Every 'Batman' Movie, Ranked (and Their Box Office Numbers)
There isn't a more popular comic book character than Batman, who shields his identity as a crime-fighting, caped crusader behind the facade of billionaire orphan/playboy Bruce Wayne in his daily life.
That popularity has translated into billions of dollars at the box office for the Batman film franchise, which now stretches into its fifth consecutive decade of live-action films with "The Batman," starring Robert Pattinson in the title role, directed by Matt Reeves and set for release on March 4, 2022.
While Pattinson will be the seventh actor to take on the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman, don't expect him to be the last. But will he be the best?
These are the best movies (and television shows) featuring Bruce Wayne/Batman leading up to the release of the newest film — with the caveat all 13 live-action films released so far automatically earned a spot on the list.
25. Justice League (Joss Whedon's Version)
Note: This article contains plot spoilers.
Date released: Nov. 17, 2017
Director: Joss Whedon (credited as Zack Snyder)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Joe Morton
Budget: $300 million
Box office: $657.9 million
Bottom Line: Justice League (Joss Whedon's Version)
After director Zack Snyder left the production of "Justice League" halfway through filming due to personal reasons, Joss Whedon took over, leading to one of the more disastrous productions in Hollywood history.
The creator of groundbreaking television shows "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Firefly" already had a $1 billion movie under his belt as director of "The Avengers," but he torpedoed production of "Justice League" with reports of sexist and racist behavior — specifically directed toward Israeli actress Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman) and African-American actor Ray Fisher (Cyborg).
He also made a really bad movie. It's a dumb, plotless mishmash of ideas that included the worst CGI decision in modern movie history.
What Happened Next: Justice League (Joss Whedon's Version)
The fallout from Whedon's version of "Justice League" lasted for years, culminating in both Fisher and Gadot going public with their accusations against Whedon in 2021.
The movie was so bad it led to an online movement to get the rumored four-hour version of Snyder's movie in cinemas or streaming, which eventually happened in 2021.
The experience of making the movie with Whedon was so bad it essentially ushered both Ben Affleck (Batman) and Henry Cavill (Superman) out of once-in-a-lifetime roles — although Affleck will appear in "The Flash" solo film and there's some faint hope Cavill could return to his role as well.
24. Batman & Robin
Date released: June 20, 1997
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: George Clooney, Chris O'Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alicia Silverstone, Uma Thurman
Budget: $160 million
Box office: $238.2 million
Bottom Line: Batman & Robin
This was a movie so bad it shut down one of the most profitable franchises in Hollywood for almost an entire decade. We didn't get another live-action movie until "Batman Begins" in 2005.
George Clooney as the third Batman in three movies did nothing for audiences, and the campy, kitschy tone of the film itself was something audiences who'd flocked to see "Batman" and "Batman Returns" found unforgivable.
What Happened Next: Batman & Robin
"Batman & Robin" was a career killer for almost all involved. Director Joel Schumacher never recovered from the failure, and you also can make an argument this was the moment Chris O'Donnell (Robin) and Alicia Silverstone (Batgirl) had their careers go wrong.
"Batman & Robin" was bad enough it even took down Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze), who was the biggest box-office star of the previous decade.
On air: Oct. 6, 2019-present
Seasons: 3 (The CW)
Starring: Ruby Rose, Javicia Leslie, Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Dougray Scott, Robin Givens, Victor Cartagena
Bottom Line: Batwoman
As entertaining as the "Batwoman" series has been, it needs to be pointed out that the controversy around it has cast a sort of pall over the show itself.
That controversy began when Ruby Rose left the show after the first season over safety concerns on set, citing her own injuries and injuries to others.
That's too bad because Rose was really a perfect fit for the role.
What Happened Next: Batwoman
The role of Batwoman was quickly recast, with Javicia Leslie stepping into the spot for Seasons 2 and 3, and the war of words between former star Ruby Rose and The CW continuing. The network insisted she was fired for "dictator" behavior while Rose followed up with emails and text messages explaining her concerns.
"Batwoman" went to streaming on HBO Max in 2021, and with a "Batgirl" movie coming out on HBO Max in 2022, our guess is we will have seen the last of the "Batwoman" series when the third season comes to an end.
