Distributed by Warner Home Video – a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment UK Ltd – the Batman The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray boxset is a four-disc collection of live-action Batman movies. The boxset houses every live-action Batman movie produced between 1989 and 1997 which includes:

  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)

Today I am taking a look at this boxset to review its contents. Why? Because from the movies to the special features, the Batman The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray boxset is a collection of movies that every Bat-fan should have on their shelf.

If you don’t own this boxset, this is the review you need to read. These films not only paved the way for Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, as well as Zack Snyder’s Batman and beyond, it also cemented the Caped Crusader’s status as a box office powerhouse.

Between ’89 and ’97 the four films brought in more than $1.2 billion – something that many studios were envious of. Even today, long after the movies left cinema screens, the films continue to prove popular and remain a jewel in Warner Bros.’ movie crown.

Now for the purpose of this review, I am featuring images from the original release of this boxset, which first hit retail shelves in 2008 (as this is the copy that I own). This boxset has received subsequent rereleases since this initial release, however the contents of the set have remained the same.

So, what is the difference between this Blu-ray boxset and later releases? The size of the packaging – it’s now housed within two (Amaray) Blu-ray cases instead of four and that’s it!

After the initial release, Warner Bros. streamlined the packaging to take up less space on the shelf. Other than that, nothing else changed. I’m merely pointing out that my copy will differ from subsequent releases for transparency.

Why didn’t Warner Bros. change anything else about the boxset? Simple – because this is the definitive release of the Batman Anthology on Blu-ray.

Everything you need to know about the films can be found on this boxset. That includes the films themselves, laid out in eye-popping high definition (HD) and an exhaustive collection of special features which provide more than 18 hours of content!

I will detail the bonus features for each disc below, but in short, the collection includes director commentaries for every film, a selection of music videos (from Prince to The Smashing Pumpkins), a wealth of featurettes and all the original trailers from the ‘80s and ‘90s. There is also a six-part documentary called Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight, which runs across all four discs and is very informative.

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The Batman Anthology

OK, let’s break down each disc to highlight what is on offer. I’m providing a brief synopsis of each film, along with a list of all the special features, then a quick round-up.

Batman (1989)

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

In Tim Burton’s Art Deco infused Batman ’89, the Dark Knight takes to the streets of Gotham to tackle the Joker – a gangster turned psychopath, who wants nothing more than to cause chaos and be the biggest freak in town (“Wait ‘til they get a load of me”). Throughout the course of this movie, Batman’s origin is revealed, along with his connection to the Joker.

Michael Keaton takes on the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne, with Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale. Michael Gough plays Alfred Pennyworth and Pat Hingle takes on Commissioner Gordon.

Special features on this disc include:

  • Commentary by Director Tim Burton
  • On the set with Bob Kane
  • Legends of the Dark Knight: The History of Batman
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 1: The Road to Gotham City
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 2: The Gathering Storm
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 3: The Legend Reborn
  • Prince – Batdance music video
  • Prince – Partyman music video
  • Prince – Scandalous music video
  • The Heroes and Villains Profile Galleries
  • Batman: The Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence
  • Theatrical Trailer

The special features also include the Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery:

  • Visualising Gotham: The Production Design of Batman
  • Building the Batmobile
  • Those Wonderful Toys: The Props and Gadgets of Batman
  • Designing the Bat-Suit
  • From Jack to the Joker
  • Nocturnal Overtures: The Music of Batman

Video

1080p High Definition 16×9 1.85:1

Audio

Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1

Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Castilian Spanish 2.0, French 2.0, German 2.0, Italian 2.0, Brazilian Portuguese 1.0, Latin Spanish 1.0

Subtitles

English, Brazilian Portuguese, Complex Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin) & Swedish (Movie and select bonus material)

Running time

126 mins

Certificate

15

The film:

Batman is a defining moment in Batman’s history – both on screen and offscreen. Not only did this movie introduce audiences to a dark and moody Batman (something the average person was unfamiliar with), but it also encouraged cinemagoers to pick up Batman comics.

Keaton is fantastic in the role of Batman, while Jack Nicholson steals the show as the Joker. Sure, the movie is dated in places, but thanks to its retro-aesthetic Batman still holds up as one of the best Bat-movies of all time!

