Burton's Batman Series vs. Donner's Superman Series


Sep 17, 2002
Reaction score
I thought it be a little fun to have a battle thread of two separate film franchises. At first I was considering Burton's Batman trilogy (he did produce Forever) vs. Nolan's...but let's be honest there is no comparison there. I will not be seeing Dark Knight Rises until next week so NO SPOILERS here....

When I thought of potential replacements I realized the answer was obvious: The Donner* Superman films (1978-1987). Just like the Burton* Batman films (1989-1997) there are 4 of them. What I couldn't believe is just how unbelievably close these two film series' are in comparison to one another. They almost perfectly mirror each other. Please note that I am taking into account the fact that both series', particularly Superman's, are rather dated by our modern superhero film notions.

*I'm naming these series by the first film's director.

So what follows is a LONG (sorry) review of the Good, Bad, and Ugly of each of these film series. I'll give my picks and hopefully you all will contribute your thoughts and suggestions as well. Enjoy!

Battle 1: Superman vs. Batman
Superman: Directed by Richard Donner (1978)

The film that started it all. It was the first real film that hinted at America's appetite for superheroes. It was fun, light, and full of hope. Just like Superman is when he is at his best. It's definitely a little hokey by our standards but it does lay out the origins of one of fandoms most well known characters rather well.

Batman: Directed by Tim Burton (1989)

The first "dark" superhero movie of its day. Burton introduced a brooding, dark, and more serious Batman to the audiences. Although he does fail to "get" Batman this is a great flick that features an amusingly over the top Jack Nicholson...and when is that ever a bad thing?

In what are 4 intense dogfights, this was by far the toughest to call. Superman set the bar for superhero films to this day; but Batman redefined the most iconic character in American folklore...perhaps ever. This could totally go either way, and I suspect many will disagree with me, but for me:
Edge: Batman

Battle 2: Superman II vs. Batman Returns
Superman II: Directed by Richard Donner & Richard Lester (1981)

Superman finally gets a physical challenge in this worthy sequel. Zod and company put Supes through the ringer and threaten the world.

Batman Returns: Directed by Tim Burton (1992)

If you didn't know that Tim Burton likes black, this movie proves it. There has been a lot of recent praise for this film, and I certainly enjoy it on some level, but it is NOT a Batman film. It's a Burton film. Enjoyable? Sure, but it seems like Burton just took the Batman characters and inserted them into one of his odd "misfit monster" tales. The only "Burton" staples missing from this film are Helena Bonham Carter and Johnny Depp. I'm sure if Burton had his way he'd do a re-release next year with them CGI added in.

To me this was an easy one. Superman II continued the story from I and brought in real threats. Batman Returns presented a fun, but ultimately un-Batmany, Burton experience (before we were dreadfully bored to tears by those).
Edge: Superman II

Battle 3: Superman III vs. Batman Forever
Superman III: Directed by Richard Lester (1983)

Well here's where these battles take a turn for the worse, lol. Superman III is a bizarre movie that is probably more comedy than superhero. However if you were young enough to remember it: was there ANYTHING scarier than the evil computer and its wacky cyborg transformations? Nope. Also Richard Pryor is hilarious in a so bad it's good film. Great movie to watch with your friends and a few beers.

Batman Forever: Directed Joel Schumacher (1995)

Raise your hand if you like "flair"? No one? I didn't think so. Well Joel Schumacher sure does. This film is full of flair and plenty of over the top antics. There are moments in this film that do work. I liked some of the Riddler/Two-Face scheming scenes; those two characters do seem to have an inclination towards one another in some respect. However this is overall a bad movie with only a handful of passable moments.

Well it's not easy comparing two very weak films. One is so dumb it's almost fun and the other is at times half way decent but overall a bad film. But I suppose the film that works better over all is...
Edge: Batman Forever

Battle 4: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace vs. Batman & Robin
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace: Directed by Sidney Furie (1987)

Corny, cheesey, plot hole filled, and rife with hamfisted cold war propaganda this is by all accounts a bad movie. Easily the worst Superman film to date.

Batman & Robin: Directed by Joel Schumacher (1997)

Ugggghhh.....Screw you Joel Schumacher!

Simply because Batman & Robin is the most atrocious, god awful, impossibly stupid, homoerotic, vile, POS probably of all time...
Edge: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace

Well we have a tie 2-2. How can we break it?
Female Sidekick Spin-Off Tie Breaker!
Battle 5: Supergirl vs. Catwoman

Supergirl: Directed by Jeannot Szwarc (1984)

Remember this film? Probably not. Heck WB doesn't even include it in its Superman DVD releases. Yet it is a direct spin-off from the aforementioned Superman films (Mark McClure even reprises his role as Jimmy Olsen and the other Supes films are referenced). If you like awful acting this one might be worth checking out. Otherwise this film is unwatchable. If you don't believe me watch any of the clips on YouTube (especially the truck driver/attempted rape scene). Supergirl fights...a witch?

