Every Batman Movie Ranked From Best To Worst

For nearly 100 years, Batman (and Batman movies) has remained one of the most popular superheroes in all of pop culture. There are many reasons that might explain Batman’s endearing popularity today – the now-classic comic books written by comic legends like Frank Miller, Alan Moore, or Neil Gaiman, his constant relevance through various TV shows and video games, or his equally iconic rogues gallery of villains all immediately springing to mind.

As important as all of these things have been in securing Batman’s place in the comic book fandom today, a key explanation for Batman’s continuing popularity today can be directly tied to the numerous films featuring the Dark Knight in action.

From award-winning superhero films from the 2000s to kitschier interpretations of the character, here is every movie featuring Gotham’s famous Caped Crusade, ranked from best to worst.

The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight Christian Bale, Michael Caine
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Easily one of director Christopher Nolan’s best movies, as well one of the best superhero movies of all time, The Dark Knight did more than raise the bar on comic book films. It challenged all movies to be so good. The acting, action, pacing, music, dialogue, and more mature themes all earned the movie acclaim, not to mention that Heath Ledger gives a defining performance of the Joker, winning him a posthumous Academy Award in the process. Not only a great superhero movie, this is a must-watch film that should absolutely be seen by everyone, whether you’re a fan of Batman or not.

The Batman (2022)

The Batman Robert Pattinson, Zoë Kravitz
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

Learning that a dangerous serial killer known as The Riddler (Paul Dano) has begun terrorizing Gotham, the masked vigilante Batman (Robert Pattinson) sets out to solve the murders, uncovering secrets about his own past in the process.

The Dark Knight might seem an insurmountable benchmark for Batman films today, but 2021’s The Batman came close to matching it. Like Nolan’s vision of Gotham, director Matt Reeves’ interpretation of Batman’s universe was intense and gritty, closer in style to the setting of a David Fincher horror film. As expected, Pattinson did a fantastic job as a startlingly modern interpretation of Bruce Wayne, portraying his version of Batman as someone inherently broken, desperately dedicating himself to saving Gotham from its own rampant waves of crime.

Batman (1989)

Batman Jack Nicholson
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The first “serious” Batman movie and the film that helped redefine the character, this 1989 classic is known for setting the standard for the superhero genre in the decades to come. Starring Michael Keaton cast-against-type as Batman (he was known for his more comedic roles at the time), the movie focuses on the Caped Crusader’s battle against the psychopathic gangster, the Joker (played by the legendary Jack Nicholson).

There is so much to love about this movie that it’s impossible to know where to start. From the brilliant performances to the macabre vision of Gotham City that director Tim Burton brings to the screen, its influence on the world of Batman cannot be overstated.

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins Christian Bale
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The movie responsible for reigniting an entire generation’s interest in Batman, the first movie in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy remains an incredible superhero movie to this day. Loosely based on Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One, Batman Begins focuses on Batman’s origin story, explaining how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) came to fight organized crime in Gotham City in the first place.

Featuring fan-favorite villains Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), Batman Begins was praised by fans and critics alike for Bale’s performance and the emotional and psychological aspects of Bruce Wayne’s character – something that had never been extensively explored before in a Batman movie.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises Anne Hathaway
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

When the now crime-free Gotham City is threatened by a masked mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy), Batman (Bale) must return to crime-fighting after a nearly decade-long retirement. The third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises had a lot to live up to with the overwhelming success of The Dark Knight. While it may not have measured up completely to its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises still makes for a fittingly strong entry to Nolan’s trilogy, offering a satisfying conclusion to the series.

Batman Returns (1992)

Batman Returns Michael Keaton
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

After the mysterious Penguin (Danny DeVito) emerges from the sewers of Gotham with a plan to kill all of the city’s firstborn sons, Batman must try to stop him, all the while playing a game of cat and mouse with the equally enigmatic Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer). This sequel to the wildly popular 1989 Batman stars a returning Michael Keaton once again as the Dark Knight. Admittedly, director Tim Burton may have gone a little too dark in some aspects of the story, but there’s no question that Batman Returns makes for an entertaining (if slightly disturbing) movie with great performances by the three main leads.

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batman: The Movie Adam West, Burt Ward
Image Credit: 20th Century-Fox.

Fresh off the success of the first season of the popular Adam West Batman series came 1966’s family-friendly superhero film, Batman: The Movie. Featuring most of the original series’ main cast, the movie focuses on Batman and Robin (Burt Ward) as they battle the villainous team of The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), all of whom plan to hold the world hostage with an invention that rapidly dehydrates people. Batman: The Movie is about as lighthearted a Batman movie you’ll find, full of wacky dialogue, zany action, and plenty of “Swoosh,” “Kapow,” and “Ouch!” sound effects during fight sequences. Amazingly, it’s only slightly more cartoony than the later Joel Schumacher-produced Batman films.

Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever Nicole Kidman, Val Kilmer
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

After a criminal mastermind known After a criminal mastermind known as The Riddler (Jim Carrey) appears and begins partnering with the unstable crime boss Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), Batman (Val Kilmer) reluctantly joins forces with a young hero named Robin (Chris O’Donnell) to stop them.

Nearly as weird as Batman & Robin but not quite as bad, this movie’s main issue is it's hopeless miscasting. Kilmer gives a particularly robotic performance as Batman, with Jones and Carrey seemingly trying one-up each other in some sort of bizarre, over-the-top acting competition. Abandoning the darker approach Tim Burton took with his earlier Batman movies, director Joel Schumacher attempted to infuse some lighthearted silliness into this movie reminiscent of the original Batman series. As you’ll see, the decision was … questionable to say the least.

Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman & Robin George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

A movie so bad George Clooney himself reportedly still offers fans who saw it in theaters a refund, Batman & Robin was responsible for single-handedly derailing the original Batman franchise. A direct sequel to Batman Forever, the film stars Clooney as the Dark Knight in his first and only outing as the character.

Assisted by Robin (Chris O’Donnell) and a Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone), Batman races against time to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from destroying Gotham City. This movie was laughably bad – full of cheesy, ice puns, cartoonish dialogue, and odd aesthetic design choices, making it one of the strangest Batman movies ever made, and by far the worst.

Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).