Batman — our favorite caped vigilante — first appeared on the big screen in 1966. Since then, many actors have taken on the role, some more adored than others.
Some fans, for example, prefer Batman: The Animated Series featuring Kevin Conroy‘s memorable voice.
Keep scrolling to find out how to watch all the Batman movies — in order.
The Many Iterations of the Caped Crusader
For other big franchises, especially the Marvel and Star Wars Universe, it’s easy to watch the movies in chronological order — the order of in-universe events, not the release date.
When it comes to Batman movies, his story has been retold so many times that events in one series have little to do with events in another.
The Adam West Era
Compared to Christian Bale‘s gravelly voice in The Dark Knight, Adam West‘s take on Batman was much more personable.
The first big-screen adaptation of the Batman will forever belong to the man in tights. Interestingly, Bale claims that West’s version is one of his favorites. “I love watching Adam West,” he told Entertainment Tonight in March 2016.
West starred in the ultra-popular Batman television series in the 1960s, where a campy version of the hero and his sidekick Robin, played by Burt Wardalways prevailed.
Batman: The Movie (1966)
In between the TV show’s first and second seasons, West earned the cinematic treatment with a feature-length film.
The movie included many of Batman’s most popular enemies from the television series, including the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. West’s version gave the iconic Batman theme song, which is still featured in various DC animated series and amusement park rides.
The Michael Keaton Era
Between the 1960s and 1980s, Batman took a few decades off. He finally returned to the big screen in 1989 with Michael Keaton behind the mask and Tim Burton in the director’s chair.
Keeping true to any Burton film, Batman upped the ante on the source material’s craziness. Keaton went for a serious, slightly neurotic take on Bruce Wayne, but perhaps the most important addition to this film was Jack Nicholson‘s Joker.
The clown’s origin story left a serious mark on the superhero franchise, something that many films since have referred to or expanded on. Batman put the bat back on the map as the film boomed at the box office, even winning an Academy Award for Art Direction.
Batman Returns (1992)
Burton and Keaton returned for the sequel Batman Returns. Taking an even darker turn, the film included more violence and action sequences.
Batman Returns also saw the introduction of Michelle Pfeiffer‘s take on Catwoman and Danny DeVito‘s version of Penguin.
Despite performing fairly well at the box office, Warner Bros. producers decided to change directions for the next movie, Batman Forever.
The Val Kilmer Era
A recast! Val Kilmer stepped into Batman’s shoes for the next film and Joel Schumacher took over behind the camera. Steering away from Burton’s signature style, this take on Gotham City’s best (and worst) had more mainstream appeal.
Batman Forever (1995)
Kilmer’s Bruce Wayne was sexy and subdued, but the actor said it was a disappointing experience for him overall, because of the Batsuit. In a documentary on his life, Val, Kilmer said in July 2021, “Yes, every boy wants to be Batman. They actually want to be him … not necessarily play him in a movie.”
Memory additions to the cast included Jim Carrey‘s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Two-Face.
The George Clooney Era
Kilmer famously said no to another Batman movie. So, for the next iteration, the cape was passed to George Clooneywith Chris O’Donnell starring as Robin. Clooney donned that iconic cowl just once, facing off against Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s villainous Mr. Freeze.
Batman and Robin (1997)
Known for the infamous Bat Nipples — Clooney’s Batsuit inexplicably included nipples on her chest — this movie received mostly negative reviews at the time of its release.
Over the years, however, Batman & Robin has become a cult classic, especially regarding Uma Thurman‘s take on Poison Ivy. Alicia Silverstone rounded out the cast as Batgirl.
The Christian Bale Era
Though Batman was played by three different actors, each of the four previous films were part of the same continuity era, ending with Clooney, and putting a pause on the franchise for a few years.
Christopher Nolan then took up the task of reviving Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight trilogy.
Batman Begins (2005)
While other Batman films included some dark notes, the trend of the valiant Batman didn’t really start until Bale’s turn in Batman Begins.
As the first film in the most successful Batman trilogy ever, Batman Begins was a more mature take on Gotham City. It featured Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul, Cillian Murphy as The Scarecrow, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, and Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Few movies — let alone superhero movies — have had as big an impact as The Dark Knight. The widely popular sequel was praised for its twists, turns and performances. Heath Ledger‘s take on the Joker remains one of the most watched versions ever, earning Ledger an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
With the momentum of The Dark Knightthe final film in Nolan’s trilogy was a huge box office success — and the highest-earning Batman movie ever. Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway joined the cast as Bane and Catwoman, respectively. Joseph Gordon-Levit also joined as John Blake.
The Ben Affleck Era
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Ben Affleck‘s first appearance as Bruce Wayne arrived in 2016 after 2013’s Superman origin story, Man of Steel. Based on a beloved comic book rivalry, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice pitted the two heroes against each other, with Henry Cavill starring opposite Affleck.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2017)
Responding to DCEU’s The Avengers, Justice League came to the screen, a supersized meet-up of DC heroes, including Gal Gadot‘s Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman.
In 2021, Zack Snyder — the original director before Joss Whedon took over — released his version of the movie, deemed The Snyder Cuton HBO Max.
The Robert Pattinson Era
The Batman (2022)
Directed by Matt Reeves, Robert Pattinson is a little more emo and a little less practiced in his crime-fighting. Featuring Paul Dano as The Riddler and Colin Farrell as The Penguin, the movie was praised for its cinematic homage to Batman comics. Zoë Kravitz also received rave reviews for her performance as Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman.
The Batman was a financial success, and Reeves signed on to make another movie.