The special features:

What an awesome collection of additional material! Tim Burton’s commentary is insightful, while the first three chapters in Shadows of the Bat are excellent.

The Prince videos are great for those looking for a bit of ‘80s nostalgia, while the Complete Robin Storyboard Sequence offers a unique window into what could have been.

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Batman Returns (1992)

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

Following the events of Batman ’89, the Caped Crusader has become the sworn protector of Gotham – that is until he is framed for murder by the new Mayor elect, Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin). Meanwhile, a new cat burglar is in town and she has a vendetta against businessman, Max Shreck.

Michael Keaton reprises the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, alongside Michael Gough and Pat Hingle, who return as Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. The Penguin is played by Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer plays Catwoman and Christopher Walken takes on the part of the odious Max Shreck.

Special features on this disc include:

  • Commentary by Director Tim Burton
  • The Bat, The Cat and The Penguin – Making of Featurette
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 4: Dark Side of the Knight
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees – Face to Face music video
  • The Heroes and the Villains Profile Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer

The special features also include the Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery:

  • Gotham City Revisited: The Production Design of Batman Returns
  • Sleek, Sexy and Sinister: The Costumes of Batman Returns
  • Making Up the Penguin
  • Assembling the Arctic Army
  • Bats, Mattes and Dark Knights: The Visual Effects of Batman
  • Inside the Elfman Studio: The Music of Batman Returns

Video

1080p High Definition 16×9 1.85:1

Audio

Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1

Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Spanish (Castilian 1.0 and Latin 2.0), French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Brazilian Portuguese 1.0

Subtitles

English, Brazilian Portuguese, Complex Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Spanish (Castilian and Latin) & Swedish (Movie and select bonus material)

Running time

126 mins

Certificate

15

The film:

The Dark Knight goes dark(er) for Bat-movie number two – a film which divided audiences on its original release, but is somewhat of a cult favourite today. The pairing of Danny DeVito and Christopher Walken is inspired, but the stand out star is Michelle Pfeiffer who steals the whole movie as Catwoman.

The special features:

As with the special features on Batman ‘89, the Tim Burton commentary and the next chapter in Shadows of the Bat are the big selling points. The rest of the material is worth a watch too, although there is a little bit less than what’s included with Batman.

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Batman Forever (1995)

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

Joel Schumacher takes on directing duties for this third Batman adventure, which sees both Batman and Bruce Wayne come face-to-face with deadly adversaries. While Bruce is dealing with an obsessive stalker in the form of the Riddler, Batman must take on Two-Face – a former friend turned criminal.

Val Kilmer takes on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, with both Michael Gough and Pat Hingle returning to the series for round three. New cast members include Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian and Chris O’Donnell as Robin.

Special features on this disc include:

  • Commentary by Director Joel Schumacher
  • Additional Scenes (including the bat/Batcave sequence)
  • Riddle Me This: Why is Batman Forever?
  • Shadow of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 5: Reinventing A Hero
  • Seal – Kiss From a Rose music video
  • The Heroes and the Villains Profile Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer

The special features also include the Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery:

  • Out of the Shadows: The Production Design of Batman Forever
  • The Many Faces of Gotham City
  • Knight Moves: The Stunts of Batman Forever
  • Imagining Forever: The Visual Effects of Batman Forever
  • Scoring Forever: The Music of Batman Forever

Video

1080p High Definition 16×9 1.85:1

Audio

Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1

Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Brazilian Portuguese 2.0, Castilian Spanish 5.1, French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Latin Spanish 2S

Subtitles

English, Brazilian Portuguese, Complex Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin) & Swedish (Movie and select bonus material)

Running time

121 mins

Certificate

12

The film:

Batman Forever is quite a divisive movie, with some ready to denounce it as a wrong turn for the Caped Crusader, and others ready to champion its cause. For me, it’s a blast from start to finish, offering a lighter (yet no less entertaining) look at a Batman film, inspired the 1940s/1950s era of the comics.

In high definition Batman Forever is stunning to look at. Joel Schumacher’s use of neon/garish colours adds an element of electricity to the screen – a significant upgrade from standard definition.

