The Complete History and Ranking of All Batman Movies

After Ben Affleck decided to drop out of the solo Batman project with Matt Reeves in 2019, a new figure was needed to don the cowl. Who better to become the next caped crusader, than the face of Edward Cullen, Cedric Diggory, and Thomas Howard: Robert Pattinson

borrowed from Wikimedia Commons

I myself am an avid fan of superheroes. Batman is something especially close to me; not only because of the countless times I dressed as him for Halloween when I was younger, but also because the first-ever movie I watched was Batman Forever, released in 1995. 

Because of Robert Pattinson’s ability to adjust to characters quite dynamically, I feel that his representation of Batman will exceed not only my own expectations, but also the expectations of critics, and countless other Bat-fans.

However, the pressure to perform well and execute the Two-faced 🙂 character of both Batman and Bruce Wayne is insanely high for Pattinson. There have been both excellent and disastrous portrayals of Batman in Western cinematography. In light of this upcoming Batman adaption, I will be looking at each previous filmographic Batman adaption. I will be excluding animated Batman movies in my ranking.

In 6th, and last place: George Clooney in Batman & Robin. 

Batman & Robin did much worse than its prequel Batman Forever, and is by far the most criticized, and disliked Batman film. Whether it was the cringe dialogue or the stiff and forced acting that is involved, it was heavily criticized and is seen as one of the worst  Hollywood movies. Even I couldn’t finish watching it. Batman & Robin depicts George Clooney as Batman/Bruce Wayne after Val Kilmer left the Batman character. Chris O’Donnell resumes his role as Robin/Dick Grayson in the sequel. A new character, Barbara Wilson/Batgirl, is played by Alicia Silverstone. The movie stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Uma Thurman have antagonistic roles; Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy respectively. The plot of Batman & Robin is set 2 years after the events of its prequel Batman Forever. Mr. Freeze is a scientist who resorts to criminal activity, such as diamond robberies, and Poison Ivy was a botanist, whose biological functions were altered after her deranged boss dropped chemicals on her, when she threatened to expose his criminal activity. Let me make one thing clear: I do not dislike the actors, as they had to make the best of what they were given. The dialogues and the plotline is what I would classify as disastrous, and the base of many more problems with the movie. 

In 5th place: Adam West in Batman (1966)

Starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Burt Ward as Dick Grayson/Robin, Cesar Romeo as The Joker, Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, Burgess Meredith as The Penguin, and Frank Gorshin as The Riddler. 

When Batman and Robin are called to rescue Commodore Schmidlapp, and prevent The Riddler, Penguin, Joker, and Catwoman from taking over the world using a dehydrator. I didn’t think this was the best Batman movie, and the plot was confusing at times. But it is definitely a classic and should be watched. Adam West’s Batman was originally a television show that later included this movie.

In 4th Place: Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016), and Justice League (2017). 

Although Ben Affleck was supposed to star in a solo Batman in 2020, he dropped out of the project, leading to the signing of Robert Pattinson. I feel that Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman was awesome. His Bruce Wayne had class, spunk, and a little attitude. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice describes the conflict between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent (played by Henry Cavill), fuelled by Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg). Lastly, Batman and Superman team up with Princess Diana/Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), to face a creature Luthor created using Kryptonian DNA. The movie ends with Superman’s death. Suicide Squad features Batman as a cameo character in some parts of the movie when he captured Deadshot (Will Smith) and was involved in a high-speed car chase with The Joker (Jared Leto). Lastly, Justice League showcases how Barry Allen/The Flash (Ezra Miller), Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg/Victor Stone (Ray Fisher), and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) team up with Batman to fight Steppenwolf. The movie also sees Superman’s resurrection. Although we, unfortunately, didn’t get to see a Batman solo movie, I would say that Ben Affleck still executed a great performance.

In 3rd Place: Michael Keaton in Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). 


