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All 10 Batman Movies Ranked Worst to Best

Published by
MM Writers

Everyone has a list of every Batman movie ranked from worst to best. This is ours.

But First, a Bat Clarification

Also: We aren’t counting the animated movies, or movies where Batman makes a cameo, or where Batman is part of a team. That includes The Flash (above).

Even though we appreciated Michael Keaton in it, of course.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Warner Bros.

Okay, let’s start our list with the worst. This is it, the worst Batman movie: a jumbled, CGI-addled mess that takes the dark and gritty thing way too far and feels like it’s trying much to hard.

We like Ben Affleck as Batman, but the too-dense atmosphere didn’t give him much room to maneuver. Everything about this movie feels labored and un-fun, starting with the title.

Maybe it shouldn’t even be on the list of Batman movies since it’s technically a sequel to the Superman movie Man of Steel. If you don’t want to count it, we’re just fine with that.

Batman & Robin (1997)

Warner Bros.

This one, on the other hand, tries too hard to be fun, packing in endless Mr. Freeze puns and silly costumes and excessive carnival-clown color. We love Arnold Schwarzenegger but this Batman movie isn’t cool.

“When I say ‘Batman and Robin’ is a terrible film, I always go, ‘I was terrible in it,” George Clooney, who played Batman, told GQ recently. 

“Because I was, number one. But also because then it allows you the ability to say, ‘Having said I sucked in it, I can also say that none of these other elements worked either.’ You know? Lines like ‘Freeze, Freeze!’”

Batman Forever (1995)

Warner Bros.

In our opinion, every movie on this list, from here on in, is enjoyable to watch.

Val Kilmer may not be an especially memorable Batman, but he’s a Top 3 Bruce Wayne for sure. And Jim Carrey’s Riddler makes lots of big choices we can’t stay mad at for long. It’s also cool and weird that Drew Barrymore and Nicole Kidman (above) are in it.

Tommy Lee Jones is a little too garishly cartoonish as Two-Face, and the actor doesn’t seem to be enjoying himself, but oh well. We like this movie.

Batman Forever is one of the strangest Batman movies, and we appreciate that. It takes big batswings.

Batman (1966)

20th Century Fox

This movie is campy, ridiculous, cheap-looking, and an absolute charmer.

For the first years of our lives, Adam West was the Batman — cool, resolute, incorruptible. We didn’t even pick up on the camp. It was beautiful to see him shine on the big screen.

We also love Burt Ward as Robin and the original onscreen rogue’s gallery of bad guys, including Cesar Romero as a mustachioed joker, the great Frank Gorshin as The Riddler, and Lee Meriwether as Catwoman (we also love the other two 1960s Catwomen – Eartha Kitt and Julie Newmar). But we may love Burgess Meredith most of all for his take on the Penguin, who chews the scenery and that cigarette holder.

Also: The shark scene! We love this movie.

The Batman (2022)

Lt. James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) tries to hold back The Batman (Robert Pattinson). Photo by Jonathan Olley/DC Comics.

Robert Pattinson may be the best Bruce Wayne/Batman besides Christian Bale — we love his broken, battered, disoriented take on the Caped Crusader as he struggles to decide who or what he really is. His identity crisis is the highlight of Matt Reeves’ very 1970s-influenced take on Batman, which pays homage to conspiracy thrillers from Klute to All the President’s Men.

Given all the work Reeves did to build a new Batworld in this movie — including with the introduction of Zoë  Kravitz’s Catwoman and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell’s Oswald Copperbot — we can’t wait to see what the sequels will yield. And we’re looking forward to the upcoming Penguin solo TV series.

Batman (1989)

Tim Burton deserves a lot of credit for tying together the two versions of Batman familiar to 1989 audiences: The campy one from the 1960s TV show and movie, and the gritty, tormented one who had emerged in the masterful 1980s DC Comics work of Frank Miller in The Dark Knight Returns and Batman: Year One.

