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Best Batman Movies, Ranked by Metacritic

Whether you're seeking a family-friendly film or something a bit more dramatic, there's a Batman adaptation for everyone.
by Jon Bitner — 
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Warner Bros.

Batman has been remade countless times over the past few decades. 

Adam West's campy depiction of the Caped Crusader in the 1960s set the early standard for Batman films, before Tim Burton and Michael Keaton brought out the darker side of Bruce Wayne in 1989. Several directors and actors have played a crucial role in Batman's legacy, and there's no shortage of unique takes on the character (or even the city of Gotham). Because of this dramatic directorial turn, it's surprisingly difficult to rank all the Batman movies – some critics and fans love the tone established in Batman Begins, while others gravitate towards the cartoon vibes of the original.

As one of the most popular superheroes on the planet, Batman often finds himself cast as a major role in cross-overs and other movies starring DC characters. No longer is he limited to just his crime-ridden city, as he can often be found warding off sci-fi threats or facing off against other superheroes. In fact, many spin-offs are among the best Batman movies to hit theaters.

Hollywood has definitely built up quite the Batman catalog, although some stand a bit taller than the rest. Whether you're seeking a family-friendly film or something a bit more dramatic, there's a Batman adaptation for everyone. Best of all, most of these popular movies are easily accessible through a variety of streaming services and on-demand providers, so fans can quickly dive into their next adventure.

Here, Metacritic highlights the best Batman movies, ranked by Metascore.

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From left to right, Heath Ledger and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight.

Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight

Metascore: 84
Best for: Fans of Christopher Nolan 
Where to watch: 

Google Play, HBO MaxiTunesNetflixVudu
Runtime: 152 minutes

As the middle child of The Dark Knight trilogy, this eponymous entry was given the unenviable task of following up Batman Begins while also setting up for an explosive finale. Pushed forward by Heath Ledger's award-winning performance as the Joker, bombastic set pieces and chases can be found around every turn. Without a doubt the strongest film in the trilogy based on its impressive Metascore, The Dark Knight (2008) stands as the best Batman film more than a decade after its original release.

"Pitched at the divide between art and industry, poetry and entertainment, it goes darker and deeper than any Hollywood movie of its comic-book kind." — Manohla Dargis, The New York Times

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From left to right, Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises.

Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight Rises

Metascore: 78
Best for: Fans seeking a thrilling conclusion to The Dark Knight trilogy
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 165 minutes

Although it never quite reaches the highs established in The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises is a solid conclusion to the popular trilogy. Bane (Tom Hardy) provides a more than able foe for Batman, offering up elaborate fight scenes and another dark, brooding storyline. Anne Hathaway also makes several appearances as Catwoman – although she's never actually given the moniker in the film. With more explosions and a few big cameos, The Dark Knight Rises ends the series on a high note.

"Emotionally inspiring, aesthetically significant and critically important for America itself – as a mirror of both sober reflection and resilient hope." — Todd Gilchrist, The Playlist


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The LEGO Batman Movie

Warner Bros.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Metascore: 75
Best for: Fans of family-friendly Batman adaptations
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 104 minutes

The LEGO Batman Movie is one of the few highly-rated Batman animated titles released in the past several decades. It follows the usual LEGO movie formula, creating a fun, fast-paced, quirky Batman adaptation that had been sorely lacking since West stepped into the role years ago. Director Chris McKay manages to keep the action light yet exciting, while the dialogue is nothing short of comedic gold. Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, and Zach Galifianakis voice Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and the Joker, respectively – and only manage to highlight the best parts of The LEGO Batman Movie, culminating in a bombastic adventure that'll leave you with a smile.

"'The Lego Batman Movielooks and feels like it could only have been put together by a roomful of mad geniuses, moving in a ballet of well-choreographed creativity." — Michael O'Sullivan, The Washington Post


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Zoë Kravitz and Robert Pattinson in 'The Batman'

Warner Bros.

The Batman

Metascore: 72
Best for: Fans of dark vigilante dramas
Where to watch: In theaters
Runtime: 175 minutes

Robert Pattinson picks up where leading men before him left off in becoming the caped crusader for Matt Reeves' 2022 reboot of the Batman franchise. This movie sees him working alongside Gotham City Police Commissioner James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright) to track down a serial killer who is targeting city officials and law enforcement, while also taunting our favorite caped superhero. It's an epic tale of cleaning up corruption that also stars Colin Farrell as Penguin and Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman.

"This grounded, frequently brutal and nearly three-hour film noir registers among the best of the genre." — Peter Debruge, Variety

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Adam West (far left) stars as Batman in Batman: The Movie.

Courtesy of YouTube

Batman: The Movie

Metascore: 71
Best for: Fans of the old, campy Batman
Where to watch:

, Google Play, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 105 minutes

What Batman: The Movie lacks in cinematic flair it more than makes up for with hilarious antics and off-the-charts campiness. West stars as Batman, with Burt Ward tagging along as Robin. The two manage to find themselves in no shortage of bizarre predicaments – including a wild sequence where Batman is dangling from a helicopter with a shark latched onto his leg. It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but it's a light-hearted romp that stands as one of the most fun Batman films available.

