Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Batman Edition - The Part-Time Critic

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Best Action Scenes of All-Time: Batman Edition

This list, despite its shortness, was a more difficult list than I anticipated. Comparing such different takes on Batman action as Tim Burton's "bursts of action" (more so sequences that have moments of action), Schumacher's stylized set pieces, Nolan's clockwork precision, and Snyder's dim, CGI-laden, violence wasn't easy. In reviewing the films, I now realize that the Batman franchise, outside of the finales, has generally favored "moments of action" during their runtime rather than genuine action sequence set pieces - thus, it doesn't make a great subject for lists like this. I'll keep the commentary to a minimum here and just include my thoughts on the winning sqeuence.

Top Fifteen Action Scenes
*Not including anything pre-1989 or animated 
15. “Batman Stops the Circus Gang and Runs into Catwoman for the 1st Time” -Batman Returns (Part 1)
14. “Ice Hockey Fight with Freeze” -Batman & Robin (Link)
13. “Parking Garage Fight” -The Dark Knight (Link)
12. “Opening Vault Heist with Two-Face” -Batman Forever (Link)
11. “Batman is Chased by Police & Escapes in the Batwing” -The Dark Knight Rises (Link)

10. “Two-Face Sets at Trap for Batman at Nygma's Party” -Batman Forever (Link)
9. “Batman vs. Superman” -Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Part 1) (Part 2)
8. “Explosive Escape from League of Shadows Mountain Site” -Batman Begins (Link)
7. “Bane Defeats Batman” -The Dark Knight Rises (Link)
6. “Battle for Gotham: Against Bane & the Bomb” -The Dark Knight Rises (Part 2)(Part 3)

5. “Hong Kong Snatch and Grab” -The Dark Knight (Link)
4. “Batman Takes Out a Room of Warehouse Thugs” -Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Link)
3. “Finale: Batman Arrives at the Narrows and Stops Rhas & the Train” -Batman Begins (Part 1) (Part 2)
2. “Skyscraper Showdown with Swat and the Joker” -The Dark Knight (Link)

1. “Transporting Harvey Dent and Capturing the Joker” -The Dark Knight (Part 1) (Part 2)
- I think the best version of cinematic Batman action is illustrated in the iconic "Joker catching Harvey but being caught by Gordon but wanting to be caught" sequence in Christoper Nolan's The Dark Knight. The Chicago setting for Gotham here is dark, but more grounded than Burton and Schumacher's versions, and avoids the industrial CGI wastelands of Snyder's take. What makes it the quintessential Batman cinematic action is thus: the sequence provides a key plot moment (Joker is caught...though it's part of his plan), a thematic showdown (the lengths Harvey, Joker, Gordon, and Batman are willing to go to win), and highlights Batman's unique features - his cool gadgets and intelligence. The batmobile and batpod shine in big ways here that distinguish this scene from other action genres. The key draw of this franchise is not in the skill of the action, but in the way Batman intelligently and morally (with some skill as well) combats his enemies who test his limits. No seen better depicts that than this one.

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