Few modern characters have captivated audiences and storytellers alike quite like Batman. Ever since writer Bill Finger and artist Bob Kane debuted the character in a 1939 issue of Detective Comics, the Dark Knight has demanded interest, first in comics, but soon also in TV, games and of course, movies. Because, goodness, there sure are a lot of Batman movies.
It didn’t take long for The Caped Crusader to arrive on film, making his theatrical debut all the way back in 1943 with a pair of Columbia Pictures serial films, and since then, the character’s cultural imprint has grown exponentially, with more than nine actors taking on the role in film – in fact, we’re about to have three live-action Batmen at the same time with the arrival of “The Flash.”
If that sounds like the Batman timeline is a confusing one, it can be, especially once the DC Multiverse opens up. But not to worry, we’ve put together a handy, straightforward guide to how to watch all the batman movies in order, chronologically and by release date.
First up, let’s start with the easy answer…
All Batman Movies in Order of Release Date
- Batman (1943)
- Batman and Robin (1949)
- Batman: The Movie (1966)
- Batman (1989)
- Batman Returns (1992)
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
- Batman Forever (1995)
- Batman & Robin (1997)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- The Dark Knight (2008)
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
- Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
- Suicide Squad (2016)
- The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
- Justice League (2017)
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
- The Batman (2022)
- DC League of Super-Pets (2022)
- The Flash (2023)
- Batgirl (TBA)
Batman Movies in Chronological Order
Batman Serial Films
“Batman” (1943) and “Batman and Robin” (1949)
Columbia Pictures released two Batman serial films in theaters during the 1940s, the first just four years after the character debuted in Detective Comics. “Batman” starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin, who were replaced by Robert Lowery and Johnny Duncan, respectively, for “Batman and Robin.” Both films are low-budget to the point of hilarity, the serialized format plays more like TV than film, the first one includes some pretty rough World War II propaganda and at nearly 8-hours combined, they aren’t the easiest watch, but if you’re a completist, you’ll need to start here.
Adam West’s Batman
“Batman: The Movie” (1966)
The first full-length, theatrically released “Batman” movie, the 1966 film is based on the beloved campy TV series of the same name starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Released in theaters shortly after the first season of the series, “Batman” also includes Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler, Burgess Merideth’s Penguin and Lee Meriwether’s Catwoman (stepping in for Julie Newmar, who played the character on the first two seasons of the series).
“Batman” (aka, “Batman: The Movie”) is the only film installment in this franchise, but if you’re missing the campier light-hearted adventures, there are three seasons of the series and even a recent comic book series called “Batman ’66” that expands on the world of the show.
Michael Keaton’s Batman
Warner Bros. launched their initial Batman franchise in 1989, introducing audiences to Tim Burton’s Gotham and Michael Keaton’s Bruce Wayne, who goes toe-to-toe with Jack Nicholson’s Joker.
The start of one of the most popular film franchises in the world, “Batman” was also celebrated for Burton’s heightened aesthetic and singular reimagining of the source material, Keaton’s unexpected and understated performance as the title character, and unforgettable music from both Danny Elfman’s score and Prince’s soundtrack album, the latter of which topped the Billboard Top 200 for six consecutive weeks.
Three years later, Burton and Keaton were back in theaters with “Batman Returns,” the Christmas-set sequel to “Batman” that introduced Michelle Pfieffer’s Catwoman and Danny DeVito’s Penguin. A direct sequel to the first film, “Batman Returns” begins with a quick scene set three decades in the past introducing the origins of the Penguin, but the bulk of the film picks up soon after the events of “Batman.”
Val Kilmer’s Batman
“Batman Forever” (1995)
When Tim Burton’s third Batman movie fell apart, so too did Keaton’s tenure as the Caped Crusader (at least for the next few decades; he’s confirmed to return to the cape and cowl in “The Flash”). But the show must go on, and so did the world of Gotham that Burton built, though it became notably goofier and gaudier in the next two films under Joel Schumacher’s direction.
With 1995’s “Batman Forever,” Val Kilmer stepped into the lead role, battling Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face and Jim Carrey’s Riddler. “Batman Forever” also stars Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian, introduced Chris O’Donnell as Robin, and famously boosted Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” to No. 1 on the Billboard 100.
George Clooney’s Batman
“Batman & Robin” (1997)
The final film in Warner’s original “Batman” franchise, “Batman & Robin” saw Schumacher return as director, doubling down on camp and his candy-colored iteration of Gotham, while George Clooney stepped in as the new Bruce Wayne. Chris O’Donnell also returned as Robin, eager to officially become Batman’s sidekick.
