Batman movies ranked


Caped Crusader, the Dark Knight, or just simply Batman. Whichever name you call him by, you’ll know him for his skintight black suit, deep voice and bat accessories.

Well, he’s struck once again with another film – The Batman – which has been dominating box offices around the world. Since the first Batman movie in 1966, this playboy billionaire / superhero vigilante has been the subject of many films, each one showcasing a different side to him.

If you’ve just gotten into Batman and want to watch the rest of his filmography, but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered. Here is the ultimate ranking of all Batman movies:


How we ranked the Batman movies


Being such a timeless franchise, there are probably Batman fans of all ages who would prefer one film over another.

That being said, here’s how we calculated our very subjective scores:

Plot: I mean, you can’t call it a superhero movie if it doesn’t have an exciting plot. From exposition to resolution, a well-written story keeps audiences on their toes. Bonus points given if it also leaves enough room for us to come up with our own interpretation.

Characterisation of Batman: He may be the man who can save Gotham from any doom and danger, but he’s also one with a troubled past that makes him seem like a rather ~ambiguous~ creature. We like when there’s a balance between these two sides to him.

Acting: No, just because you’re thirsting over whoever’s playing Batman doesn’t make them a good actor. And yes, we’re looking at you Rpatz simps out there. It’s not just Batman we’re looking at. Many of the other characters from the original comics are rather complex human beings with complicated childhoods. Good acting chops are therefore a must to portray them well.

Visuals: A superhero film without good set design, CGI, and costuming is just plain sad. We expect a visual spectacle that helps make the story come alive. Plus, we’re including Batman’s accessories under this, like the iconic Batmobile, Batcave and any other gadget starting with “bat”.

With the bar set, it’s time to let the ultimate ranking begin.


13. Batman & Robin (1997)


Batman and Robin
Batman’s costume included the famed, though widely-shamed “bat nipples”.

Image credit: IMDb

We shall begin with the no.1 film… from the bottom. The 1997 film has Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) try to prevent Mr Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) from taking over Gotham.

Batman & Robin (1997)
Mr Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) are the film’s villains.
Image credit: IMDb

But even a stellar cast that includes the swoon-worthy George Clooney wasn’t enough to save the movie’s poorly written plot. Sadly, he also had none of the allure and charm Bruce Wayne is known for in the comics. And the villains themselves struggled to look natural onscreen. To say this film was a cringefest would be an understatement.

Batman & Robin (1997) 2
The set looks like a Hogwarts x Frozen crossover not quite done right
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Image credit: Cinemablend

Maybe the director, Joel Schumacher, was going for campy, as seen from the odd choice of colour grading the entire film in icy blue. The script itself left much to be desired too with its terrible jokes and puns. We’re still feeling chilly from Mr Freeze’s “What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!” line.

Whether it worked or not – let’s just say there are some things that are so bad that it becomes good.

Plot: 1/5
Characterisation of Batman: 1/5
Acting: 2/5
Visuals: 2/5

Overall: 1.5/5


12. Batman Forever (1995)


Batman Forever (1995)
Image credit: IMDb

The prequel to Batman & Robin, Batman Forever (1995) fares slightly better, but only by a hair. The dynamic duo goes up against Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and The Riddler (Jim Carrey) in this film. But playing Batman this time round is Val Kilmer, who also, unfortunately, brought nothing memorable to the brooding character.

Batman Forever (1995) 2
The Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones)
Image credit: IMDb

But the film is just as campy as its successor, perhaps even more so when you watch the over-the-top performances by Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones. At least it’s more palatable than watching Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman.

We like that the CGI and costume work were also very offbeat, which added to the flamboyance of the film. It’s just enough to give this movie a slight edge to win it second-to-last place.

Plot: 1/5
Characterisation of Batman: 1/5
Acting: 2.5/5
Visuals: 2.5/5

Overall: 1.75/5


11. Justice League (2017)


Justice League (2017) 2
Image credit: IMDb

When it was announced that Ben Affleck would be playing Batman, all that came out of this writer’s mouth was a bemused “huh”. And that’s the exact reaction we had watching his portrayal in Justice League (2017). As an ambitious film of the DC Extended Universe with many other superheroes coming into play, it was hard for Ben Affleck’s Batman to stand out.