22. Batman: Year One
Date released: Oct. 18, 2011
Directors: Sam Liu, Lauren Montgomery
Starring (voices): Bryan Cranston, Benjamin McKenzie, Eliza Dushku, Jon Polito, Alex Rocco, Katee Sackhoff
Budget: $3.5 million
Box office: $6.1 million
Bottom Line: Batman: Year One
The great thing about the animated "Batman: Year One" begins and ends with the incredible voice casting, led by "Breaking Bad" star Bryan Cranston as Lieutenant James Gordon, in one of the few times we'd wished the voice actor was given the chance to take over the live-action role at some point.
Cranston wasn't the only star in the voice cast. He was joined by Benjamin McKenzie, Eliza Dushku and Katee Sackhoff.
What Happened Next: Batman: Year One
In a really interesting twist, after Benjamin McKenzie voiced Batman/Bruce Wayne in "Batman: Year One," he ended up with his own memorable part of the DC Universe.
McKenzie later went on to star as Lieutenant James Gordon in the long-running Fox series "Gotham" depicting the beginnings of Batman's rogues gallery. That series lasted 100 episodes.
On air: July 28, 2019-present
Seasons: 2 (Epix, HBO Max)
Starring: Jack Bannon, Ben Aldridge, Emma Paetz, Polly Walker, Jason Flemying, Hainsley Lloyd Bennett, Ryan Fletcher, Dorothy Atkinson, Ian Puleston-Davies
Bottom Line: Pennyworth
If it's within the Batman universe and we like it, we're putting it on the list. And few characters in Batman lore have been as closely tied to both the Wayne family and Batman himself as Alfred Pennyworth, the beloved butler trusted to raise Bruce Wayne after his parents were murdered.
What the Epix series "Pennyworth" — on HBO Max moving forward — gives us is Alfred's backstory as a British soldier opening his own security company after he's released from his military service.
What Happened Next: Pennyworth
"Pennyworth" had enough fans — and enough of a Batman connection — that we'll get a third season on HBO Max. And Jack Bannon is very good in the titular role.
It definitely has a "Sherlock Holmes" vibe (the Guy Ritchie version), and we're OK with that.
20. Teen Titans Go!
On air: April 23, 2013-present
Seasons: 7 (Cartoon Network)
Starring (voices): Greg Cipes, Scott Menville, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Hynden Walch
Bottom Line: Teen Titans Go!
You did not read that wrong. On the air since 2013, there have been a staggering 346 episodes of "Teen Titans Go!" with six seasons of 52 episodes each and one season of 53 episodes.
If you're looking for a tongue-in-cheek funny animated show, "Teen Titans Go!" is the ticket and features young heroes Robin, Beast Boy, Starfire, Cyborg and Raven — all trying to save the world and do so without interference from pesky adults.
What Happened Next: Teen Titans Go!
Like some popular television shows are apt to do, "Teen Titans Go!" decided to take a shot at making a movie. If only to milk unsuspecting parents of their hard-earned cash.
That being said, the 2018 film "Teen Titans Go! To The Movies" is actually pretty good, and the reviews that called it "Deadpool for little kids" weren't far off.
It also made back its budget plus some, cashing in $52 million at the box office against a $10 million budget.
19. Batman (1966)
Date released: July 30, 1966
Director: Leslie H. Martinson
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Lee Meriwether, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin
Budget: $1.5 million
Box office: $3.9 million
Bottom Line: Batman (1966)
The original live-action "Batman" movie came out in 1966 and featured the actors from the hit television show, led by Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, as Lee Meriweather stepped in for Julie Newmar in the role of Catwoman.
The movie became known for one thing and one thing in particular — an over-the-top scene in the first act where Batman fights off a shark attached to his leg while hanging from the ladder on the Batcopter.
If you consider yourself a true Batman fan, you need to check this movie out.
What Happened Next: Batman (1966)
The 1966 version of Batman became popular enough over the years that it spawned two animated sequels featuring the voices of some of the original cast — "Batman: Return of the Caped Crusader" in 2016 and "Batman vs. Two-Face" in 2017.
We probably don't give West, who died in 2017, enough credit for his work as Batman. Had he not been so ingrained in people's minds for his performance on the television show, we may not have gotten the modern versions of Batman.
