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

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

When you are a Batfan like me, any day is a great day to watch all the Batman movies in order, or debate about the best Batman movies - many of which are widely considered by comic book fans and cinema lovers alike to be some of the greatest superhero movies of all time - such as 1989’s Batman, The Dark Knight, or even the 1943 serials with Lewis G. Wilson (if you can find them). Well, you will not have a problem finding all of the following live-action DC movies in which the Caped Crusader has starred in so far on streaming or through digital rental, starting with the “Bright Knight’s” big screen moment.

The Adam West Era

Adam West and Burt Ward in Batman: The Movie

(Image credit: Fox)

Batman: The Movie (1966)

Released mere months after the hit TV series first premiered, Batman: The Movie sees the secret alter ego of millionaire Bruce Wayne (the late Adam West) and his young ward, Robin (Burt Ward), take on the four most feared members of their rogues gallery who hold the world ransom with a device that dehydrates people. The film may be a far cry from the character’s definitively darker iterations, but West’s legendary performance makes it hard not to get wrapped up in this fun, campy classic.

Stream Batman: The Movie on YouTube.
Buy/rent Batman: The Movie on Amazon (opens in new tab).

The Tim Burton Era

Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson in Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman (1989)

The film that brought the Dark Knight in his definitive form back to the mainstream (for the first time) was this box office smash from visionary director Tim Burton. Particularly for Michael Keaton’s inspired, psychologically grounded titular portrayal (despite initially facing premature backlash for his casting) and Jack Nicholson’s timelessly manic take on the Joker, 1989’s Batman remains one of the most influential superhero movies of all time.

Stream Batman on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Batman on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Michael Keaton in Batman Returns

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman Returns (1992)

Michael Keaton put on the cape and cowl for the second (but not the last) time for a face-off against The Penguin (a nightmarish Danny DeVito), Catwoman (a provocative Michelle Pfeiffer), and Christopher Walken during one volatile holiday season. Returning to the director’s chair, Tim 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.

Stream Batman Returns on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Batman Returns on Amazon (opens in new tab).

The Joel Schumacher Era

Val Kilmer in batsuit in Batman Forever

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Batman Forever (1995)

Reactions to the strange and controversial Batman Returns led to Warner Bros. seeking another direction for the franchise and Tim Burton to exit. The late Joel Schumacher then entered with an action-packed spectacle that is still pretty dark on the inside (delving a bit deeper into Bruce Wayne’s “scarred psyche”), but much brighter on the outside (making Gotham less like New York and more like Vegas). Val Kilmer steps in to play the lead in Batman Forever, along with Nicole Kidman as psychologist Chase Meridian, Jim Carrey as the Riddler (still one of the most iconic depictions of the villain), Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, and Chris O’Donnell as Robin.

Stream Batman Forever on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Batman Forever on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Batman & Robin

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman & Robin (1997)

Chris O’Donnell returned to play the grown-up Boy Wonder, but with George Clooney filling in as the Dark Knight, for Joel Schumacher’s second and final DC Comics adaptation that is not as dark on the inside and much, much brighter (and more cartoonish) on the outside. Batman & Robin sees the titular Caped Crusaders struggling to stop Mr. Freeze (a scenery-chewing Arnold Schwarzenegger) from turning Gotham into a cube while falling prey to the allure of the deceptive Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman).

Stream Batman & Robin on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
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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 basics and all the way back to the origin 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 beautifully bridges the gap between comic book fantasy and grounded, action-packed thrills.

Stream Batman Begins on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Batman Begins on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Heath Ledger and Christian Bale The Dark Knight

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight (2008)

While Batman Begins was, undoubtedly, a major turning point for superhero movies, Christopher Nolan’s brilliantly crafted, blockbuster follow-up truly sparked a revolution in the genre in which it was finally treated like genuine cinema (no matter what anyone else may say). It may be a Batman movie, but the late Heath Ledger’s astonishing, Oscar-winning performance as the Joker absolutely steals the show and pushes The Dark Knight into the higher echelon of the pop culture stratosphere.

Stream The Dark Knight on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent The Dark Knight on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

All good things must come to an end at some point and Christopher Nolan chose to end his Dark Knight Trilogy with an epic send-off that sees Christian Bale (who turned down the chance for a fourth installment) as a Batman pushed to his farthest limits, unable to protect his city from the anarchic “No Man’s Land” it has become. Once again, however, it is the villains who steal the show in The Dark Knight Rises with Tom Hardy as a more proper take on the imposing and intelligent Bane and Anne Hathaway surprising fans as a cunning Catwoman.

