Batman In Film

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Adaptations of Batman in other media
Created by
Original sourceComics published by DC Comics
First appearanceDetective Comics #27 (1939)
Films and television

The fictional superhero Batman, who appears in American comic books published by DC Comics, has appeared in various films since his inception. Created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger,[1] the character first starred in two serial films in the 1940s: Batman and Batman and Robin. The character also appeared in the 1966 film Batman, which was a feature film adaptation of the 1960s Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward, who also starred in the film. Toward the end of the 1980s, the Warner Bros. studio began producing a series of feature films starring Batman, beginning with the 1989 film Batman, directed by Tim Burton and starring Michael Keaton. Burton and Keaton returned for the 1992 sequel Batman Returns, and in 1995, Joel Schumacher directed Batman Forever with Val Kilmer as Batman. Schumacher also directed the 1997 sequel Batman & Robin, which starred George Clooney. Batman & Robin was poorly received by both critics and fans, leading to the cancellation of Batman Unchained.[2]

Following the cancellation of two further film proposals, the franchise was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins, directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Christian Bale. Nolan returned to direct two further installments through the release of The Dark Knight in 2008 and The Dark Knight Rises in 2012, with Bale reprising his role in both films. Both sequels earned over $1 billion worldwide, making Batman the second film franchise to have two of its films earn more than $1 billion worldwide.[3] Referred to as The Dark Knight Trilogy, the critical acclaim and commercial success of Nolan's films have been credited with restoring widespread popularity to the superhero, with the second installment considered one of the best superhero movies of all time.

After Warner Bros. launched their own shared cinematic universe known as the DC Extended Universe in 2013, Ben Affleck was cast to portray Batman in the new expansive franchise, first appearing in 2016 with the Zack Snyder-directed film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film would help begin a sequence of further DC Comics adaptations, including Justice League, a crossover film featuring other DC Comics characters, in 2017, and the stand-alone film The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves, with Robert Pattinson in the role.[4] Outside of the DCEU, Dante Pereira-Olson appears as Bruce Wayne in the 2019 film Joker, directed by Todd Phillips.[5]

The series has grossed over $4.99 billion at the global box office, making it the eleventh highest-grossing film franchise of all time. Batman has also appeared in multiple animated films, both as a starring character and as an ensemble character. While most animated films were released direct-to-video, the 1993 animated feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, based on the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series, was released theatrically. Having earned a total of U.S. $2,407,708,129 the Batman series is the fifth-highest-grossing film series in North America.[6]


Film U.S. release date Actor Director Story by Screenwriter(s) Producer(s)
Batman[7] July 16, 1943 Lewis Wilson Lambert Hillyer Victor McLeod, Leslie Swabacker and Harry L. Fraser Rudolph C. Flothow
Batman and Robin[8] June 26, 1949 Robert Lowery Spencer Gordon Bennet George H. Plympton, Joseph F. Poland and Royal K. Cole Sam Katzman
Batman: The Movie[9] July 30, 1966 Adam West Leslie H. Martinson Lorenzo Semple, Jr. William Dozier
Batman[10] June 23, 1989 Michael Keaton Tim Burton Sam Hamm Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown and Jonathan Gems Peter Guber, Jon Peters and Chris Kenny
Batman Returns[11] June 19, 1992 Daniel Waters Daniel Waters and Wesley Strick Tim Burton, Denise Di Novi and Larry Franco
Batman Forever[12] June 16, 1995 Val Kilmer Joel Schumacher Lee Batchler and Janet Scott-Batchler Akiva Goldsman Peter MacGregor-Scott and Tim Burton
Batman & Robin[13] June 20, 1997 George Clooney Akiva Goldsman Peter MacGregor-Scott
Batman Begins[14] June 25, 2005 Christian Bale Christopher Nolan David S. Goyer Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer Charles Roven, Emma Thomas and Larry Franco
The Dark Knight[15] July 18, 2008 Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan
The Dark Knight Rises[16] July 20, 2012
Batman v Superman:
Dawn of Justice
March 25, 2016 Ben Affleck Zack Snyder Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer Charles Roven and Deborah Snyder
Suicide Squad[18] August 5, 2016 David Ayer Charles Roven and Richard Suckle
Justice League[19] November 17, 2017 Zack Snyder Chris Terrio and Zack Snyder Chris Terrio and Joss Whedon Charles Roven, Deborah Snyder, Jon Berg and Geoff Johns
Joker[20] October 4, 2019 Dante Pereira-Olson Todd Phillips Todd Phillips and Scott Silver Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
The Batman[21] June 25, 2021[22] Robert Pattinson[4] Matt Reeves Matt Reeves and Mattson Tomlin Matt Reeves and Dylan Clark

1940s serials

Lewis Wilson played Batman in the first film appearance of the character in the 1943 movie serial Batman
Robert Lowery played Batman in the second film appearance of the character in a 1949 movie serial Batman and Robin

Batman (1943)

Batman was a 15-chapter serial film released in 1943 by Columbia Pictures and was the first appearance of the comic book character on film. The serial starred Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin. Being a World War II era production, the movie serial like many of this period was used as war-time propaganda and had an anti-Japanese bent with J. Carrol Naish playing the Japanese villain, an original character named Dr. Daka. Rounding out the cast were Shirley Patterson as Linda Page (Bruce Wayne's love interest), and William Austin as Alfred. The plot is based on Batman, a US government agent, attempting to defeat the Japanese agent Dr. Daka, at the height of World War II.

