Every Batman Movie Ranked Worst to Best
Batman is like the James Bond of superheroes. It’s hard to imagine a time when they’ll ever stop making Batman movies. Between now and 2022, there’s even going to be three live action Batman’s, as if one wasn’t enough.
We’re getting Robert Pattinson in The Batman, Ben Affleck in HBO Max’s Snyder Cut of Justice League, and Michael Keaton reprising his role in various upcoming DC projects.
Not to mention, we might even see Jeffrey Dean Morgan reprise his role as Thomas Wayne in the upcoming movie. Thomas Wayne being the Batman of the Flashpoint universe in the comics. If that's true then that would make four live action Batmen. It’s a great time to be a Batman fan.
So as we patiently wait for the next Batman film, let’s take a look back at every theatrical released Batman film. I won’t include any of the animated Batman movies because a majority of them never had a theatrical run in theaters.
There’s only two animated Batman movies that had a theatrical run in theaters. I won’t spoil what they are, but these movies will be on the list. If I counted every animated Batman movie, that’ll be way too many Batman movies to cover. I would be here talking about Batman for days.
I’m also focusing on films with Batman in the title; Justice League, Suicide Squad, and Joker won’t be counted on this list despite having Batman appearances in them.
We all have our preferences of how we like our Batman, and this is just how I view these movies. So without further ado, this is every Batman movie ranked worst to best.
14- Batman and Robin (1949)
I'm sure most people expected me to start this list with a different Batman and Robin.
This serial is a sequel to 1943’s Batman. There’s not much to say about this serial. Batman hadn’t been around for very long in the comics, so most of the characters traits hadn’t been established yet.
Each chapter would end with a cliff hanger, which I assume, would later influence the Adam West Batman series. Every episode in that show would end in a cliff hanger. "Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Time."
I wouldn’t recommend this serial unless you’re a hardcore Batman fan. It's very dated and a product of its time.
13- Batman (1943)
This is Batman’s first live action appearance on screen, and in many ways, this film helped establish a lot of the traits we associate with Batman today. For example, this movie created the Batcave. Well, in the movie it’s called The Bat’s Cave.
Imagine Batman without the Batcave. It's a weird thought.
This serial came out during World War II, thus there’s a lot of anti-Japanese themes in the movie that really date it. Again, I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you’re a hardcore fan of the franchise.
12- Batman and Robin (1997)
There’s no denying Batman and Robin is the worst modern day Batman movie ever made. Critics have ripped this movie to shreds since the day it came out. This movie was made to sell toys, so it feels like an extended toy commercial.
I will concede that at least this is a bad movie you can enjoy. It’s fun to joke about all the stupid stuff that happens, like the Bat-Credit Card. Lines like “chicks dig the car,” followed by “this is why Superman works alone,” will never not be cringey.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr.Freeze is hilarious because he only speaks in Ice Puns. Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy is the definition of overacting. George Clooney as Batman is an interesting, yet weird choice. Chris O’Donnell as Robin isn’t that bad, but whines way too much. Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl is probably the weakest and most forced character in the movie.
Batman and Robin has a certain charm to it for me. Of course it’s awful and killed the franchise for a few years, but I love to celebrate its stupidity. Rest in Peace Joel Schumacher .
11: The Bat (1926)/The Bat Whispers (1930)
I’m sort of breaking the rules with putting The Bat and The Bat Whispers on this list considering they aren't Batman movies. You're probably thinking that these two silent horror films from the 20’s have nothing to do with Batman. Unless you consider the fact that it inspired the creation of Batman.
The Bat Whispers is a remake of The Bat. Bob Kane noted in his autobiography, Batman and Me, that the villain of these movies was the inspiration for his creation of the Batman. When you watch this movie, you can see why.
The villain the Bat, shines a bat signal on his victims before he kills them. Similar to how the bat signal summons Batman. The Bat even uses a grappling hook to scale tall buildings just like Batman. So in many ways, we have this movie to thank for Batman.
Like the serials, I wouldn’t recommend this movie unless you’re a hardcore fan. If you’re a horror fan, I think you might also like The Bat as it may very well be the first movie about a serial killer who has a body count.
10- Batman Forever
Batman Forever is basically Batman and Robin, just done better. I feel about the same regarding Val Kilmer’s Batman. He isn’t the worst Batman, but he’s also nowhere near the best actor to play the Caped Crusader. I’m sure it must’ve been stressful for him as he had to replace Michael Keaton.
Nicole Kidman is hilarious because she constantly tries to seduce Batman. There’s no subtly at all. It’s so over the top, that you can’t help but laugh. On another note, Chris O’Donnell is a decent Robin, but he whines way too much.
I loved Jim Carrey’s Riddler, although it’s just Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey. I’d even argue this is Jim Carrey’s movie. Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face is the weakest aspect of this movie, and is clearly overshadowed by Jim Carrey.
