The Live-Action Batman Movies In Order: How To Watch By Release Date

Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne The Batman.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a Batfan, any day is a great day to watch all the Batman movies in order (most of which are usually available with a Max subscription). It can also be fun to have debates over which of the best Batman movies -- such as Tim Burton's 1989 classic or The Dark Knight -- or even the most underrated Batman movies -- like SubZero -- deserve a spot among the greatest superhero movies of all time. 

Well, before you cast your vote, try revisiting (or, perhaps, even discovering) all of the live-action, feature-length DC movies starring the Caped Crusader so far on streaming, as a digital rental, or on physical media. We shall start with the “Bright Knight’s” big screen moment.

The Adam West Era

Adam West and Burt Ward in Batman: The Movie

(Image credit: Fox / DC)

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Released months after its TV series predecessor premiered, Batman: The Movie sees millionaire Bruce Wayne (Adam West, who later reprised the role in two animated movies) and his young ward, Dick "Robin" Grayson (Burt Ward, who had some close calls on set), take on four fearsome members of their rogues gallery. The film may be a far cry from the character’s definitively darker iterations, but West’s legendary performance and its laugh-out-loud moments make it hard not to get wrapped up in this fun, campy classic.

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The Tim Burton Era

Michael Keaton in 1989's Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman (1989)

The film that brought the Dark Knight in his definitive, brooding form back to the mainstream (for the first time) was this box office smash -- the most popular movie of 1989 -- that is also lauded as one of the best Tim Burton movies. For Michael Keaton’s grounded portrayal of the titular hero (despite facing premature backlash for his casting), Jack Nicholson’s timelessly manic take on the Joker, and Danny Elfman's seminal score, Batman is one of the best movies of the '80s and remains one of the most influential superhero movies of all time.

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Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Keaton in Batman Returns

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman Returns (1992)

After removing much of his dialogue, Keaton put on the cape and cowl a second and last time (for a while, at least) to face The Penguin (a nightmarish Danny DeVito), Michelle Pfeiffer giving one of the best Catwoman performances, and Christopher Walken as one of the more overlooked Batman movie characters, Max Schreck, during one volatile holiday season. Returning director Burton runs wild with his signature, wondrously macabre style for Batman Returns, resulting in a strange and controversial, but still thoroughly entertaining, interpretation of Gotham City lore.

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Buy Batman Returns on Blu-ray on Amazon.

The Joel Schumacher Era

Val Kilmer in Batman Forever

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Batman Forever (1995)

Following Batman Returns' divisive reception, the late Joel Schumacher was tapped to direct this action-packed spectacle that is still dark on the inside (delving deeper into Bruce Wayne’s “scarred psyche”), but brighter on the outside (making Gotham look  like Vegas with miniatures and digital effects). Val Kilmer steps in to play the lead in Batman Forever, along with Nicole Kidman as psychologist Chase Meridian, Jim Carrey as one of the most iconic Riddler depictions, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and Chris O’Donnell as Robin.

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The Batfamily in Batman & Robin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman & Robin (1997)

O’Donnell returned as the grown-up Boy Wonder, but this time with George Clooney -- who is not the biggest fan of his performance as Wayne -- for Schumacher’s final DC movie, which is much tonally and visually brighter, but still does work for some people despite an initially cold reception from most. Batman & Robin sees the Caped Crusaders facing off against Mr. Freeze (a scenery-chewing Arnold Schwarzenegger) and the deceptive Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman), with unexpected help from Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone).

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The Dark Knight Trilogy

Christian Bale in Batman Begins

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman Begins (2005)

After nearly a decade of dormancy, co-writer and director Christopher Nolan revived Batman on the big screen by going back to the beginning of Bruce Wayne’s war on crime. Christian Bale secures himself as one of the best actors to wear the cape and cowl in Batman Begins, which also features one of the coolest Batmobile designs and beautifully bridges the gap between comic book fantasy and grounded, action-packed thrills.

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Heath Ledger and Christian Bale The Dark Knight

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight (2008)

Batman Begins was a major turning point for superhero movies, but Nolan’s brilliantly crafted, astonishingly successful follow-up truly sparked a revolution that finally convinced experts to treat comic book movies like respectable cinema. It may be a Batman movie, but the late Heath Ledger (who once was considered to play the hero before Bale) steals the show with his Oscar-winning performance as the Joker and pushes The Dark Knight into the higher echelon of the pop culture stratosphere.

