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For just over eight decades, Batman has been the dominant superhero at the box office. Just four years after his debut, the Caped Crusader headlined a Batman serial in 1943, with a sequel serial, Batman and Robin, following in 1949. However, Batman didn’t get his own full movie until 1966, when Adam West and Burt Ward reprised their roles as Batman and Robin from the Batman TV series.
Following that film, there was a 23-year gap between Batman movies. But with few exceptions since then, Batman has had a regular presence at the box office. Since 1989, there have been 11 Batman adventures on the big screen, and that doesn’t even count the other movies he’s appeared in or the various direct-to-video films, which are even more numerous. For this list, we’re going to tell you how you can watch all of the Batman movies in order, so you can cultivate your own Bat-marathon in support of Batman’s 85th anniversary this year.
The Batman TV series was in full swing when the movie debuted in 1966. Modern audiences sometimes fail to understand that this Batman movie was always meant to be a comedy. But it’s the unintentionally hilarious moments that made the film into a camp classic.
For the big screen, Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) had to take on The Joker (Cesar Romero), The Riddler (Frank Gorshin), The Penguin (Burgess Meredith), and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) in order to foil their bizarre scheme to turn the UN Security Council into dust before kidnapping them for ransom.
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Michael Keaton may have played Bruce Wayne and his alter ego, but Jack Nicholson got top billing in Batman for his turn as The Joker. Tim Burton’s movie reignited Batmania, and streamlined the comic book origin story by making Joker’s younger self, Jack Napier, into the man who murdered Bruce’s parents.
Journalist Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) is out for the scoop on both Batman and Bruce Wayne, but she gets more than she bargained for when the Joker becomes infatuated with her.
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Batman Returns (1992)
Burton and Keaton both came back for Batman Returns, which pits the Dark Knight against three villains: The Penguin (Danny DeVito), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer, who still deserves her own movie), and businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken). Shreck gets behind Penguin’s campaign to become Gotham City’s next mayor, while Catwoman collaborates with Penguin’s scheme to discredit Batman.
Neither Batman nor Catwoman initially realize that they are romancing each other as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle, respectively. And while there is love between them, it may not be enough to save them.
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Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
The team behind Batman: The Animated Series took the show to the next level with the theatrically released Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the best Batman stories ever put to film, as Bruce Wayne (Kevin Conroy) reunites with Andrea Beaumont (Dana Delany), the one woman who could have ever made him give up being Batman.
Before Bruce can make any rash decisions about his lost love, he has to deal with the Phantasm (Stacy Keach), a new vigilante in town with a lethal grudge against several mobsters. The Gotham City police quickly blame Batman for the Phantasm’s murders, and the trail of clues leads Bruce to Andrea’s father, Carl Beaumont (also Keach), before revealing a hidden chapter in the past of The Joker (Mark Hamill).
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Batman Forever (1995)
The downfall of the live-action franchise began with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. Since Keaton didn’t want to return, Schumacher cast Val Kilmer as Batman and loaded up on two villains who easily upstaged the hero: Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face.
This film also introduced Chris O’Donnell as Robin, even though he looked way too old for the part. The entire movie is a mess, but it was still better than the next sequel.
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Batman & Robin (1997)
The Boys in the Boat director George Clooney has constantly apologized for Batman and Robin, which is easily the worst movie on this list. But the real blame should always go to director Joel Schumacher and the studio executives who thought that this was what Batman movies should be like.
If you dare to watch this, get ready for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s endless supply of ice puns as Mr. Freeze, Uma Thurman vamping it up as Poison Ivy, and Alicia Silverstone joining the Bat-family as Batgirl. And let’s not forget the nipples on the Bat-suit, Schumacher’s signature contribution to pop culture.
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Batman Begins (2005)
It took eight years for Batman to get back on the big screen, but director Christopher Nolan was clearly the right man for the job. In addition to lining up Christian Bale as Batman and Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth, Nolan made sure that even the minor roles were filled with world-class actors including Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Rutger Hauer, and Ken Watanabe.
This was a complete reboot that gave Batman his most extended theatrical origin to date, as well as another lost love: Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes). That would prove to be an important part of the next movie.
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The Dark Knight (2008)
The great comic book movie The Dark Knight was snubbed for a Best Picture nomination by Oscar voters, which is one of the big reasons why that category now has 10 nomination spots at the Academy Awards. This may be the best comic book movie to date, as Bruce believes that the rise of Gotham’s District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) means that he can stop being Batman and pursue a life with Rachel (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal).
The late Heath Ledger’s Joker blows up those plans and several other locations in Gotham as he unleashes his own personal brand of chaos. Ledger was so menacing in the role that he posthumously won the Best Supporting Actor at the following year’s Oscar ceremony.
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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Nolan and Bale ended their trilogy with The Dark Knight Rises, which begins with Bruce Wayne as a recluse and Batman MIA since the events of the previous film. Bruce is soon drawn out of his seclusion by a thief, Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), and by his colleague, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), who seems to share his vision for Gotham City.
However, Bane (Tom Hardy) has his own vision for Gotham, and the means to pull it off. And unlike most of Batman’s villains, Bane is more than capable of fighting the Dark Knight … and defeating him.
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Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Ben Affleck didn’t get to star in his own Batman movie before appearing in the shared universe film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. After witnessing Superman (Henry Cavill) nearly destroy Metropolis during his battle with the Kryptonians in Man of Steel, Bruce Wayne becomes convinced that Clark Kent’s alter ego is the most dangerous man on the planet.
Fanning the flames of this conflict is Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg), a man who hates Superman even more than Bruce Wayne does. Gal Gadot also makes her debut as Wonder Woman in this film.
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The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
Even more so than the Adam West Batman film, The Lego Batman Movie is unapologetically a comedy. Will Arnett’s Lego Batman is an overcompensating egomaniac who is forced to gain an appreciation for family and friends as he adopts an orphan (Michael Cera’s Dick Grayson/Robin) and becomes romantically attracted to Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), the new Commissioner of the GCPD.
When The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) can’t get Batman to acknowledge how important he is to him, he recruits several of Lego’s greatest villains in a bid to destroy Gotham City once and for all.
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The Batman (2022)
Director Matt Reeves started a new era with The Batman, which places Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne under the cape and cowl. Pattinson’s Batman is still relatively new at being a hero when a deadly incarnation of Riddler (Paul Dano) ventures into serial killer territory to expose Gotham’s darkest secrets.
Batman does have some allies on his side, including Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) and GCPD officer James Gordan (Jeffrey Wright). But Riddler’s plans are too much for anyone to handle, even a Batman.
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