18. Super Friends
Air dates: Sept. 8, 1973 to Nov. 6, 1986
Seasons: 9 (ABC)
Starring (voices): Danny Dark, Shannon Farnon, Norman Alden, Bill Woodson, Frank Welker, Casey Kasem, Olan Soule, Ted Knight, William Callaway
Bottom Line: Super Friends
You can draw a direct line from the gigantic box-office totals of the live-action Batman movies over the last 30-plus years to a generation of little kids who grew up watching "Super Friends" on Saturday mornings.
For a lot of us (the over-40 crowd), our first exposure to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Robin and the Justice League came from pounding bowl after bowl of cereal and watching this cartoon.
What Happened Next: Super Friends
The amazing thing about "Super Friends" has to be partly about how long it was on the air and partly about the different forms it took.
"Super Friends" produced nine seasons and 93 episodes over 13 years, from 1973 to 1986, and was known by a different name almost every season, including "The World's Greatest Super Friends" and "The All-New SuperFriends Hour" among others.
Whatever it was, we loved it.
17. Suicide Squad
Date released: June 20, 1997
Director: David Ayer
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto, Ben Affleck, Joel Kinnaman
Budget: $175 million
Box office: $746 million
Bottom Line: Suicide Squad
This movie is probably most known for having full access to the Joker character and deciding to include him in 15 minutes of the movie, which probably came from the overconfidence of assuming there would be multiple sequels to explore the character.
You can also make a case that two of the movie's best scenes featured Ben Affleck's Batman — his only two scenes — one where he captures Deadshot (Will Smith) and one where he captures Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie).
"Suicide Squad" isn't necessarily a bad movie. It's just boring. Which can be just as bad.
What Happened Next: Suicide Squad
For all the criticism heaped on "Suicide Squad," it still made almost $800 million at the box office against a budget of $175 million, making it a bonafide hit. It also won an Academy Award for Best Makeup/Costume Design, becoming the first DC Extended Universe film to win an Oscar.
What Warner Bros. did next was pretty crafty. Instead of letting David Ayer and the rest of the crew make a legitimate sequel, they made a spin-off, "Birds of Prey," featuring Robbie's Harley Quinn, then made a nonlinear sequel called "The Suicide Squad" that was released to critical acclaim on HBO Max in 2021.
16. Batman Beyond
Premiere date: Jan. 10, 1999
Seasons: 3 (Kids' WB)
Starring (voices): Will Friedle, Kevin Conroy, Cree Summer, Lauren Tom, Frank Welker, Stockard Channing, Angie Harmon
Bottom Line: Batman Beyond
"Batman Beyond" was the first time we got to see a truly different version of Batman, with this one coming in a sci-fi/cyberpunk version of Batman as Terry McGinnis, who takes over the cowl from Bruce Wayne.
"Batman Beyond" was also the conclusion of the DC Animated Universe following "Static Shock," "Justice League," and "Justice League Unlimited."
What Happened Next: Batman Beyond
Audiences were captivated by "Batman Beyond," and the show received critical acclaim. The 1-2 punch of "Static Shock" and this are pretty wonderful for fans.
Director Boaz Yakin ("Remember the Titans") actually came close to getting a live-action version of the "Batman Beyond" plotline greenlit in the early 2000s, ulitmately losing out to a pitch from director Christopher Nolan, who went on to make a trilogy of films.
Will we ever get a live-action version of Terry McGinnis? Only time will tell, but we'd bet on it.
15. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Date released: March 25, 2016
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane
Budget: $275 million
Box office: $873.6 million
Bottom Line: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The idea of a Batman vs. Superman movie bounced around Hollywood for almost 20 years before it was actually made — the closest one of those came to being greenlit was a version in the early 2000s directed by Wolfgang Petersen ("In the Line of Fire," "The Perfect Storm," "Troy") and starring Colin Farrell as Batman/Bruce Wayne and Jude Law as Superman/Clark Kent.
Director Zack Snyder parlayed almost a decade's worth of hits, including "Dawn of the Dead" and "300," into taking the helms of the DCEU and rebooted "Superman" first, with "Man of Steel" starring Henry Cavill in 2015 before turning to "Batman vs. Superman."