“Batman & Robin” also introduced Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl to help in the battle against a new trio of villains in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy and Robert Swenson’s Bane. Like Kilmer before him, Clooney only appeared in one “Batman” movie, which was also the last in the 1989-1997 franchise after overwhelmingly negative reviews and disappointing box office.
Christian Bale’s Batman, aka The Dark Knight Trilogy
“Batman Begins” (2005)
Warner Bros. recruited Christopher Nolan to reboot the “Batman” franchise with “Batman Begins,” which reinvented the on-screen world of Batman through a more grounded, character-forward approach. The first installment in what would come to be known as the “Dark Knight Trilogy,” the 2005 film introduced Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and delivered a re-telling of the heroes origins, from his childhood trauma to his training in the League of Shadows, up through the start of his tenure as Gotham’s Batman.
“Batman Begins” also introduced Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Michael Caine’s Alfred, Katie Holmes’ Rachel Dawes, Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, and as for the villains, Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow and Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul.
“The Dark Knight” (2008)
Nolan and Bale returned to Gotham in the 2008 sequel “The Dark Knight,” pitting Bale’s now-established Batman against the Joker (Heath Ledger in the role that won him a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar) and his crusade to turn Gotham’s “White Knight” DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) into the villainous Two-Face.
Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Cillian Murphy all resumed their characters for the sequel, however, Katie Holmes declined to return and Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped into the role of Rachel Dawes.
“The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)
Nolan and Bale returned for one final return to the cape and cowl with “The Dark Knight Rises.” Set eight years after “The Dark Knight,” Bruce Wayne has spent a near-decade as a recluse while Commissioner Gordon invoked the tragedy of Harvey Dent to clean up Gotham’s streets. But when Bane (Tom Hardy), a mercenary with ties to the League of Shadows, arrives on a mission of vengeance, the Batman has to come out of retirement for one last fight to save the city.
The 2012 sequel also introduces Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, Marion Cotillard as new Wayne Enterprises executive Miranda Tate, and Joseph Gordon Levitt as Gotham PD officer and Batman enthusiast, John Blake.
Ben Affleck’s Batman, aka DCEU Movies
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)
Warner Bros. locked in another A-list actor to put on the batsuit and Ben Affleck made his debut as Bruce Wayne in Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.” A direct sequel to Snyder’s Superman reboot “Man of Steel,” the 2016 follow-up finds Affleck’s Bruce Wayne traumatized by the destruction of Metropolis during Superman and Zod’s confrontation at the end of the previous film. As the title suggests, this one pits Affleck’s Batman against Henry Cavill’s Superman after Bruce becomes convinced that the Kryptonian hero is a threat to all of mankind.
“Dawn of Justice” also introduced Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, aka Wonder Woman, as well as teeing up the introduction of the Justice League with glimpses at Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, Ezra Miller’s Flash, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg.
“Suicide Squad” (2016)
Affleck’s Batman made his second DCEU outing with a cameo appearance in David Ayer’s “Suicide Squad.” Though the film is primarily focused on Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Will Smith’s Deadshot and the Suicide Squad’s battle against Enchantress, it also leaves hints of bitter conflict between Batman and Jared Leto’s Joker.
Affleck briefly appears in several scenes throughout the movie (and credits) including a car chase that sends the Joker driving straight into a water bank and leaving Harley behind, only for Batman to rescue her. He also has scenes with Deadshot, Viola Davis’ Amanda Waller, and a solemn moment with the suit of a fallen Robin, all of which portray him as a wiser, less vicious Batman after “Dawn of Justice.”
“Justice League” (2017) and “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” (2021)
Whether you’re watching the 2017 theatrical cut of “Justice League” or the 2021 “Snyder Cut” released on HBO Max, this is chronologically where they both fit in the DCEU Batman movies. Of course, that doesn’t mean the experience of watching them is the same. Zack Snyder’s third film in the DCEU was infamously and significantly re-tooled by the studio, who recruited filmmaker Joss Whedon for the job. Snyder’s version of the film is twice as long, just over four hours, and structurally entirely different.
You’ll find a softer, gentler, but still somber version of Affleck’s Batman in both versions (though he’s certainly goofier in Whedon’s cut). But “Zack Snyder’s Justice League” has several unique qualities you won’t find in the theatrical cut including Kiersey Clemons’ appearance as Iris West, a significant Steppenwolf redesign, the full “Knightmare” epilogue and the additional photography Snyder shot to include Leto’s Joker.
