I previously published a post taking a look at the various different running orders for the live-action Superman movies. Today it’s the turn of Batman!

You will be pleased to know that the live-action Batman movies are far easier to navigate around than the Superman films. So, if you’ve ever asked the question, ‘in what order should I watch the Batman movies?’, I have answer!

In this post, I am offering up a run-through of all the live-action Batman films – from the Adam West-era of the 1960s, through to the Michael Keaton movies of the 1980s/1990s, the Christian Bale-era of the ’00s/’10s and more. This post also covers the likes of Catwoman (2004), and Joker (2019) amongst others – so please dive in and make the most of the information!

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The Batman movie serials

First up, and before moving onto a discussion about the feature-length films, it’s important to note that the Batman movie series originated in the 1940s, with two movie serials: Batman and Batman and Robin. Both serials told very simple stories, divided into 15 chapters, and played in cinemas during a Saturday matinee.

In the first serial, Batman was played by Lewis Wilson, while Robin was played by Douglas Croft. In the second serial, Robert Lowery played Batman, and Johnny Duncan played Robin.

The serials were very basic in their presentation, but were in-keeping with action-adventure serials of the era and did feature some of Batman’s supporting characters in the shape of Commissioner Gordon, Vicki Vale and Alfred. They remain an important touchstone in Batman’s film career, as they introduced movie audiences to the Caped Crusader, but in terms of watchability, they are for completists only.  

If you wish to watch the Batman serials, then watch them in the following order:

  • Batman (1943)
  • Batman and Robin (1949)

OK, that’s the serials covered. Now onto the feature-length movies, and the various viewing orders…

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The Adam West Batman movie

Image: ©20th Century Fox
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This first viewing order is very simple, as it includes just one film: Batman: The Movie (1966). The movie stars Adam West as Batman, alongside Burt Ward as Robin.

Batman: The Movie is a big screen spin-off from the very popular (and iconic) 1960s Batman TV show. Never watched an episode? No problem – you don’t have to know anything about the ‘60s show to enjoy the movie!

All you need to know is that Batman: The Movie features four villains, the Joker, Catwoman, Penguin and the Riddler. The film is bright, colourful, very camp… and is a lot of fun.

Taking into account the movie’s existence as a spin-off from the Batman TV series, the viewing order is as follows:

  • Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • + (If you wish) Seasons One to Three of the Batman ’66 TV series

And should you want to remain firmly in this era of Batman then you may wish to add another movie to the list: Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (2003).

This is a TV movie about the making of the Batman TV show and once again, it stars Adam West and Burt Ward. I would recommend The Misadventures of Adam and Burt for fans of the TV series ONLY, as it is a daft picture that is only really for those who adore ’60s Batman.

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The Batman Anthology

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

For this second viewing order we go dark (and then light) with a collection of four Bat-films, kicking off with Batman (1989) and running through Batman Returns (1992), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997).

This series – referred to as the Batman Anthology – tells the origin of Batman, before moving on to Gothic, action-packed and high camp adventures featuring Robin. These four films were hugely successful in the 1980s/1990s and brought Batman to a whole new audience.

Across the course of the movie series, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney played the part of Batman, with Chris O’Donnell joining as Robin in the latter two movies. Other big names in the series included Jack Nicholson as the Joker, Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze.

The viewing order for the Batman Anthology is as follows:

  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)

It should be noted that while these films are very different in tone to each other (some are dark, some are light), they are all set within the same continuity – so should be watched one after the other.

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Should you want to start playing catch up with these movies, Warner Bros. has released all four on digital and Blu-ray/DVD.

The Batman – The Motion Picture Anthology Blu-ray set is my favourite of these releases and includes all four Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher directed Bat-films. It is available from various retailers including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

I own a copy of this 4-disc boxset and it is fantastic for fans of the four ’80s/’90s movies. Alongside HD copies of the films, each disc includes a wealth of bonus material including featurettes, music videos, production information and director commentaries.

The highlight of the Blu-ray collection is a six-part documentary which runs across the four discs (three parts on Batman, one part on each of the other three films). The documentary tells the story of the Batman Anthology from start to finish and includes input from most of the key players, including Jack Nicholson and Joel Schumacher.

So, if you really want to know the story behind these movies, you need to pick up the home video release!

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And on a side note, if you LOVE these four Batman movies, then you may wish to hunt down the OnStar commercials which took inspiration from this particular Bat-series. You can usually view these commercials on YouTube – and they are well-worth a watch.

The commercials are NOT movies (they are 30-second adverts), but they are neat little videos which feel very much a part of this particular era of Batman.