Justice League (2017)
Steppenwolf, the film’s central villain.
Image credit: IMDb

Batman may have had the lead role in the film, as he’s the one who assembles the league of superheroes that includes Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and The Flash (Ezra Miller). But once that’s done, his character seems to take a backseat. And while the other characters gave compelling performances, the lack of a proper villain makes the plot forgettable.

Plot: 1.5/5
Characterisation of Batman: 2/5
Acting: 2.5/5
Visuals: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


10. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)


Batman vs Superman (2016)
Henry Cavill cast as Superman.

Image credit: IMDb

Comic book geeks will agree that there’s one question that will always bring about a good debate: Who would win in a fight – Batman or Superman? And in the Batman franchise, we thought this was what we’d be in for in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016).

Henry Cavill as Superman and Ben Affleck’s first go at Batman were both refreshing performances. Unfortunately, the script felt forced and underwhelming, where the conflict between the two superheroes was all fluff and no substance.

The storyline was made weaker with the inclusion of Lex Luthor, the movie’s villain. With no clear motives or intentions, it was hard to understand why he even needed to be in this movie.

Batman vs Superman (2016) 2
Image credit: IMDb

Its saving grace was really Batman’s “so done with it” attitude – a different take from his usual emo mindset, which made the film just titillating enough to keep us captivated. We’re also giving a point to the fight sequences in the film, which are visually stunning. It’s just enough to give Batman vs Superman a passing mark.

Plot: 1/5
Characterisation of Batman: 2/5
Acting: 3.5/5
Visuals: 3/5

Overall: 2.5/5


9. Batman (1966)


Batman (1966)
Image credit:IMDb

Old is gold, and that could not be any more true in Batman (1966), the very first full-length film of the franchise to ever exist. This technicolour adaptation has a silly and lighthearted tone and closely resembles how DC comics were drawn back in the day.

As the first film of the franchise, it’s spawned many iconic references we still use today. You’ll probably recognise the POW, BAM, and SMASH pop art screens, and catchphrases like “Holy smokes, Batman!”.

Batman (1966)
The film’s 4 villains – Penguin, The Riddler, Catwoman and The Joker.
Image credit: IMDb

This film sees Batman (Adam West) and Robin the Boy Wonder (Burt Ward) go up against not 1 or 2, but 4 villains who form a band called “The United Underworld”. Throughout the film, they try convoluted ways of killing Batman, who always manages to escape death with a handy tool from his utility belt. I mean, who can forget shark repellent bat spray?

It’s definitely a fun take far from the serious and dark portrayals the rest of the Batman franchise is known for. And we love that Adam West’s Batman doesn’t feel the need to rock a 6-pack like everyone else. You can’t deny there’s quite a charm to his dad bod poking through lycra!

Plot: 3/5
Characterisation of Batman: 2.5/5
Acting: 3.5/5
Visuals: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


8. The LEGO Batman Movie (2017)


The LEGO Batman Movie
Image credit: IMDb

Batman movies aside, The LEGO Movie franchise has become known for its punchy humour and pop culture references that both kids and adults can both enjoy. Now throw our Caped Crusader into the mix and you have what could be the best of both worlds.

Don’t be quick to dismiss The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) as just another animated film, as there’s more to this movie beyond its cartoonish facade. The plot explores Batman’s psyche and how his inner conflicts influence his superhero actions after. Pretty deep for a child’s film if you ask me.

Plot: 3/5
Characterisation of Batman: 3.5/5
Animation: 3.5/5
Visuals: 3/5

Overall: 3.25/5


7. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)


Snyder's Cut (2021) 2
Image credit: IMDb

Also known as “Snyder’s Cut”, Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) is a huge improvement from the former released in 2017. Its lengthy 4-hour duration is quite the turnoff, but it’s not too bad sitting through a film with a solid plot where the main cast has nicely written character arcs.

Snyder's Cut (2021) 2
Image credit: HBO Max

Unlike its predecessor, Snyder’s Cut also has several pretty epic moments where Batman takes centre stage as the ultimate superhero in the League. In one scene, he uses his Knightcrawler, a souped up vehicle he uses in his crime fighting, to save all the meta-humans from drowning.

The rest of the film allows the other superheroes to shine, so even though screentime is shared among a strong crew of 5 others, Snyder’s Cut makes it into the top half of our list.