The special features:

Another plentiful supply of bonus material, with the director’s commentary – this time by Joel Schumacher – and Shadows of the Bat being the stand out content again. The additional scenes are most certainly worth a watch, and it’s great to see Seal’s Kiss From a Rose included on the disc (it’s just a shame that U2’s Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me is missing).

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Batman & Robin (1997)

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

The Batman Anthology takes a softer approach for this fourth and final entry, which sees Batman and Robin square up to the triple threat of Mr. Freeze, Poison Ivy and Bane. The Dynamic Duo is joined by Batgirl, as well as an array of Bat-gadgets to stop Gotham from freezing over.

George Clooney takes on the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne, with Chris O’Donnell, Michael Gough and Pat Hingle all returning for this final outing. Arnold Schwarzenegger takes on the part of Mr. Freeze, with Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Jeep Swenson as Bane.

Special features on this disc include:

  • Commentary by Director Joel Schumacher
  • Shadows of the Bat: The Cinematic Saga of The Dark Knight – Part 6: Batman Unbound
  • Additional Scene: Alfred’s Lost Love
  • The Smashing Pumpkins – The End is the Beginning is the End music video
  • Jewel – Foolish Games music video
  • R. Kelly – Gotham City music video
  • Bone Thugs-N-Harmony – Look Into My Eyes music video
  • The Heroes and the Villains Profile Galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer

The special features also include the Beyond Batman Documentary Gallery:

  • Bigger, Bolder, Brighter: The Production Design of Batman & Robin
  • Maximum Overdrive: The Vehicles of Batman & Robin
  • Dressed to Thrill: The Costumes of Batman & Robin
  • Frozen Freaks and Femme Fatales: The Makeup of Batman & Robin
  • Freeze Frame: The Visual Effects of Batman & Robin

Video

1080p High Definition 16×9 1.85:1

Audio

Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1

Dolby Digital: English 5.1, Castilian Spanish 5.1, French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Brazilian Portuguese 2.0, Latin Spanish 2.0

Subtitles

English, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin) & Swedish (Movie and select bonus material)

Running time

125 mins

Certificate

PG

The film:

Let’s not beat around the bush on this one – many, many people dislike this film. I happen to enjoy it and take it as a big screen version of the camp 1960s Batman TV show, but I probably can’t convince you of the same.

Regardless of your thoughts, Batman & Robin is a visual treat and is easily the best looking of the movies on Blu-ray. The colours are so vibrant, that in HD it is a comic book brought to life.

The special features:

When checking out the special features on this disc, once again head straight to the director’s commentary and the final chapter in Shadows of the Bat. Not only do they both provide insights into this rather unique Batman movie, they also see director Joel Schumacher address the backlash to the film – something everyone should watch.

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Why should the Batman The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray boxset be on your shelf?

The Batman Anthology looks glorious in high definition – especially the Joel Schumacher movies (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin). Details and colours previously ignored or missed in the standard definition (DVD) releases are clear for all to see and the picture quality is awesome.

But this boxset offers so much more than just the films, and that’s why it is a fine addition to any home video collection. The bonus features make this a must-buy boxset – especially when you consider how much extra value you get for your money.

The 18+ hours of special bonus features, when added to the 8+ hours of movie running time result in over 26 hours of content in a neat little package. That’s just amazing – especially as it’s content that can be referred to time and time again.

I’ve had this boxset for years now and I refuse to part with it, despite owning HD digital copies of the movies. Why? Because the bonus content is simply so extensive and I enjoy dipping back into the documentaries or listening to the commentaries every once in a while.

When looking at the price of this boxset I can’t stress enough the value for money. Warner Bros. understand that this collection is one of their bread and butter releases so it’s always more than reasonably priced and the studio never charge over the odds for this boxset.

If you want to check out prices for this boxset, Amazon UK and Amazon US are always competitively priced. Check out the stores for more details.

I do hope this review has been helpful to you. If you’re a fan of the Batman Anthology or you own this boxset, let me know your thoughts below.

Should you want to delve further into the Batman movies, then you might like to read my post ‘Who wrote the music for Batman?‘. The post offers a detailed look at the music for the Batman Anthology.

You can also check out any of the recommended reads below for more Batman movie content.

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