The highly-anticipated release of the new Batman movie, The Batman is finally happening after multiple delays. The latest rendition of the DC Comics superhero is set to arrive on HBO Max from anywhere March 4 next year.

This fresh take on the eternal Dark Knight saga thrills fans for two more exciting reasons. First, Warner Bros. gets on board the blockbuster Dawn of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Matt Reeves as director. Second, the much-loved and talented Twilight trilogy actor Robert Pattinson suits up for the iconic titular character.

Warner Bros. has newly released the incredibly stunning and action-packed trailer of The Batman lasting 2 minutes and 38 seconds. Since its release last week, the sneak peek has garnered almost 31 million views at the time of this writing. The official teaser has received positive reviews and succeeded in building a lot of hype among the viewers.   

There’s still a luxury of time to spare between now and March, however. So, what’s there to do before The Batman finally hits the cinemas? Perhaps it’s the perfect time to catch up on the franchise, from 1966 to the Extended DC Universe timeline.  

If you want to binge it now and wonder where to start, we’re here to save the day. We round up all the Batman movies in the best order to watch.

Before we do that, let’s tarry a little.  First, turn your nerd mode on as we first explore some interesting fun facts about the Dark Knight’s beginning. 

The Creation of Batman   

Writers Bob Kane and Bill Finger created Batman in 1939, making him one the oldest superheroes in comic book history. The comic book writers took inspiration from the tales of Zorro in creating Bruce Wayne, Batman’s filthy rich alter ego.

The name Bruce Wayne combines the name of Robert the Bruce and Mad Anthony Wayne who were revolutionary heroes. Robert the Bruce was the Scottish leader who fought the independence war against the British Crown. Mad Anthony Wayne, on the other hand, was an infamous hot-tempered US army officer.

Meanwhile, Gotham, Batman’s beloved city, is inspired by New York and Chicago’s architectural landscapes.

The Batman
Warner Bros.

For more than 82 years, the Caped Crusader continues to amaze fans with his dark yet appealing character. From comic books to movies, the superhero never ceases to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.

Unlike other DC superheroes, Batman doesn’t possess superhuman powers. He is a man who solely depends on his high-tech batmobile, martial arts skills, and high intelligence quotient of 192.

He fights criminals in his city using some special gear that he often keeps in his utility belt. That pretty much explains why fans ask for more from Gotham’s super crimebuster without signs of getting old for many, many years.

Now, let’s get to business. Here, we list down the best viewing order to the Batman movies before watching The Batman in March. 

The Best Order to Watch the Batman Movies

As opposed to Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, the Batman film series does not have a single chronological order to follow. That’s because the franchise has seen multiple reboots, from the original Batman movie up to the 2022 rendition.

For example, the DC Extended Cinematic Universe features Batman in a pivotal or sometimes, a background role. In the 2017 Gal Gadot-led Wonder Woman, Batman didn’t appear, however, he set the film’s plot in motion. Aside from that, Wayne Enterprises was mentioned in the first Man of Steel movie starring Henry Cavill as Superman.  

Meanwhile, Warner Bros.’ original compilation of Batman movies began with Christian Bale-led Batman trilogy by acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. There is also the DC Animated Universe, which contains heaps of all-things Batman.

 In this regard, there’s not one definite viewing order to watch every live-action Batman movie. We rather suggest that you watch them in multiple orders, which all feature the Dark Knight.

The multiple orders comprise the ‘90s Era Batman Series, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, and the DC Extended Universe. 

Please note that you may encounter spoilers as you read on. But we include a bulleted spoiler-free list of the multiple viewing orders at the bottom. So, here we go.

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Batman: The Movie (1966)

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Batman: The Movie or simply Batman makes a perfect starting point to jump off your binge of all Batman movies. This entry is a standalone 1966 motion picture based on the Batman TV series.

It is the first-ever full-length film adaptation of the DC Comics superhero. 20th Century Fox originally planned to release the first-ever Batman movie before the airing of the 1966 TV series on ABC. However, it hit the theaters a couple of months after the premiere of the final episode of season 1.