The film is notable for being the first filmed appearance of Batman and for providing two core elements of the Batman mythos.[23] The film introduced "The Bat's Cave" and the Grandfather clock entrance.[23] The name was altered to the Batcave for the comic. William Austin, who played Alfred, had a trim physique and sported a thin mustache, while the contemporary comic book version of Alfred was overweight and clean-shaven prior to the serial's release. The comics version of Alfred was altered to match that of Austin's, and has stayed that way.[23]

Batman and Robin (1949)

Batman and Robin was another 15-chapter serial film released in 1949 by Columbia Pictures. Robert Lowery played Batman, while Johnny Duncan played Robin. Supporting players included Jane Adams as Vicki Vale and veteran character actor Lyle Talbot as Commissioner Gordon. The plot dealt with the Dynamic Duo facing off against the Wizard, a hooded villain whose identity remains a mystery throughout the serial until the end.


Batman: The Movie (1966)

Adam West played the first television version of Batman in the 1966-1968 Batman series as well as the 1966 film of the same name

Batman (also known as Batman: The Movie) is a 1966 film adaptation of the popular Batman television series, and was the first full-length theatrical adaptation of the DC Comics character. The 20th Century Fox release starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin, as well as Lee Meriwether as Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as the Penguin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler.

The film was directed by Leslie H. Martinson, who also directed for the series a pair of season one episodes: "The Penguin Goes Straight" and "Not Yet, He Ain't".

1970s and 80s

In the late 1970s, Batman's popularity was waning.[24] CBS was interested in producing a Batman in Outer Space film. Producers Michael Uslan and Benjamin Melniker purchased the film rights of Batman from DC Comics on October 3, 1979. It was Uslan's wish "to make the definitive, dark, serious version of Batman, the way Bob Kane and Bill Finger had envisioned him in 1939. A creature of the night; stalking criminals in the shadows."[24] Richard Maibaum was approached to write a script with Guy Hamilton to direct, but the two turned down the offer. Uslan was unsuccessful with pitching Batman to various movie studios because they wanted the film to be similar to the campy 1960s TV series. Columbia Pictures and United Artists were among those to turn down the film.[25]

A disappointed Uslan then wrote a script titled Return of the Batman to give the film industry a better idea of his vision for the film. Uslan later compared its dark tone to that of The Dark Knight Returns, which his script pre-dated by six years.[24] In November 1979, producer Jon Peters and Casablanca FilmWorks, headed by Peter Guber, joined the project.[26] The four producers felt it was best to pattern the film's development after that of Superman (1978).[27] Uslan, Melniker and Guber pitched Batman to Universal Pictures, but the studio turned it down.[28] The project was publicly announced with a budget of $15 million in July 1980 at the Comic Art Convention in New York. Casablanca FilmWorks was absorbed into PolyGram Pictures in 1980. Guber and Peters left PolyGram Pictures in 1982 and took the Batman film rights with them, although PolyGram would retain at least 7.5% of the profits of said rights due to a contractual agreement.[26] Guber and Peters immediately set up shop at Warner Bros., which finally decided to accept Batman.[29]

Tom Mankiewicz completed a script titled The Batman in June 1983, focusing on Batman and Dick Grayson's origins, with the Joker and Rupert Thorne as villains, and Silver St. Cloud as the romantic interest.[30] Mankiewicz took inspiration from Steve Englehart's and Marshall Rogers's 1970s run in Detective Comics (later reprinted in the trade paperback Batman: Strange Apparitions), (ISBN 1-56389-500-5),[31] with Rogers himself being hired to provide concept art.[28] The Batman was then announced in late 1983 for a mid-1985 release date on a budget of $20 million. Originally, Mankiewicz had wanted an unknown actor for Batman, William Holden for James Gordon, David Niven as Alfred Pennyworth and Peter O'Toole as the Penguin, who Mankiewicz wanted to portray as a mobster with low body temperature.[29] Holden died in 1981 and Niven in 1983, so this would never come to pass. A number of filmmakers were attached to Mankiewicz' script, including Ivan Reitman and Joe Dante. Reitman wanted to cast Bill Murray as Batman. Eddie Murphy and Michael J. Fox were candidates for the role of Robin.[32] Nine rewrites were performed by nine separate writers. Most of them were based on Strange Apparitions. However, Mankiewicz's script was still being used to guide the project.[33]

Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher series (1989–1997)

Batman (1989)

Michael Keaton played Batman in the two films directed by Tim Burton, Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992)

Tim Burton took over as director of the first Batman film in 1986. Steve Englehart and Julie Hickson wrote film treatments before Sam Hamm wrote the first screenplay.[32][34] Numerous A-list actors were considered for the role of Batman before Michael Keaton was cast. Keaton was a controversial choice for the role since, by 1988, he had become typecast as a comedic actor and many observers doubted he could portray a serious role.[32] Jack Nicholson accepted the role of the Joker under strict conditions that dictated a high salary, a portion of the box office profits and his shooting schedule. Nicholson's final salary is reported to be as high as $50 million.[29][35][36][37] Principal photography took place at Pinewood Studios from October 1988 to January 1989.[38] The budget escalated from $30 million to $48 million,[35] while the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike forced Hamm to drop out. Rewrites were performed by Warren Skaaren, Charles McKeown[29] and Jonathan Gems.[39] Batman received positive reviews, broke numerous box office records, and won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction. The film grossed over $400 million,[32] and left a legacy over the modern perception of the superhero film genre.[40]