Robert Pattinson’s Batman
“The Batman” (2022)
Ben Affleck was initially slated to star in and direct a solo movie expanding the DCEU franchise, but after that project fell apart, Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” took shape.
Set in a canon entirely disconnected from the ongoing DCEU films, “The Batman” introduces Robert Pattinson’s reclusive Bruce Wayne during his second year of picking up the cape and cowl. Billed as a return to the character’s gumshoe roots, “The Batman” unfolds a detective noir in Gotham where Pattinson’s Bat meets Zoë Kravitz’s Catwoman, Colin Farrell’s Penguin, and hunts down Paul Dano’s Riddler with the help of Jeffrey Wright’s Jim Gordon and Andy Serkis’ Alfred.
Released in March 2022 after several delays, “The Batman” is thus far the only film in this chronology, however, Farrell is due to reprise his role as Penguin in an HBO Max series. Pattinson, meanwhile, has expressed his desire to make a trilogy of Batman films with Reeves as the director.
Animated Batman Movies
“Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)
The first animated Batman movie to receive a theatrical release, “Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm” is considered by many to be one of the best Batman movies of them all. Set within the continuity of “Batman: The Animated Series,” the 1993 film features voice performances from Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne and Mark Hamill as The Joker.
An elegantly woven story that takes us from Batman’s first days as a vigilante crime fighter to a decade later, “Mask of the Phantasm” is a true, complete standalone Batman film, as equally invested in Bruce Wayne as it is The Batman. And “Mask of the Phantasm” is also a standalone as the only theatrical original film from this particular series, but both Conroy and Hamill have lent their voices to dozens of Batman projects for more than 30 years, including both seasons of the celebrated “Animated Series.”
“The LEGO Batman Movie” (2017)
After appearing in a supporting role in 2014 “The LEGO Movie,” Will Arnett’s animated Batman went solo in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” A family-friendly, irreverent take on the Dark Knight, the 2017 film doesn’t just find Batman contending with familiar foes including Zach Galifianakis’ Joker and Jenny Slate’s Harley Quinn, it breaks out plays with all the toys, literal and figurative, available to the DC Universe — and the Warner Bros. film canon, inheriting the playful, franchise-blending scope that made “The LEGO Movie” such a treat.
Unfortunately, despite exciting early development on a sequel, “The LEGO Batman Movie” is destined to be a standalone for the time being, after LEGO rights moved over to Universal. However, Will Arnett’s Batman did appear once more in 2019’s “The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part.”
Upcoming Batman Movies
“DC’s League of Super-Pets” (2022)
Keanu Reeves will voice Bruce Wayne in the upcoming animated film “DC League of Super-Pets,” which follows the superpowered pets of the Justice League – including a hound named Ace (Kevin Hart), who strikes a brooding bond with Batman. The film is due in theaters only on July 25, 2022 and also features the voices of Dwayne Johnson as Krypto the Superdog and John Krasinski as Superman.
“The Flash” (2023)
Michael Keaton will return as Batman for the first time in 30 years in “The Flash,” which is said to disregard the events of “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin,” exploring what Keaton’s Bruce Wayne has been up to since we last saw him in “Batman Returns.”
Directed by Andy Muschietti (“IT”), the 2022 film will blur the lines between two Warner Bros. “Batman” franchises, featuring both Keaton’s Batman and Ben Affleck’s DCEU iteration of the character. Affleck has said that it will be his final appearance in the role and praised the experience, saying “maybe my favorite scenes in terms of Batman and the interpretation of Batman that I have done, were in the Flash movie.”
Also returning from the ongoing DCEU franchise is Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen, aka The Flash, who will accidentally open up the DC Multiverse – including the universe in which Keaton is Batman – in an adaptation of the famed “Flashpoint” storyline.
Michael Keaton is also confirmed to return as Batman in “Batgirl,” which was expected to arrive on HBO Max sometime in 2022, however the film does not yet have a confirmed release date and it remains to be seen if the recent “The Flash” delay will impact the film’s schedule.
What we do know is that Keaton’s Batman will be back again, this time alongside Leslie Grace as Barbara Gordon, a.k.a Batgirl, along with Brendan Fraser as the villainous Firefly and “Pieces of Her” star Jacob Scipio in an undisclosed role. “Bad Boys for Life” filmmakers Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah are directing from a script by “Birds of Prey” screenwriter Christina Hodson.