In the film, Batman and Robin unravel the villains’ sinister plan to use a secret contraption that will dehydrate the entire humanity. As the baddies hold the lives of people in their hands, they demand ransom in exchange.

The superhero tandem now must come to the rescue and save the world. Both Batman and Robin fight against The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman all at once in the movie.

Directed by Leslie H. Martinson, Batman starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Most of the cast members of the original TV series reprise their roles in the film except Julie Newmar. She played Catwoman in two seasons while Lee Meriwether filled the role in the movie.

Run Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

2Batman 1989

Batman (1989)

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The ’90s live-action Batman movies paved the way to the box office successes of superhero films for the next three decades. Warner Bros. brought to the silver screen Tim Burton’s Batman, the first instalment of the original Batman film series.

The original cinematic universe spawned three more Batman movies in eight years. However, each of the films has its unique motif, tone, and depth. Three different actors intriguingly took on the mantle of the Caped Crusader in the ‘90s. These include Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, and George Clooney.

Also, the first Batman film series features big Hollywood names such as Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Jim Carrey.

Now, let’s have a closer look at all four Batman movies to watch in this first viewing order.

Batman (1989)

Tim Burton’s gothic approach to the 1989 version is the first modern film of the titular DC Comics character. Michael Keaton takes on the mantle of the Caped Crusader while the great Jack Nicholson plays the superhero’s nemesis, Joker.

The 1989 Batman transpires in the superhero’s early war on crime and highlights the clash between the Dark Night and the Joker.

In the film, the Caped Crusader must save the people of Gotham from the deadly Smylex gas unleashed by the madman. The poisonous gas causes victims to laugh hysterically and eventually die with the same Joker grin on their faces.

The Keaton-led Batman movie has set the trend of dark superhero movies hence. It received critical acclaim from film critics and fans. It also saw commercial success, raking in more than $400 million in the box office against a $48 million budget.

Kim Basinger also stars in the film as Bruce Wayne’s love interest, Vicki Vale. The cast also includes Robert Wuhl, Pat Hingle, Billy Dee Williams, Michael Gough, and Jack Palance.

Run Time: 2 hours 6 minutes

3Batman Returns

Batman Returns (1992)

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The enormous box office of the first Batman film spawned a sequel aptly titled Batman Returns. Keaton reprises the titular superhero role while acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton comes back to direct the movie.

In the sequel, a more powerful Batman faces off with a new nemesis after defeating the Joker. The Penguin, brilliantly played by Danny DeVito, plots to kidnap and kill the firstborn sons of the citizens of Gotham. The villain teams up with sordid millionaire, Max Shreck (Christopher Walken).

Batman, however, finds an ally in Selina Kyle a.k.a. Cat Woman, a fitting role for the seductive Michelle Pfeiffer. Together, they fight the evil that cloaked the entire Gotham City.

As the story progresses, Batman will not only deal with the Penguin. He also contends with Catwoman’s hunger to exact revenge on her former boss, Shreck.

Batman Returns generally received positive reviews. However, it was slammed for its PG-13 rating despite the film’s dark tone and violence in some scenes.

Just like its predecessor, the second installment of Tim Burton’s franchise is another box office hit. It grossed $266.8 million worldwide against an $80 million budget.

The 1992 Batman movie’s cast includes Michael Gough, Pat Hingle, Michael Murphy, and Vincent Schiavelli.

Run Time: 2 hours 6 minutes

4Batman Forever

Batman Forever (1995)

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Three years after the Batman Returns, the third movie Batman Forever arrives in theaters sans Keaton. Instead, Val Kilmer takes on the mantle of the new Caped Crusader. Meanwhile, Joel Schumacher gets on board as director, with Tim Burton now as the film’s producer.

The 1995 rendition shows Batman fighting against two new villains, The Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Faced (Tommy Lee Jones). The third installment introduces Robin, played by Chris O’Donnell, to a modern-day audience. O’Donnell reprised his role as Robin in the final Batman movie in this era, Batman and Robin.

Contrary to its predecessors, Batman Forever comes in a lighter and quirkier tone. Batman now longs to hang up his cape and live a normal life with his newfound love, Dr. Chase Meridian (Nicole Kidman).