Batman Returns (1992)

Burton originally did not want to direct a sequel because of his mixed emotions over the previous film.[27] Sam Hamm's first script had the Penguin and Catwoman searching for hidden treasure.[41] Daniel Waters delivered a script that satisfied Burton, which convinced him to direct the film. Wesley Strick went uncredited for writing the shooting draft, deleting the Robin character, reworking the Penguin's characterization and "normalizing" all dialogue. Strick remained as the on-set writer throughout the production process and received top-billing screenplay credit the early trailers, while Waters had sole story credit.[42][43] Various A-list actresses lobbied hard for the role of Catwoman before Michelle Pfeiffer was cast, while Danny DeVito signed on to portray the Penguin.[44] Filming started at Warner Bros. in Burbank, California in June 1991. Batman Returns was released with financial success, but Warner Bros. was disappointed with the film's box office run because it earned less than its predecessor.[45] However, Batman Returns was released to generally positive reviews,[46] although a "parental backlash" criticized the film for containing violence and sexual innuendos that were thought to be unsuitable for children.[45] McDonald's shut down its Happy Meal tie-in for Batman Returns.[47]

Batman Forever (1995)

Val Kilmer portrayed Batman in Batman Forever (1995)

Although Batman Returns was a financial success, Warner Bros. felt the film should have made more money. The studio decided to change the direction of the Batman film series to be more mainstream. Joel Schumacher replaced Tim Burton as director, while Burton decided to stay on as producer.[48] However, Michael Keaton did not like the new direction the film series was heading in,[49] and was replaced by Val Kilmer as Batman. Chris O'Donnell was introduced as Robin, Jim Carrey starred as The Riddler, while Tommy Lee Jones starred as Two-Face. Filming started in September 1994,[48] and Schumacher encountered problems communicating with Kilmer and Jones.[50] Batman Forever was released on June 16, 1995 with financial success, earning over $350 million worldwide and three Academy Award nominations, but the film was met with mixed reviews from critics.[51][52]

Batman & Robin (1997)

George Clooney took over the role of Batman in Batman & Robin (1997)

After the release of Batman Forever, Warner Bros. started development on Batman & Robin, commissioning it on fast track for an adamant June 1997 release.[53] Val Kilmer did not return, because of scheduling conflicts with The Saint,[54] and was replaced by George Clooney. Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Mr. Freeze, while Uma Thurman played Poison Ivy, Alicia Silverstone played Batgirl, and Robert Swenson played Bane. Chris O'Donnell reprised his role as Robin. Michael Gough and Pat Hingle are the only cast members to appear in all four films as Alfred Pennyworth and Commissioner Gordon respectively. Principal photography began in September 1996[55] and finished in January 1997,[56] two weeks ahead of the shooting schedule.[57] Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997, and received primarily negative reviews.[58] Observers criticized the film for its toyetic and campy approach, and for homosexual innuendos added by Schumacher.[54] The film was a financial success,[59] but remains the least commercially successful live-action Batman film. Batman & Robin received numerous nominations at the Razzie Awards[60] and ranks among the worst rated superhero films of all time.[61][62]

Proposals for a fifth film

Batman Unchained

During the filming of Batman & Robin, Warner Bros. was impressed with the dailies, prompting them to immediately hire Joel Schumacher to reprise his directing duties for a third film. Writer Akiva Goldsman, who worked on Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, turned down the chance to write the script.[57] In late 1996, Warner Bros. and Schumacher hired Mark Protosevich to write the script for a fifth Batman film. A projected mid-1999 release date was announced.[63] Los Angeles Times described their film as "continuing in the same vein with multiple villains and more silliness".[64] Titled Batman Unchained but often incorrectly referred to as Batman Triumphant,[2] Protosevich's script had the Scarecrow as the main villain and the Joker would return as a hallucination in Batman's mind caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Harley Quinn appeared as a supporting character, written as the Joker's daughter trying to kill Batman to avenge her father's death.[65] Clooney, O'Donnell, and Silverstone were set to reprise the roles of Batman, Robin, and Batgirl.[66] Schumacher had also approached Nicolas Cage for the role of Scarecrow in Batman & Robin as a cameo appearance to set up an appearance in Batman Unchained,[67] before ultimately casting Coolio.[68]

A fifth film would likely have appeared 18 months to two years after the fourth. When Batman & Robin received negative reviews and failed to outgross any of its predecessors, and a $150 million Superman film was canceled three months before shooting began, Warner Bros. became unsure of its plans for the fifth film. The studio decided it was best to consider a live-action Batman Beyond film[64] and an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. Warner Bros. would then greenlight whichever idea suited them the most.[69] Schumacher felt he "owe[d] the Batman culture a real Batman movie. I would go back to the basics and make a dark portrayal of the Dark Knight."[70] He approached Warner Bros. to do Batman: Year One in mid-1998.[70]

