When Bob Kane and Bill Finger created The Batman for Detective Comics 27 in 1939, they probably had no idea that Capped 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 numerous animated TV shows and movies, and of course, the classic Batman live-action TV series of the 1960s. However, he is probably best known for starring in 12 major live-action Batman movies. But which is the best Batman movie?
With the recent film, The Batman, which will debut online on HBO Max in the next few days, we have decided to rank all the live action Batman movies from worst to best. Fortunately, all but two of these Batman movies are available for streaming on the HBO Max. You can also catch a bunch of great Batman animated shows and movies on the service, and some of them are even better than many of the movies on this list (remember Batman: The Animated Series and Batman: Mask of the Phantom).
Read more: Best HBO Max Movies
Just a quick note: we won’t list spin-off live action movies like Catman or Joker in this list, and we’ll safely ignore two 1940s Batman Saturday afternoon serials. Both are just horrible and the first Batman series has some really offensive racial themes.
When and where can I see Batman at home?
HBO Max will make The Batman available for streaming from Monday 18th April. For old-fashioned TV viewers only, the movie will debut on HBO on Saturday, April 23 at 8 PM ET. You can sign up for HBO Max at the link below:
HBO Max is your home for movies and TV shows made by Warner Bros., such as The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics Superhero, and more. It is also home to new and original movies and shows available elsewhere.
The best Batman movie
12. Batman and Robin (1997)
Oh, boy. Managing Joel Schumacher’s second and final Batman movie is a complete and complete disaster. It looks and feels like an enhanced commercial for action figures and vehicles. Even George Clooney has distanced himself from his only Batman game. Seeing everyone in this movie, it seems that they have come there just to get a paycheck. The only way to watch this movie is with a group of friends at home, all of them joking about this unusual train wreck in a movie.
11. Justice League (2017)
This Batman movie is also quite avoidable, but only because you can see there are better versions (more on that later). Although Jack Snyder is credited as the director, the lion’s share of the film was rewritten and directed by Joss Whedon just months before it hit theaters. As it turns out, the whole film feels isolated and has been done together with string and tape. Justice League characters team up to fight an alien threat on Earth and resurrect Superman. At least in this movie, Ben Affleck is trying to pull off a good performance as Batman, like the rest of the cast. But again, there is no reason to test this version of the film.
10. Batman Forever (1995)
Joel Schumacher’s first Batman movie was not a disaster for Batman and Robin, but it wasn’t too good either. Nicole Kidman is ruined as Batman’s romantic interest, and Tommy Lee Jones is just disguising Jack Nicholson-Joker as a two-face. Val Kilmer, in his only Batman presence, OK, OK, just like Chris O’Donnell in his first two Robin appearances. The main reason for watching this movie is the character of Jim Carrey the Ridler. He’s funny, at the top, and obviously spending his life as a comic book villain.
Following the success of the first season of the Batman TV show in 1966, it was quickly decided to make a feature film that would be released between Seasons 1 and 2. Which turned it into the first real Batman movie. Adam West and Bert Ward perform their usual fun performances as Batman and Robin, who are tasked with landing four villains (Joker, Penguin, Rider and Catwoman). While not a groundbreaking contribution to the genre, it is an entertaining action-comedy that should excite children, as well as attract the attention of viewers to the satisfaction of adults. And, yes, Batman is almost invaluable in running around with explosives.
8. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Acting as a sequel to the 2013 Superman Reboot Man of Steel, Jack Snyder introduces us to an older version of Batman’s Ben Affleck in this movie. He’s great as a brooding force who sees Superman as a planet-wide threat. Most of the cast works well here, but the movie has two problems. One is the terrific performance of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, and the other is the final battle to be fought against a terrifying CGI version of Doomsday, the ultimate enemy of Superman as Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman.
7. Jack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
Jack Snyder was allowed to return and assemble his version of this superhero team-up as an HBO Max Exclusive, following shouts from fans eager to see the Justice League’s “Snyder Cut”. Yes, this movie is four hours long, but it doesn’t look like a slug. There are lots of great character sequences from Ben Affleck and others on the cast, and the enhanced visual effects work well. Too bad Snyder felt the need to film a completely new sequence for the end of a dystopian future set movie. It just doesn’t work, especially with the Joker’s Jared Leto version.
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 version of Ban movie. In the role of Tom Hardy, it is certainly the villain that Christian Bell’s Batman has suffered the most physically. After defeating Batman, Ben basically captures Gotham City and isolates it from the rest of the world, and Batman has to recover from his injuries to return to the final battle. Unlike Nolan’s first two Batman films, it seems a bit long to sit through, and Anne Hathaway’s strong acting as a catwoman feels ruined in this movie. However, it’s still fun to watch.
Tim Burton’s directing of one of Batman’s second and final Batman movies became much darker and more mature than his first outing. This is mainly due to Danny DeVito’s performance as a modified version of The Penguin. Michael Keaton looks a little more calm and thoughtful than his second Batman look. The best performance so far goes to Michelle Pfeiffer as the catwoman, who is perfectly balanced between good and evil. The suit she wears is also quite beautiful.
The first of the Batman films directed by Christopher Nolan, it is the only one on this list that provides an extended original story for Capped Crusaders. Christian Bell has done a great job portraying a young Bruce Wayne who wants to learn as much as he can about crime-fighting so he can go back to Gotham City and make it a better place. Liam Nisson also does a good job, playing the role of Bruce Wayne’s mentor (at first) and Celian Murphy steals every scene as a version of this movie from Scarecrow.
When Michael Keaton was first announced as Batman for the movie, many wondered why the comedian won the role. As it turns out, they don’t have to worry: Keaton is as great as both Batman and Bruce Wayne in the first of two films directed by Tim Burton. He also does what many might think is impossible: he holds his own against Jack Nicholson, who could have really played the Joker at the time. This film, though mostly serious and dark, has a light touch enough to protect it from too much rotation.
The latest Batman live-action feature film looks and feels like a modern Batman comic book that has surfaced off the pages and on the screen. Robert Pattinson is great as a short version of Batman, and this character actually does a lot of detective work in this movie, which has only been touched on in previous films. He has to solve some mysteries because he has to deal with a much darker version of Paul Dano’s Ridler. We also got Colin Farrell’s great crime lord version of Penguin (under some unfamiliar makeup) and Zoë Kravitz gave us the best catwoman performance of all time. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long to make a sequel to director Matt Reeves.
1. The Dark Knight (2008)
Although The Batman is closer to a faithful adaptation of the comic book version, Christopher Nolan’s second outing as Batman’s director is still the best as a real film. This is mainly due to his Oscar-winning performances as the late Heath Ledger and The Joker. His explanation of the Clown Prince of crime as an agent of chaos is perfect. Aaron Eckhart is almost as good as DA Harvey Dent, who turned two-faced. The themes of privacy and security for people on freedom are well done here and it really makes Batman look like he can work in the real world.
The future of Batman cinema
Although Warner Bros. has not yet announced plans to make a sequel to Batman, we expect the news to become official someday. However, we also know that both versions of Batman’s Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton will appear in the multiverse-themed movie The Flash, which will be released in theaters on June 23, 2023.
However, we can see Keaton’s Batman even earlier. She is rumored to be appearing in Batgirl, a spin-off movie that is currently being produced and is slated to release in late 2022 as an HBO Max exclusive film.