways into even more nonsense when the pair pull out the hockey sticks against some of Freeze’s goons.
A potential silver lining is that Joel Schumacher is a genius for updating campy Batman for the modern age. The edited video above, intercut with classic ’60s edits, goes out of his way to drive that notion home (the skating starts at 7:08). If one doesn’t subscribe to that concept, however, the sequence is a tough pill to swallow. The duo face off against the “Hockey team from Hell,” while pummeling and highsticking their way through the competition. If he weren’t Batman, he’d be sent to the penalty box constantly.
5. Shark Repellent Spray – Batman 1966
As pure camp, Batman: The Movie (1966) is awesome. Adam West and Burt Ward translate their TV personas to the big screen by taking on a murderer’s row of Bat villains: Joker (Cesar Romero), Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and The Riddler (Frank Gorshin)! Along the way, the duo encounter pesky bombs, faux love interests (Catwoman’s delightful Ms. Kitka), and, most famously, a shark who takes a tender bite out of Batman’s leg. Ever the quick thinker, Bats takes a few punches at the rubbery predator before radioing to Robin that he needs the “Shark Repellant Spray.”
While never intended to be taken seriously, this iconic moment is way too good (in a bad way) to not make the list. Robin grabs the spray and goes through a totally avoidable acrobatic act to deliver it, but not before the camera offers a glimpse of the other sprays on tap: Barracuda Repellent, Whale Repellant, and Manta-Ray Repellant. While it would’ve been incredible to see these weapons in action, particularly the Whale Repellant, we should be happy with the shark spraying set piece we did get to see.
4. “Chicks love the car” – Batman Forever
Batman is a smooth operator. Whether it’s Michael Keaton’s eccentric flair, Christian Bale’s superficial air, or even George Clooney’s head-bobbing stare, he’s a guy who knows how to enthrall the ladies. Unfortunately, Academy Award nominee Val Kilmer forgot to apply this element in his portrayal of the tortured crime fighter. Granted, he nailed the socializing aspect that Keaton bypassed in his two outings, but a rooftop exchange with Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman) proved Kilmer’s Batman to be even less dapper than his turtlenecked successor.
Amidst an attack of bad innuendo, Batman downplays Meridian’s blatant flirtation with the line “It’s the car, right? Chicks love the car.” No Batman, it’s not the car. That the filmmakers felt such a Johnny Bravo line would not only work, but be a big laugh, is precisely why Batman Forever has its reviled reputation. Meridian laughs at the line, probably the only person (fictional or otherwise) who actually found it funny. In defense of Kilmer’s stiff delivery, Chris O’Donnell sounds even worse recycling the line in Batman & Robin.
3. Sky Surfing – Batman & Robin
Driving up a building seemed illogical enough for Batman Forever, but Batman & Robin went even bigger. This time, hot (or cold?) on the trail of pun machine Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), the dynamic duo finds themselves atop an iced-over space rocket. That the interior controls of the rocket freeze and a dangling Robin doesn’t should be a big tip off, but things only gets better when the heroes jump off the exploding craft with surfboards and the phrase “Surf’s Up” in case anyone was confused.
At this point, the laws of physics are less believable than Schwarzenegger being a revered scientist. Batman and Robin proceed to de-shingle a CGI roof while the Boy Wonder screams “Cowabunga!” and does some unnecessary, impossible, surf moves. Side note: Unless one is a Ninja Turtle, “Cowabunga” is never cool to say. Along with the rest of the film, this sequence shows that in the wrong hands, a movie about a dude who dresses like a Bat can truly be ridiculous. Jump to 3:02 in the video for proof.
2. Batnipple Montage – Batman Forever and Batman & Robin
Batnipples are a shorthand explanation for the trainwreck that was the Joel Schumacher era. Not only are we subjected to them every frame that Bruce sports the Batsuit, but Schumacher also forces it in our face during montage sequences that go on for way too long. There are so many questions that arise when pondering the costume change, but the main one is simply “why?” It doesn’t improve the suits, nor does it benefit the characters wearing them. All they do is add oddity to films that are already flimsy on substance. Schumacher was caught aback by the negative nipple reception in 1995, going on to say:
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I think that will be on my gravestone. It’s how I’ll be remembered.”
To be fair, Schumacher has otherwise put together a fine resume with films like The Lost Boys (1987), Falling Down (1993), and Phone Booth (2002). Batnipples shouldn’t be his defining moment as a filmmaker, but that doesn’t keep them from being a quintessential low point in the Batman movieverse.
1. Bat Credit Card – Batman & Robin
Batman, for all his wit and capability, has never been more incompetent than in this iconic bit from Batman & Robin. Seduced by Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) at a charity benefit, he begins a bidding war with Robin for who can take her home. The not-so-youthful ward begins throwing out massive numbers despite having no income — he explains he’ll just borrow the money from Batman. The Caped Crusader ups the ante to a whopping $7 million in response as the golden standard for worst Batman moments appears: the Bat Credit Card.
Embellished with a “ker-ching” money sound that doesn’t even make sense, Bats somehow thinks this won’t raise suspicion as to how these two have so much money. They couldn’t be Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, right? Also, who is the card registered under? The bank could probably put the pieces together if Bruce’s name is on the billing address. Trying to comprehend this short-sighted gag is enough to wind up in Arkham Asylum, so maybe it’s best if we just laugh, sigh, and move on.
Bonus: The Batusi
While we couldn’t include it due to its television ties, The Batusi is still ground zero for “Worst Batman Moments.” The writing was on the wall from the moment The Dark Knight enters a disco club during the day, quickly followed by a hatcheck asking to “check [his] cape.” The cheese only increases from there, as Bats gets drugged by a foxy suspect and winds up cutting a rug with some truly awful dancing. Showrunners really went for irredeemably silly on this one, right down to Robin’s car-bound finger-snapping.
What makes The Batusi even more hilarious as a Batman moment is the intensity he puts into his moves. “You shake a pretty mean cape” quips the suspect in question, while another episode finds Bats at an Egyptian themed warehouse where he continues to get down with his bat-self. It’s a scene that’ll forever live on in hilarity by supporters of the TV series, and in infamy for fans of Batman’s more serious escapades.
What’s your least favorite moment for the Caped Crusader on the big screen? Let us know in the comments?
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