Batman: DarKnight

Despite Warner Bros. and Schumacher's interest with Year One, Lee Shapiro, a comic book fan, and Stephen Wise pitched the studio with a script titled Batman: DarKnight in mid-1998. DarKnight, which was largely inspired by The Dark Knight Returns, had Bruce Wayne giving up his crime fighting career, and Dick Grayson attending Gotham University.[71] Dr. Jonathan Crane uses his position as professor of psychology at Gotham University and as head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum to conduct his fear experiments (this element would later appear in Batman Begins). During a vengeful confrontation with a colleague, Dr. Kirk Langstrom, Crane unknowingly initiates Kirk's transformation into the creature known as Man-Bat. Citizens of Gotham believe Man-Bat's nightly activities to be Batman's "bloodthirsty" return. Bruce once again becomes Batman "to clear his name," and solve the mystery of Man-Bat.[71] Kirk struggles with his "man-vs.-monster" syndrome, as he longs to both reunite with his wife and get revenge on Crane, while Crane exacts revenge on those responsible for his dismissal from both Arkham and the university while encountering truths about his past. Warner Bros. decided not to move forward with the project, and passed on Batman: DarKnight in favor of Year One and Batman Beyond.[71]

Robin spin-off

Chris O'Donnell revealed in a 2012 interview with Access Hollywood that a Robin spin-off had been considered; the project was cancelled after Batman & Robin.[72]

Other proposals

Batman: Year One and Batman Beyond

By September 2000 Warner Bros. was developing a live action screen adaptation of Batman Beyond, written by Paul Dini, Neal Stephenson and Boaz Yakin, with the possibility of Yakin directing, as well as an adaptation of Frank Miller's 1987 comic book story arc Batman: Year One.[73] Despite interest from Schumacher, the studio amazed and pleased fans by hiring Darren Aronofsky to direct and co-write with Miller,[70][73][64] whom he previously collaborated with on an unproduced script for Ronin.[74] Yakin developed one draft of the Batman Beyond screenplay with the writers but soon lost interest,[75] and Warner Bros. abandoned Batman Beyond almost instantly in favor of Batman: Year One.[69] Aronofsky and Miller intended to reboot the Batman franchise, "it's somewhat based on the comic book," Aronofsky said. "Toss out everything you can imagine about Batman! Everything! We're starting completely anew."[76] Regular Aronofsky collaborator, Matthew Libatique, was set as cinematographer,[77] and Christian Bale had been approached for the role of Batman. Coincidentally, Bale would be cast in the role for Batman Begins.[78] At the same time, Warner Bros. was moving forward on a Catwoman spin-off.[79]

The Aronofsky-Miller script had a brooding Batman and realistic violence, and would also have been R-rated.[64] Around 2001, Warner commissioned the rewriting of the film's script to The Matrix directors The Wachowskis, but the duo's version didn't convince Warner.[80] Joss Whedon was later hired to rewrite the script, but like with The Wachowskis' script, Warner didn't like his script.[80][81] In June 2002, the studio decided to move forward on Batman vs. Superman and abandon Year One.[82]

Batman vs. Superman

In 1999 new Warner studio head Alan Horn promised five tent-poles a year. He wanted to revive the Batman and Superman franchises as tentpoles.[64] Wolfgang Petersen was to direct Superman: Flyby,[83][84] but Andrew Kevin Walker pitched Warner Bros. an idea titled Batman vs Superman with as director. Superman: Flyby was put on hold,[83] and Akiva Goldsman was hired to rewrite Walker's Batman vs. Superman.[69][64]

Goldsman's draft, dated June 21, 2002, had Bruce Wayne going through a mental breakdown after his five-year retirement from crime fighting. Dick Grayson, Alfred Pennyworth, and Commissioner Gordon are all dead, but Bruce finds some solace in his fiancée, Elizabeth Miller. Meanwhile, Clark Kent is struggling because of a recent divorce from Lois Lane. Clark and Bruce are close friends, and Clark is Bruce's best man. After the Joker kills Elizabeth on their honeymoon, Bruce swears revenge, while Clark tries to hold him back. Bruce blames Clark for her death, and the two go against one another. Ultimately, Lex Luthor is revealed to have masterminded the entire plot to get Batman and Superman to destroy each other. The two decide to team up and stop Luthor.[85] Bale was approached to portray Batman,[86] while Josh Hartnett was offered the role of Superman.[87]

Filming was to start in early 2003, with plans for a five- to six-month shoot. The release date was set for the summer of 2004.[64][88] However, Warner Bros. canceled development to focus on individual Superman and Batman projects after Abrams submitted another draft for Superman: Flyby.[89] According to Petersen "[Warner Bros.' chief] Alan Horn was so torn, because it's such a fascinating concept to do a Batman versus Superman film".[90] Horn reportedly preferred Abrams' optimistic Superman script to the darker Batman vs. Superman script; studio executives voted 11-1 for the former. Many comic book fans agreed; David S. Goyer said, "'Batman Vs. Superman' is where you go when you admit to yourself that you’ve exhausted all possibilities ... somewhat of an admission that this franchise is on its last gasp". Since the decision left the studio without a Batman film for 2004, Warner quickly made Catwoman, which performed poorly at the box office.[64]

OnStar commercials

The Batman OnStar commercials were a series of six television commercials featuring Batman, created by ad-agency Campbell-Ewald and aired from 2000 to the beginning of 2002.