What Happened Next: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Snyder's decision to cast Ben Affleck as Batman caused the same kind of furor as Tim Burton's decision to cast Michael Keaton in the role in the early 1980s, although the reactions to the two films were decidedly different.
Snyder went dark — real dark — with "Batman vs. Superman." He also spent almost $300 million to make the film, which introduced Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
It's hard to put into words what this film is missing, but it's impossible to watch without feeling a little empty. It still made almost $900 million at the box office, ensuring Affleck and Snyder would get another shot at the character.
14. Batman: The TV Series
On air: Jan. 12, 1966-March 14, 1968
Seasons: 3 (ABC)
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward, Alan Napier, Neil Hamilton, Yvonne Craig, Cesar Romero, Burgess Meredith, Frank Gorshin, Julie Newmar, Lee Merriwether, Eartha Kitt
Bottom Line: Batman: The TV Series
There's a great story about the approach Adam West took to playing Batman in the live-action television series in the late 1960s. He read a script about Batman trying to hang out in a club but wanted a booth in the back so people wouldn't recognize him.
He knew it was campy and played it that way, to the benefit of the next 50-plus years of audiences discovering West's wonderfully hammy performance.
What Happened Next: Batman: The TV Series
The Batman live-action television series gave us just three seasons, which aired over barely over two years from early 1966 to spring 1968.
That didn't stop them from putting out almost a decade's worth of television in today's era. "Batman" aired two new episodes a week in its first two seasons and one per week in its third seasons for a whopping 120 episodes in that span.
Oh, and they also made a live-action movie. When did they sleep?
Premiere date: Sept. 22, 2014
Seasons: 5 (Fox)
Starring: Benjamin McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Zabryna Guevara, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Erin Richards, Cameron Monaghan, Camren Bicondova, Jada Pinkett Smith, Morena Baccaran, Michael Chiklis
Bottom Line: Gotham
Just the premise for "Gotham" seemed to stretch the outer limits of the Batman universe. Essentially, it was an origin story for Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman's rogues gallery and Bruce Wayne, who is a boy when the show starts.
It turned out the key was in the show's leads, most notably veteran television actor Benjamin McKenzie as Gordon, who has been criminally underrated throughout his career.
What Happened Next: Gotham
"Gotham" was a hit from start to finish. It went 100 episodes over five seasons and actually ends with us getting to see Batman in the flesh, much like the payoff "Smallville" viewers got with Superman toward the end of its run.
When it comes to playing in the Batman television universe but not actually using Batman himself, no one has proven better at it than "Gotham" creator Bruno Heller, who also created another spin-off with "Pennyworth" for the backstory of the legendary Wayne family butler.
12. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Date released: Dec. 25, 1993
Directors: Eric Radomski, Bruce Timm
Starring: Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, Dana Delany, Hart Bochner, Abe Vigoda
Budget: $6 million
Box office: $5.6 million
Bottom Line: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
"Batman: Mask of the Phantasm" is one of the more critically acclaimed movies in the Batman franchise — live-action or animated.
In the animated version of Batman, no voice actor is more tied to the role than Kevin Conroy, who is at his very best here.
What Happened Next: Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
"Mask of the Phantasm" was actually a box-office bomb when it came out.
The gamble that audiences who were flocking to see live-action versions of Batman at the time also would watch an animated feature didn't pan out.
It's still hard to believe "Mask of the Phantasm" didn't turn a profit once it hit video stores, where it was in circulation for the next two decades.
11. Batman Forever
Date released: June 16, 1995
Director: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Nicole Kidman, Chris O'Donnell, Drew Barrymore
Budget: $100 million
Box office: $336.6 million
Bottom Line: Batman Forever
There wasn't much trepidation over the Batman franchise changing hands from director Tim Burton ("Beetlejuice," "Edward Scissorhands") to Joel Schumacher ("St. Elmo's Fire," "The Lost Boys," "The Client," "Falling Down") because Schumacher had such a great filmography to that point.
What we didn't understand at the time was that Schumacher was going almost full camp, and filmed a big-budget movie in the same tone as the television show from the 1960s.
