When it comes to Batman films it can be difficult to decide what you might like and what will prove disappointing. Each film has its own unique qualities, which means different fans like different films, for different reasons.
But is there a way to rank the movies? Is one specific Batman movie considered better than the others?
What about the worst Batman movie? Is there one Bat-film that audiences really dislike?
Today I’m ranking the Batman films from worst to best. I’ll be providing a ranking for all the movies, according to three different websites:
- Rotten Tomatoes – Rankings based on critical ratings
- Box Office Mojo – Rankings based on financial success
- I’ll Get Drive-Thru – Rankings based on my recommendations
Before I rank the movies, below is a list of the live-action Batman films that will be covered in this post. Listed in production order, these are all the live-action Batman movies/spin-offs/team-ups/solo films that have been released to date*.
- Batman: The Movie (1966)
- Batman (1989)
- Batman Returns (1992)
- Batman Forever (1995)
- Batman & Robin (1997)
- Catwoman (2004)
- 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)
- Joker (2019)
*Please note, I have not included the black and white Batman serials from the 1940s in this post, as they are not feature films.
Batman movies ranked by Rotten Tomatoes
To begin, let’s take a look at howthe Batman movies are ranked according to review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes. These ratings are based on the site’s Tomatometer scores, which in turn are based on critical reviews.
Here is a list of the Batman films ranked according to Rotten Tomatoes from worst to best:
- Catwoman (2004) – 9%
- Batman & Robin (1997) – 11%
- Suicide Squad (2016) – 27%
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – 28%
- Batman Forever (1995) – 38%
- Justice League (2017) – 40%
- Joker (2019) – 70%
- Batman (1989) – 71%
- Batman: The Movie (1966) – 78%
- Batman Returns (1992) – 78%
- Batman Begins (2005) – 84%
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 87%
- The Dark Knight (2008) – 94%
From the list above you can see that Catwoman is ranked the worst Batman movie, closely followed by Batman & Robin. The movie that ranks the best according to Rotten Tomatoes is The Dark Knight.
Now how do the films rank when it comes to box office success?
Batman movies ranked by Box Office Mojo
Now it is time to look at the Batman movies ranked according to their financial clout at the box office. The following figures were sourced from Box Office Mojo and were correct at the time of publishing this post.
From worst to best:
- Batman: The Movie (1966)**
- Catwoman (2004) – $82,102,379
- Batman & Robin (1997) – $238,235,719
- Batman Returns (1992) – $266,892,996
- Batman Forever (1995) – $336,567,158
- Batman Begins (2005) – $374,218,673
- Batman (1989) – $411,508,343
- Justice League (2017) – $657,924,295
- Suicide Squad (2016) – $746,846,894
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – $873,634,919
- The Dark Knight (2008) – $1,004,934,033
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,084,939,099
**Box Office Mojo does not carry any financial records for Batman: The Movie (1966). As such, it is ranked lowest on this list.
Taking into account the lack of financial information for Batman: The Movie, Catwoman is ranked next lowest, followed once again by Batman & Robin. The Dark Knight appears towards the top of the list, but it is edged out by The Dark Knight Rises which performed better at the box office.
Joker is too new to provide box office details just yet. As such, it is not on this list at present.
Now let’s look at a third ranking for the movies.
Batman movies ranked by I’ll Get Drive-Thru
And finally, it’s time to put the Batman movies through their paces according to this blog. Below is a list of the Batman movies ranked according to I’ll Get Drive-Thru.
I’ve ranked these movies in order of what I feel is a fair assessment. This takes into account my personal preferences, as well as where I believe the films deserve to be on the list.
From worst to best:
Directed by Pitof, Catwoman is not a particularly popular Batman movie. The film received lacklustre reviews upon release and the years have not been particularly kind to it.
The film has a certain camp charm to it, but it is easily the least successful of the live-action Batman movies.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Another poor performer. David Ayer’s Suicide Squad had so much potential but I’m afraid it suffers from bad editing and the feeling that too many voices were involved in the final product.
I’ve ranked Suicide Squad low on the list because I believe there is a general feeling of disappointment surrounding this movie. The film stumbles a little too often, which is a shame considering there is some real gold in parts.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
For me, Batman v Superman falls at the lower end of the rankings because it misjudges the movie that many people wanted to see. It starts strong and Batman fairs very well, but Superman gets the short end of the stick, resulting in a picture that only nails one top-billed character when it should have nailed two.
The film is also a little too ambitious, trying to set up too many plot threads when it already has enough on its plate. Ultimately it has a lot of potential, with some cracking moments, but it simply runs out of steam.
Justice League (2017)
Justice League is an improvement over Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman, but it still feels like a movie of two halves. One half is dark and brooding – presumably the material shot by director Zack Snyder – and the other is light and hopeful – the material reshot by stand in director Joss Whedon.