But soon, he realizes he will always remain the crime-fighting hero of Gotham. With the help of his brainwave device, the Riddler uncovers the man behind the Batman’s mask, resulting in Chase’s abduction.

Batman Forever also celebrated commercial success despite mixed reviews, grossing over $336 million worldwide against a $100 million budget.

Film critics lauded the movie’s visuals, action sequences, and great performances of Carrey and Jones. But it scored low on its CGI, costume designs, and tonal departure from its predecessors.

The film’s cast also includes Michael Gough as Alfred and Pat Hingle as Commissioner James Gordon.

Run Time: 2 hours 2 minutes

5Batman and Robin

Batman and Robin (1997)

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Batman and Robin is the final installment to the Batman film series in the ’90s era. Val Kilmer exits after his first and last performance as Batman. The talented George Clooney now fills the titular role alongside Chris O’Donnell who returns to play Robin.

The film, however, features not two but three superheroes, with the Batgirl thrown into the mix of ultra-crime fighters. The iconic actress Alicia Silverstone takes on the mantle of Batgirl.

Picking up the storyline from Batman Forever, the dynamic duo continues their mission to protect Gotham, with Batgirl’s help this time. The three unite to defeat Dr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Poison Ivy (Uma Thurman). The two antagonists form a partnership to succeed in their plan to freeze the city and repopulate it with plants.

Amid growing tension in their relationship, Batman and Robin also do what it takes to save their dying butler, Alfred.

By looking at the line-up, the Batman and Robin movie boasts a star-studded cast. It doesn’t follow, though, that the movie would be outright great.

Batman and Robin took a hard blow on its ratings when film pundits bombarded it with negative reviews. Often regarded as an epic pale offering in the Batman series, this movie left the franchise in limbo.

Nonetheless, it can’t be all that bad, especially to the movie audiences in the ‘90s. Batman and Robin still grossed a box office totals of over $238 million versus a $160 million budget.

Run Time: 2 hours 5 minutes

6Batman Begins

Batman Begins (2005)

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Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy

The Batman franchise initially planned to release a darker and edgier fifth film, Batman Unchained, and a Robin spin-off. But these projects didn’t push through after the fourth installment sorely disappointed the fans.

Fortunately, after almost a decade, the great Christopher Nolan picked up the franchise and scaled new heights. He developed a new Batman Trilogy that critics tout as the best-directed superhero movie series of all time.

Nolan succeeded at capturing the viewers with the flawless depiction of Gotham, realistic storyline, and more relatable story of Batman

Batman Begins (2005)

Nolan kicks off his trilogy for the Batman storyline with Batman Begins starring Christian Bale as the dark nocturnal vigilante.

This beautiful iteration follows Bruce Wayne, from his parents’ murder to his journey across the world. The origin story shows how the protagonist learns his supreme fighting skills. Batman’s mentor, Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), recruited him into the League of Shadows.

But soon, he returns to Gotham and must battle the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). The supercriminal in the movie uses a mind-altering toxin that causes frightening hallucinations to his victims.

Batman Begins earned overwhelmingly positive reviews when it hit the big screen in 2005. Both fans and critics lauded its darker, more realistic tone compared to the preceding Batman films. It also received praises for its action sequences, score, direction, and emotional weight.

Box-office-wise, the film grossed more than $373 million worldwide against its $150 million budget. On top of that, Batman Begins got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.

Nolan’s first take on the DC Comics superhero is often recognized as one of the most influential films of the 2000s era. Bale, meanwhile, delivered an impeccable performance as Batman.

The film’s stellar cast also includes Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Ken Watanabe, Gary Oldman, and Tom Wilkinson.

Run Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

7The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight (2008)

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The Dark Knight is the second film in Nolan’s Batman Trilogy that premiered in theaters three years after its predecessor. This film marks an unprecedented success that it is considered as the greatest masterpiece for most if not all superhero films.

The sequel to Batman Begins is a runaway hit, making it the first Batman movie to earn more than $1 billion revenue worldwide. The film’s epic success emanates from an amplified storyline featuring the memorable performance of the late Heath Ledger as Joker.

