Batman is not only one of the oldest comic book characters around, but he has also become one of the most iconic cinematic characters in history. There is something about the story of Bruce Wayne, the billionaire who becomes the Caped Crusader to fight evil in Gotham, that strikes a chord with people.
Throughout the years, there have been many big-screen takes on the character. Different actors have taken the role, different tones have been used to tell the tale, and there are still more films to come. While everyone has their own opinions on which Batman film is best, the critics have their own ideas. Here is every Batman film ranked according to Rotten Tomatoes.
10 Batman & Robin (11%)
Joel Schumacher's colorful and campy take on Batman was clearly not a hit with all fans, but this sequel killed the Batman movies for a long time. George Clooney took over the role of Batman as he and Robin teamed up with Batgirl to take on the villainous Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy.
Schumacher decided, rather than pull back on the camp, he would embrace it wholeheartedly. The result was a loud, annoying and senseless mess that critics could find very little to enjoy. Clooney was deemed a dull hero and Arnold Schwarzenegger's Freeze was almost silly enough to be fun.
9 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (28%)
Fans had been waiting a long time to see the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel meet on the big screen. Though they are often allies, this take on the story found Bruce Wayne (Ben Affleck) determined to put an end to Superman, thinking he poses too big a threat to the world.
Many critics thought Affleck made a good Batman but lamented that the movie he was in was so bad. The moody tone and the brutal nature of the characters turned many off. The nonsensical plot and overstuffed teases to the future of the DCEU just made for a huge mess of a film.
8 Batman Forever (38%)
After thinking the franchise had gotten too dark, Warner Bros. hired Joel Schumacher to lighten things up with Batman Forever. Val Kilmer stepped into the role of Batman which found him making a new ally as he defended Gotham from Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (Jim Carrey).
The tonal shift of the franchise angered a lot of fans and critics didn't seem any happier with the result. While some admitted that the villains at least made the movie interesting, there was not much to like in this loud and silly misfire.
7 Batman (71%)
For years, fans had been waiting for Batman to get a properly dark and gritty big-screen film. They did not expect it to come from the team behind Beetlejuice. Michael Keaton played Bruce Wayne who, after having a run-in with gangster Jack Napier, accidentally creates his arch-enemy, the psychotic Joker (Jack Nicholson).
Despite the fans apprehension, Tim Burton brought a dark yet fun vibe to the story and Keaton made for a brooding and charming lead. Many critics pointed to Nicholson's wild performance as the highlight that sometimes overshadowed the hero of the tale.
6 Batman: The Movie (78%)
Though the campy nature of Schumacher's Batman era was derided, for many fans, that tone is how they were introduced to the character. The massively popular Batman series from the 60s spawned a feature film that saw Batman and Robin taking on such enemies as Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler.
Though it might not be as true to the comics as some fans like, critics were pleased with this tongue-in-cheek take on the hero. Never taking itself too seriously, Batman: The Movie is a blast for fans of the series and those looking to relive the era.
5 Batman Returns (78%)
After the success of Batman, Tim Burton was able to really embrace the darkness of Batman and infuse some of his trademark weirdness into the sequel. Keaton returned as Batman as he sought to overthrow a corrupt politician named Penguin (Danny DeVito) while being drawn to the seductive Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer).
The adult humor and grotesqueness of the film turned some critics off, but others found plenty to like in this twisted sequel. Keaton continued to be the perfect Batman while the villains once again stole the show.
4 Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (84%)
Though there have been some great Batman films over the years, many fans consider Batman: The Animated Series to be the best adaption of the character. The acclaimed series even got its own theatrical movie which dealt with a mysterious figure known as the Phantasm who is killing off Gotham's crime bosses.
The dark and gritty animation of the film was praised by critics as the ideal tone for the character and this world. The ambitious storytelling was also viewed as a highlight which explored Batman's early days. And, of course, Mark Hamill's Joker was a joy to watch.
3 Batman Begins (84%)
After Schumacher's films tanked the Batman series, it took a long time before things got up and running again. Wisely, Warner Bros. decided to go for a more grounded approach. Batman Begins finds Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) starting his journey to become the Dark Knight of Gotham.
Critics lauded director Christopher Nolan for bringing the character back to its darker, more serious roots. The all-star cast was also praised, especially Bale who gave audiences a tough, intense and dynamic hero. Though the action was a letdown for some, this film gave Batman his dignity back.
2 The Dark Knight Rises (87%)
Nolan's epic trilogy came to an end with its biggest film yet. Set years after the events of The Dark Knight, this third film found Bruce Wayne older and retired from a life of fighting crime. He is reluctantly drawn back into the role when a madman named Bane (Tom Hardy) begins wreaking havoc on Gotham.
While the ambitious storytelling drew some criticism, many critics agreed that Nolan closed out his trilogy in a big and satisfying way. Hardy gave an unforgettable performance and Anne Hathaway was praised for her fun and badass take on Catwoman.
1 The Dark Knight (94%)
Having established his grounded take on the character in Batman Begins, Nolan gave us a sprawling crime epic disguised as a comic book movie. As Batman seems to be inspiring hope in Gotham, an anarchist known as Joker (Heath Ledger) begins unleashing a chaotic reign of terror on the city.
The massive scope and epic storytelling impressed critics as a huge leap forward for the comic book genre. Nolan stepped up the action with some amazing, breathtaking sequences. But it was Ledger's performance that they couldn't stop talking about. The shocking, funny and mesmerizing performance won him a posthumous Oscar.