Val Kilmer took over the Batman role from Michael Keaton and seems like he's in a different film against the hammed-up performances of Tommy Lee Jones (Two-Face) and Jim Carrey (The Riddler).
What Happened Next: Batman Forever
"Batman Forever" did what the corporate honchos needed it to do — make more money than its predecessor, "Batman Returns," even though it only beat it by about $70 million against an increase of about $25 million in the budget.
The movie was still a hit. Kids weren't scared, and McDonald's was able to sell plenty of Happy Meals. Kilmer loathed his experience playing Batman and was a one and done, giving way to George Clooney and one of the worst sequels of all time two years later with "Batman & Robin."
10. The Lego Batman Movie
Date released: Feb. 10, 2017
Director: Chris McKay
Starring (voices): Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Rosario Dawson, Ralph Fiennes
Budget: $80 million
Box office: $312 million
Bottom Line: The Lego Batman Movie
"The Lego Batman Movie" was a monster hit at the box office, hauling in $312 million against its $80 million budget.
At the heart of that are some world-class voice actors, led by Will Arnett as Batman.
What Happened Next: The Lego Batman Movie
When a movie makes as much money as "The Lego Batman Movie" does, you usually get the sequel.
A sequel called "Lego Superfriends" was ready to be greenlit and get to cinemas until a rights issue popped up. While Warner Bros. owns the rights to DC Comics properties, Universal Pictures obtained the rights to "The Lego Movie" in 2020, effectively canceling the film.
Premiere date: Oct. 12, 2018
Seasons: 3 (DC Universe, HBO Max)
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Curran Walters, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Conor Leslie, Minka Kelly, Alan Ritchson, Esai Morales, Chelsea Zang, Josh Orpin, Savannah Welch, Vincent Kartheiser, Damaris Lewis, Iain Glen
Bottom Line: Titans
"Titans" takes Bruce Wayne/Batman out of the story except for a few occasions — Iain Glen from "Game of Thrones" plays him — but focuses mostly on Robin/Nightwing, who is played brilliantly by Brenton Thwaites.
The clamoring for a live-action film separate of "Titans" is ridiculous because this is so good. If you're a Batman fan or a DC fan, you have to watch.
What Happened Next: Titans
The third season of "Titans" premiered to enough fanfare on HBO Max in 2021 that it's already been renewed for a third season.
We need to give props to the casting director for "Titans." Whoever they are picked Alan Ritchson to play Hawk before his fame went through the roof with the Amazon Prime series "Reacher" based on the Lee Child novels.
8. Batman Begins
Date released: June 15, 2005
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Liam Neesom, Katie Holmes, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman
Budget: $150 million
Box office: $371.9 million
Bottom Line: Batman Begins
The stakes were high with "Batman Begins," the first movie in the franchise since the utter disaster of "Batman & Robin" in 1997 essentially shuttered the franchise.
Warner Bros. took pitches from three young directors, picking director Christopher Nolan ("Memento," "Insomnia") over Boaz Yakin ("Remember the Titans") and Darren Aronofsky ("Requiem for a Dream").
Christian Bale won the role of Batman over a coterie of young stars, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Billy Crudup, Joshua Jackson, Eion Bailey, Henry Cavill and Cillian Murphy, who was instead cast as Scarecrow.
The movie was a modest hit in the summer of 2005, paving the way for a sequel that became arguably the greatest comic book movie of all time.
What Happened Next: Batman Begins
Nolan's approach to making Batman movies always encompassed making a trilogy, with each film three years apart — which would allow him to make at least one film in between each of the movies coming out.
Nolan was prolific in his breaks from the Batman franchise, directing "The Prestige" (2006) and "Inception" (2010), which starred Leonardo DiCaprio in his only sci-fi role to date and grossed $836.8 million at the box office.
Date released: October 4, 2019
Director: Todd Phillips
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy, Brett Cullen, Dante Pereira-Olson
Budget: $70 million
Box office: $1.074 billion
Bottom Line: Joker
OK, we know Batman isn't in "Joker," but Bruce Wayne is. And the Wayne family plays such a key role in the film's main plot points that we added it to the list.
Few films in recent memory have been as polarizing as "Joker." Or as profitable and critically acclaimed. Made on a budget of just $70 million by "The Hangover" director Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix in the title role, Joker grossed over $1 billion at the box office, and Phoenix won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance.
