Few superheroes can boast of having quite as many big-screen iterations as Batman, whose film career spans multiple decades and several different Hollywood stars.
Up until now, each era of Batman has been very distinct from what came before, but things are soon to become more complicated as DC looks to introduce the multiverse.
It's a daring move that could provide some incredible fan service, as one of cinema's most iconic Batmen steps back into the role, but it might also confuse more casual fans.
As a result, we've put together this guide to Batman's big-screen adventures, to help you get the most from the caped crusader.
How to watch Batman movies in order of release date
The following Batman films were released in release date order.
- Batman (1989)
- Batman Returns (1992)
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
- Batman Forever (1995)
- Batman & Robin (1997)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
- Suicide Squad (2016)
- The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
- Justice League (2017)
- Joker (2019)
- Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
- The Batman (2022)
- DC League of Super-Pets (2022)
- The Flash (2022)
- Batgirl (2022)
The Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher Batman film Series
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, Jack Palance.
Technically, Batman's film career begins in the 1940s with two 15-part serial films, while 1966's Batman: The Movie is also fondly remembered by some who enjoyed the campy television series it span out from.
However, for all intents and purposes, the Batman film franchise as we know it today began with 1989's Batman, with visionary director Tim Burton placing a distinctive gothic tone over the proceedings.
The film starred Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and Jack Nicholson as his arch-enemy the Joker, and while it isn't hugely faithful to the comic books, it has nevertheless remained a fan favourite.
Batman Returns (1992)
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Michael Murphy, Vincent Schiavelli.
Tim Burton and Michael Keaton reunited for this sequel, which saw the introduction of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman, arguably the most famous depiction of the femme fatale in film history.
Danny DeVito also stars as Oswald Cobblepot, better known by his criminal alter ego The Penguin, who must be stopped from hatching a sinister plan that puts thousands of lives at stake.
Batman Forever (1995)
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle.
Joel Schumacher took over for Tim Burton in this third outing, with Michael Keaton also jumping ship to be replaced by Val Kilmer.
The result is a markedly different Batman film, with a zanier tone amplified by Jim Carrey's outlandish performance as The Riddler.
Tommy Lee Jones also stars as Two-Face, while Chris O'Donnell joined the franchise as Dick Grayson (aka Robin), who would go on to share top billing in the next film.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Elle Macpherson.
And this is where the wheels came off the Batmobile.
Joel Schumacher returned to helm Batman & Robin, which leaned a tad too heavily on building a children's cartoon version of Batman, complete with cheesy one-liners, absurd action and ridiculous villains.
George Clooney inherited the mantle for this edition in a rare career misstep for the world-famous actor, while Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman disappoint as comic book icons Mr Freeze and Poison Ivy.
No one would argue that it's a good film, but Batman & Robin might carry a certain charm for fans of so-bad-it's-good movies or those who remember it fondly from their childhood.
The Dark Knight Trilogy
Batman Begins (2005)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe, and Morgan Freeman.
The rebirth starts here! Christopher Nolan scrapped the ailing continuity of Tim Burton's Batman universe for a completely new take, which prided itself on being grounded, dark and gritty.
Christian Bale was cast as Bruce Wayne for this origin flick, which recounts his training under the League of Shadows and his first clash will Cillian Murphy's Scarecrow.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman.
Nolan took things to the next level with the middle chapter of his trilogy, reintroducing The Joker to a whole new generation with an electric performance from the late Heath Ledger.
The film is widely heralded as one - if not the - greatest Batman movie of all time.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman.
The Dark Knight trilogy concludes with this epic finale, which sees the caped crusader go up against a mysterious enemy known as Bane, a powerful figure who might just break the Bat for good.
The film also adds new cast members Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate.
DC Extended Universe
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Holly Hunter, Gal Gadot.
With Christopher Nolan keen to move onto other projects, the future of Batman was passed onto director Zack Snyder, as he was revealed to play a key role in his Man of Steel sequel.
When news broke that Ben Affleck had been cast in the role, there was initially an unreasonable amount of outrage, but ironically his performance would go on to be well-liked by most die-hard DC fans.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a divisive film in the Batalogue, as it conjures up a somewhat convoluted way to make the two iconic superheroes fight.
That said, many do enjoy its dark tone and epic action sequences, while the score from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL is another winner.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Starring: Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ike Barinholtz, Scott Eastwood, Cara Delevingne.
While not strictly a Batman film, the Dark Knight does make a brief appearance in David Ayer's 2016 antihero flick, and so does two of his most dangerous enemies: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) and The Joker (Jared Leto).
Suicide Squad saw a generally negative reception from critics, but did huge business at the global box office.
Justice League (2017) and Justice League: The Snyder Cut (2021)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller Jason Momoa, Ray Fisher, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, with J. K. Simmons, and Ciarán Hinds.
Ben Affleck returned to the role of Batman for this mega-budget crossover flick, which was sadly hit by behind-the-scenes trouble when director Zack Snyder had to step down due to a personal tragedy.
Avengers helmer Joss Whedon took over the reins, which led to a film that felt disjointed and inconsistent for many, sparking an insatiable fan campaign for Snyder's original vision to be realised which was ultimately successful.
Justice League sees Batman assemble a team comprised of Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg when an extraterrestrial threat emerges.
The Flash (2022)
Starring: Ezra Miller, Ron Livingston, Michael Keaton, Kiersey Clemons, Michael Shannon, Antje Traue, Sasha Calle, and Ben Affleck.