When I was five years old, this was actually my favorite Batman movie. Looking back, I don’t think this movie is bad, but it also isn’t great. It falls somewhere in the middle.
9- Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Hate me for putting this movie so low on the list, but I don’t think Batman V. Superman is the masterpiece most fans argue that it is. My biggest gripe with this movie is how it attempts to deconstruct characters it never bothers to construct to begin with.
Superman only has a total of 43 lines of dialogue, which are all too dramatically somber. The realism this movie goes for clashes with the more fantastical elements presented in the film. So a lot of the emotions don’t really work for me.
The whole point of this movie, in concept, is to see Batman and Superman fight. The fight itself was really cool, but it feels contrived at best. I don’t buy the circumstances surrounding the fight, and think these characters would’ve found a way to avoid it entirely.
For what it’s worth, I think Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck have the potential to be great as Superman and Batman. Although, I don’t like how the characters were portrayed in this film. Gal Gadot was great as Wonder Woman, and I remember leaving the theater excited for her movie.
Too much time is spent setting up the Justice League, which feels forced. At the end of the day, Batman vs. Superman should’ve been a great movie with two of DC’s most mainstream characters, but it’s mostly underwhelming.
If you love this movie, I’m glad you saw something in it that I couldn’t. Trust me, nobody wants to see a great Batman vs. Superman more than me.
8- The LEGO Batman Movie
This movie is an effective comedy that spoofs and pays tribute to the overarching legacy of Batman. With so many shows, comics, merchandise and movies, Batman is a property that has a lot of material to spoof.
Will Arnett voices this interpretation of Batman perfectly. He’s narcissistic, but who wouldn’t be if they were the Batman. I don’t understand why a lot of fans don’t like Zach Galifiankis as the Joker. I think he’s hilarious. Both aren’t comic accurate portrayals, but they don’t have to be.
Everyone is fine when these characters are changed for Zack Snyder’s vision, but in the LEGO movie for kids, people really lose their minds over the accuracy of these characters.
There’s so many references and jokes that are based on your knowledge of the character. It makes fun of the past, while also honoring it and bringing something new to the table. The LEGO Batman Movie is actually a pretty good Batman story with themes of family and outgrowing trauma.
If you’re a fan of Batman, as well as movies, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by The LEGO Batman Movie. It’s a fun time that doesn’t stop until the credits role.
7- Batman (1966)
As a follow-up to the series, 1966’s Batman is campy, fun, and flat out an animal of its own. Adam West and Burt Ward are great as Batman and Robin. They play up the cheesiness of the movie really well and make it work; especially Burt Ward and his out of control catchphrases as Robin.
Not to mention, this movie has the greatest line up of villains in any live-action Batman movie. You have Caesar Romero as Joker, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin, Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler. All of which, are equally as great.
Batman (1966) has the most gruesome shark attack ever put on screen. Even scarier than Jaws… I’m just joking. The shark repellent scene is campy and really cheap looking, but it’s the perfect example of why I love this movie and the series as a whole.
The show was a staple of pop culture and introduced many fans to the character of Batman. This movie is a celebration of what made the show work. Without the two, Batman wouldn’t be as popular as he is today. Yes, it’s a more campy and nontraditional take on Batman, but it paved the way for the dark and gritty Batman stories we love today.
6- Batman Returns
Tim Burton is nothing less than creative. The world he created in his two Batman movies has a dark atmosphere as well as a visually surreal landscape. Some might argue he goes a little overboard with the weirdness in this movie, and I agree to a certain extent.
Danny DeVito as the Penguin is a flawed misfit that just wants to fit in. He goes about it in an evil way, but nonetheless you can’t help but pity the guy. He’s a tragic character and oftentimes portrayed very grotesque. The scene where he bites the guy's nose always terrified me because of how gross it was.
Michelle Pfeiffer is a great Catwoman, and possibly my favorite live action Catwoman. Her origin is really gross too, as a bunch of cats chew on her body as she has a stroke. Anyhow, she balances being both crazy and sane, while having great chemistry with Michael Keaton’s Batman.
I absolutely love Batman Returns, but I can also understand why the casual viewer might be turned off by how dark the movie gets at times. If you're a fan of Tim Burton and his style of filmmaking, you’ll like Batman Returns.
5- Batman (1989)
Even though Batman (1989) is number five, there’s no denying how great this movie is. I refrained from talking about Michael Keaton in the Batman Returns section, so I can talk about him here.
There’s no other actor more sinuous with the role of Batman than Michael Keaton. His Bruce Wayne is really awkward at times, you can tell he doesn’t get much social interaction. His Batman is nothing less than extremely cool. When he says “I’m Batman,” you believe it. I cannot wait to see him reprise the role.
Jack Nicholson might not be my favorite Joker, but he’s entertaining to watch. There’s also no denying that this Joker is out of his mind. He border lines between scarily insane and just flat out comedic. It’s Jack Nicholson's movie just as much as it is Michael Keatons.
