How to watch the Batman movies in order

Gabriela Silva
Christian Bale in Batman Begins, Robert Pattinson in The Batmab, and Michael Keaton in BatmanWarner Bros. Pictures

The caped crusader Batman has been a favorite of comic book fans, movie fans, and the average fan for generations. Bruce Wayne has seen many renditions, from animated series and movies to beloved classic live-actions.

It’s impressive that a brooding billionaire wounded by the death of his parents at a young age devotes his life to fighting crime in Gotham City. Unlike other DCU heroes like Superman, Aquaman, and The Flash, Batman has no powers and has a higher level of fatality. It’s given the character a human touch that fans can relate to.

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The baton of being Batman in live-action movies has been passed on through various actors like Michael Keaton, George Clooney, and recently Robert Pattinson. All of which have added their unique flare.

So far there have been eight Batman live-actions with the comic book hero as a focal point. Ben Affleck joined the roster in Justice League before facing Superman head-on in Batman V Superman. If you’re going down the live-action rabbit hole, here are the movies in chronological order and order by release date.

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Batman movies in release order

There are a lot of Batman movies to get through. To make things a little easier, fans can binge-watch them based on their release dates:

  • Batman (1966)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1992)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • The Batman (2022)

Fans for their first look at a live-action Batman in 1989 with Michael Keaton before the baton was passed on to Val Kilmer in Batman Forever. Some may be wondering why only one of Ben Affleck’s movies as Batman is included in the list. The actor was not a main focal point in Justice League and The Flash. Fans saw more of his backstory and overall character in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

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Batman movies in chronological order

For fans who want to see the Batman movies in chronological order, there isn’t much difference in order compared to their release dates:

  • Batman
  • Batman Returns
  • Batman
  • Batman Forever
  • Batman & Robin
  • Batman Begins
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • The Batman

The chronological order can be guessed from the get-go, with the newer Batman movie timelines clearer than the original ones.

Batman (1966)

The 1966 movie is based on the original ’60s television series with Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. The caped crusader and his sidekick fight against their biggest villains like Catwoman, The Riddler, and Joker.

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Batman was the first big-screen version of Batman that took place after the final episode of the first season of the series. The episode aired on May 5, 1966, and it can be assumed the movie also takes place in the same year.

Batman Returns

Two wealthy socialites are horrified at the birth of their deformed son and abandon him. He finds himself underneath Gotham in the sewer and raised by penguins. Years later, he rises as Penguin (Danny DeVito) and helps businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) rid Gotham of Batman (Michael Keaton). When Shreck’s assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), is killed for learning the truth, she’s transformed into Cat Woman. She joins forces with them until she feels sparks fly with Batman.

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This may blow fans’s minds. According to IGN, while Batman Returns is categorized as a sequel to Batman, it happened first chronologically. Artist artist Joe Quinones revealed Batman takes place in the mid-90s, three years after Batman Returns.

Batman

Bruce Wayne’s (Michael Keaton) life changed after witnessing the murder of his parents at the hands of a mugger. Years later, behind his millionaire persona is a capped crusader fighting crime in Gotham as Batman. He soon meets his biggest enemy, the Joker (Jack Nicholson). He takes control of Gotham’s criminal syndicate and poses a threat. While Batman protects Gotham, he must also protect his love interest reporter Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger).

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While it may seem odd that the first live-action Batman storyline isn’t chronologically first, it does unofficially. Joker is Batman’s biggest enemy and makes sense he comes after Penguin. Keaton returned as his character in The Flash.

Batman Forever

Val Kilmer’s Batman Forever has no Joker in sight. Instead, fans meet former District Attorney Harvey Dent (Tommy Lee Jones) who becomes horribly scarred in an accident and becomes Two-Face. He joins forces with Edward Nygma, a former ex-Wayne Enterprises inventor who wants his revenge against Bruce Wayne. He becomes The Riddler and unleashes a brain-washing machine across Gotham.

