Batman is one of the best characters in comic books, hands down. His iconicity makes him extremely marketable with the public audience, which naturally leads to tons of media made about the character. We have video games, TV shows, and a host of merchandise.
The format we’ll look at today are the movies starring The Dark Knight. For decades now, The Caped Crusader has starred in his own movies and been a part of some of the greatest cinematic experiences ever put in theaters. Unfortunately, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. There are many moments where a Batman movie has failed to meet expectations, or worse, be panned critically.
Regardless of whether a Batman film is great or terrible, there are plenty of moments in each one that are so cringeworthy, you can’t help but flinch every time you see them. Don’t get us wrong, we love (most of) the Batman movies, but even we have to admit when one part doesn’t quite stick the landing.
Without further ado, get your power to the engine and your turbines to speed as we explore 15 cringeworthy moments from the Batman movies.
15. BANE’S VOICE
The Dark Knight trilogy holds some of the best Batman stories ever put into film, but they are not perfect. The last entry in the series, The Dark Knight Rises, holds a few moments where I had to sit back and shake my head. The obvious standout here is the voice for the villain: Bane.
Leading up to the release of the film, Tom Hardy and Christopher Nolan experimented with how they wanted the character to sound. However, there was some negative feedback at first, stating that the character couldn’t be understood. So the voice was altered to make it more recognizable, but that doesn’t mean it was fixed. Bane still sounds like someone put a towel over a megaphone and called it a day. It’s not the worst thing we’ve ever heard, but considering the history of the character in the comics, it’s a far cry from what it could’ve been.
14. BAT SHARK REPELLANT
Here’s the classic example. The Batman TV series from the 60s is packed to the brim with cheesy and cringy moments. It’s so extensive that one has to change their perspective before watching the show in order to enjoy it. As you can imagine, a lot of those cringeworthy gags, equipment, and lines reappeared when the Batman film came out in tandem with the show.
Perhaps the most recognizable moment in the film is when Adam West’s Batman is being pulled out of the water by a helicopter piloted by Robin. Clinging to the rope ladder for dear life, Batman quickly realizes that he’s being snagged by a shark. With some quick thinking, The Caped Crusader shuffles in his belt and pulls out the “Bat Shark Repellent” to get the great white to bother somebody else. The 60s were a different time, and there were many crazier gadgets to appear in the show.
13. BAT CREDIT CARD
To be honest, we could make an entire list of cringeworthy moments from Batman and Robin alone. This movie tried to emulate the cheesy success of Adam West’s Batman, but ultimately fell flat on its face as it tried to blend that with Tim Burton’s art style and a modern audience.
If you thought Bat Shark Repellent was a little ridiculous, it gets worse in this film. During a bidding war for Poison Ivy, George Clooney’s Batman whips out the Bat Credit Card during one scene in the film (complete with a “cha ching” noise). It’s a moment of complete ridiculousness that many people resort to when trashing the movie. It gets even worse when you realize that Batman was essentially bidding against himself because Robin was just going to use the Dark Knight’s money. Notice the little “Good thru forever” label on the bottom of the card.
12. ALL OF MR.FREEZE’S DIALOGUE
Taking another page out of the Batman and Robin handbook, even the villains were downright cringeworthy from start to finish. The cheesiest one of them all has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. Whoever thought casting him as a Batman villain would be a good idea needs to be fired.
Mr. Freeze is typically a complex villain with a motivation that we can all identify with. In Batman and Robin, he’s reduced to a needlessly evil guy who practically talks in puns. “Ice to see you.” “Alright, everybody. Chill.” “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!” The list goes on and on. From the moment he shows up, you know you’re in for a treat with that wacky chrome suit and glowing blue lights all around. At the end of the day, it’s at least fun to tear apart.
11. COP ONE LINERS
The Dark Knight holds the award for being one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, but it even it has its moments of cringe. As a matter of fact, there are several lines of dialogue that just don’t fit with the gritty and dark tone of the film. Thankfully, they don’t come from Batman himself.
Instead, these one-liners come from many of the cops. You’ll hear phrases like “I didn’t sign up for this” or “Is that a bazooka?” While they don’t detract from the experience of the film as a whole, you’ll likely be skimming over these parts in your mind as you wait for the next scene that has Heath Ledger or Christian Bale in it. Unfortunately, some of the corny dialogue wasn’t sifted out when crafting The Dark Knight Rises. At least the series ended before it became terrible.
10. JOHN BLAKE’S TRUE NAME
A lot of times, films based on comic properties will have a lot of moments where they wink at the camera (and only the fans respond). They can be excellent moments, but are more often than just fanservice that doesn’t hold anything of consequence to the story being told.
In The Dark Knight Rises, there was another scene that was just cheesy fan service to us. Throughout the film, the new character of John Blake had been helping Batman and Commissioner Gordon save Gotham City. Near the end of the film, someone tells him to go by his real name of “Robin” because it sounds nice. Casual audiences might’ve appreciated that nod, but the rest of us were shaking our heads at that line. Had he taken up the name after wearing the suit, that would’ve been fine, but making it his real name is a bit more than we’re willing to believe.
9. ROBIN’S LOVE FOR THE CAR
As you’ve probably noticed by now, many cringeworthy moments from Batman movies come from the Robin character. Of all the ones that appeared on screen, the worst offender has to be the version played by Chris O’Donnell in Batman Forever and Batman and Robin.