My only gripe with this version of the Joker is that he's motivated by love and jealousy. He wants to get with Vicki Vale, but she's dating Bruce Wayne. It also doesn't help that every time he interacts with Vicki, Batman saves her. It's really weird to see Joker stalk a girl.
Once again, the atmosphere is very dark, but it’s very tamed compared to Batman Returns. Burton’s visuals and Danny Elfman’s theme music would later inspire Batman: The Animated Series, one of the best cartoons ever made. The Animated Series was my introduction to the character as well as many other people.
The last shot is nothing less than iconic, a perfect end to a great movie. Batman 1989 is dark, creative, fun, sleek, and an overall fantastic movie.
4- Batman Begins
I considered putting Batman (1989) over this and the number three spot, but I decided not to. I think it’s clear the Christopher Nolan trilogy will compromise the rest of the list, so let me explain why.
I have fond memories of each of these movies coming out in theaters since I was a kid. I guess you can say, Christian Bale is the Batman of my generation.
I remember graduating from Pre-K and my family took me to see Batman Begins. The theme of the movie is fear, and I was terrified in the theater. The Demon-Bat hallucination freaked me out. Scarecrow in general, creeped me out.
It’ll take a while naming the entire cast individually, but everyone does a stellar job in their respectful role. The only one who feels out of place is Katie Holmes and that’s only because she gets recast in The Dark Knight.
My only gripe with this movie is the action is a little disorienting. Every fight is shot in extreme closeup, so it’s hard to tell what’s going on. On another note, the Batmobile action scenes are phenomenal.
Batman Begins is the perfect origin movie for the Caped Crusader. I feel it’s very underrated and not enough people talk about it.
3- The Dark Knight Rises
Speaking of underrated movies, The Dark Knight Rises gets way too much hate and not enough praises for its strengths. Yeah the movie is layered with plot holes, but in the grand scheme of things, those plot holes don’t hinder the storytelling or themes the movie conveys.
The Dark Knight Rises is an intimate film that views life through the perspective of death. It’s treated like an epic that takes its time to build towards its climax. There’s always a sense that the characters are running out of time both metaphorically and literally.
Tom Hardy as Bane is a criminally underrated villain. Every scene with him is suspenseful as he’s an intimidating force to be reckoned with. Batman’s first fight against Bane is a standout of the entire series, using very little sound to convey how tense it is.
Joseph Gordon- Levitt and Anne Hathaway are great additions to the cast. Anne Hathaway pales in comparison to Michelle Pfeiffer, but she does what she needs to do well. I won’t spoil Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in the movie, but I think he does a better job in the role than the previous actor.
Lastly, the movie has one of the best endings to any series ever. It truly is the perfect conclusion to a perfect trilogy.
2- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is many things and they’re all equally great. It’s a great origin story for Batman from the animated series. It’s an engaging mystery about the Phantasm’s identity and motivations. Lastly, it’s a character study about Bruce Wayne as his happiness clashes with his vow to avenge his parents as Batman.
The movie rarely feels slow, and if it does slow down, it’s only to highlight an important shift in a character arc. The first time Bruce Wayne puts on the Batman costume is done very well and may very well be the best suit up scene in any Batman movie.
Kevin Conroy is the definitive voice for Batman. His Batman is the most comic accurate as he personifies the world's greatest detective. An aspect of the character a lot of live action movies ignore. Conroy pulls off the dark, intimidating voice as well as the more sincere and vulnerable aspects of the character.
Any great Batman movie includes the Joker, and Mark Hamill is the definitive Joker to Conroy’s Batman. He has a great laugh. The Phantasm is also a great villain layered with great motivations and tragic conclusion.
Just like the 1966 movie is an extension of the 60’s show, Mask of the Phantasm is an extension of everything great about the animated series. The storytelling is superb and despite the fact that it’s an animated movie, it’s one of the best Batman movies. It’s a shame it didn’t do well in theaters.
1- The Dark Knight
I have discussed The Dark Knight numerous times. It’s my favorite movie ever made. I’ve watched it countless times over and continue to do so in the future. There’s literally nothing else for me to say other than it’s a masterpiece and I love it.
What defines great movies is that years after its release, people still talk about it and its influence on movies. Every superhero movie or show in some way tries to recapture the realism The Dark Knight establishes.
It’s a staple of the genre and illustrates that a comic book movie can be something more than simply a good time. It’s the best Batman movie because it’s simply a great movie with interesting themes and an engaging story.
The story isn’t about one character individually, but how each character reacts to one another. Of course, I can’t fail to mention Heath Ledger who gives one the best performances of all time as the Joker. Yet, without Gordon, Harvey Dent, Rachel, and Batman for him to challenge, his character wouldn’t work.
I can go on and on about this movie, but I’m sure you’re tired of me talking about Batman. I know I’ve definitely had enough of it.