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There’s no clear answer to when Batman Forever takes place. But fans can assume it follows Keaton’s version of Batman.

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Batman & Robin

Fans either love or loathe George Clooney’s Batman & Robin movie from 1992. It once again didn’t star Joker as a lead villain and was the first to introduce the caped crusader’s sidekick. Batman (Clooney) and his partner, Robin (Chris O’Donnell) face a new group of villains trying to stop Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from turning Gotham into a frozen wonderland.

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At the same time, botanist scientist Dr. Pamela Isle becomes the femme fatal Poison Ivy after being doused in chemicals. She wants to use Bruce Wayne’s money to support her research. The two heroes try to thwart their plans with the help of Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone).

Batman & Robin is another movie that has no clear chronological timeline and can be assumed it takes place after Keaton and Kilmer.

Batman Begins

The most successful movies in the Batman franchise were led by Christian Bale starting with Batman Begins. A young Bruce Wayne (Bale) travels to the Far East and is trained by Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson). He soon learns the truth behind the League of Shadows wanting to destroy Gotham. Bruce returns to Gotham determined to rid the city of crime and becomes Batman.

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According to fans on Reddit, Batman Begins storyline takes place roughly in 2005. It’s the same year the movie was released. “By early to mid-2004 Batman is investigating the drugs that eventually lead to Scarecrow, and by late 2004/early 2005 Ra’s Al Ghul has come to Gotham to finish his mission. Batman Begins ends in 2005 on the night of Bruce Wayne’s birthday,” explained a fan.

The Dark Knight

Batman (Bale) has successfully been able to keep crime at bay in Gotham with the help of Lt. Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). The Dark Knight introduced one of the most well-renowned editions of Joker ever seen. The vile criminal Joker (Heath Ledger) begins to wreak havoc and destruction across Gotham. Batman’s morals are challenged when trying to stop the villain. The Dark Knight also teased the birth of Two-Face.

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Like the original release date, The Dark Knight takes place in mid-2008 with the storyline ending near the end of the same year.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises makes it clear that eight years have passed since the events of the previous movie storyline. Bruce Wayne and Commissioner Gordon vanished after seeing the fruit of their labor fall apart and with the death of Harvey Dent. They are pushed out of the shadows when a cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) causes some ruckus while a terrorist named Bane (Tom Hardy) has deadly ambitions for Gotham.

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With the movie taking place eight years after The Dark Knight, the events occur in later 2016. “The film ending somewhere in early 2017 since Bruce Wanye was in the pit for 6 months and it was winter by the end of the film,” explained a fan on Reddit.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Following the DCEU franchise event of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) going against Superman (Henry Cavill). After the colossal damage caused by Superman and Zod’s (Michael Shannon) fight in Metropolis, Bruce sees Superman as a threat. Amid their battle, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) has his own monstrous plans for Superman.

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Man of Steel takes place in 2013 when the movie was released. Batman v Superman takes place eighteen months later, meaning it’s 2015 in the movie.

The Batman

Still developing his craft and image, Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) has operated in the streets of Gotham within the shadows as a vigilante known as Vengeance. When a masked and sadistic serial killer named Riddler (Paul Dano) begins wreaking havoc and leaving cryptic clues, Bruce begins to investigate. With the help of James Gordon (Jeffrey Wright), they work to stop him before it’s too late.

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According to CBR, audiences learn the Waynes were killed in 2001 thanks to a photo the Riddler has. Bruce’s story takes place 18 years after their death in the year 2019.

You can read more DCU content in our hub here, Batman news in our hub here, and news about The Batman 2 here.

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About The Author

Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Fordham. Senior TV and Movies Writer for Dexerto covering Netflix, Disney+, K-Dramas and everything in between. Previous TV Writer for Showbiz Cheatsheet and List Witer for Screenrant. Any inquiries email at gabriela.silva@dexerto.com