Ledger beautifully portrayed perhaps the superlatively wicked villain in the entire Nolanverse. The late actor delivered incredible and spectacular acting that he may have outshined Bale’s outstanding performance in the movie.

The story of The Dark Knight focuses on Batman forging an alliance with Lieutenant James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent. Together, the trio team up to end the organized crime that wreaks havoc in Gotham. But the psychopathic criminal mastermind throws the city into chaos while plotting to kill Batman.

The 2008 installment to Nolan’s Batman Trilogy received eight Academy Awards nominations. It bagged the Best Sound Editing award while Ledger posthumously won as Best Supporting Actor.

The Dark Knight ensemble cast includes Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Morgan Freeman.

Run Time: 2 hours and 32 minutes

8The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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The Dark Knight Trilogy finally concludes with the release of The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. It picks up eight years after the events that transpired in The Dark Knight.

The story revolves around the arrival of the revolutionary Bane in Gotham. The ex-member of the League of Shadows comes to the city to fulfill Ra’s Al Ghul’s plan of ravaging the city.

Bane’s unwelcome presence compels Bruce Wayne/Batman to save Gotham over again from looming nuclear destruction.

Nolan’s Batman Trilogy unquestionably gained a cult following and a massive fanbase in the 2000s era. The conclusion to the three-part Dark Knight saga also crossed the $1 billion mark in gross sales worldwide. It becomes the second Batman movie to hit over $1 billion after its prequel, The Dark Knight.

On top of its whopping commercial success, the final installment to the Batman film series also received raving reviews. Many film critics acclaim The Dark Knight Rises as a delightful and satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy.

Bale stars alongside Michael Caine and Gary Oldman as Alfred and Commissioner James Gordon, respectively. The lovely Anne Hathaway plays the feisty Catwoman while Tom Hardy portrays the role of the antagonist, Bane.

The ensemble cast also includes Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Morgan Freeman.

Run Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

9Batman v Superman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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DC Extended Universe (DCEU)

Around the time Nolan’s The Dark Knight phenomenal cinematic release, the not-yet-so-famous Marvel started producing its comic book-based superhero movies. Thus, a great deal of DC Comics characters makes the creation of DC Extended Universe possible featuring Batman crossovers.

Iconic director Zack Snyder fills Nolan’s absence after the latter exited the Batman franchise to work on other projects. Snyder is best recognized for his directorial success of the Man of Steel. He now holds the fate of the planned shared DCEU in his hands.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

This 2016 live-action cinematic offering makes the first movie to feature DC Comics titan superheroes, Batman and Superman. Directed by Zack Snyder, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice is the second installment in the DCEU.

Moreover, Batman v Superman serves as a sequel to the modern spin of Superman. The film’s story picks up 18 months after the events that transpired in Henry Cavill-led Man of Steel.

Ben Affleck becomes the new face of Bruce Wayne/Batman who keeps fighting criminals for 20 years. The Batman and Superman face-off in the movie came as an unexpected twist to many DC superhero movie aficionados.

At the time, fans also doubted Affleck landing the Caped Crusader’s role. But the actor worked so hard for the role, enough to prove everyone wrong.

In the film, Batman sees Superman as an existential threat to humanity after his battle in Metropolis. After learning about a stash of kryptonite at Lexcorp, Batman steals it to make a Kryptonite-powered suit to beat Superman.

Gal Gadot debuts as the new Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman and soon becomes a central DCEU character. Jesse Eisenberg portrays the role of Lex Luthor who crafts his vicious plans against the Man of Steel.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made a gross sales of $872.7 million against a $250-300 million budget. The movie saw a strong debut on its opening weekend. However, it failed to bounce back after a historic drop on its second weekend.

It also received mixed reviews upon its release. Critics slammed the movie’s tone and pacing but praised the visual style and acting performances of its lead actors.

The ensemble cast also includes Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, and Holly Hunter.

Run Time: 2 hours 31 minutes

10Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad (2016)

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Suicide Squad serves as the third installment in the DC Extended universe featuring an assemblage of celebrated talents in one film. Written and directed by David Ayer, the 2016 anti-hero movie includes an uncredited small cameo of Ben Affleck’s Batman.

