Even if you’ve never read a comic before, you’ll more than likely know who Batman is. After first appearing in 1939’s Detective Comics #27, the billionaire philanthropist-turned-masked vigilante has made his mark as one of the most iconic superheroes of all time.
The character also has no shortage of live-action movie appearances. Each movie offers something different for everyone, from super campy to deadly serious. We’ve created a handy guide to inform you of all the live-action Batman movies and where you can watch them.
Believe it or not, the first-ever live-action Batman movie is a continuation of the 1960s TV series starring Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Released two months after the Season 1 finale, Batman: The Movie follows Batman and Robin as they fight the combined efforts of the Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the Catwoman (Lee Meriwether), who have all stolen a device that can turn people into dust.
If you’ve seen the show, then you’ll know what to expect from this film. Batman: The Movie features plenty of campy fun for all ages. From fighting sharks with shark repellent to running around with a bomb, this film is great for those who prefer their Batman stories goofy and lighthearted.
Director Tim Burton reintroduced the Caped Crusader to the silver screen in 1989 with Batman. The film stars Michael Keaton as the title character, who accidentally causes gangster Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) to fall into a vat of chemicals and become the fiendish psychopath known as the Joker.
In addition to great performances from Keaton and Nicholson, Batman also features epic production design from the late great Anton Furst, who makes Gotham City feel gothic and grand. Furst’s production design was so acclaimed that it went on to win an Oscar the following year.
Burton returned to the director’s chair for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, which also saw Keaton reprise the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film sees the Dark Knight face off against a deformed lunatic known as the Penguin (Danny Devito), who is working with a corrupt businessman named Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). Meanwhile, one of Shreck’s employees, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), becomes the undead criminal Catwoman and seeks revenge against Shreck.
With this sequel, Burton ramps up the insanity of 1989’s Batman, partially thanks to DeVito’s insanely over-the-top performance as the Penguin. Unfortunately, parents at the time thought Batman Returns was too inappropriate for children, with. At least most critics enjoyed the film.
Even though it’s technically a sequel, 1995’s Batman Forever sees Joel Schumacher take over as director and Val Kilmer as the new Batman. The film also introduces Chris O’Donnell as Robin, a young orphan who teams up with Batman to stop the Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) before they can steal brain waves from the citizens of Gotham.
With Batman Forever, Schumacher trades the gothic atmosphere of the Burton films for a much more colorful aesthetic. Unfortunately, critics were not happy with this rather drastic tonal shift. Then again, the movie still wasn’t as maligned as its successor.
1Batman & Robin sees George Clooney wear the cape and cowl in a movie so bad it put the franchise in a coma. The film sees the Dynamic Duo team up with Barbara Wilson/Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) to take down Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman) and Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger).
Unsurprisingly, critics bashed Batman & Robin for its awful performances and overt cheesiness. Even.
Thankfully, writer/director Christopher Nolan revived the franchise with 2005’s Batman Begins. This darker, more grounded retelling of Batman’s origin story sees Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) become the Dark Knight as he attempts to save Gotham from both Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) and Ra’s al Ghul (Liam Neeson).
Batman Begins not only reinvigorated the general public’s interest in the Caped Crusader, but also helped usher in the ongoing superhero movie craze. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige even credited the film as “”
There’s not much we can say about 2008’s The Dark Knight that hasn’t already been said. Christopher Nolan’s groundbreaking sequel to Batman Begins sees the Caped Crusader fighting against a cunning anarchist known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) from plunging Gotham into chaos.
The Dark Knight vastly improved on everything that worked about Batman Begins and gave us a legendary performance from Heath Ledger, who sadly passed away six months before the movie was released. Moreover, this performance was so beloved that it would go on to win a posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Nolan capped off his trilogy of Batman films in 2012 with The Dark Knight Rises. Still reeling from the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne put the cape and cowl back on to stop the revolutionary Bane (Tom Hardy) from destroying Gotham with the help of the feisty cat burglar Selina Kyle / Catwoman (Anne Hathaway).
While not quite as acclaimed as its predecessor, many critics thought that The Dark Knight Rises was a satisfying end to Nolan’s trilogy to the point where the Dark Knight trilogy is.
2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice marks the Caped Crusader’s first foray into the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). In this film, a hardened and cynical Batman (Ben Affleck) views Superman (Henry Cavill) as a threat and plans to take him out.
Even though the movie received mostly negative reviews from critics, plenty of praise went towards Affleck’s performance.for a Batman solo film with Affleck, but that unfortunately never came out–at least not one set in the DCEU.
2017 saw the release of the first-ever live-action Justice League film. After Superman dies in Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) and Batman attempt to recruit Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to stop a demonic warlord named Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) from destroying humanity.
While Zack Snyder is the credited director for the film, his contributions to this cut are minimal. He stepped away from production after the tragic death of his daughter, so the studio brought in Joss Whedon to heavily reshoot the movie. This led to a major backlash from fans who thought that the theatrical cut deviated too heavily from Snyder’s original vision.
After months of fan outcry, Warner Bros. finally released the Snyder Cut of Justice League in 2021. While not much is different about the plot, it’s obvious that there was much more heart and soul put into this version than the theatrical cut.
Whereas Zack Snyder’s films are usually divisive among critics, many seemed to enjoy this cut and claimed that it’s much better than the theatrical version.
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