Jack Nicholson is one of the all-time greatest actors, but his Joker throws off the balance of the movie: He’s too big, too distracting, not at all scary, and not as witty as he should be. We’ll take Heath Ledger’s dark deadpan over Nicholson’s punning.

But look, this is a Batman movie with a killer score and Prince soundtrack, and it proved a fairly serious superhero movie could thrive. We’re fans.

Batman Returns (1992)

After the success of Batman, Tim Burton went even more Tim Burton in this gothic Christmas story featuring a fantastic turn by Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. We also loved Christopher Walken hamming it up as ruthless businessman Max Shreck, and of Michael Gough as Alfred. But we find Danny DeVito’s Penguin maybe too good — the character is so sad he’s hard to watch.

If you grew up watching Michael Keaton in comedies like Mr. Mom and Johnny Dangerously, it was a little hard, in 1989, to get used to the idea of him playing Bruce Wayne and Batman. But by Batman Returns we had acclimated to the idea quite nicely, and loved him unreservedly in the cape and cowl.

Keaton and Burton were right all along about the casting — it just took us a little while to see the vision.

Batman Begins (2005)

Cards on the table: We think this and the following two movies are pretty close to being perfect.

Christopher Nolan offered the boldest-yet cinematic take on Batman: What if he were a real person? Nolan justifies every cartoonish element of the character, from his cape to his pointy ears, to explain precisely how a sad billionaire orphan could become a terrifying creature of the night.

Christian Bale is the best Bruce Wayne and the best Batman — he packed on unbelievable mass after going skeletal for The Machinist — and he manages to seem charming, brilliant, vulnerable and terrifying as no other actor has.

Cillian Murphy, who finally got a lead role in a Christopher Nolan movie with this year’s Oppenheimer, is a perfect foil for Batman. His Scarecrow, like Batman, is intimately familiar with fear and tries to twist it to dark advantage just like Bruce Wayne does — but for the good of himself, rather than to save Gotham.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Warner Bros.

We understand the frustration with the very complicated plot of this final Nolan Batman film, and also the eye-rolling at the many switcheroos near the end, but also: Wow. From the heartstopping opening scene — Tom Hardy’s Bane gets maybe the most impressive introduction of any movie character ever — to the devastating final moments, when Nolan really makes us believe, for a while, that something very sad has happened — this movie is completely engrossing.

Yes, it has some flaws — Why would Bane keep all those cops alive? — but we’re willing to roll with them in the interest of the movie not going too dark. Bane is maybe tied with Heath Ledger’s Joker for our all-time favorite villain, and we love the whole supporting cast. Michael Caine is the best Alfred, and this is his best movie in the role. Marion Cotillard is beguiling as the mysterious Miranda Tate. And Anne Hathaway is the all-time best Catwoman.

Yes, the movie feels dense, but when you watch it after Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, it’s hard not to recognize how deftly it ties the trilogy together.

The Dark Knight (2008)

More than any other Christopher Nolan movie, The Dark Knight gets better with every watch. The obvious surface attraction is Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning performance as the Joker. But the more you watch it, the more you appreciate how beautifully crafted it is — from the money-laundering scheme to the surprisingly detailed legal plotting to the brilliance of the Joker’s schemes.

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” Ledger’s Joker asks Aaron Eckhart’s two-faced Harvey Dent before things go absolutely crazy.

It’s his biggest misdirect in the movie: The more times you watch it, the more you realize what a meticulous planner The Joker is, employing Sun Tzu tactics to almost outwit the World’s Greatest Detective.

Liked This List of Batman Movies Ranked Worst to Best?

You might also like this list of the Greatest Superhero Movies Ever Made, which includes a certain Batman movie we like quite a bit.

Main image: Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Kim Basinger as Vicki Vale in 1989’s Batman.

Editor’s Note: Corrects typos.

MM Writers

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