He is the Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. He is vengeance. He is the night. He is Batman. With so many movies, spin-offs, and animations, the question is, do we have a Batman movies viewing order? Does it matter where you start?
Whether you are a diehard fan looking for the right viewing order of all Batman movies released so far or a newcomer searching for the best of the lot, I’ve got you covered.
You have plenty of time to catch up on the franchise since the new Batman movie is set to hit theatres only in 2022. Directed by Matt Reeves and starring our favorite teen vampire Robert Pattinson as the Dark Knight, it’s something all Batman movie buffs are looking forward to.
Let’s figure out the best Batman movies viewing order for you.
5 Most Recommended Batman Movies Viewing Order
Unlike franchises like Marvel, there isn’t really a particular chronology you can follow in Batman movies. This is probably because most of the live-action Batman movies have been repeatedly rebooted. For example, Warner Bros’ original Batman began with Christopher Nolan’s Trilogy.
Another reason for the difficulty in figuring out a chronological order is because the villains in Batman movies never die, so the exit of a particular character cannot be used as a reference point either.
The DC Cinematics Universe where Batman isn’t seen but still plays various pivotal roles, is also to blame for the lack of a chronology. For example, while Batman never appeared in Wonder Woman (2017), he did instigate the film’s plot.
Due to the various roles he’s played and appearances he’s made in different movies, series, TV shows, and animations, it is rather difficult to arrive at a clearly-defined viewing order for Batman movies. But I can recommend five options and you can choose one that best matches the experience you seek!
#1: The Adam West Batman Movie
The first viewing order has one movie:
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Batman: The Movie was the first full-length theatrical adaptation of Batman. The dynamic duo of Adam West (Batman) and Burt Ward (Robin) face four supervillains who plan on holding the world to ransom. They do this with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.
This movie is actually a big-screen spin-off from the 1960s Batman TV show. If you enjoyed the ‘60s era of Batman movies you can follow this up with the movies- Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (2003). But I would recommend this only to fans of the TV series.
#2: The Batman Motion Picture Anthology
The Batman Anthology is all about the origin of Batman including who he was before moving on to action-packed Gothic adventures featuring Robin. This viewing order comprises the following four Batman films:
This film was directed by Tim Burton, and starred Michael Keaton as Batman, and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. It was a critical and financial success, becoming the 5th highest-grossing film in history on its release. It was also the first installment in Warner Bros’ initial Batman film series.
Batman Returns (1992)
In this movie, Batman again played by Michael Keaton battles the Penguin (Danny DeVito), who with the help of a cruel businessman is wreaking havoc across Gotham.
Batman Forever (1995)
In Batman Forever, Batman starring Val Kilmer in the main lead and his sidekick Robin battle two villains, one, a former district attorney Two-Face, and The Riddler.
Batman and Robin (1997)
Batman and Robin is the fourth and final installment in the Warner Bros Batman film series. It was directed by Joel Schumacher, starring George Clooney as Batman, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the villain, Mr. Freeze.
#3: The Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight Trilogy
Christopher Nolan took over the Batman franchise with the end of the first anthology and brought it to unprecedented heights. The movies in this order include:
Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan directed the first movie of The Dark Knight Trilogy. After training with his mentor, Batman begins a series of crusades against the villains, Ra’s al Ghul and the Scarecrow, to free Gotham City from corruption. This movie introduces the darker side of Batman played by Christian Bale.
The Dark Knight (2008)
The second film in the Dark Knight Trilogy was produced, directed, and co-written by Christopher Nolan. In this film, Batman again played by Christian Bale goes through some of the greatest psychological and physical challenges in his fight against injustice.
The Joker wreaks havoc and rains chaos on the people of Gotham and as always it is up to the noble crusader to save the poor citizens of Gotham from the Joker’s evil intentions. The award-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger who played the Joker earned him a posthumous Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
In this film, Batman comes out of exile and joins forces with Catwoman to save Gotham from anarchy after eight years of the Joker’s reign. The villain, Bale, was portrayed spectacularly by Tom Hardy, who gained 40kgs to be physically menacing for the role.
#4: Extended DC Universe Batman Movies
When Marvel started making its comic movies, it made sense for DC to create a wider cinematic universe with Batman tie-ins. The films in this order include:
Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
This was the first live-action film to feature Batman (Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill) together. A little overdue, if you ask me! For as long as there has been Batman and Superman, we’ve always wondered who would win that fight.
While the world wrestles with the kind of heroes it needs, Batman takes on the Man of Steel. Lex Luthor, played by Jesse Eisenberg is Superman’s arch-enemy, and also the villain in this movie. It also gives us our first live-action cinematic portrayal of Wonder Woman. You’ll have to watch it to find out who wins!
Suicide Squad (2016)
In this movie, a secret government agency recruits a task force of some of the most dangerous incarcerated supervillains to save the world from the apocalypse. Ben Affleck makes an appears as Batman in a mid-credits scene in this one.
Justice League (2017)
Justice League is a follow up to Dawn of Justice. In this movie, Batman (Ben Affleck) is inspired by his restored faith in humanity and Superman’s selfless act. He joins forces with Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Cyborg, and Superman to face an even greater enemy.
#5: The Batman Movies Release Order
The final order would be to watch the Batman movies according to release date. This viewing order for all the Batman Movies is as follows:
• Batman (1943)
• Batman and Robin (1949)
• Batman: The Movie (1966)
• Batman (1989)
• Batman Returns (1992)
• Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
• Batman Forever (1995)
• Batman & Robin (1997)
• Batman Begins (2005)
• The Dark Knight (2008)
• The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
• Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
• Suicide Squad (2016)
• Justice League (2017)
• The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
• Joker (2019)
• Batman (2022)
Batman Movies are an action-packed adventure and completely entertaining. Apart from the movies, you can also binge watch the Batman live in action series and the animated films and series.
There are several online lists giving you viewing orders for Batman movies. While each one will give you a reason for its specific order, one thing they all agree on is that no particular list is ‘correct.’
In my opinion, the only Batman viewing order that matters is the one that works for you. So, start where you like!
Pick one you’ve been curious about and watch that, then work your way around to the rest. In Batman’s very own words- “the only sensible way to live in this world, is without rules.”
The same appears to be true while watching his movies too. You have more than a year before the Caped Crusader graces our screens again. Until then, grab the popcorn, turn off the lights, and let the Batman movies marathon begin.