Best batman movies ranked

The Best Batman Movies Ranked: Best to Worst

With The Batman (finally) rolling into theatres, a spotlight shines once again on our favourite nocturnal superhero. That makes now the perfect time to revisit all the Batman movies in order by rating or release date, respectively. Before you see Robert Pattinson take on The Riddler in the new Matt Reeves blockbuster, you should take the time to watch the Batman film series in chronological order. You’ll notice it taking on a darker tone with each subsequent entry, barring the occasional foray into pure camp (cough, Batman & Robin, cough) or genuine comedy (here’s looking at you, LEGO Batman). To watch the films in order of their IMDb rating, meanwhile, is to take things in the opposite direction, starting dark and slowly veering into cheesy terrain.

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Image: Warner Bros.

As for the most recent instalment—which was twice-delayed by the pandemic—it finds Robert Pattinson stepping confidently into the title role. Bruce Wayne by day and the Dark Knight by…well…night, he squares off against a slew of legendary supervillains. Already earning high marks amongst critics, it’s reportedly even darker than the Christian Bale Batman movies, which is no small feat. It brings the legacy of Batman on film into a new era, expanding upon a history that’s decades in the making.

How will The Batman stack up against its iconic brethren? That’s for viewers to decide, but in the meantime, here are all the best Batman movies in order of their IMDb rating, followed by their chronological order. You may notice that we included “Joker” on the chronological list but not the list of best Batman movies, namely because Batman doesn’t actually appear in the film (though Bruce Wayne is mentioned). But if you’re making your way through the entire Batman film series, you’ll want to include it for obvious reasons.

How the Rankings Work

When ranking all the Batman movies, we kept things relatively simple by sticking to IMDb ratings. As a guide, votes are submitted by registered users on a scale of 1 to 10 and then aggregated into a single number, which is displayed on the title’s main page. To qualify for a rating, the film or TV show must have been shown publically at least once (including festival screenings). Calculated using a consistent, unbiased formula, the ratings act as a simplified way to see what users, critics and film lovers think about their favourite (and least favourite) titles. While each opinion about the quality of a movie or TV show is subjective, this is an aggregated ranking based on thousands of votes.

Best Batman Movies Ranked

Whether it’s the Christan Bale Batman movies or Michael Keaton at his charismatic best, the long list of flicks in the Batman film series is a mixed bag, each bringing their own cowl to the Dark Knight’s story. From first to worst, here are all the Batman movies ranked in accordance with their IMDb rating.

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

The second instalment of Christopher Nolan’s beloved trilogy is also the best Batman movie that pretty much everyone saw coming. Like “Iron Man” from the same year (and “Batman Begins” from a few years earlier), it upended our very notions of what a comic book movie could be. Its story centres on the dangerous game of cat-and-mouse between Batman and the Joker, with a Two-Face subplot tacked on to somewhat distracting effect. Whilst there are top-notch performances all around, Heath Ledger steals the show with his nihilistic take on Batman’s foremost nemesis. This film is essentially the metric to which every Batman movie will be measured until the franchise goes away for good.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger
IMDB: 9.1/10
Run Time: 2 hours 32 minutes

2. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Audiences were still reeling from “The Dark Knight” when this epic follow-up arrived in theatres. It opens with Gotham City in a state of relative peace and Bruce Wayne living the life of a recluse. Enter the masked supervillain Bane, played to menacing perfection by Tom Hardy. With his arrival comes a new reign of terror, forcing Batman out of exile and into a partnership with Catwoman. A series of intense showdowns and narrow escapes ensue, with Gotham’s fate hanging in the balance. Personally, we’re bigger fans of “Batman Begins” and maybe even Tim Burton’s first Batman film, but the IMDb users hath spoken!

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
IMDB: 8.4/10
Run Time: 2 hours 44 minutes

3. Batman Begins (2005)

This groundbreaking Batman movie resurrected the franchise by way of its committed lead actor, grim tonality, and sweeping origin story. A supervillain named Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) is using psychoactive drugs as a weapon of choice, with plans to send all of Gotham City on a deadly mind trip. Batman begins and so too does a new era of comic book movies, which incorporate the kind of themes and performances that you might find in prestige crime thrillers and high-brow action blockbusters.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Cillian Murphy, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman
IMDB: 8.4/10
Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

4. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

We promised to rank the Batman movies in order of IMDb rating and we’re sticking to that promise. But is the famous “Snyder Cut” really as good as its legacy would suggest, or is at least some of the hype powered by fanboy fervour, the kind of which enabled its release in the first place? Then again, plenty of modern viewers might level similar accusations at Tim Burton’s “Batman” so it’s all a matter of perspective. We’ll report back with hard answers as soon as we find the time to sit through four-plus hours of explosive spectacle and overwrought melodrama as only Zack Snyder can deliver it.