The ads were based on the film series and were basically an amalgamation of both directors' visuals. For example, the Batmobile was the one used in Batman and Batman Returns, while the Batsuit was a combination of what was worn by Val Kilmer in Batman Forever and George Clooney in Batman & Robin. The commercials also featured the Danny Elfman Batman theme from Tim Burton's two films.

Actor Bruce Thomas portrayed Batman in these ads, while Michael Gough reprised his role of Alfred Pennyworth in one of the ads. Baywatch actress Brooke Burns played Vicki Vale in an ad as well. Actor Brian Stepanek played the Riddler in one ad and Curtis Armstrong played the Joker in another.

The Dark Knight Trilogy (2005–2012)

According to Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale (who portrayed Batman from 2005–2012) had "exactly the balance of darkness and light that we were looking for."

Batman Begins (2005)

Following a rejected Batman origin story reboot Joss Whedon pitched in December 2002,[91][92] Warner Bros. hired Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer to script Batman Begins.[93] The duo aimed for a darker and more realistic tone, with humanity and realism being the basis of the film.[94] The film was primarily shot in the United Kingdom and Chicago,[95][96] and relied on traditional stunts and scale models with minimal use of computer-generated imagery. Christian Bale starred as Batman, Liam Neeson as Ra's al Ghul, and Cillian Murphy as Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow. Katie Holmes appears in the movie as Wayne's love interest, Rachel Dawes, a role created for the film. Alfred Pennyworth was played by Michael Caine and Jim Gordon was portrayed by Gary Oldman. A new Batmobile (called the Tumbler) and a more mobile Batsuit were both created specifically for the film.[97][98] The film begins with the death of Bruce's parents and then explores his decision to leave Gotham and his training under the League of Assassins with Ra's al Ghul, before he rebels against the League and adopts the guise of Batman, recognising that he cannot condone their use of lethal force. The League attempt to attack Gotham using Jonathan Crane's weaponised fear toxin, but Batman is able to defeat them.

Batman Begins was both critically and commercially successful. The film opened on June 15, 2005, in the United States and Canada in 3,858 theaters. It grossed $48 million in its opening weekend, eventually grossing over $372 million worldwide. The film received an 85% overall approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes. Critics noted that fear was a common motif throughout the film, and remarked that it had a darker tone compared with previous Batman films. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography and for three BAFTA awards.[99] It was also listed at No. 81 on Empire's "500 Greatest Movies of All Time"[100] and has maintained a standing on's "Top 250".[101]

The Dark Knight (2008)

Christopher Nolan reprised his duties as director, and brought his brother, Jonathan, to co-write the script for the second installment. The Dark Knight featured Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Heath Ledger as The Joker, and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent / Two-Face. Principal photography began in April 2007 in Chicago and concluded in November. Other locations included Pinewood Studios, Ministry of Sound in London and Hong Kong. On January 22, 2008, after he had completed filming The Dark Knight, Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription medication. Warner Bros. had created a viral marketing campaign for The Dark Knight, developing promotional websites and trailers highlighting screen shots of Ledger as the Joker, but after Ledger's death, the studio refocused its promotional campaign.[102][103] The film depicts Batman fighting The Joker, aided by the prosecution of charismatic District Attorney Harvey Dent. The Joker tests Batman’s resolve when he causes Rachel’s death and Dent’s transformation into the disfigured criminal Two-Face. Although Batman is able to stop the Joker from forcing two ferries - one loaded with civilians and the other with prisoners - to destroy each other, he is forced to take the blame for the murders committed by Dent to ensure that Gotham’s citizens do not lose hope for the future.

The film received broad critical acclaim,[104][105][106] and set numerous records during its theatrical run.[107] With just over $1 billion in revenue worldwide, it is the 37th-highest-grossing film of all time, unadjusted for inflation.[108] The film received eight Academy Award nominations; it won the award for Best Sound Editing and Ledger was posthumously awarded Best Supporting Actor.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Nolan wanted the story for the third and final installment to keep him emotionally invested. "On a more superficial level, I have to ask the question," he reasoned, "how many good third movies in a franchise can people name?"[109] He returned out of finding a necessary way to continue the story, but feared midway through filming he would find a sequel redundant.[110] The Dark Knight Rises is intended to complete Nolan's Batman trilogy.[111] By December 2008, Nolan completed a rough story outline, before he committed himself to Inception.[112] In February 2010, work on the screenplay was commencing with David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan.[113] When Goyer left to work on the Superman reboot, Jonathan was writing the script based on the story by his brother and Goyer.[114] Tom Hardy was cast as Bane and Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle.[115] Joseph Gordon-Levitt was cast as Robin John Blake,[116][117] and Marion Cotillard was cast as Miranda Tate. Filming began in May 2011 and concluded in November.[118] Nolan chose not to film in 3-D but, by focusing on improving image quality and scale using the IMAX format, hoped to push technological boundaries while nevertheless making the style of the film consistent with the previous two.[119] Nolan had several meetings with IMAX Vice-President David Keighley to work on the logistics of projecting films in digital IMAX venues.[120] The Dark Knight Rises featured more scenes shot in IMAX than The Dark Knight.[120] Cinematographer Wally Pfister expressed interest in shooting the film entirely in IMAX.[121][122] During the film, set eight years after Dark Knight, the arrival of new foe Bane forces Bruce to return to his old role as Batman, only to find himself overpowered and captured by Bane as Gotham is cut off from the rest of the world with a stolen Wayne Enterprises fusion generator prototype set to go off in a few months. With the aid of thief Selina Kyle, Bruce is able to return to Gotham and defeat Bane while redeeming his image as Batman. The film concludes with Bruce having 'retired' as Batman after faking his death to live with Selina Kyle, evidence suggesting that he has passed on the Batcave to Blake while Gotham rebuilds in memory of the Dark Knight's heroism.

