With so many Batman movies in existence and new entries being released on a frequent basis, it can often be difficult to keep track of all the films. It can also be a little confusing if the streaming service you subscribe to has access to a selection of Batman movies that may or may not be connected.

What Batman film goes where? Which one do you start with? More importantly, can you watch the Batman movies in any order?

That’s a very interesting question. No two Batman movies are exactly the same, so does it really matter if you watch them in a specific order?

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The best way to answer this question is to look at the series as a whole. The live-action Batman movie series includes the following films:

  • 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)
  • The Batman (2021)

The films listed above appear here in production order. If you wanted to watch the Batman movies in order, then simply work your way through the list.

But if you don’t want to watch the Batman films in order, or you only have access to certain titles, then it is best to bear in mind the following:

  • Not all Batman movies are part of the same timeline
  • Some Batman movies are part of a wider universe

Now let’s use this information to navigate the series.

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Different timelines

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

The Batman movie series contains a number of different timelines and each timeline incorporates one or more films. The timelines and films are as follows:

  • The ‘60s era – Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Batman Anthology – Batman (1989), Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Catwoman – Catwoman (2004)
  • The Dark Knight trilogy – Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • The DC Extended Universe – Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Suicide Squad (2016) and Justice League (2017)
  • Joker – Joker (2019)
  • The Batman – The Batman (2022)

By breaking the series down into its individual timelines you can see what films belong together. For example, there are four movies within the Batman Anthology and there are three movies within The Dark Knight trilogy.

Depending on what you want to watch and/or have access to, you should view the films in production order, according to their categories. So, for The Dark Knight trilogy, begin with Batman Begins and continue with The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.

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Of course, you don’t need to watch the categories in any particular order. So, you can watch the films in The DC Extended Universe before you watch The ‘60s era. Likewise, you can view Catwoman before you view The Joker, if you so wish.

The beauty of different timelines is that you get short bursts of Batman stories, before the series then moves on to a new timeline. This makes viewing the Batman movies a lot easier than say watching the James Bond movies, where at least 20 films follow on from each other.

Remember, different timelines are your friend.

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The wider universe

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

As stated above, some Batman movies are part of a wider universe, meaning they spill out beyond their own categories. To date, this applies to the movies that sit within The DC Extended Universe.

These films can be watched in the order they are listed above, but please keep in mind they are connected to various other films/spin-offs that form part of the same universe. These additional films include Man of Steel (2013), Wonder Woman (2017), Aquaman (2018), Shazam (2019), Birds of Prey (2020) and Wonder Woman 84 (2020).

The viewing order for the DC Extended Universe is:

  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2019)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 84 (2020)

If you want to watch the Batman films that appear within The DC Extended Universe, use the above list as a guide. The films are listed in chronological order, as they appear in their respective timeline.

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Order, order

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

From looking at the above information it becomes clear that you can watch the Batman film ‘categories’ in any order. However, when it comes down to the ‘individual films’ it is best to follow the order I’ve listed above.

Why? Because the films that appear in different categories tell different stories that simply do not gel with others. Some of the films – such as Batman ’89 or Batman Begins – are origin tales, so need to be watched at the beginning of their respective category.

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My advice? Simply pick a category and run through it the way I have advised. You will find it a much more rewarding experience than jumping back and forth with no direction.

I hope this post has been of use to you. If you would like further information on this subject, I recommend you read my post What are the Batman movies?. The post covers a similar topic, but from a slightly different angle and provides additional details on the movie series and its individual components.

Read more:

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