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The REAL Live-Action Batman Viewing Order

by Steven Shinder 2 months ago in movie
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How Do These Fit Together?

With the release of a new Batman movie, there comes a question of how to view all the shared universe stuff. So here's the REAL viewing order for live-action Batman media.

Pennyworth

This series showcases Alfred Pennyworth, Martha Kane, and Thomas Wayne in their prime. We see Alfred's exploits in a show that feels like it's of the spy genre, and we see how Thomas and Martha go from hating each other to loving each other.

Joker

Having produced a son named Bruce Wayne, Thomas and Martha are very well known wealthy people in Gotham. At this time, a troubled man named Arthur Fleck starts to stir trouble, coming to believe Thomas to be his father and inspiring anarchy that leads to Thomas and Martha being shot by a man with a clown mask.

Gotham

After witnessing his parents getting gunned down, a young Bruce Wayne tries to figure out who he wants to be, with some guidance from his ever loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. All while James Gordon comes into his own at the GCPD and various villains come out of the woodwork. After five years of this, Bruce Wayne leaves Gotham to travel.

Batman Begins

After traveling the world and learning to fight, an adult Bruce Wayne returns to Gotham to run his parents' company in person. He adopts the Batman persona and starts helping Gordon again as the likes of Scarecrow and Ra's al Ghul stir some trouble in the city. At the end, Gordon shows Batman the calling card of the Joker.

Batman (1989)

Batman faces Jack Napier and pushes him into a vat of chemicals that alter his face to make him look like a clown permanently. The Joker causes some chaos, and Bruce, thinking back to the man who killed his parents, believes it to be Jack Napier, perhaps inspired by the Arthur Fleck Joker. The two fight, resulting in a victory for Batman. At the end, the Bat-Signal is unveiled.

The Batman

Now two years into crimefighting, Batman is feared by criminals all over the city, who run when they see the Bat-Signal lit up. The Riddler arranges a mystery for him to solve, leading to Batman meeting Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and having to deal with Penguin and other criminals in the underworld. At the end of this, Batman realizes he has to be not just a symbol of fear, but a symbol of hope.

Batman (1943)

Having gained the trust of the authorities, Batman does some work for the U.S. government to fight Dr. Draka. This serial probably has not aged very well, and you could probably skip it, to be honest. But if you have to watch it, here's where it fits.

Killer Croc?

Batman Returns

Batman returns from his mission and deals with Catwoman and Penguin. (Christopher Walkin is also a character for some reason.) A somewhat Gothic adventure that is definitely a Christmas movie.

The Dark Knight

The Joker causes even more chaos in the city, resulting in Harvey Dent's transformation into Two-Face.

Batman Forever

Two-Face continues to wreak havoc, teaming up with Riddler. Bruce Wayne sees Dick Grayson lose his parents and takes him under his wing. Thus begins the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin.

Batman and Robin (1949)

Batman and Robin face the Wizard. Wild.

Batman (1966)

This includes the three seasons and the movie set between seasons 1 and 2. By this point, the dynamic duo is well known and well trusted, taking many phone calls to face the whacky villains of Gotham and seeing some interesting characters in windows. There's even a team-up with the Green Hornet and Kato!

Batman & Robin (1997)

With Batgirl on the team by this point and Robin becoming Nightwing, Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze (and I guess Bane) don't stand a chance.

Catwoman

Patience Phillips gains cat-like abilities and becomes a new Catwoman. (Seriously, though, don't watch this.)

The Dark Knight Rises

After an eight-year break from crimefighting, Batman goes up against Bane, is put in a pit, and climbs his way out to defeat him. He fakes his own death and goes to Europe with Catwoman.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Some 20 years after becoming Batman, Bruce Wayne has returned from this retirement and dons the Batsuit again as he's manipulated by Lex Luthor into fighting Superman. The two realize that fighting was really stupid, and fight Doomsday with the help of Wonder Woman.

Suicide Squad

Various criminals band together for a mission, a couple of them (Deadshot and Harley Quinn) having faced Batman. After their adventure, Bruce Wayne obtains government files on metahumans.

Zack Snyder's Justice League

In the only version of this film that matters, Batman assembles the Justice League against Darkseid's servant Steppenwolf.

Birds of Prey (2020)

A Gotham story without Batman, but a great one involving a few of his adversaries, the GCPD, and other colorful characters. Harley Quinn's breakup with the Joker is what sets the film's events in motion.

Titans

Banding with new team members, Dick Grayson as deals with his fallout with Bruce Wayne, who has had Jason Todd as Robin and eventually crosses a line after the Joker's actions, leaving him to decide to leave Gotham (again). Barbara Gordon is also Commissioner of the GCPD, having retired the Batgirl mantle after being paralyzed by the Joker.

Batwoman

With Bruce Wayne having been gone for three years, his cousin Kate Kane becomes Batwoman. During Crisis on Infinite Earths, she sees an older Bruce Wayne. Some other stuff happens later in the series, resulting in a new Batwoman named Ryan Wilder coming into the picture.

Birds of Prey (2002)

Now several years after Bruce Wayne's disappearance from New Gotham City, Barbara Gordon as Oracle teams up with Black Canary and Huntress, the latter being the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

So there you have it. The proper viewing order for live-action Batman-related media. Lots of hours to spend watching all of these stories that are for sure in the same universe!

(Post for April 1, 2022.)

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About the author

Steven Shinder

Author of fantasy horror comedy novel Lemons Loom Like Rain, which is available on Amazon. You can also read excerpts at stevenshinder.com and check out facebook.com/StevenShinderStorytelling.

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