Batman is the only real superhero to–in terms of movies, at least–rival Superman as the most quintessential character of the genre. There have been many movies that take place in the same world as a version of Batman bu the following 11 movies are the only times the hero themselves, costume and all, has appeared on the big screen.
With such a long history and so many passionate fans, there’s no shortage of opinions as to which of these movies are the best and which are the worst and, if you’re looking to getting into the hero’s movie adventures but don’t know where to start, this ranking of the movies by their scores on review aggregate site Metacritic should, hopefully, help you out.
11 Batman & Robin (28)
Joel Schumacher’s second Batman movie, with George Clooney stepping into the lead role to replace Val Kilmer, is generally regarded as the worst cinematic appearance of the character amongst both critics and fans.
Though it’s frequently listed as so-bad-it’s-good experience, and the camp flair does have its charms, Batman & Robin is a bloated movie that even the most forgiving fans struggle to enjoy.
10 Suicide Squad (40)
Batman only appears briefly to bookend the DCEU’s first team-up movie, Suicide Squad, but is still played by Ben Affleck to bridge his tenure of the character between the next two entries on our list.
Whilst still a movie that inspires debate and discussion, particularly around the movie’s editing process, it was mostly lambasted by critics on its release.
9 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (44)
Each of the DCEU’s first five movies had some controversy surrounding it, ranging from mild to intense, but the franchise’s second movie, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, may still be the most likely to cause an actual argument.
The movie began a perceived spat between the franchise and a majority of reviewers which still persists to this day as do some of the perceived repercussions of its low scores from critics.
8 Justice League (45)
After a widely-publicized change in directors on what was viewed as one of the DCEU’s most crucial moments, the version of Justice League that critics and audiences saw is now considered to be one of two official cuts, as it was agreed over two years after the movie’s equally-lukewarm reception to Batman v Superman that the vision of original director Zack Snyder would be released on the HBO Max streaming platform.
It remains to be seen which iteration of the movie will come to be remembered as the definitive version but, if it is counted more as it’s own unique entity, the ‘Snyder Cut’ does arguably expand Ben Affleck’s role past the movie record set by Christian Bale with the Dark Knight Trilogy.
7 Batman Forever (51)
Joel Schumacher’s first Batman was, whilst rarely counted as one of the best, much better-received than his following effort with the character.
The director’s penchant for capturing the flamboyance of the 1960s TV show starring Adam West was better contained by the entertaining oneupmanship of the wacky performances from lead villains Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones.
6 Batman Returns (68)
Tim Burton’s second Batman following three years after the original was a similarly-big hit with critics and audiences with Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn as Catwoman proving to be as iconic as Jack Nicholson’s take on The Joker.
Despite committing the common sin of superhero sequels–overstuffing the story with different villains–Danny DeVito and Christopher Walken have always been considered welcome additions to the cast and fans have been craving to see Michael Keaton return to the title role ever since.
5 Batman (69)
Tim Burton’s first Batman movie is often considered to be the character’s big-screen debut, even though it isn’t, and is one of the few landmark moments within the genre that can be considered as influential in the development of the genre as Richard Donner’s original Superman movie.
Many of Burton’s designs for the hero and his nighttime world would permeate into, and inform, the wider Batman image with both Michael Keaton’s and Jack Nicholson’s performances becoming integral to public perceptions of Batman and The Joker.
4 Batman Begins (70)
The first Batman movie following the public mauling of Batman & Robin 8 years prior, Batman Begins may not have as big a hit at the box office as some of the character’s more iconic achievements but it was met with applause from both the pickiest of fans and critics and began director Christopher Nolan’s massively-successful new trilogy with the superhero.
Providing a new origin story for Bruce Wayne and his alter ego based on the collected canon of the comics, Batman Begins successful rivals Tim Burton’s first movie for status as the definitive cinematic introduction to the character.
3 Batman: The Movie (71)
Beyond Keaton and Bale, many still consider Adam West’s take on The Caped Crusader to be the one and only, with praise for his original 1966 movie still holding up and placing it in the number 3 spot on this list.
Released in between the first and second seasons of the beloved 60s TV show, Batman: The Movie (originally just called Batman) has endured over the decades in the hearts and minds of fans and critics alike.
2 The Dark Knight Rises (78)
Christopher Nolan’s final entry in the Dark Knight Trilogy was similarly successful as the previous movie and brought the character’s arc to a close in a satisfying way.
Reimagining a number of characters that had appeared in previous Batman movies, as well as introducing a few classic ones to the big screen, The Dark Knight Rises wowed critics with its gusto in tackling such a highly-anticipated finale to the Bale era of the character.
1 The Dark Knight (84)
Often ranked by comic book fans, superhero fans and movie fans in general as both one of the best superhero movies ever made and one of the best sequels ever made, Christopher Nolan’s middle child in the Dark Knight Trilogy takes the top spot as both the best-reviewed Batman movie so far and the best-reviewed live-action DC movie adaptation so far.
Squaring off against Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning take on The Joker, The Dark Knight presented a classic good vs. evil plot in an exciting and dynamic way for critics that felt that the genre had become too stale.
NEXT: The 10 Best Marvel Movies Ever (According To Metacritic)