Michael Gough (aka Alfred) features in the commercials, and the overall tone and aesthetic is lifted from the Burton/Schumacher films. They were basically created as a nod to the four films.

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The Batman Anthology + 1

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment
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This viewing order – which I have dubbed the Batman Anthology +1 order – is a discretionary viewing order only, and there’s a reason for this. This viewing order is the same as the one above, but with the inclusion of just one extra film.

That extra film is of course, Catwoman – the 2004 super hero movie which stared Halle Berry as Patience Phillips/Catwoman. While the movie does not feature the Caped Crusader and therefore is not a Batman movie, it does feature a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it reference to Selina Kyle/Catwoman from Batman Returns.

Is Catwoman set in the same universe then? Well, that’s entirely up to you to decide, but you could argue that it is.

And if it is…

…then the viewing order for the Batman Anthology +1 is as follows:

  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Catwoman (2004)
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The Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight trilogy 

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

For this run of films, the reset button gets activated with a trio of movies from director Christopher Nolan. In these movies, Nolan takes Batman back to basics for another origin story of epic proportions.

Christian Bale takes on the role of the Dark Knight, opposite the likes of Liam Neeson (Ra’s al Ghul), Heath Ledger (Joker), Tom Hardy (Bane) and Cillian Murphy (Scarecrow). The three films tell one long story, with Bale in the lead role throughout.

These films are superb and are must-watch movies for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a huge Bat-fan or not.

This viewing order for the Christopher Nolan/Dark Knight trilogy is as follows:

  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Should you want to watch these films, all three are widely available on digital, DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Blu-ray in a sleek boxset.

The Dark Knight trilogy 4K Blu-ray boxset is loaded with extras, including behind the scenes information, documentaries, a look at all the Bat-gadgets and more.

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The Ben Affleck/DCEU Batman movies

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

Another collection of Bat-movies now, this time as part of DC’s interconnected series of films known as the DC Extended Universe. Ben Affleck takes on the role of Batman for the DCEU – a universe NOT connected to any of the previous movies in this post.

The viewing order for the DCEU movies is as follows:

  • 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 1984 (2020)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • The Flash (2022)

All of the films listed above are set within the DC Extended Universe, where Ben Affleck plays the role of Batman, but please note: Batman does not appear in every film on this list. The Caped Crusader only appears in: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Justice League and The Flash. All of the other movies tell stories about other DC characters.

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**It should be noted that two cuts of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League exist.

Each cut is longer than the theatrical release, so you may wish to seek these out if you want more from these movies. All are available on Blu-ray from Amazon UK.

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Joker movies

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

In 2019, Batman’s long-running adversary, the Joker was given his own solo movie. The Academy Award-winning film – simply titled, Joker – placed Joaquin Phoenix in the lead role for this origin story about the Clown Prince of Crime.

This film is a stand-alone piece, not connected to any of the previous Batman movies. Therefore, the viewing order for this is very simple:

  • Joker (2019)
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Robert Pattinson Batman movies

In 2022, Robert Pattinson dons the cape and cowl for another reboot of the series, in the shape of The Batman. The movie is a standalone tale featuring the Dark Knight, and includes a cast featuring Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as the Riddler, Colin Farrell as the Penguin, and John Turturro as Carmine Falcone.

If you wish to watch the Robert Pattinson Batman film, then seek out:

  • The Batman (2022)
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Batman movies production order

Image: ©Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Entertainment

That was quite a lot to take in, right?

OK, should you simply want to watch all of the live-action Batman movies in order of their release, including all the DC Extended Universe titles (Suicide Squad, Wonder Woman etc), then you should watch the movies in production order.

The viewing order for all of the Batman movies is as follows:

  • Batman (1943)
  • Batman and Robin (1949)
  • Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt (2003)
  • Catwoman (2004)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam! (2019)
  • Joker (2019)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • The Batman (2022)
  • The Flash (2022)

Wow! That’s a lot of films, isn’t it?

It is, but this is a film series which is well worth investing your time in. The Batman movies are action-packed, thrill-rides which are highly entertaining and have developed a loyal following.

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If you’re a fan of Batman (and who isn’t?) or you’re just getting into Batman, then you may wish to know that a book focusing on fan-favourite show, Batman: The Animated Series is currently available.

The hardcover tome, called Batman: The Animated Series – The Phantom City Creative Collection, includes a vast selection of artwork inspired by this extremely popular show.

Batman: The Animated Series – The Phantom City Creative Collection is available from all good book stockists, including Amazon US and Amazon UK.

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OK, I think that pretty much covers everything. A few recommended reads are set out below, but for now, happy viewing.

Bats all, folks!

Read more:

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Disclaimer: I earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.