And here's where things get complicated. Up to this point, each new iteration of Batman has been neatly separated from the last, with no substantial overlap or cause for confusion.
However, as announced at the recent DC FanDome event, the upcoming Flash movie starring Ezra Miller is set to change all that, with two Batmen announced for the cast.
Ben Affleck will return one last time in a small role, but seemingly he'll be passing the baton backwards to Michael Keaton, who will be reprising his role from 1989's Batman.
The exact circumstances of this return aren't yet known, but it's believed the film will draw inspiration from popular crossover event Flashpoint, which sees The Flash inadvertently create a wildly different present after travelling back in time.
*The Flash is scheduled for release on 4th November 2022.
Starring: Leslie Grace, J. K. Simmons, Brendan Fraser, Michael Keaton, Ivory Aquino.
Leslie Grace has been cast as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon in this new DC Extended Universe instalment Batgirl arriving on HBO Max in 2022. J.K. Simmons will reprise his DCEU role of Commissioner James Gordon in the film, while Brendan Fraser shall portray the Gotham villain Firefly. Meanwhile, Ivory Aquino will feature as Alysia Yeoh, a bartender and Barbara Gordon's best friend. Finally, Michael Keaton will also reprise his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne after returning to the iconic role in The Flash. Will he be left as the central Batman of the DCEU following The Flash?
Batgirl will be released on HBO Max in 2022.
Matt Reeves' series
The Batman (2022)
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano, Jeffery Wright, Jeffery Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, with Andy Serkis and Colin Farrell.
The latest Batman has strapped on his cape and cowl for this moody new trilogy, which unfolds outside of the mainline DC Extended Universe.
Robert Pattinson has teamed up with Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves for the flick which was unveiled in an intense teaser trailer at DC FanDome, and is now available to watch in cinemas across the UK.
The film already has two spin-off series on HBO Max lined up in the form of a series centred on Gotham City Police Department and another on The Penguin, played by Colin Farrell.
There are also plans for sequels in this series with the stars signed on for multiple films.
The Batman was released in cinemas across the UK on 4th March 2022.
Some Batman films aren't directly linked to any one film franchise and thus can be watched at any time.
Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Abe Vigoda, Stacy Keach.
As part of the DC Animated Universe and a theatrical film spin-off of the acclaimed series Batman: The Animated Series, The Mask of the Phantasm offers a new take on the Caped Crusaders' origins and also a love story. Just as Bruce Wayne's long-lost love Andrea Beaumont (voiced by Dana Delany) returns to Gotham, a vicious vigilante emerges in Gotham and begins killing gangsters in an apparent mission of revenge. Mark Hamill features as the voice of The Joker.
The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)
Starring: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Ralph Fiennes.
Off the back of his popular appearance in 2014's The LEGO Movie, Arrested Development's Will Arnett lent his trademark gravelly voice to this comedic spin on the Batman.
The film's light-hearted story involves a classic clash between Batman and the Joker, who is hatching yet another dastardly scheme.
The all-star voice cast includes Michael Cera as Robin, Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon, and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth.
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy.
Director Todd Phillips is behind this recent take on Batman's arch-nemesis The Joker, which sees Joaquin Phoenix take on the role of the iconic villain.
An origin story set during Bruce Wayne's childhood years, don't expect any appearances from Batman himself, but do look out for the interesting way in which this film adapts the DC Comics mythos.
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Batman movies in order of Rotten Tomatoes score
The following are the Batman movies as rated by their score on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes.
The Dark Knight, which starred Christian Bale as Batman and Heath Ledger as The Joker, remains the most critically acclaimed film in the franchise.
Meanwhile, Joel Schumacher's film Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell as the titular heroes, remains the most critically panned of the group.
New addition The Batman, which stars Robert Pattinson as the Caped Crusader, is currently sitting in fourth place.
- The Dark Knight (2008) - 94%
- The Lego Batman Movie (2017) - 90%
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - 87%
- The Batman (2022) - 85%
- Batman Begins (2005) - 84%
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - 84%
- Batman Returns (1992) - 80%
- Batman (1989) - 72%
- Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) - 71%
- Joker (2019) - 68%
- Justice League (2017) - 40%
- Batman Forever (1995) - 39%
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - 29%
- Suicide Squad (2016) - 26%
- Batman & Robin (1997) - 12%
So, if you fancy watching from critically "worst" to "best" this is the way to go.
Batman movies in order of IMDb score
The following are the Batman movies as rated by their score on the audience-voted entertainment website IMDb.
Once again, Christopher Nolan's second film in his Batman trilogy wins again - The Dark Knight,.
However, Matt Reeves' most recent offering The Batman is nipping at its heels as one of the audiences' favourites.
- The Dark Knight (2008) - 9.1/10
- The Batman (2022) - 8.7/10
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) - 8.4/10
- Joker (2019) - 8.4/10
- Batman Begins (2005) - 8.3/10
- Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021) - 8.1/10
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) - 7.8/10
- Batman (1989) - 7.5/10
- The Lego Batman Movie (2017) - 7.3/10
- Batman Returns (1992) - 7.1/10
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) - 6.5/10
- Justice League (2017) - 6.1/10
- Suicide Squad (2016) - 5.9/10
- Batman Forever (1995) - 5.4/10
- Batman & Robin (1997) - 3.7/10
Once again, Joel Schumacher's 1997 film Batman & Robin remains the least popular with fans and critics.
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