"It may not be the most accurate, well produced, or entirely awe-inspiring film adaptation of the caped crusader, but it is certainly the most amusing." — Scott Lowe, IGN


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Christian Bale stars as Batman in Batman Begins.

Warner Bros.

Batman Begins

Metascore: 70
Best for: Fans looking for a dark Batman trilogy
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Netflix, Vudu
Runtime: 140 minutes

Batman Begins kicks off The Dark Knight trilogy with a literal bang as young Bruce Wayne's parents are murdered in front of him, offering one of the darkest and most unique takes on the franchise fans had ever seen. It's widely considered the least exciting of the three films based on its Metascore, but it gives us our first look at Christian Bale as Batman along with Nolan's vision for the series. And despite featuring two of the most obscure villains in Batman lore (Ra's al Ghul and Scarecrow, played by Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy, respectively), Nolan managed to piece together a mature, thrilling take on the Caped Crusader.

"It creates a grimly gothic vision of a crime-ridden and depression-ravaged Gotham City." — William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer


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Michael Keaton stars as Batman in Batman.

Warner Bros.

Batman

Metascore: 69
Best for: Fans of Tim Burton's storytelling
Where to watch:

, Google PlayHulu, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 126 minutes

Keaton gets his turn as Bruce Wayne in the aptly named 1989 film, the first of two films directed by Burton, Batman sees Jack Nicholson step into the oversized shoes of the Joker, offering a wild new take on the unhinged villain. The entire film features the dark stylings of Burton, with grimy and grungy locations marking the background of nearly every scene. It's not quite as brutal as The Dark Knight trilogy, but fans of Burton's directorial style will find this to be one of the best ways to experience the city of Gotham.

"A stunning achievement, especially through the incredible and unique visualization of director Tim Burton." — Ron Pennington, The Hollywood Reporter


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Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin in Batman Returns

Warner Bros.

Batman Returns

Metascore: 68
Best for: Fans of Danny DeVito 
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 126 minutes

Keaton once again stars in the follow-up to Batman, this time chasing down DeVito as the Penguin. DeVito's performance makes him the standout villain of the film, although Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) makes several appearances and further complicates Bruce Wayne's life. Burton is once again at the helm, offering another stylized take on Gotham. Pulling in a nearly identical Metascore to the original, Batman Returns is an excellent second entry in the series and further cemented Keaton as one of the best actors to don the awkward rubber suit.

"It dispenses with realism and aspires to animation, to the freedom of idea and image found in the best feature-length cartoons." — Richard Corliss, TIME


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Ben Affleck as Batman in Zack Snyder's Justice League

Courtesy of WarnerMedia/HBO Max

Zack Snyder's Justice League

Metascore: 54
Best for: Fans of very long, lore-heavy movies
Where to watch: Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes
Runtime: 240 minutes

Although the screen is shared among a variety of superheroes (including Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman), Batman plays a central role in Zack Snyder's Justice League. A recut version of the original Justice League from 2017, Snyder's version of the film clocks in at a bladder-bursting 240 minutes. Diehard fans will no doubt find much to love about the long runtime, although casual viewers might find much of those four hours to be tedious. Still, there's enough action and suspense packed into Zack Snyder's Justice League to land it on our list.

"A fascinating exercise and superior to its predecessor, but clocking in at four hours, the operatic highs are somewhat offset by the lack of any pressure to say 'cut.'" — Brian Lowry, CNN


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Val Kilmer as Batman in Batman Forever

Warner Bros.

Batman Forever

Metascore: 51
Best for: Fans of star-studded casts
Where to watch:

, Google Play, Hulu, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 121 minutes

While it didn't earn the same impressive reviews as other Batman films, there's no denying its appeal. Featuring Val Kilmer as Batman, Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey Dent, and Jim Carrey as the Riddler, these three actors alone make for one of the most star-studded Batman movies of all time. You'll also see Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian and Drew Barrymore as Sugar – although all this big-name talent couldn't save the movie from middling reviews. It might lack Burton's flair, but director Joel Schumacher finds a way to keep audiences entertained with his highly talented cast.

"Schumacher doesn't let his stylistic and thematic fascinations run away with him; he keeps one hand on the wheel at all times." — Matt Zoller Seitz, Dallas Observer


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Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Warner Bros.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Metascore: 44
Best for: Fans seeking a superhero showdown
Where to watch:

, Google Play, HBO Max, iTunes, Vudu
Runtime: 151 minutes

While both Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill put on impressive performances as Batman and Superman, respectively, in Snyder's other Batman film, the movie can't seem to find its stride over its two-hour-plus runtime – according to its lowly Metascore. But with dozens of tense fight scenes, a dark, sci-fi universe, and plenty of easter eggs for long-time fans, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a solid movie for anyone seeking more DC action.

"That this very long, very brooding, often exhilarating and sometimes scattered epic succeeds as often it does therefore has to be seen as an achievement." — Andrew Barker, Variety

(UPDATED: This story was updated on March 8, 2022 to include The Batman.)