Upon release, The Dark Knight Rises received a positive critical response and was successful at the box office, going on to outgross its predecessor and become the 24th-highest-grossing film of all time grossing over $1.08 billion. However, unlike its predecessors, the film was not nominated for any Oscars during its year of eligibility at the 85th Academy Awards, much to the surprise of film industry insiders.[123]

Proposed Justice League film

Justice League: Mortal

In February 2007, during pre-production for The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. hired husband and wife screenwriting duo Michelle and Kieran Mulroney to script a Justice League film[124] featuring a younger Batman in a separate franchise.[125] George Miller was hired to direct the following September,[126] with Armie Hammer cast as Batman a month later[127][128] and Teresa Palmer as Talia al Ghul.[129] Filming had nearly commenced at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, but was pushed back over the Writers Guild of America strike, and once more when the Australian Film Commission denied Warner Bros. a 45 percent tax rebate over lack of Australian actors in the film.[130] Production offices were moved to Vancouver Film Studios in Canada for an expected July 2008 start and a planned summer 2009 theatrical release date,[131][132] but Warner Bros. ultimately canceled Justice League following the success of The Dark Knight. Hammer's option on his contract lapsed and the studio was more willing to proceed with Christopher Nolan to finish his trilogy separately with The Dark Knight Rises.[133]

DC Extended Universe (2016–present)

Zack Snyder felt that casting a relatively older Batman (Ben Affleck) would be a layered juxtaposition to a younger Superman

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

On June 13, 2013, a source from Warner Bros. told The Wrap that they were discussing more Man of Steel films, as well as a Superman/Batman film, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.[134] Warner Bros. announced that Superman and Batman would unite in a new film, a follow-up to Man of Steel (2013), taking its inspiration from the comic The Dark Knight Returns and set for release in 2015.[135][136][137] Goyer stated at the Superman 75th Anniversary Panel at Comic-Con, that Batman and Superman would face off, and titles under consideration were Superman vs Batman or Batman vs Superman.[138]

On August 22, 2013, The Hollywood Reporter announced the casting of Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne/Batman.[139][140] On January 17, 2014, it was announced that the film had been delayed from its original July 17, 2015 release date to May 6, 2016, in order to give the filmmakers "time to realize fully their vision, given the complex visual nature of the story".[141] The film's release was moved again to March 25, 2016, "avoiding a high-profile showdown with Captain America: Civil War on May 6, 2016".[142] At some point prior to the events of the film, Wayne Manor was burned down, and Bruce and Alfred relocated to a smaller glass house above the Batcave. During the film, Lex Luthor manipulates Batman into perceiving Superman as an enemy, with Luthor intending to provoke a conflict between the two that will either force Superman to kill or see Batman defeat 'God'. Batman fights and nearly kills Superman with kryptonite weapons, but relents when Superman asks him to 'save Martha' (Luthor using Martha Kent as a hostage to provoke Superman into confronting Batman), the reminder of his own mother helping Batman realise what he has become and acknowledge that Superman is fundamentally human despite his powers. After Batman saves Martha Kent from Luthor's minions, he fights alongside Superman and Wonder Woman to contain the Kryptonian deformity Luthor created to kill Superman, a battle that results in Superman's death when he stabs the deformity with the kryptonite spear and is impaled himself. Taking Luthor's metahuman files, Bruce states that he intends to gather the metahumans to prepare for an implied future threat that Luthor made reference to.

Suicide Squad (2016)

In February 2009, Warner Bros. was developing a Suicide Squad film, with Dan Lin producing, and Justin Marks writing the script.[143] In September 2014, David Ayer signed on to direct and write the screenplay for the film.[144][145] Charles Roven was also hired to produce the film. In November 2014 and March 2015, it was announced that Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and the Joker would appear in the film, portrayed respectively by Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Jared Leto.[146][147][148] Batman appears in brief flashbacks where he is involved in the capture of Deadshot and Harley Quinn; he rescues Harley from a submerged car, and apprehends Deadshot as the assassin is Christmas shopping with his daughter. Batman's history with Killer Croc is also briefly referenced. At the film's conclusion, Amanda Waller—who appears to know that Bruce Wayne is Batman—provides Bruce with files on various metahumans in exchange for his protection from future fallout from the Enchantress' recent attack. Bruce tells Waller to shut down Task Force X, as his friends (implied to be The Justice League) will handle future problems.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Although he does not appear physically, Bruce Wayne is heavily referenced in Wonder Woman. After the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Bruce successfully retrieves the photo from Luthor's archives which he used to threaten Diana Prince, along with a watch that belonged to the father of Captain Steve Trevor. He transports them through an armored car to Diana, with a letter wishing to know her story someday. Diana recalls the events of the film as a flashback, after which she sends an e-mail to Bruce that reads "Thanks for bringing him back to me".

