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The best Batman movies ranked, and where to watch them
When Bob Kane and Bill Finger created The Batman for Detective Comics 27 in 1939, they likely had no idea that the Caped Crusader would become one of the most popular fictional characters of all time. In addition to his many comic book incarnations, Batman has appeared in tons of animated TV shows and movies, and of course, the classic Batman live-action TV series in the 1960s. However, he’s perhaps most well known for the 12 major live-action Batman movie appearances. But which of the Batman films are the best?
With the latest film, The Batman, debuting online on HBO Max in the next few days, we decided to rank all of the live action Batman movies, from worst to best. Thankfully, all but two of these Batman movies are available to stream on HBO Max as well. You can also catch a bunch of great Batman animated shows and films on the service as well, and some of them are better than many of the movies on this list (Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: Mask of the Phantasm come to mind).
Read more: The best HBO Max movies
Just a quick note: We won’t be listing spin-off live action movies on this list, like Catwoman or Joker, and we will safely ignore the two Batman Saturday afternoon serials that were made in the 1940s. Both are just horrible and the first Batman serial has some truly offensive racial themes.
When and where can I watch The Batman at home?
HBO Max will make The Batman available to stream starting on Monday, April 18. For old-fashioned TV cable audiences, the movie will debut on HBO at 8 PM ET on Saturday, April 23. You can sign up for HBO Max at the link below:
Best Batman movies
12. Batman and Robin (1997)
Oh, boy. Joel Schumacher’s second and final time directing a Batman movie is a total and complete disaster. It looks and feels like an extended commercial for action figures and vehicles. Even George Clooney has distanced himself from his one-and-only time playing Batman. Everyone in this movie looks like they are there to just pick up a paycheck. The only way this movie can be watched is at home with a group of friends, with all of them making fun of this unfunny trainwreck of a film.
11. Justice League (2017)
10. Batman Forever (1995)
9. Batman (1966)
After the success of the first season of the Batman TV show in 1966, it was decided to quickly make a feature film that would be released in-between seasons 1 and 2. That makes this the first true Batman movie. Adam West and Burt Ward do their usual fun performances as Batman and Robin, who are tasked with taking down no less than four villains (Joker, Penguin, Ridder, and Catwoman). While not exactly a great movie, it’s an entertaining action-comedy that should get kids excited, while also having enough winks at the audience to keep adults satisfied. And, yes, Batman running around with an about-to-explode bomb is priceless.
8. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
7. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
6. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The third and final film in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie trilogy is also his weakest. This time, Batman has to face off against this movie’s version of Bane. As played by Tom Hardy, this is certainly the villain that Christian Bale’s Batman has the most trouble with physically. After defeating Batman, Bane basically takes over Gotham City and cuts it off from the rest of the world, and Batman has to recover from his injuries to return for the final battle. Unlike Nolan’s first two Batman films, this one feels a bit too long to sit through, and Anne Hathaway’s solid performance as Catwoman feels wasted in this movie. However, it’s still fun to watch.
5. Batman Returns (1992)
4. Batman Begins (2005)
The first of the Batman movies to be directed by Christopher Nolan, this is also the only one on this list that offers an expanded origin story for the Caped Crusader. Christian Bale does an excellent job portraying a young Bruce Wayne who wants to learn as much as he can about crime-fighting so he can return to Gotham City and make it a better place. Liam Neeson does a good job as well, playing (at first) a mentor to Bruce Wayne, and Cillian Murphy steals every scene he’s in as this movie’s version of Scarecrow.
3. Batman (1989)
2. The Batman (2022)
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
The future of Batman movies
While Warner Bros. has not yet announced plans to do a sequel to The Batman, we expect that news to be made official any day now. However, we also know that both Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton’s versions of Batman will appear in the multiverse-themed movie The Flash, which is due in theaters on June 23, 2023.
However, we may see Keaton’s Batman even earlier. He’s rumored to appear in Batgirl, the spin-off movie that’s currently in production and is slated to be released as an HBO Max exclusive film sometime in late 2022.