Although I have mixed opinions about Batman Returns, I can say that Batman (1989) is a true classic. Batman (1989) stars Jack Nicholson as The Joker and is about the birth of both The Joker and Batman. The murderer of Thomas and Martha Wayne is shown to be Jack Napier (played by Jack Nicholson), who lives as a gangster, eventually pushed into a vat of chemicals by Batman during a confrontation. The distortion of his face and the dangerous effects of the chemicals on his cranial anatomy lead him to develop a deranged and ill mentality. Like I’ve said before, this movie is a true classic. The ambiance that is given off truly reminded me of the Batman comics I used to read. The action combined with Michael Keaton’s seriousness really convinced me that he is a great actor. Batman Returns however, I find to be quite different. I have nothing to say about Michael Keaton’s acting; it was, yet again. amazing, and probably what carried the movie. To describe it in one word: Weird-ish. Danny Devito played Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin, and Michelle Pfeiffer played Seline Kyle/Catwoman. Although Danny Devito did his best with the Penguin character, some scenes were just…weird. For example, when The Penguin dies at the end of the movie, it is so obvious that he is wearing a huge body-suit that was stuffed with some cloth-material. This kind of ruined the genuineness of The Penguin that was seen earlier. Then, the scene where Selina Kyle becomes Catwoman just seemed really forced. I would say that Batman (1989) was much better than Batman Returns (1992).

In 2nd Place: Val Kilmer’s Batman Forever (1995). 

This is my favorite one. From an unbiased perspective, it is not the best, of course, but it is definitely my favorite. After watching it when I was 2, I knew from that point onwards that Batman was my favorite superhero. The plot, the acting, the action-scenes; they weren’t perfect (then again, what is?), but they were pretty awesome. Not only did Val Kilmer have a classy “Bruce Wayne” aura, but he also held onto the edgy, darker aspect of Batman’s character as well. In addition, he also effectively introduced more of Batman’s tools, such as his sonar suit and The Batwing. What I like a lot is the implementation of backstories. The movie doesn’t assume too much about the knowledge of Batman the audience may possess, but it doesn’t waste time on dropping buckets and buckets of backstory. The backstories of Edward Nigma/The Riddler (played by Jim Carrey), Harvey Dent/Two-Face (Played by Tommy Lee Jones), and Robin/Dick Grayson (Played by Chris O’Donnell) were interesting, engaging and provided the perfect amount of insight to be able to understand the characters’ actions further on in the movie. Another key aspect of the movie I really liked was the development of Robin. After depicting the death of Dick Grayson’s parents, and how Bruce Wayne adopted him, the movie shows how Dick is a rebellious youth, who often performs reckless stunts, one even getting him into the Batcave. He tries and tries harder to impress Bruce and become his sidekick, which only happens when Robin realizes the responsibility of his actions and how to control his anger towards Two-Face, the murderer of his family. Lastly, the villains should be analyzed too. The Riddler-Two Face duo was astounding. The eccentric and psychopathic nature of The Riddler, and the aggressive, violent yet energetic nature of Two-Face really brought life to the movie and made it all the more interesting.

In 1st Place: Christian Bale’s Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

Easily the best Batman adaption. Christian Bale explored the Playboy Millionaire lifestyle of Bruce Wayne, while simultaneously taking a surprisingly dark approach to Batman’s character. This is what I like most about this trilogy: It’s dark. There’s no silly euphemism and cringe dialogue like in Batman & Robin, there is no lack of scientific background, like in Adam West’s Batman, and best of all, there is cussing. This is what made it far more realistic than the other movies. I also like the lack of a sidekick, showcasing Batman’s fear of closely working with someone and potentially having them die/harmed. For this trilogy, I am going to go movie by movie and discuss its positive and negative aspects, but before I do, it’s important to mention that Alfred (Michael Caine), Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) play super important roles in this trilogy.