Plot: 3/5
Characterisation of Batman: 3.5/5
Acting: 3.5/5
Visuals: 3/5

Overall: 3.25/5


6. Batman (1989)


Batman (1989)
Image credit: IMDb

A superhero can be quite the enigma, with a complicated past beyond all their glory and heroism. The first film of Tim Burton’s Batman franchise certainly proved that. It showed that the Batman character wasn’t all camp, and that his traumatic past is what motivated him to bring down crime rates in his beloved Gotham City.

Batman (1989) 2
Image: IMDb

It’s interesting that Tim Burton, who was known for his eclectic directorial debut Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985) and Beetlejuice (1988) before this, would shoot something so commercialised.

What you get though, is a movie watches more like an arthouse feature film than an immediate box office hit. It helps that the art deco production design added to the overall gothic nature of Batman (1989).

Michael Keaton, who plays Batman, does a great job of characterising this new image of Batman. But it’s really Jack Nicholson’s rendition of The Joker that stands out. You can see where he’s been inspired by his role in The Shining (1980), with his twisted facial expressions that bring such deviousness to the character.

The film also touches on The Joker’s origin story, which adds much needed context to the film to audiences unfamiliar with the comic books.

Plot: 3/5
Characterisation of Batman: 3.5/5
Acting: 4/5
Visuals: 4/5

Overall: 3.75/5


5. Batman Returns (1992)


Batman Returns (1992)
Image credit: IMDb

Sequels rarely outshine their original counterparts, but in the case of Tim Burton’s second Batman film, it does. It’s less commercial than the previous film, and you can see the director’s signature touch of goth kicked up a notch. It makes for a more comfortable viewing experience than the slightly forced and awkward version of Batman (1989).

In Batman Returns (1992), Michael Keaton returns as Batman to go against a villainous trio comprising Max Shreck (Christopher Walken), Penguin (Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) who all give iconic performances to the film.

Michelle Pfeiffer’s whip stunt in Batman Returns gives Twitter whiplash
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Michelle Pfeiffer’s whip stunt in Batman Returns gives Twitter whiplash

According to teammate Raewyn, Pfeiffer’s one-take whip scene is enough to give her the honour of the best Catwoman.

The stellar cast of villains really steal the show here, which means, unfortunately, that Batman gets the shorter end of the stick as the main star. That said, we must applaud Michelle Pfeiffer here, who manages to nicely tread the line between playful and unpredictable as Catwoman. Her seductive allure isn’t just beguiling, it makes us want to root for her.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characterisation of Batman: 2.75/5
Acting: 4.25/5
Visuals: 4/5

Overall: 3.75/5


4. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 2
Bane (Tom Hardy), the film’s central villain.
Image credit: IMDb

We’re in the upper echelons of the franchise now and there’s one director we’ve yet to mention – Christopher Nolan. He’s known best for his Dark Knight Trilogy that introduced Christian Bale as Batman, and the last of the triptych clinches 4th place on our list.

The story starts off with Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) returning to his vigilante duties after basically going AWOL for 8 years. For a final film, it does a great job in wrapping up Bruce Wayne’s closure with his Batman alter ego.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) 2
Bruce Wayne with his love interest Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).
Image credit: Fandom

He successfully fights off the villain of the movie, Bane (Tom Hardy), and even arranges for police detective, Robin John Blake, to take over his vigilante duties. Bruce then retires the Batsuit for good to live a private life with Selina Kyle, better known to the rest of us as Catwoman.

Speaking of, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman might just be our favourite execution of the cat burglar and Bruce Wayne’s love interest. She adds effortless flirtatiousness to the role that’s both sexy to watch and empowering to see as a woman who kicks ass.

Granted, this film struggles a little with its exposition, as viewers struggle to understand Bane’s motives in wanting to destroy Gotham City. But you’ll be distracted enough by the action packed scenes to let this go.

Plot: 3.5/5
Characterisation of Batman: 4.25/5
Acting: 4.5/5
Visuals: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


3. Batman Begins (2005)


Batman Begins (2005)
Image credit: IMDb

In 3rd place, we have the movie that started the revival of the Batman franchise right after the supposed mess from the 1990s. Batman Begins (2005) is the first instalment of the Dark Knight Trilogy. It’s here where we see a prominent shift from the usual Batman-centric storylines to one that focuses more on his origin story from Bruce Wayne’s perspective.