In both films, the opening sees him stating how he wants a car because “chicks dig the car.” Right off the bat, it puts neither movie at a great start. The whole “chicks dig” line has never been in style (even in the early 2000s) and it doesn’t fit the Robin character very well either. He’s always been about naivety, living up to the name of Batman, and learning how to become his own hero. In Batman and Robin, he’s little more than a chance to score a lot of cheap puns.
8. BATMAN AND ROBIN’S FINAL SCENE
The beginning and end of a film can make an audience either love or hate it. That’s why, at the very least, filmmakers should know how to open and close with an entertaining or emotional way. In the case of Batman and Robin, I will say that its final scene at least communicates to the audience the kind of movie they just saw.
The film ends with the Bat Signal shining in the background as George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, and Alicia Silverstone all come running in front of it in costume. The characters themselves are mere silhouettes due to the lighting, but the slow motion running combined with their capes flapping behind them is a shot that should stay in the past where it belongs. Audiences are past the “running sequences” like that. It didn’t exactly work then and it certainly doesn’t work now.
7. “WHAT ARE THEY SAYING? RISE.”
The Dark Knight trilogy has never been about shoving things in your face. Instead, every philosophical moment is implied and left to interpretation. It’s part of the brilliance of the movies. Yet, for some reason, they had to be a little too on the nose with The Dark Knight Rises.
In the film, there exists the prison known as “Hell on Earth.” It’s there where Bane and Talia al Ghul were both created, and it’s where Batman was sent after his back was broken. The only way to get out of the prison is to make a daring climb that no mere mortal could. Every time someone climbs the wall, the rest of the prisoners chant an ominous word. When Batman asks what it is, the prison doctor says “Rise.” Here we were thinking that it would be something a bit more meaningful than a message we gathered from the title of the film.
6. DEATH OF MIRANDA TATE
For a movie focused on cringeworthy Batman moments, we sure have a lot of scenes from The Dark Knight Rises in here. While many of the cheesy lines and scenes I missed the first time through, this one caught my attention from my initial watch of the film.
At the end, Miranda Tate is revealed to be a traitor and is hauling a nuclear bomb through Gotham City. At that point, it’s up to Batman, Catwoman, and the rest of the crew to find it and bring Miranda to justice. This results in her getting into a severe crash that she doesn’t survive. When Batman goes to talk to her, she gets out some final words before dying on a moment’s notice. One second she’s talking and the next, her eyes are shut and she stops breathing. Tell me again why this death was approved for the final cut of the movie?
5. PENGUINS WITH GUNS
Fans of the Batman films often argue who was the better Dark Knight: Michael Keaton or Christian Bale? Regardless of how you feel, I believe it’s difficult to compare them because they were different takes on the character that were appropriate to the tone and style of each set of movies.
Take Batman Returns for example. The Penguin is literally an insane guy who eats fish and rides a rubber duck. While that’s strange enough in its own right, The Penguin also has an army of penguins that can somehow hold guns and bombs. Need I remind you that actual penguins have flippers and wouldn’t be able to use any kind of weapon, but the movie expects us to accept that and move on. In short, it’s silly to see Batman fighting Antarctic birds.
4. “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?”
And here we get a cringeworthy moment from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. When The Dark Knight and Man of Steel finally began their epic battle, it was brought to a close on an interesting bit of dialogue. Superman is begging Batman to save his mother, stating “You have to save Martha.”
Because that’s the same name as Batman’s mother, Bruce goes nuts, screaming at Supes with “WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME?” I understand the intent was for Batman to see the humanity in Superman by having a cause that the two of them could identify with, but the execution was severely lacking. It brought the entire battle to a close and instantly put the warring heroes on the same side. I think Ben Affleck’s Batman was solid, but even I can’t completely defend this scene.
3. “YOU EVER DANCE WITH THE DEVIL IN A PALE MOONLIGHT?”
Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman movie has gone down as one of the greats and there were many parts that make it so memorable. Among them was Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker, which is heavily praised to this day (especially by us). However, there was one aspect of this character that we always cringed at, no matter how thematic it was.
Many times throughout the film, The Joker says “You ever dance with the Devil in a pale moonlight?” While further investigation reveals how that question works in the context of the story, its presence at face value is a little corny. Coupling that with how the original Jack Napier killed Bruce’s parents and asked this question afterward, it’s a bit hard for us to get behind 100%.
2. POISON IVY ACTION FIGURE
Here we go with Batman and Robin again. There were three villains in the entire movie (which was part of why it was so bad). First was Mr. Freeze. The second was Poison Ivy. And the third was Bane. While we already covered Mr. Freeze’s place on this list, it’s time to take a look at Poison Ivy and Bane.
Bane was created in this film through the experiments of the same doctor that caused Pamela Isley to become Poison Ivy. As such, she got wind of the Venom-injected villain and made him a hired muscle for her (a disservice to the character). Apart from how the characters behaved, the most cringeworthy line of dialogue that comes of this is when Batman and Robin are fighting her. Just before Bane shows up, Ivy says, “That’s why every Poison Ivy action figure comes complete with one of these!” Just a painful line to hear.
1. BAT NIPPLES
As if you thought anything would be more deserving of this list. Batman and Robin takes the cake again with how the vigilante costumes are designed. Right from the start, we see that Batman, Robin, and Batgirl sport nipples on their costumes for some reason, and to this day we have no idea why.
This wouldn’t be so bad if they largely go unnoticed. Unfortunately, the camera deliberately lingers on this aspect of the costumes, as well as their butts and crotches. Why this was ever an approved idea, we’ll never know. What we do know is that it’s one of the most cringeworthy moments of all of the Batman films, and we can’t take any more scenes like it.
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