Stream The Dark Knight Rises on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent The Dark Knight Rises on Amazon (opens in new tab).

DC Extended Universe

Director Zack Snyder’s reboot of the Superman movies in 2013 with Man of Steel would end up being the first installment of a new shared universe of DC movies which came to be known as the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU for short). Of course, such a franchise could not be complete without Batman, who appears in three theatrically released films (and an extended cut of one of the titles) from the series so far, as played by Academy Award winner and Marvel movies actor (2003’s Daredevil), Ben Affleck.

The following are all the movies in the DCEU so far, 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)
  • Birds Of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)

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

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice (2016)

Only a year after Christian Bale said farewell to the role, Ben Affleck was announced as his successor for a gruffer, older, beefier, (and, arguably, even better) take on Batman introduced in Zack Snyder’s follow-up to Man of Steel. By actually revisiting that film’s climax through Bruce Wayne’s eyes in its opening scene, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sets the Dark Knight on a path toward vengeful conflict with the god-like Kryptonian (Henry Cavill) as his heroism also is put under intense scrutiny by the rest of the world.

Stream Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Ben Affleck as Batman in Suicide Squad

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Suicide Squad (2016)

After speculation of his involvement, Ben Affleck’s second time playing Batman in the DC Extended Universe was a brief, but memorable appearance in Suicide Squad just a few months after the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. In two of the best sequences (plus a post-credits cameo) from David Ayer’s supervillain crossover, the vigilante apprehends both the infallible hired gun Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton (Will Smith) and Joker’s romantic partner (and partner-in-crime) 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.

Stream Suicide Squad on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Suicide Squad on Amazon (opens in new tab).

2017's Justice League cast

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Justice League (2017)

Seeking redemption for the mistake he made in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that led to Clark Kent’s demise, Bruce Wayne seeks out a crew of powerful people to help him defend the earth from an impending, otherworldly threat. While it is understandably common for one to assume that Superman is the de facto leader of the Justice League, it is this more hopeful Batman bringing the team together and calling the shots in the DCEU’s interpretation of this union of the most powerful, heroic beings in DC Comics.

Stream Justice League on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent Justice League on Amazon (opens in new tab).

Live-action Justice League members grouped together

(Image credit: HBO Max)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Seeking redemption for the mistakes made with 2017’s Justice League that led to its disappointing critical and commercial reception, Warner Bros. finally decided to #ReleaseTheSnyderCut as a four-hour streaming exclusive (as well as a black and white cut) on HBO Max that better represents director Zack Snyder’s original vision before leaving the project. While Ben Affleck does have his moments in Joss Whedon’s theatrical cut, it is Zack Snyder’s Justice League that presents some of Batman’s most badass moments in the entire DCEU.

Stream Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Stream Zack Snyder’s Justice League: Justice is Gray on HBO Max (opens in new tab).

The Matt Reeves Era

Zoe Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Batman (2022)

After Ben Affleck walked away from directing and starring in a DCEU-canon solo film, Matt Reeves assumed the reins, but with the intent to make his interpretation of the Dark Knight (this time played by an electrifying Robert Pattinson) as the hard-boiled detective comic book fans had been dying to see on the big screen for years. Also featuring a stellar cast including Zoë Kravtiz as Selina Kyle, Jeffrey Wright as Jim Gordon, and Paul Dano as a sadistic Riddler, The Batman is a gritty, exciting, traditionally styled noir thriller that reimagines Gotham City as a grimy cesspool of corruption just barely beyond saving, comparable to the unnamed setting of David Fincher’s Se7en.

Stream The Batman on HBO Max (opens in new tab).
Buy/rent The Batman on Amazon (opens in new tab).

I have always said that the beauty of a character like Batman is that there are so many different versions of him for any kind of fan to enjoy. Despite the vast number of mediums through which you can perceive him, you do not need to look much further than his presence in live-action cinema for evidence of that claim. Enjoy this binge of all the live-action Batman movies so far at any Bat-time, any Bat-place, various Bat-channels.

Jason Wiese
Jason Wiese

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.