What Happened Next: Joker
The big question now is what happens with a "Joker" sequel. And will Batman (not just Bruce Wayne) be in it? It was intended to be a standalone film with no sequels, but a film that makes a profit of over $900 million for its parent company gets a sequel. End of story.
Our guess is that no official announcement has been put out because the compensation for Phillips and Phoenix are probably still being negotiated, and should net the director and star two of the biggest paydays of all time.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
Date released: July 20, 2012
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard
Budget: $275 million
Box office: $1.081 billion
Bottom Line: The Dark Knight Rises
It was probably going to be impossible to match the success or critical acclaim of 2008's "The Dark Knight," but "The Dark Knight Rises" did a pretty respectable attempt of closing out the Christopher Nolan trilogy of films.
"The Dark Knight Rises" featured actor Tom Hardy as Bane in the film's main villain role, and his introduction in clips from the film before its release was so mocked for its inability to understand anything Hardy was saying behind his mask that it led to Hardy redubbing most of his lines.
In an interesting twist, Anne Hathaway played the role of Catwoman/Selina Kyle in "The Dark Knight Rises" after she'd been set to play Black Cat/Felicia Hardy in "Spider-Man 4," which got sidelined for good with the failure of "Spider-Man 3."
What Happened Next: The Dark Knight Rises
The death of actor Heath Ledger before the release of "The Dark Knight" in 2008 led to speculation that a third "Batman" film would even get made with the original team of director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale. Ledger's Joker character was to be the focus of a third film, and his family said he was keen to reprise the role.
The film's release was marked by tragedy. One of the worst mass shootings in American history occurred at a midnight showing on the premiere date of the film in Aurora, Colorado, where a gunman opened fire and killed 12 people inside the theater and injured 58 more.
5. Batman: Under the Red Hood
Date released: July 27, 2010
Director: Brandon Vietti
Starring (voices): Bruce Greenwood, Jensen Ackles, John DiMaggio, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Isaacs, Wade Williams
Box office: $12 million (home video sales)
Bottom Line: Batman: Under the Red Hood
It would take a lot to get an animated movie this high on the list — the quality of Batman films in the upper echelon is tough to crack.
Much like "Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse" did with that franchise, we feel like "Under the Red Hood" does the same thing for the Batman franchise with its story mixing the death of Robin to the emergence of the vigilante Red Hood on Gotham's streets.
What Happened Next: Batman: Under the Red Hood
It seems pretty plain to us that the popularity of "Under the Red Hood" was the main influence of the great, Batman-inspired HBO Max series "Titans" in its third season.
That being said, it speaks to how good "Under the Red Hood" was in its voice acting roles, story and plot that even seeing 2010-era animation takes nothing away from how good it is.
It holds up well.
4. Batman Returns
Date released: June 19, 1992
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Michael Keaton, Michelle Pfeiffer, Danny DeVito, Christopher Walken, Michael Gough, Pat Hingle
Budget: $80 million
Box office: $266.89 million
Bottom Line: Batman Returns
Few films in Hollywood history have been received with as much hype as "Batman Returns" was in 1992 — the sequel to director Tim Burton's 1989 box-office blockbuster.
Here's the thing about making one of the most hotly anticipated sequels of all time and having it be a comic book movie. Lots and lots of parents took their small children to see it despite the PG-13 rating and warnings about its dark tone, violence and overt sexual references.
The result was a lot of scared little kids and a lot of really mad parents. And a box-office total that dropped a staggering $145 million from the original film despite having almost double the budget of the first film.
What Happened Next: Batman Returns
The biggest credit to the critically acclaimed "Batman Returns" might be a pair of films set to come out in 2022, "The Flash" and "Batgirl." They are being conceived and filmed as direct sequels to "Batman Returns" and totally ignore the events of Joel Schumacher's two Batman films, "Batman Forever" (1995) and "Batman & Robin" (1997).
Burton was essentially fired from the franchise after "Batman Returns" despite being pretty far along on production of a third film, "Batman Continues," which would have featured Robin Williams as the main villain, Riddler, and Marlon Wayans as Robin.
