With the release of The Batman on 4K Blu-Ray this week, it’s a great time to revisit the franchise and come up with a list of all Batman movies ranked from worst to best.

The caped crusader has been played by many different actors over the past 40 years, and the series has had almost as many changes in tone. From the Tim Burton films, through the Joel Schumacher era, into Christopher Nolan and even today, Batman has evolved and changed on the big screen as much or more than any other superhero franchise.

Here’s the ground rules for my list: I’m not including the Adam West film, or any animated feature. Basically, this is a ranked list of all live-action Batman films from 1989 to today.

Don’t like the order? Let me know in the comments! Enjoy!

#10 Batman & Robin, 1997

The final Batman film from the Tiim Burton and Joel Schumacher era was the only one to not have Tim Burton involved in some way. Schumacher directed the film, while George Clooney donned the cape and cowl for the first and only time. Chris O’Donnell returned as Robin and Alicia Silverstone made her series premiere as Batgirl.

Clooney doesn’t seem quite right for the role, despite being at the peak of his fame. The chemistry between Batman, Robin, and Batgirl is forced and just doesn’t work. Gotham itself has become completely cartoony at this point, and the performances of Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzenegger are silly and over the top. Sadly, that puts them on par with the rest of Batman & Robin.

#9 Batman Forever, 1995

Val Kilmer is pretty good in the lead role here – especially when playing Bruce Wayne. It’s not my favorite Bruce Wayne portrayal, but it’s not the worst one. That is about the most positive thing we can say about Batman Forever.

One of the defining characteristics of the top films on this list is that their villains are gritty, real, and dark. In Batman Forever, Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey are just silly and treat this franchise as more of a comedy than anything else. The introduction of Robin is fine, but I would have preferred another solo Batman movie. It is unfortunate – there is too much acting talent in this film for it to be so disappointing.

#8 Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice, 2016

Imagine the hype and disappointment there was for Freddy vs Jason. Now, multiply both by 10. Wait, no, 100. That’s what you get with Batman vs Superman.

Ben Affleck is a great actor but seemed largely uninspired here. Almost as if there was a feeling that the role was being blessed by his presence in it. Part Man of Steel sequel, part Batman film – it just never got its bearings. And when the two did finally square off, it was for a few short minutes on screen before they became allies.

Also, for being the world’s greatest detective, Batman was jumping to a lot of conclusions about Superman in this film. As a fan, it wasn’t fun to see him on largely the wrong side.

#7 Justice League, 2017

What can we say? It’s better than Batman vs Superman. Especially the Snyder cut. Otherwise, it’s fine, which would be acceptable if it wasn’t the DC version of The Avengers.

Ultimately, this was a disappointing film that would prove to be Affleck’s last in the bat suit. Given what we got next in the Batman series, I am glad it was his final entry.

#6 The Dark Knight Rises, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises was the victim of some very unfortunate circumstances before it even got started, as Heath Ledger’s Joker was supposed to be in the third film too. Not recasting him was the right decision, but it forced Christopher Nolan to go an entirely different direction to wrap up his trilogy.

Tom Hardy was good as Bane, and the class warfare story angle was interesting. The Dark Knight Rises’ biggest problem is that the stakes never felt quite as high as they did in Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. It felt more like the third film that had to be made, not the one Nolan wanted to make.

#5 Batman Returns, 1992

I always loved the aesthetic Tim Burton gave to Gotham. It was dark, but you knew it came from a comic book. In the follow-up to the wildly successful 1989 film, Batman squares off against Penguin and Catwoman. Having to follow Jack Nicholson’s Joker is a tall order for anyone.

Danny Devito was good as Penguin here, but the action scenes started to resemble more of the silliness that would plague the final two movies in the 90s rather than the crisp, dark action from the first movie. The penguins with rockets strapped to their backs was just a bit much.

#4 Batman Begins, 2005

The beginning of the Christopher Nolan trilogy was quick to let us know that Batman was going to be grounded in reality going forward. Featuring a crime syndicate and Ra’s al Ghul instead of an over-the-top villain, Batman Begins was a deep origin story that we hadn’t seen before. Remember, superhero origin stories weren’t everywhere in 2005.

Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy are excellent as Ra’s al Ghul and Scarecrow, respectively. Batman Begins gives us a snapshot of what it would be like to have a superhero in a world like ours, because Gotham looked like a city we would know. Christian Bale is good in his first go at the title role, and who can ever forget his Batman voice?

#3 Batman, 1989

One of the first blockbuster superhero movie events, Batman was a HUGE deal when it released in 1989. Side note – Batman, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Back to the Future Part II released in the same year – what a summer for movies.

Michael Keaton was great as Bruce Wayne, and Jack Nicholson is Jack Nicholson. Everything about this is gloriously 80s/90s over-the-top greatness. The Joker was a superb choice as the first villain to be featured, and Nicholson was tremendous and you could tell he was having a blast. The filmmakers were also wise to not clog the script with multiple villains, as some later films did.

#2 The Batman, 2022

OK I’ll admit it, I was worried about Robert Pattinson playing Bruce Wayne and Batman. Twilight and all, you know? So, I went into The Batman excited but nervous about what I might see. When I left the theater, I texted a friend, simply saying “Oh. My. God”.

It was not only everything I hoped for, but everything I didn’t even know I wanted from my favorite comic book series. Pattinson was exceptional and really captured the anger and pain of Bruce Wayne well. The cinematography and score in The Batman are nothing short of phenomenal.

It’s also great that the “detective” aspect of Batman was brought back to the big screen in The Batman. It made the vibe of the film feel so much more true to the character I know and love.

The one knock on The Batman is that it was maybe a little bit too long, at an over two and a half hour run time. The film feels done after Batman confronts the crime boss, then the audience is like “oh yeah, there is a whole other villain still out there”.

#1 The Dark Knight, 2008

Did anyone think it would be anything else? The Dark Knight was and remains the gold standard of superhero films. Heath Ledger delivers a legendary performance as Joker. He embodies the character perfectly. It is difficult to make Jack Nicholson second-best, but Ledger delivers in every way.

The Dark Knight explores many themes, including some which were very relevant in 2008 and still are today. Where is the line for privacy? Should law enforcement cross it just because the technology is there? Most importantly, what does it take to push good people over the line to become bad?

Ultimately, can the good people resist the urge to do evil things for good outcomes? Will they die as heroes or live long enough to become villains?

Only Logan and The Batman have come close to the quality and depth that The Dark Knight brings to the table. It is an outstanding film that represents the very best of what the superhero genre has to offer.

What do you think of our list? Let us know in the comments!

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