Batman’s big screen outings – ranked from worst to best
Christian Bale Batman

To mark the release of Batman v Superman, we’re taking a look back at every prior cinematic exploit of the Caped Crusader himself.

Batman seems to have been a pretty prolific hero, so we’ve excluded all animated movies (of which there is a lot of straight to DVD fare), and the ‘serial movies’ of the 1950s.

Only full length, big screen outings will do as we countdown – from worst to best – Batman’s previous film outings.

9. Batman & Robin (1997)

Batman and Robin 1997

An absolute horror-show of a film, let alone a Batman film, Batman & Robin garnered a cringe-inducing 11% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and remains one of George Clooney’s worst performances.

Director Joel Schumacher obviously tried to hark back to the campy fun of the ’60s TV serials, but instead drifted way past the mark to present something far to jokey to take seriously in any way. Frantic and mindless at best, how did a movie that expensive look so cheap?

8. Batman Forever (1995)

Batman Forever 1995

Batman Forever wasn’t much better. With Schumacher trying to cram far too much into the movie’s modest running time, the film felt bloated, busy and excessively loud.

Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’s Two-Face did at least shine through the mire with their charismatic performances, but the suit that accentuates Val Kilmer’s nipples should really tell you everything.

7. Batman: The Movie (1966)

Batman The Movie 1966 Adam West

The first full length Batman outing on the big screen (we’re not counting the ‘serial movies’ that came in the 50s), Adam West’s turn as the hero is still one of the most fondly remembered, with an audaciously campy delivery that ranks the 60s version as a favourite among cult fans.

Yes, it’s played for laughs. But it works.

6. Batman (1989)


After two decades away from the big screen, Tim Burton took the reigns of what would turn out to be one of the weirdest Batman projects ever.

Eerie and haunting in equal measure, Burton put his own spin on the character and gave audiences an early superhero film that resembled the dystopian nightmare of movies like Brazil in many ways. Jack Nicholson’s Joker is terrific, and this is dark entertainment at its very best.

5. Batman Retuns (1992)

Batman Returns 1992

Burton returned for the much anticipated sequel, retaining the dark and brooding atmosphere of the first. An amazing cast including a returning Danny DeVito as The Penguin and Christopher Walken elevated the film above the quality of the first, as did the surprisingly emotional elements.

The best Batman film of the 90s.

4. Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins

Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of films stand head and shoulders above anything else in the genre. Most other superhero movies don’t even come close (although Winter Soldier almost nudges it).

The order here is up for debate, although some first-in-the-series wobbles put …Begins as the weakest of the three for this writer, though it’s still an amazing piece of film-making.

3. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight Rises Bane Batman

Let down only slightly by Bane’s inaudible mumbling, though he was played excellently (as ever) by Tom Hardy, Nolan’s finale was a fitting send off to his vision of the hero, and presented a thrilling action film with enough emotional heft to get audiences invested.

A stellar cast of characters carried this through, and on the basis of early reviews for Batman v Superman, could mark Batman’s last great big screen outing.

2. The Dark Knight (2008)

Batman The Dark Knight Rises Joker

The all out best straight-up Batman movie features a string of amazing performances, not least from Christian Bale’s gruff vigilante, as well as a now iconic turn from the late, great Heath Ledger as The Joker.

Ledger really gave everything to the role, utterly inhabiting the demented character and creating one of the best movie villains the world has ever seen. Memorable scenes abound, involving everything from exploding hospitals to ball-point pens in Nolan’s exhilarating thriller.

1. The LEGO Movie (2014)

Batman The LEGO Movie

Call us controversial for listing this as the best Batman outing going, but when you consider the sheer wonderment of everything going on around Will Arnett’s Caped Crusader in Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s rambunctious animation, it’s impressive just how much the Dark Knight still manages to stand out.

Everything is indeed awesome, especially Batman’s very own brooding song. Altogether now: “DARKNESS! NO PARENTS!”


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