3. Zack Snyder's Justice League
Date released: March 18, 2021
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot, Ray Fisher, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller, Jeremy Irons, Diane Lane, J.K. Simmons, Ciaran Hinds, Joe Morton, Harry Lennix
Budget: $70 million
Box office: N/A
Bottom Line: Zack Snyder's Justice League
Zack Snyder left the production of "Justice League" after the suicide of his 20-year-old daughter midway through filming, and Joss Whedon took over.
Snyder, who never saw Whedon's much-maligned version, confirmed rumors he'd made a rough, four-hour cut based on what he shot and the hashtag #ReleaseTheSnyderCut was born. It was perhaps the most successful fan movement in movie history.
In 2020, HBO Max decided to drop another $70 million for Snyder to complete his version and released it in its entirety in March 2021. And it was magnificent, a totally different, unrecognizable movie from what Whedon filmed.
What Happened Next: Zack Snyder's Justice League
You can make an argument that Snyder's version of "Justice League" played more like a limited series than a film. HBO Max even split the film up into four parts, with different title cards.
Either way, it offered a huge amount of redemption for all involved. Snyder was able to show the world the movie he envisioned (and then some), while the movie's darker tone played much better with audiences.
No one had a better redemption arc than Ray Fisher (Cyborg), who was essentially the main character in Snyder's film and had been reduced to window dressing in Whedon's version.
Snyder's version of the DCEU lives on. A sequel for "Wonder Woman" was released in 2020, a sequel for "Aquaman" is scheduled for release in 2022, as is the first solo film for "The Flash."
2. Batman (1989)
Date released: June 23, 1989
Director: Tim Burton
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton, Michael Gough, Kim Basinger, Robert Wuhl, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance, Jerry Hall
Budget: $45 million
Box office: $411.6 million
Bottom Line: Batman (1989)
One of the biggest gambles in Hollywood history was the making of Batman in 1989, and it changed the way we look at comic book movies forever.
The controversy around the movie began when Michael Keaton, largely known as a comedic actor, was cast by director Tim Burton as Batman. The casting churned up 50,000 protest letters to Warner Brothers, but Burton stuck by Keaton after directing him in "Beetlejuice" in 1988.
The movie's ace in the hole wasn't Burton or Keaton, though. It was Jack Nicholson as the Joker in one of the most profitable movie roles of all time.
What Happened Next: Batman (1989)
"Batman" became a monster hit when it was released and was a hit with critics, too. It also showed powerful marketing and merchandising for a popcorn film could burgeon the bottom line.
In this case, the lack of faith from the producers ended up making Nicholson one of the richest actors of all time.
In one of the deftest negotiations in Hollywood history, Nicholson waived his standard $10 million fee per movie for $6 million, the ability to dictate his own filming hours, nights off for Los Angeles Lakers home games, top billing on all marketing and promotional materials, and a cut of the film's box-office and merchandise earnings.
In all, Nicholson earned a reported $90 million for playing the Joker, which he called a "work of pop art."
1. The Dark Knight
Date released: July 18, 2008
Director: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman
Budget: $185 million
Box office: $1.005 billion
Bottom Line: The Dark Knight
It's been 14 years and six movies featuring Batman/Bruce Wayne since "The Dark Knight" came out in 2008, and nothing has come close to the absolute epic director Christopher Nolan produced, thanks in large part to an Academy Award-winning performance by the late Heath Ledger as the Joker.
This isn't just the greatest "Batman" movie ever made. It's the greatest comic book movie ever made. And if we're being honest, whatever's in second place isn't all that close to it.
What Happened Next: The Dark Knight
Few Hollywood deaths have hit as hard as that of Ledger, who died of a drug overdose in January 2008, ahead of the release of "The Dark Knight."
Ledger's final starring role earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor — one of eight Oscar nominations for the film.
It was the highest-grossing film of 2008, set the record for the biggest opening weekend of all time with $158 million and was the fourth-highest grossing film of all time when its box-office run was over.
Bale and Nolan returned for one more film, in 2012, before walking away from the franchise. Bale will return to comic book movies for the first time since his Batman role with Marvel's "Thor: Love and Thunder" in 2022, where he'll play the main villain, Gorr the God Butcher.