Catwoman: Directed by Pitof (2004)

This film is a quasi-spin-off to the Batman series. It actually relies on Burton's idiotic notion from Batman Returns that Catwoman is given powers by dying and being revived by cats. Hallie Berry tries here but it is horrendous. Just god awful. Why make this film? It's just miserable.

Wow it's really sad that the fate of these two series' have to come down to these two impossibly unwatchable films. Whoever wins: we lose. There's no way to pick the "better film" here so here's what I boiled it down to. Which was less *****e chilling and which was over the fastest (Catwoman has a 20 minute shorter runtime). So with that in mind the winner is...impossibly enough...
Edge: Catwoman
Again I apologize for picking Catwoman over anything but Supergirl truly is unwatchable.

Overall Winner: Burton's Batman Franchise
So there you have it. These are my picks in this classic superhero film battle royale that truly contains Good (Superman I & II, Batman & Returns), Bad (Superman III, Batman Forever), and Ugly (Superman IV & Supergirl, Batman & Robin & Catwoman). I'm sure many of you will disagree with me but feel free to explain why you do.
Last edited:
Okay I've relented on my Bryan Singer stance and I'll consider his film as part of the "Donner Superman Series". Thankfully I was able to find a worthy live action Batman opponent for the film.

Throwback Battle!*
Battle 6: Superman Returns vs. Batman: The Movie
Superman Returns: Directed by Bryan Singer (2006)

When I think about this film I kejrlejiefjio;dhfjefkdkfkdfjkd....sorry I must have fell asleep on my keyboard. That happens whenever I think about this dreadfully boring film. It, along with Ghost Rider, breaks a cardinal rule of superhero films: BE EXCITING. Even Batman & Robin has a moment or two of excitement...completely incoherent excitement...but I digress. A Superman movie where nothing happens? Seriously Bryan Singer?

Batman: The Movie: Directed by Leslie Martinson (1966)

Goofy? Campy? Silly? Wacky? Yup, yup, yup, and yup? Incredibly fun to watch even today? Yup! I could watch episodes of the old Batman show any day and have a blast.

Batman: The Movie may be silly but at least it's not like Superman Rekjfdkfjeo;ijfeoifkdfhdkfjdkfdjkfdfdfdf....
Edge: Batman: The Movie

Final Tally of the 6 Films from each "Franchise"
Burton's Batman Series: 4
Donner's Superman Series: 2

I eagerly await your opinions whether you agree or disagree.

*Superman Returns is a throwback to the first two Donner films and the Shumacher films were a throwback to the original Batman series and movie so it works in theory.
Last edited:
My choices
Battle 1: Superman
Battle 2: Superman II
Battle 3: Batman Forever
Battle 4: Batman & Robin
Battle 5: Catwoman (simply because I haven't seen Super Girl)
Battle 6: Superman Returns (haven't seen Batman the movie)
Why are we counting forever + batman and robin as burton films? They are not.

As for me

1. Batman - By a landslide
2. Batman returns - By another landslide, but slightly smaller than the first, but only slightly.

That's where it ends for me personally.

I loved burtons films, twenty years on burtons films are still watchable, especially batman, I could watch keaton and nicholson all day long. Not just as batman films, but as films in general.
Why are we counting forever + batman and robin as burton films? They are not.

I don't disagree but I decided to do the entire series for each. I find it fun to compare films that are both pretty close in quality and pretty close in awfulness, lol. Besides Burton did produce Batman Forever and Richard Lester (who worked with Donner) did direct Superman III. So you could argue that the first three should be counted. But then why ignore the 4th films of each franchise? Or the female sidekick spin-offs that both film had? Or the Throwback Throwdown of two films that either inspired this series or were inspired by it. Besides I did state that I named each series by the first film's director.

I just decided to be "all inclusive". :yay:
My choices:
Battle 1: Batman
Battle 2: Batman Returns
Battle 3: Superman III
Battle 4: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Battle 5: Supergirl
Battle 6: Adam West's Batman: The Comedy Movie
Batman & Batman Returns

that is all

I'll probably get flamed big time, but I never cared for Donner's Superman. Chris Reeve was an excellent Superman, but the stories sucked. the films were cheesy as well.
Donner's Superman: The Movie is still the best comic book movie of all time; better than Avengers, better than The Dark Knight, better than Spider-Man 2.
Until I had the idea to make this thread I never realized how much these two series' mirror each other.

1) They both have two excellent starting films
2) The third film is weaker
3) The fourth film is an abomination
4) They both have a god awful female sidekick spin-off film (remember Catwoman's powers and origins were based off of Burton's Catwoman origins)
5) They both have a "throwback" film, although for completely opposite reasons. Returns was a throwback to the original two films in the series; and Batman: The Movie (although not truly part of the series) was a film that Forever and B&R were a throwback too.

So the comparisons are fun here because they somewhat symmetrical.

Users who are viewing this thread

Latest posts

Forum statistics

Latest member
monitoring_string = "afb8e5d7348ab9e99f73cba908f10802"