Batman Returns (1992, dir. Tim Burton)

Batman encounters Catwoman and The Penguin, who is being manipulated to become mayor of Gotham City. Darker, confident sequel, with a pervy streak a mile wide running right through it. Pushing the limits of weirdness for a tentpole release, Batman Returns is both a franchise and genre high point.

Batman (1989, dir. Tim Burton)

Batman creates – and battles – the Joker. Mixing expressionism, noir, Hammer horror and pop art, the 1989 Batman is well-tailored from patches and the need to service a guest villain performance, even if it doesn’t really have a story. Still fun, tho, with a lovely mix of technologies working together. Best of all, it feels like a comic book. Sequels followed.

Dumbo (2019, dir. Tim Burton)

A failing circus buys a pregnant elephant; her baby has huge ears, allowing it to fly. Ambitious but mostly soulless attempt to make a non-musical live-action/CG remake of the 1941 original. Some heart, but this is mostly anodyne and clean, lacking the dark inventive touch of early Burton.

American Assassin (2017, dir. Michael Cuesta)

A headstrong young man joins a CIS black ops team to get revenge on the terrorists who killed his fiance. Straightforward basic training and first mission movie (adapted from the Vince Flynn novels) which escalates awkwardly from fisticuffs to stolen nukes and an iffily CG-ed armada. Patchy.

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, dir. Jon Watts)

Spidey battles black marketeers selling alien weapons tech. Minor but enjoyable Avengers spinoff, with a great central performance from Tom Holland and a lot of heart, esp. in the first two acts before the CG team takes over.

The Founder (2016, dir. John Lee Hancock)

A middle-aged salesman has a burger-bar epiphany. Sly biopic of McDonald’s eminence grise Ray Kroc, which tricks you into thinking it’s all apple pie and big smiles, when the movie’s really somewhere between Raging Bull and Elmer Gantry. Recommended.