Because Justice League is not quite one thing nor the other, it appears low on my list. The general lack of disappointment in this movie also plays a factor in its lower ranking here.
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Fun and hilarious in equal measures, Batman: The Movie is a hoot from start to finish. The film – which stars Adam West and Burt Ward – is a great extension of the ‘60s TV series with a wonderful cast of colourful bad guys.
Batman: The Movie is loaded with Bat-gadgets, as well as bombs you just can’t get rid of, resulting in an enjoyable experience for the whole family.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Ranking higher than most Bat-fans would put it, but I believe Batman & Robin deserves a reappraisal. The film is effectively a more contemporary, big budget take on the Adam West-era of Batman and can be a lot of fun, if you take it for what it is.
No apologising here. I like Batman & Robin. In fact, I would rank it slightly higher, but I understand there is still a negative feeling surrounding this film, so I feel it is suitably placed.
Batman Forever (1995)
Often side-lined with Batman & Robin, Batman Forever is a better movie than you remember and is a half-way house between the Dark Knight style of Batman (broody and hard-edged) and the Caped Crusader take on the character (lighter and more heroic). For me this film is a lot of fun and is filled with some memorable one-liners.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The Dark Knight Rises is a bold Batman movie with a fantastically frightening villain in the shape of Bane (as played by Tom Hardy). The film provides a satisfactory conclusion to The Dark Knight trilogy, ending the Christian Bale era of Batman films.
Tim Burton’s Batman is a classic – and rightly so. The film changed the perception of Batman for an entire generation and made the character a global brand.
Jack Nicholson’s performance as the Joker is difficult to match, but Batman star Michael Keaton certainly gives him a run for his money. Marvellous.
Batman Returns (1992)
Batman Returns is a dark, gothic Batman movie with some great performances from the core cast. Chief amongst the performances is Michelle Pfeiffer’s turn as Catwoman – a total scene stealer!
Batman Returns edges out Tim Burton’s Batman because it is a Batman movie where the director had free rein, and boy does it show! The Penguin has never looked so gruesome and it’s likely he never will again.
The Dark Knight (2008)
And you thought this would be No.1 on the list, didn’t you? It was close!
The Dark Knight is undoubtably a fantastic Batman movie with great set pieces, a magnificent story, and one of the best performances in a comic book film – Heath Ledger’s award-winning turn as the Joker. Bravo!
Smart, dark, very brutal – Joker is the most realistic Batman movie to date. OK, so it doesn’t actually feature Batman, but it is easily one of the strongest comic book movies ever.
Director Todd Phillips brings a new dimension to Gotham, and to the Joker, while Joaquin Phoenix raises the bar in the lead role. A fantastic film from start to finish.
Batman Begins (2005)
Taking the top spot is Batman Begins, the first entry in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. This film stands out as the best Batman movie as it provides a good origin, an intriguing premise, and a story that moves at such a fast pace that it crams so much in!
Batman Begins rejuvenated the Batman movie franchise at a point in time when audiences were unsure of how they felt about the series as a whole. It was a brave new direction and it paid off, ensuring its place as…
…the No.1 Batman movie.
Batman movie rankings summary
Here are the highlights from the above three lists:
- Ranked worst according to Rotten Tomatoes: Catwoman
- Ranked best according to Rotten Tomatoes: The Dark Knight
Box Office Mojo
- Ranked worst according to Box Office Mojo: Batman: The Movie
- Ranked best according to Box Office Mojo: The Dark Knight Rises
I’ll Get Drive-Thru
- Ranked worst according to I’ll Get Drive-Thru: Catwoman
- Ranked best according to I’ll Get Drive-Thru: Batman Begins
From weighing up the three different sets of rankings in this post, Catwoman tends to fair the worst across the board. This may not come as a huge surprise, as the film does not have a good reputation.
What is perhaps interesting to note is that generally speaking, most Bat-fans tend to class Batman & Robin as the worst Batman film – something I’ve discussed in my post Why is Batman & Robin considered the worst Batman movie?. It’s arguable that those who believe Batman & Robin is worst do not take Catwoman into consideration as the Caped Crusader does not appear in the movie.
The best ranked Batman movies (according to these rankings) are the films directed by Christopher Nolan. This does not come as a particular surprise to me and it is something which I have highlighted in my post, Five popular opinions about the Batman movies.
As for the rest of the Batman movies, the rankings tend to differ from list to list. There is no hard and fast rule for these films, with different movies moving higher or lower on the list.
So, what do you think? Do you agree with any of these rankings?
Remember, rankings and critical opinions are always subjective and just because a movie performed well at the box office, or some critics liked it, it does not mean it is a great movie. Ultimately, the rankings will always come down to a number of factors, including personal preference.