Justice League (2017)

Shortly after filming had finished for Man of Steel, Warner Bros hired Will Beall to script a new Justice League film in June 2012.[149] With the release of Man of Steel in June 2013, Goyer was hired to write a new Justice League script, with the Beall draft being scrapped.[150] In April 2014, it was announced that Zack Snyder would also be directing Goyer's Justice League script.[151] Warner Bros. was reportedly courting Chris Terrio to rewrite Justice League the following July, after having been impressed with his rewrite of Batman v Superman.[152]

Shazam! (2019)

Bill Dean voices a toy version of Bruce Wayne / Batman in a cameo appearance in David F. Sandberg's Shazam!.[153]

The Batman (2021)

Robert Pattinson will portray the titular role in "The Batman" directed by Matt Reeves.

By July 2015, Ben Affleck was in talks to star in, co-write with Geoff Johns, and possibly direct a standalone Batman film.[154] In March 2016, Johns claimed that the appearance of Robin's suit covered in graffiti from Dawn of Justice would be explored later and the identity of the deceased character was intentionally unspecified. (The film implies that Robin was murdered by the Joker and Harley Quinn.)[155] Following the release of Dawn of Justice, William Morris Endeavor's co-CEO Patrick Whitesell confirmed that Affleck had written a screenplay for a standalone Batman film that he hoped would be optioned by Warner Bros as well to direct.[156] Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara confirmed in April 2016 that the studio was moving ahead with Affleck's stand-alone Batman film, which the actor would star in and direct.[157] In May 2016, Jeremy Irons confirmed that he was "tied into The Batman",[158] while Affleck stated that his solo Batman film would borrow from the comics, but mainly be an "original story".[159] In August 2016, Jared Leto expressed his hope that his version of the Joker would appear in Affleck's Batman solo film.[160] Later that month, Deathstroke was teased by Affleck through test footage, later confirmed by Johns that the character would be played by Joe Manganiello.[161] In October 2016, Affleck stated the intended title for the film would be The Batman,[162] but later clarified that the film could end up having a different title.[163] Manganiello and Irons stated that filming would start in spring 2017.[164][165]

In December 2016, Affleck confirmed that the film was on track to begin shooting in spring 2017.[166] Later that month, Warner Bros. executive Greg Silverman stated that the film would be released in 2018.[167] Around the same time, Affleck stated that the film had no script and that he may end up not directing it.[168] Affleck planned to shoot the film in Los Angeles as doubling for Gotham City.[169] He reaffirmed his commitment to direct the film in his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.[170] In late January 2017, Affleck decided to step down as director, but would remain involved as producer and actor.[171][172] By this point, writer Chris Terrio, who won an Academy Award for writing Affleck's Argo and also helped script Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, had turned in a rewrite of the script.[173] In February 2017 Reeves signed on to direct and co-produce the film.[174] Production was delayed until 2018 as Reeves was tied up in post-production on War for the Planet of the Apes until June 2017,[175] and The Batman is being re-written to allow Reeves more creative freedom as a director.[176] Reeves stated in an interview that the film will feature "an almost-noir driven, detective version of Batman" that will emphasize the heart and mind of the character and will take inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock.[177][178]

On August 2, 2018, Reeves appeared on a Television Critics Association panel and revealed many details about the film. He confirmed that The Batman is an original, noir-driven story and not an origin story. He also revealed that the script is nearing completion and that the film will make only small connections to the greater "DC Universe."[179] By January 2019, it was announced that Affleck would not return as Batman and no longer involved in any capacity. The film was scheduled to start shooting in early 2019.[180] On May 16, 2019, it was reported by both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that Robert Pattinson was in "early talks" and the "frontrunner" to replace Affleck as Bruce Wayne / Batman.[181][182] On May 31, 2019, Pattinson was officially cast in the title role.[4] The Batman is scheduled to be released in North America on June 25, 2021.[183] On September 23, 2019, Jeffrey Wright was reported to be in talks for the role of James Gordon.[184] On October 14, 2019, Zoë Kravitz was cast in the role of Selina Kyle / Catwoman.[185] On October 16, 2019, Mattson Tomlin announced on his Twitter page that he will be co-writing the film.[186] On October 17, 2019, Paul Dano was cast in the role of Edward Nashton / The Riddler.[187] On October 18, 2019, it was announced that Michael Giacchino will be composing the film.[188]

DC Black

Joker (2019)

Dante Pereira-Olson portrays a young Bruce Wayne in the Joker film.[5][189] The film is set during the 1980s, where a failed stand-up comedian named Arthur Fleck turns to a life of crime and chaos in Gotham City.[190]

