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The 50 greatest Batman movie moments

The bats

The moment: Batman creates a distraction at Arkham Asylum by summoning a Biblical swarm of the wing-flapping critters from which he takes his name. Just about as visually impressive a scene as any other in Batman Begins.

Why it's great: Referencing a similar scene in Frank Miller'sYear One comic book, this represents the moment at which the Batman finally takes control of his fears.

"I'm Batman"

The moment: Bats makes his grand entrance in a rooftop scuffle with one of Gotham's many thugs. Dangling the terrified goon off the edge of a rooftop, Batman urges his prey to tell all his friends about the encounter. "What are you?" shrieks the hapless crook. "I'm Batman" comes the reply. Shivers.

Why it's great: Keaton's Batman was less aggressive than Bale's, but he brought an icy calm to the role that worked well in its own right. This scene is a perfect case in point.

Remember me?

The Moment: The League Of Shadows pay an unexpected visit to Bruce Wayne's birthday party, with the mysterious Henri Ducard revealing himself to be none other than Ra's al Ghul.

Why it's great: Its an excellent twist to kick Batman Begins' last act into the next gear. Plus, Liam Neeson makes for an excellently hissable baddie.

Jumping the shark

The moment: Batman is forced to contend with a pesky shark in 1966's ultra-camp Batman: The Movie. Thankfully, our hero has a handy aerosol full of "shark-repellent bat spray" for just such an occasion. Phew!

Why it's great: Oh come on, we had to include it! Daft it might be, but this toothy encounter still seems more realistic than most of what goes on in Batman & Robin.

Taking a tumble

The moment: Batman makes his escape from Arkham by hopping into the tumbler and taking it for a nighttime jaunt across Gotham's rooftops. It's the only way to travel you know.

Why it's great: The tumbler, introduced with a knowing "oh, you wouldn't be interested in that" by Lucius Fox, is a superb successor to the Batmobile, and provides Batman Begins with a truly excellent chase scene.

"Why so serious?"

The moment: Both of the Joker's stories as to how he got his scars are supremely tense scenes, each tale delivered with a manic intensity by Heath Ledger. We marginally prefer the one about his father, if only for the, "Why so serious?" payoff. Why it's great: The twin scenes shed no light on the true nature of the Joker's past, and yet tell you everything you need to know about his personality. Plus, the violence with which each is delivered is truly mesmerising.

Bats vs. Cats

The Moment: Batman and Catwoman go toe to toe in a whip-cracking rooftop scuffle containing more than a hint of sexual tension. Miaow!

Why it's great: Michelle Pfeiffer is at her slinkiest here, with dozy old Batman falling for her feminine wiles not once but twice. Although who wouldn't have their head turned by Catwoman asking them to "help me find the woman behind the cat"?

Mentor moment

The moment: One of the few bearable moments in Joel Schumacher's obscenely bad Batman & Robin is a quiet exchange between George Clooney's Bruce and Michael Gough's Alfred. In it, the pair discuss the death of Bruce's parents, and the way in which this early trauma has shaped everything he has become.

Why it's great: Gough's dialled down performance provides blessed relief from Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger's morale-sapping pun contest. The old boy is by far and away the best thing in the movie.

Calling card

The moment: Chris Nolan tees up his next Bat-sequel at the end of Batman Begins, as Lt. Gordon fills Batman in on a violent criminal at large in Gotham. "Armed robbery, double homicide," he begins. "Got a taste for the theatrical like you. Leaves a calling card." Deliciously, the card is a joker.

Why it's great: Everybody loves a comic-book in-reference, and one that sets up the next film as neatly as this one does deserves to celebrated.

Mad Max

The Moment: Christopher Walken's Max Shreck artfully intimidates Michelle Pfeiffer's Selina Kyle before pushing her out of the window. It's a log way down.

Why it's great: It's the point at which Walken gets his first opportunity to really flex his sinister muscles as the demonic Shreck. "It's not like you can just kill me," squeaks the plaintive Ms. Kyle. "Actually, it's a lot like that," smirks Max.