The film’s main anti-hero star is the Joker, portrayed by Jared Leto who has large shoes to fill. The unparalleled performance of the late Heath Ledger as Batman’s arch-nemesis is second to none.

The story centers on a secret government agency under Amanda Waller’s command. Waller recruits imprisoned supervillains to carry out a suicidal black ops mission in return for a reduced sentence.

Suicide Squad received negative reviews from critics, particularly on the film’s plot and direction. It however manages to hit it big at the box office and the viewers, grossing over $746 million worldwide.

Its commercial success spawns Birds of Prey spin-off featuring Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The sequel to the original title, The Suicide Squad came out in August.

Suicide Squad star-studded cast also includes Will Smith, Joel Kinnaman, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Jay Hernandez, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Scott Eastwood, Karen Fukuhara, Ike Barinholtz, and Cara Delevingne.

Run Time: 2 hours 10 minutes

11Justice League

Justice League (2017) and Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

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Justice League, the fifth film of the DC Extended Universe, serves as a sequel to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The crossover of all the DCEU superheroes has a jaw-dropping 300-million budget.

The 2017 Justice League would have come out great if Zack Snyder finished directing the entire film. Due to the passing of his daughter, Snyder stepped down and Joss Whedon took over as uncredited director.

While Whedon tried everything to create a masterpiece, the film received mixed reviews. It also failed to meet box office expectations, with gross sales of $657.9 million.

Meanwhile, Warner Bros. moved ahead with the release of an alternate cut of Justice League called Zack Snyder’s Justice League. The Snyder cut debuted on HBO Max in March this year. Critics praised Snyder’s direction and improved characterization of the film but criticized its length that lasted for more than 4 hours.

Both the 2017 and 2021 releases follow DC Comics superhero team Justice League comprised of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, and The Flash. Together, they must join forces to fight Darkseid, Steppenwolf, and their Parademon army.

Justice League features a large ensemble cast featuring Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, Jason Momoa, and Ray Fisher. It also includes Amy Adams, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, Connie Nielsen, J. K. Simmons, and Ciarán Hinds.

2017 Justice League Run Time: 2 hours

2021 Justice League Run Time: 4 hours 2 minutes

12Joker 2019

Joker (2019)

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As Batman’s greatest enemy, the 2019 iteration of the Joker starring Joaquin Phoenix earns its place on this timeline.

Joker is an origin story set in 1981. It follows Arthur Fleck, a disturbed man who fails at his job as a clown and aspires to be a stand-up comedian. The movie sees him evolving into the madman known as the Joker. Some parts of the film also show the young Bruce Wayne and the death of his parents.

Director Todd Phillips, who also wrote the script, wanted Joker as a stand-alone film separate from the DC Extended Universe.

Having 11 Academy Awards nominations, however, could change things up, especially with the release of The Batman next year. A sequel is not yet on the horizon as of this time.

Joker also stars Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Glenn Fleshler, Bill Camp, Shea Whigham, and Marc Maron in supporting roles.

Run Time: 2 hours 2 minutes

13The Batman 2022

The Batman (2022)

The Batman franchise further expands with The Batman coming in March 2022. The fan-favorite Robert Pattinson takes on the mantle of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film is directed by Matt Reeves who also co-wrote the screenplay with Peter Craig.

The latest reboot of the DC Comics character, however, takes place separately from the DC Extended Universe. The film has an estimated $100 million budget.

This 2022 rendition takes place in Batman’s second year of fighting crime. The Caped Crusader discovers corruption in Gotham that connects to his family while facing a serial killer called the Riddler. The young masked vigilante teams up with Commissioner James Gordon and Catwoman, played by Zoe Kravitz.

The ensemble cast also includes Jeffrey Wright, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, and Andy Serkis.

Run Time: unknown yet

Spoiler-free List of Batman Movies Viewing Orders

Here’s the spoiler-free list of the best viewing orders to watch all the live-action Batman movies discussed in detail above. The list classifies the movies according to their release timelines, from 1966 to 2022.

‘90s Era Batman Film Series

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy

DC Extended Universe