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Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Nolan ended his Dark Knight Trilogy with a send-off that sees Bale (who turned down a fourth installment) as a Batman pushed to his farthest limits as his city becomes an anarchic “No Man’s Land." Once again, however, it is the villains who steal the spotlight in The Dark Knight Rises with Tom Hardy as a properly imposing and intelligent Bane and Anne Hathaway surprising fans as a cunning Catwoman who joins forces with Batman in one of the coolest rival team-ups in recent memory.

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The DC Extended Universe

Director Zack Snyder’s Superman movies reboot, Man of Steel, was the first installment of a shared universe that came to be referred to as the DC Extended Universe. Of course, such a franchise could not be complete without Batman -- as played by Academy Award winner and former Marvel movie actor (from 2003’s Daredevil) Ben Affleck... but he would not be the only one.

Before we get into where you can relive Batman's appearances in the DCEU, let's take a quick look at every film in this now defunct shared universe by order of release date:

  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017) 
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam! (2019)
  • Birds Of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Black Adam (2022)
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)
  • The Flash (2023)
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)

Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

In 2013, Affleck was announced as Bale's successor for a gruffer, older, beefier (and, arguably, better) take on Batman. By revisiting Man of Steel's climax through Bruce Wayne’s eyes at the beginning, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice -- available on Max as a three-hour "ultimate" cut -- sets the Dark Knight on a path toward vengeful conflict with the godly Kryptonian (played by Henry Cavill) as his heroism is also put under intense scrutiny.

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Ben Affleck as Batman in Suicide Squad

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Suicide Squad (2016)

Affleck made a brief, but memorable, appearance in Suicide Squad just a few months after Batman v Superman. In two of the best sequences (in addition to a mid-credits cameo) from David Ayer’s supervillain crossover flick, the vigilante apprehends Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), putting them behind bars and making them eligible to do Amanda Waller's (Viola Davis) dirty work on Task Force X.

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Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Flash and Aquaman assembled for battle in Justice League movie

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Justice League (2017)

Seeking redemption for the mistake that led to Clark Kent’s demise, Bruce Wayne seeks out a crew of powerful people to help him defend Earth from an impending, otherworldly threat. While some may assume Superman is the de facto leader of the Justice League, it is this more hopeful Batman calling the shots in the first cinematic interpretation of DC's most powerful heroes uniting.

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Live-action Justice League members grouped together

(Image credit: Warner Bros. / HBO Max)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Seeking redemption for the mistakes that led to Justice League's disappointing critical and commercial reception, Warner Bros. finally decided to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut as a four-hour streaming exclusive (along with a black and white version) on Max that better represents director Zack Snyder’s original vision before leaving the project. While Affleck does have his moments in Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut, it is Zack Snyder’s Justice League that presents some of his Batman’s most badass moments on screen.

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Stream Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray on Max.
Buy Zack Snyder's Justice League on Blu-ray on Amazon.

Michael Keaton, Ezra Miller and Sasha Calle in The Flash

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Flash (2023)

After discovering he can use his lightning-fast speed to alter the past, Barry Allen (Ezra Miller) finds himself trapped in an alternate reality that, in order to save it, will require some help. Director Andy Muschietti's DC Multiverse-spanning adventure, The Flash, not only features Affleck's Batman, but also Michael Keaton in an awesome return to the role and one other surprise cameo at the end that we will let you find out on your own.

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The Matt Reeves Era

Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Batman (2022)

After Affleck walked away from directing and leading a DCEU solo film, Matt Reeves assumed the reins and reinterpreted the Dark Knight (an electrifying Robert Pattinson) in a separate canon as the hard-boiled detective fans had been dying to see on the big screen. Featuring a stellar cast including Zoë Kravitz's Selina Kyle, Jeffrey Wright's Jim Gordon, Paul Dano's sadistic Riddler, and an unrecognizable Colin Farrell as The Penguin, The Batman is a gritty, exciting, Academy Award nominated noir -- with, arguably, the franchise's best chase scene -- that reimagines Gotham City as a grimy cesspool of corruption nearly beyond saving.

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The beauty of a character like Batman is that there are so many different versions for any kind of fan to enjoy, with some even preferring the DCAU's version of Batman, voiced by the late Kevin Conroy. It looks like yet another big screen interpretation of the Dark Knight is about to be added to the mix, too, as part of James Gunn and Peter Safran's new DC Universe -- a job Alan Ritchson said he would do in a heartbeat. Enjoy this binge of all the live-action Batman movies so far -- which is subject to change with all the upcoming Batman movies on the horizon -- at any Bat-time, any Bat-place, and (sometimes) on various Bat-channels.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.