Batman Begins (2005) 2
Christian Bale – known as the best actor that can play both Bruce Wayne and Batman personas.
Image credit: Gyokku Ninja

We’re shown how a young Bruce Wayne faces two distressing events in one night as a child – bats and the murder of his parents. He grows up fearing bats and wanting to avenge his parents, but learns he could do more by doing good instead.

He goes to train to be a fighter in Bhutan under the tutelage of Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson), who later is revealed to be – sike – the actual villain of the movie. Fun fact: The fighting stunts were done by Christian Bale IRL, so you know he’s one legit actor.

Shocking plot twist aside, we love how Batman Begins also shows Bruce Wayne’s emotional side through his heartwarming relationships with family butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and love interest Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes). It’s a great reminder that despite his tough demeanour as Batman, he’s still very much human like the rest of us.

Plot: 3.75/5
Characterisation of Batman: 4.25/5
Acting: 4.5/5
Visuals: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


2. The Batman (2022)


The Batman (2022) 2
Image credit:
IMDb

The most recent addition to the franchise, The Batman (2022) also puts a refreshing spin on the usual portrayal of the titular lead. Other films may show Batman to be an almost invincible superhero who’s able to save the day no matter what. But this one, starring Robert Pattinson, shows a more vulnerable side to Batman.

After all, behind the mask, he’s still Bruce Wayne, the boy who watched his parents get murdered. It’s only natural that he carries these burdens with him as he trudges Gotham City outside his Batsuit as a detective trying to solve clues.

The Batman (2022)
Inside the mind of The Riddler, the film’s central villain.
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

The detective role is noteworthy for this film, as it’s accurate to Batman’s very first appearance as a character in Detective Comics from the 1930s.

If mystery thrillers are your thing, then The Batman will surely keep you on your toes. The Riddler (Paul Dano) drives the plot with his many tricks up his sleeves. Not only does it make things exciting as he incites fear in the whole of Gotham City, it allows you to see Batman working hard using his detective skills.

The Batman (2022) 3
Image credit:
IMDb

This film also explores Catwoman’s (Zoe Kravitz) history and struggles in a more emotive way, as she comes to terms with big truths in her life. Her addition also blurs the strict black-and-white view Batman has on the world, letting him see that society operates in shades of grey instead. It’s the softening of Batman that has this film claiming second place.

Plot: 4.5/5
Characterisation of Batman: 4.75/5
Acting: 4.25/5
Visuals: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.5/5


1. The Dark Knight (2008)


The Dark Knight (2008) 2
Bruce Wayne / Batman, played by Christian Bale.
Image credit: IMDb

At long last, we’re at the top spot. Not only is the second instalment in the Dark Knight Trilogy the GOAT of the Batman franchise, we’re taking a long shot by saying that The Dark Knight (2008) is also the GOAT for all superhero movies ever made.

It’s probably a good time to remind everyone that these are just our opinions, and if you disagree or you’re a Marvel fan, please don’t @ us.

Beyond the striking visual effects, the top-notch acting and killer suspense, this film has a layered storyline, where each character is forced to put his moral compass to the test. No one is 100% good or bad, but each is seen as a nuanced human being, a complexity sorely lacking in any of the other Batman films.

The Dark Knight (2008)
Once-in-a-lifetime acting performance by Heath Ledger, who played The Joker.
Image credit: IMDb

The film is chock full of iconic moments we could spend hours dissecting, but we’ll only mention Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as The Joker. The character itself is already maniacal and menacing, as the anarchist sought to enact pure, spine chilling chaos on Gotham City.

But it’s really Heath Ledger who brings this gleeful mischief to the character that had us glued to our seats. It’s a performance that we would gladly watch over and over again, which is why The Dark Knight is the best Batman movie of all time.

Plot: 4.75/5
Characterisation of Batman: 4.75/5
Acting: 5/5
Visuals: 4.5/5

Overall: 4.75/5


Ultimate ranking of Batman movies


The way Batman is portrayed has evolved with every film added to the franchise, so we totes understand if diehard fans don’t agree with the list.

But one thing’s for sure, whether you’re a fan of the older campy hero or troubled detective just donning a mask, there’s just about a Batman movie for everyone.

Check out these other articles about films here:


Cover image adapted from: IMDb, IMDb, IMDb, IMDb