Every Batman Movie Ranked and Where to Stream Them

Love DC or hate it, you can’t deny that they know how to make a good Batman movie. For nearly 100 years, the Caped Crusader has remained one of the most popular superheroes in pop culture.

Many reasons might explain Batman’s endearing popularity today — the now-classic comic books written by comic legends like Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns), Alan Moore (Batman: The Killing Joke), or Neil Gaiman (Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?), his constant relevancy through various TV shows and video games (including The Batman starring Adam West, Batman: The Animated Series, and the award-winning Arkham Asylum franchise), or his equally iconic rogues gallery of villains.

Every Batman Movie Ranked and Where to Stream Them

However, a key important explanation for Batman’s continuing popularity today can more directly be tied to the Dark Knight’s numerous big-budget movies, many of them loved by fans worldwide. For fans of Batman, we ranked every live-action Batman movie from worst to best, including information about where you’re currently able to stream them.

List criteria: Unfortunately, we looked only at live-action Batman movies and those where Batman himself is the main featured hero. This means you won’t find Justice League, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, or, unfortunately, The Lego Batman Movie on this list.

Batman & Robin
(L-R) George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell | Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman & Robin

A movie so bad George Clooney himself reportedly still offers fans who saw it in theaters a refund; Batman & Robin was responsible for single-handedly derailing the original Batman franchise. A direct sequel to Batman Forever, the movie stars Clooney as the Dark Knight in his first and only Batman movie, assisted by a returning Chris O’Donnell as Robin and Alicia Silverstone as a young Batgirl. So when the villainous Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) teams up with Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and her henchman Bane, it’s up to the three heroes to prevent the evil duo from freezing Gotham.

This movie was laughably bad — full of ice puns (27 in total) and over-the-top cartoonish dialogue, action, characters, and set pieces, making it one of the strangest Batman movies ever and by far the worst.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Batman Forever
Val Kilmer | Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman Forever

After a criminal mastermind known as The Riddler appears in Gotham, partnering with the unstable crime boss Two-Face, Batman reluctantly joins forces with a young hero named Robin in this underwhelming, uneven superhero movie. Nearly as weird as Batman & Robin but not quite as bad; this movie’s main issue is it's hopeless miscasting. Val Kilmer gives a very wooden, robotic performance as Batman, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and Jim Carrey as The Riddler appears to be in some contest trying to over-act the other, resulting in some of the most hamfisted acting you’ll ever see.

Abandoning the darker approach Tim Burton took with his earlier Batman movies, director Joel Schumacher attempted to infuse some lighthearted silliness into this movie reminiscent of the original Batman series. Unfortunately, as you’ll see in Batman Forever, the decision was … questionable, to say the least.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Batman: The Movie
(L-R) Burt Ward and Adam West

Batman: The Movie

Fresh off the heels of the first season of the popular 1966 TV series starring Adam West comes this family-friendly superhero movie, Batman: The Movie. Featuring most of the main cast from the original series, the movie focuses on Batman and Robin (Burt Ward) battling the villainous team of The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), Joker (Cesar Romero), Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), all of whom have banded together in a plot hold the world hostage with an invention that rapidly dehydrates people.

Batman: The Movie is about as lighthearted a Batman movie you’ll find, full of wacky dialogue, zany action, and plenty of “Swoosh,” “Kapow,” and “Ouch!” sound effects during fight sequences.

Currently streaming on Hulu (requires premium subscription)

Batman Returns
Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton | Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman Returns

This sequel to the wildly popular 1989 Batman stars a returning Michael Keaton once again as the Dark Knight — darker than ever this time around. When the mysterious Penguin (Danny DeVito) emerges from the underground sewers of Gotham with a plan to kill all of the city’s firstborn sons, Batman must try to stop him, all the while playing a game of cat and mouse with the equally enigmatic Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Director Tim Burton may have gone a little too dark in some aspects of the story, but this is still a very entertaining (if slightly disturbing) movie with great performances by the three main leads.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

The Dark Knight Rises
(L-R): Christian Bale and Anne Hathaway | Courtesy Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight Rises

The third and final entry in Christopher Nolan’s incredible trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, had a lot to live up to with the overwhelming success of The Dark Knight. While it may not have measured up completely to its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises is still a powerful entry to Nolan’s trilogy, offering a satisfying conclusion to the series.

When the now virtually crime-free Gotham City is threatened by the presence of a masked mercenary named Bane (Tom Hardy), Batman must return to crime-fighting after a nearly decade-long absence to save the people of Gotham from sure destruction.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Batman Begins
Christian Bale | Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman Begins

The movie responsible for reigniting an entire generation’s interest in Batman, the first movie in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, remains an incredible superhero movie to this day. Loosely based on Frank Miller’s classic Batman: Year One, Batman Begins focuses on the origin story of Batman, explaining how Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) came to fight against organized crime in Gotham City.

Featuring fan-favorite villains Ra’s al Ghul (whose identity I’ll keep a mystery for those who haven’t seen this movie) and Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy), Batman Begins was praised by fans and critics alike for Bale’s performance and the emotional and psychological aspects of Bruce Wayne’s character — something that had never before been extensively explored in a movie centered around Batman.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Batman Movie
(L-R) Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson | Courtesy Warner Bros.

Batman

The first “serious” Batman movie and the film that helped launch three subsequent sequels, this 1989 classic sets the standard for the superhero genre. Starring Michael Keaton against Batman (he was known for his more comedic roles at the time), the movie focuses on the Caped Crusader’s battle against the psychopathic gangster, the Joker (played by the legendary Jack Nicholson in one of his most famous roles).

There is so much to love about this movie — from the brilliant performances to the dark, twisted vision of Gotham City that director Tim Burton brings to the Big Screen. Batman was such a success; it even inspired the now-beloved Batman: The Animated Series, which resulted in DC realizing the potential of animated projects and creating the equally popular DC Animated Universe.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

The Dark Knight Joker
(L-R): Heath Ledger and Christian Bale | Courtesy Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight

Easily one of director Christopher Nolan’s best movies and one of the greatest superhero movies of all time, The Dark Knight is pretty much flawless. The acting, action, pacing, music, dialogue, and the darker, more mature themes all earned the movie notable acclaim, not to mention the fact that Heath Ledger gives the definitively best performance of the Joker yet, winning him a posthumous Academy Award in the process.

Not only a great superhero movie but also a fantastic movie in general, this is a must-watch film that should absolutely be seen by everyone, whether you’re a fan of Batman or not.

Currently streaming on HBO Max

Final Thoughts

Batman is, without doubt, one of the most beloved and iconic superheroes in all of comic fandom. His continuing popularity makes him one of DC’s most instantly recognizable characters and has resulted in countless portrayals and iterations through various comics, TV shows, and movies over the years. Like everyone, we are excited to see what the future holds for the Dark Knight (especially the upcoming Matt Reeves movie, The Batman).

For fans of DC’s animated movies, we also loved Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and The Lego Batman Movie, which are currently streaming on HBO Max.

+ posts

Richard Chachowski is a freelance writer based in New Jersey. He loves reading, his dog Tootsie, and pretty much every movie to ever exist (especially Star Wars).