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot
IMDB: 8.1/10
Run Time: 4 hours 2 minutes

5. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

Like the animated series before it, this film adaptation has endured as a cult classic. It draws story elements from the graphic novels “Batman: Year One” and “Batman: Year Two” and finds the Dark Knight being falsely accused of murder. Rendered in a signature visual style, it arrived in theatres on short notice and then floundered at the domestic box office, only to thrive on the home rental market. Two direct-to-video sequels would follow.

Director: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
Starring: Kevin Conroy (voice), Dana Delany (voice), Stacy Keach (voice), Mark Hamill (voice)
IMDB: 7.8/10
Run Time: 1 hour 16 minutes

6. Batman (1989)

A historical benchmark, Tim Burton’s “Batman” breathed new life into the otherwise stagnant sub-genres of superhero movies and comic book adaptations. Playing the caped crusader, Michael Keaton offers the perfect balance of seriousness and charm, punctuated by the occasional snark. Then we have Jack Nicholson’s seminal performance as the Joker, a large part of the film’s immediate draw and resounding success. Certain aspects of the work are campy in retrospect and Prince’s funky soundtrack—whilst quite listenable—doesn’t exactly scream “Dark Knight” in a contemporary milieu. Nevertheless, the movie still manages to entertain without overstaying its welcome, which is more than we can say for plenty of modern examples. And let’s not forget Danny Elfman’s iconic score, which is essentially etched into memory from the moment it first appears.

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger
IMDB: 7.3/10
Run Time: 2 hours 6 minutes

7. The LEGO Batman Movie

Does this computer-animated comedy make up part of the Batman film series or the LEGO film series or both? Rather than even ponder the question, one can simply sit back and enjoy the lighter side of the Dark Knight, who defends Gotham City whilst dealing with some personal issues. Call it the perfect counterpunch to gloomier fare like 2022’s “The Batman” or the Nolan trilogy.

Director: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett (voice), Michael Cera (voice), Rosario Dawson (voice), Zach Galifianakis (voice)
IMDB: 7.5/10
Run Time: 1 hour 44 minutes

8. Batman Returns (1992)

Eager anticipation all but guaranteed the commercial success of this somewhat controversial sequel, which did indeed make a killing at the box office but also fell short of expectation. It’s been reappraised in the time since and now retains the status of a cult classic, complete with iconic characters and performances. Taking Tim Burton’s sensibilities to outlandish extremes, the story puts Gotham City in the crosshairs of the Penguin and Catwoman.

Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer
IMDB: 7.1/10
Run Time: 2 hours 6 minutes

9. Batman (1966)

If you simply must watch all the Batman movies, you might as well throw this campy classic onto the list. Adapted from the live-action TV series, it imparts a glorious datedness and stars the legendary Adam West at the height of his fame. Words like “Thwapp!” and “Ooof!” burst onto the screen as Batman and Robin take down a unified front of arch-villains. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward
IMDB: 6.5/10
Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

10. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

Batman’s animated adventures continue in this underwhelming instalment, which seems particularly toothless in light of its R rating. Alternating between present and past, it tells the story of Batgirl whilst exploring Joker’s origins, amongst other things. For a better take on the same subject matter, stick with Alan Moore’s acclaimed graphic novel.

Director: Sam Liu
Starring: Kevin Conroy (voice), Mark Hamill (voice), Tara Strong (voice)
IMDB: 6.4/10
Run Time: 1 hour 16 minutes

11. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Ben Affleck debuts as Batman (and performs admirably) in this sprawling superhero flick, which pits the Dark Knight against the Man of Steel. As with much of Zack Snyder’s work, the film goes big on spectacle and melodrama but arguably fails to resonate emotionally or drive home a compelling story. An extended “Ultimate Edition” was released digitally and on Blu-Ray with 31 minutes of additional footage.

Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg
IMDB: 6.5/10
Run Time: 2 hours 32 minutes

12. Batman Forever (1995)

A drastic departure from Tim Burton’s Batman movies, this zany follow-up nevertheless scored big at the box office. To think of it nowadays is to have pukish neon green colours and Jim Carrey’s maniacal performance flash across one’s mind. Val Kilmer seems relatively lifeless as the title character and would later complain that the weight of the Batsuit made it impossible to move. Speaking of the Batsuit, director Joel Schumacher reportedly insisted on adorning it with nipples (yes, nipples). These are but a few amongst the numerous decisions that helped cement the film’s legacy as an outright mess. In addition to a disastrous IMDb rating, it holds a critic score of 39% and audience score of 32% on Rotten Tomatoes. And yet it seems like a masterpiece when compared to the movie that came directly in its wake…

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman
IMDB: 5.4/10
Run Time: 2 hours 1 minutes

13. Batman & Robin (1997)

Joel Schumacher’s famous fiasco killed the Batman franchise on arrival and drove a nail into the coffin that would take years to extract. A star-studded cast and outsized budget are no match for its prevailing atmosphere of candy-coloured campiness. This time around, Batman is joined by Batgirl and Robin as he contends with low-rung supervillains like Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy. George Clooney is so embarrassed by his performance (or lack thereof) as the Dark Knight that he’s still apologising for it over two decades later. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the annals of terrible cinema would be a little emptier without the existence of this movie.

Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Clooney, Uma Thurman
IMDB: 3.7/10
Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

The Batman (2022)

The initial reviews are in and it’s all positive. Robert Pattinson’s turn as the Caped Crusader is apparently a triumph, with the 2022 film currently sitting at a Batman-best 9.2/10 on IMDB, however, the ranking is likely to change as more user reviews come in. A decidedly darker approach to the superhero, Matt Reeves’ The Batman sees The Dark Knight take on the Riddler, a sadistic serial killer on a murderous spree against key political figures in Gotham. A tale of crime, corruption and deceit, the latest iteration isn’t just an unfiltered look at an iconic hero, it falls a little closer to home than previous iterations.

Director: Matt Reeves
Starring: Robert Pattinson, Zoe Kravitz, Paul Dano,
IMDB: 9.2/10
Run Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

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Image: Warner Bros.

Batman Movies in Order

It’s no secret that Batman has evolved over the years, perhaps more so than any other character. As a result, there’s a wide array of eras and actors from which to choose. Sure, it makes more sense to stick with specific titles from Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, and Matt Reeves, but where’s the fun in that?! Why not take a trip through history instead, tracing Batman from Adam West through to Robert Pattison and seeing just how each respective actor and director informs the tone and style of the overall franchise. Here’s the entire film series in order, should you want to see the evolution play out in a chronological fashion. Good luck!

  1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
  2. Batman (1989)
  3. Batman Returns (1992)
  4. Batman Forever (1995)
  5. Batman and Robin (1997)
  6. Batman Begins (2005)
  7. The Dark Knight (2008)
  8. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  9. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  10. Suicide Squad (2016)
  11. Justice League (2017)
  12. The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
  13. Joker (2019)
  14. Zac Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  15. The Batman (2022)

General FAQs

What is considered the best Batman movie?

Christopher Nolan's 'The Dark Knight' is widely considered the best Batman movie. It currently has an IMDb score of 9.1 out of 10.

What is the best order to watch Batman?

If you simply must watch every Batman movie that ever existed, you might as well do so in chronological order. Or you can save yourself some trouble by sticking with the better films like 'The Dark Knight' and 'Batman Begins'.

STAFF WRITER

Jacob Osborn

Jacob Osborn is an accomplished author and journalist with over 10 years of experience in the media industry. Jacob holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin--Madison and has previously written for Stacker alongside co-authoring a Young Adult novel through Simon & Schuster. Now based in Portland, Oregon, Jacob specialises in entertainment, technology and alcohol reporting. You might find him crate-digging at the nearest record store or sampling whisky at the nearest bar. He daydreams of travelling around the world, but for now, the world will have to come to him by way of lifestyle products, gear, gadgetry, and entertainment. Let's call it a happy compromise while he saves up for the next big trip.