Animated films

Batman solo



With other heroes



The Lego Movie series


Cast and characters


Box office performance

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Ref(s)
North America Other
Worldwide All time
North America
All time
Batman (1966) July 30, 1966 $1,700,000 $1,700,000 $1.5 million [193][194]
Batman (1989) June 23, 1989 $251,348,343 $160,160,000 $411,508,343 #71
#156 $35 million [195]
Batman Returns June 19, 1992 $162,831,698 $103,990,656 $266,822,354 #206
#338 $80 million [196]
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm December 25, 1993 $5,617,391 $5,617,391 #4,653 [197]
Batman Forever June 16, 1995 $184,031,112 $152,498,032 $336,529,144 #148
#231 $100 million [51]
Batman & Robin June 20, 1997 $107,325,195 $130,881,927 $238,207,122 #460 #394 $125 million [198]
Catwoman July 23, 2004 $40,202,379 $41,900,000 $82,102,379 #2,013 $100 million [199]
Batman Begins June 15, 2005 $206,852,432 $167,366,241 $374,218,673 #120 #182 $150 million [200]
The Dark Knight July 18, 2008 $534,858,444 $469,700,000 $1,004,558,444 #4
#14 $185 million [201]
The Dark Knight Rises July 20, 2012 $448,139,099 $636,300,000 $1,084,439,099 #7
#8 $250 million [202]
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice March 25, 2016 $328,843,925 $542,232,023 $871,075,948 #45 #46 $250 million [203]
Batman: The Killing Joke July 25, 2016 $3,775,000 $586,038 $4,361,038 $3.5 million [204]
Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders October 10, 2016 $57,343 $57,343 [205]
The Lego Batman Movie February 10, 2017 $175,750,384 $136,200,000 $311,950,384 #252 #405 $80 million [206]
Batman and Harley Quinn August 14, 2017 $39,091 $39,091 [207]
Joker October 4, 2019 $192,728,787 $351,200,000 $543,928,787 #222 #185 $55 million [208]
Total $2,643,844,770 $2,893,072,260 $5,536,917,030 #5
#10 $1.415 billion [209]
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates information is not available.
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).
  • Batman Begins and The Dark Knight gross includes 2012 re-releases.

Critical and public response

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic CinemaScore
Batman (1966) 78% (6.22/10 average rating) (32 reviews)[210]
Batman (1989) 71% (6.56/10 average rating) (73 reviews)[211] 69 (21 reviews)[212] A[213]
Batman Returns 79% (6.7/10 average rating) (80 reviews)[46] 68 (23 reviews)[214] B[213]
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 84% (6.8/10 average rating) (31 reviews)[215]
Batman Forever 39% (5.2/10 average rating) (64 reviews)[52] 51 (23 reviews)[216] A−[213]
Batman & Robin 11% (3.7/10 average rating) (88 reviews)[58] 28 (21 reviews)[217] C+[213]
Batman Begins 84% (7.7/10 average rating) (273 reviews)[218] 70 (41 reviews)[219] A[213]
The Dark Knight 94% (8.6/10 average rating) (332 reviews)[220] 84 (39 reviews)[221] A[213]
The Dark Knight Rises 87% (8/10 average rating) (348 reviews)[222] 78 (45 reviews)[223] A[213]
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice 28% (4.92/10 average rating) (409 reviews)[224] 44 (51 reviews)[225] B[213]
Batman: The Killing Joke 43% (5.7/10 average rating) (37 reviews)[226]
The Lego Batman Movie 90% (7.5/10 average rating) (280 reviews)[227] 75 (48 reviews)[228] A−[213]
Justice League 40% (5.25/10 average rating) (377 reviews)[229] 45 (52 reviews)[230] B+[213]
Joker 68% (7.25/10 average rating) (480 reviews) 59 (58 reviews) B+
List indicator(s)
  • A dark grey cell indicates the information is not available for the film.

Academy Awards

Award Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology The Dark Knight Trilogy DC Extended Universe
Batman Batman Returns Batman Forever Batman & Robin Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight Rises Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Justice League
Cinematography Nominated Nominated Nominated
Film Editing Nominated
Makeup Nominated Nominated
Production Design Won Nominated
Sound Editing Nominated Won
Sound Mixing Nominated Nominated
Supporting Actor Won (Heath Ledger)
Visual Effects Nominated Nominated

British Academy Film Awards

Award Burton/Schumacher series The Dark Knight Trilogy DC Extended Universe
Batman Batman Returns Batman Forever Batman & Robin Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight Rises Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Justice League
Cinematography Nominated
Costume Design Nominated Nominated
Film Editing Nominated
Makeup and Hair Nominated Nominated Nominated
Music Nominated
Production Design Nominated Nominated Nominated
Sound Nominated Nominated Nominated
Supporting Actor Nominated (Jack Nicholson) Won (Heath Ledger)
Visual Effects Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated

Saturn Award

Award Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology The Dark Knight Trilogy DC Extended Universe
Batman Batman Returns Batman Forever Batman & Robin Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight Rises Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Justice League
Best Fantasy Film Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Won
Best Action / Adventure / Thriller Film Won Nominated
Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture Nominated
Best Actor Nominated Won Nominated Nominated
Best Actress Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Nominated Nominated Won Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Nominated Nominated Won
Best Director Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated
Best Writing Won Won
Best Costumes Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated Nominated
Best Make-Up Nominated Won Nominated Nominated Nominated
Best Special Effects Nominated Nominated Won
Best Music Nominated Won Nominated

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