Batman Begins

I actually watched it after watching the other two, which I think helped me understand the trilogy better. The only complaint I have about it is the slight complexity of the plot in the beginning, which takes a little time to unravel. Other than that, it was absolutely amazing. There are a few things I am going to point out, which I think are the best scenes in the movie. The first is when Bruce trains with Ra’s Al Ghul. One can really see how much of a physical and emotional beating Bruce faces during his training, but also how fearless it makes him. The training scene on the ice was an exceptional piece of cinematography. Furthermore, when Bruce is putting together the bat-suit, the slight humor implemented is what makes it all the more powerful. The jokes aren’t…let’s see…unnecessary like in Batman & Robin. They aren’t uncalled for, instead, they are fitting, and actually funny (as jokes should be). I also really like all of the fight scenes, and the scenes with the fear gas, especially when Batman exposes Dr. Crane/Scarecrow (played by Cillian Murphy) to his own fear gas, and interrogates him. This comes to my next point, Cillian Murphy’s performance was absolutely astounding. He provided the frail, sickly sort of attribute that stems in Batman comics, but he also shows a daring nature with the fear gas. Liam Neeson’s portrayal of Ra’s Al Ghul was also something I found very interesting. His edgy, mentor-like behaviour towards Bruce really complexifies his character.

The Dark Knight

I would say, with full confidence that this is the best movie in the whole trilogy. Let’s start with the negatives…..That’s right. There are none. I just don’t see anything majorly wrong with it at all. What I like best about it? The villains. Two classic Batman villains: The Joker (played by Heath Ledger), and Two-Face/Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The Dark Knight introduces a very complex side to Harvey Dent, contributing to the overall “Two-Face” side of his character. At the beginning of the movie, he is on the right side of the law and works as an attorney. However, after The Joker aids in his kidnapping, and the burning of the left side of his face, Dent becomes the true embodiment of Two-Face. After losing the woman he and Bruce love after Batman failed to save her, he is driven crazy with guilt, anger, and spite. This is all facilitated by the Joker, of course. What I thought made the Joker unique from all others depicted in Batman filmography, was his dark story. His father killed his mother and then cut a smile into his mouth with the same knife, instead of the usual “falling into chemicals”. Also, his actions are also dark, where he shoves a pencil into the eye of a gangster who opposes him. His catchphrase “Wanna know how I got these scars?”, and his anarchist approach to his actions set him apart and quite ahead of the other Jokers. Of course, we cannot forget his laugh. It seemed natural, i.e. not forced and not facilitated by a brain disorder like in The Joker (2019). It seemed authentic. 

The Dark Knight Rises

I feel like this is really close to The Dark Knight in terms of how good it is. To be honest, I doubt any future Batman adaption would be as good as The Dark Knight. Anyway, I only dislike one thing; the spontaneous introduction of Catwoman/Selina Kyle (played by Anne Hathaway). Moving on, I feel that the detailed backstory was truly important to the development of the plot. The whole idea of the prison known as “Hell on Earth”, and how Bane and Talia escaped was super engaging and also contributing quite well to the plot overall and my perception of Bane. I also love how Bane breaks Batman, but Bruce comes back after climbing out of the prison, and a war between thugs and police breaks out. Overall, it was an awesome movie. The really abstract ending was what I liked most, with Batman/Bruce Wayne faking his death to fulfil Alfred’s dream of Bruce living a normal life and having a family. The emotional “goodbye” that took place when Batman implies his identity to Gordon and takes the bomb with him and flies it out over the bay was excellent cinematography, with a strong musical background track to help convey how Gordon felt during that moment. 

This brings me to my next point about the Dark Knight trilogy in general. Commissioner Gordon, Alfred and Lucius Fox, who works in the applied sciences department of Wayne Enterprises, play really significant roles. Far more than in any other Batman movie. The deep, emotional bond between Alfred and Bruce really shines in this trilogy, where Alfred wants Bruce to lead a life outside of Gotham City and beyond crime-fighting. Lucius Fox proves his loyalty to Wayne Enterprises and Bruce on countless occasions, especially when it comes to upgrading his tools. In addition, Jim Gordon’s character is the perfect representative of the cold, yet somewhat warm, as seen in the last few scenes of The Dark Knight Rises, where Batman cleverly reveals his identity to Jim Gordon before supposedly sacrificing himself to save the city:

So…I think it’s safe to say Robert Pattinson is under a lot of pressure. After watching the teaser where the new Bat-suit is revealed, I am super impressed. I think that the concept of the suit is really unique, where the bat symbol on the chest-piece of the suit is made of a deconstructed gun, specifically the one used to kill Thomas and Martha Wayne. I have high hopes for this movie, and I’m sure Pattinson will do great, and establish himself as the new face of Batman quite effectively.