Batman has a cinematic history longer (and weirder) than almost any other character - he began in 1940s serials, as a campy do-gooder fighting gangsters; then moved on to the legendarily-campier 1960s, with Adam West creating the definitive Batman in the minds of many for decades. After that, Batman didn't reappear on the big screen until Tim Burton's much darker take on Batman, largely inspired by the work of 80s comics penned by Frank Miller and Alan Moore. Then came the big screen version of Batman: The Animated Series - The Mask of the Phantasm. While a flop in its time, it's the true forgotten gem of Batman's film history (and, many would argue, the BEST Batman film).
No movies were made in 1995 or 1997. Whoever's saying differently must have memory issues. Ahem.
Then, from that dark, dark time came something even darker (but in a good way this time): Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, setting up the most prestigious series of Bat-films to date, starring Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader and including an Oscar-winning turn from Heath Ledger as the Joker.
The thing is - watching all of this play out in a wonderfully-edited montage is truly incredible - watching the shifts and changes, the odd similarities, and the inescapable magic that defines Batman.
The Evolution of Batman in Cinema from Jacob T. Swinney on Vimeo.
The films included are:
But seriously, Mask of the Phantasm is the best Batman movie. Go watch it.