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A promotional image released by WB for "Batman Day" 2016

The Batman film franchise consists of a total of nine theatrical live-action films and two live-action serials featuring the DC Comics superhero Batman.

Columbia film serials

The Batman

Batman is a 1943 15-chapter serial starring Lewis Wilson as Batman and Douglas Croft as Robin produced by Columbia pictures. The serial depicted the dynamic duo as US Government spies apprehending a Japanese agent named Dr. Daka (J. Carrol Naish) during World War II.

Batman and Robin

Columbia Pictures produced another 15-chapter serial with Batman and Robin this time going after a mysterious villain named The Wizard whose identity wasn't revealed until the end. Batman was played by Robert Lowery with Robin played by Johnny Duncan.

20th Century Fox film

Batman: The Movie

Batman (now called Batman: The Movie) is a movie distributed by 20th Century Fox of the highly popular 1960's Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, respectively. The film also featured Lee Meriwether as the Catwoman, Cesar Romero as the Joker, Burgess Meredith as Penguin and Frank Gorshin as the Riddler.

Warner Bros. film franchise

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology

  • Batman promotional logo
  • Batman Returns promotional logo
  • Batman Forever promotional logo
  • Batman & Robin promotional logo

Batman

Tim Burton helmed the motion picture Batman released on June 23, 1989, a month after Batman's 50th anniversary of his comic debut and featured the Joker as the main villain. Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson was chosen to portray Jack Napier/The Joker.

The film would go on to change how people looked at superhero movies and as well as influence future blockbuster movie marketing tactics. Legally, it is still the only film that can be called simply, Batman.

Batman Returns

After the success of Batman, WB released the sequel Batman Returns on June 19, 1992 with Michael Keaton returning in his starring role with two main adversaries: The Penguin (portrayed by Danny DeVito) and Catwoman (portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer).

With this movie and its predecessor, WB followed the films up with the debut of Batman: The Animated Series on television in the fall of that year.

Batman Forever

Batman Forever was released on June 16, 1995 as both a followup and revitalization under the direction of Joel Schumacher. Val Kilmer took over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Michael Keaton. It introduced Batman's faithful sidekick Robin (portrayed by Chris O'Donnell) and two more main villains: Two-Face (portrayed by Tommy Lee Jones) and the Riddler (portrayed by Jim Carrey).

A strong focus on brighter visuals and "beauty" proved popular with audiences at the time of the movie's release.

Batman & Robin

Batman & Robin was released on June 20, 1997. Joel Schumacher returned as director along with the main on-set producer, Peter MacGregor-Scott who oversaw the previous film from start to finish as well. George Clooney took over the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne from Val Kilmer while Chris O'Donnell reprised his role as Robin/Dick Grayson. The film also introduced new team member Batgirl (portrayed by Alicia Silverstone) and three villains: Mr. Freeze (portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger), Poison Ivy (portrayed by Uma Thurman) and Bane (portrayed by Jeep Swenson).

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology
Films:   Batman  • Batman Returns  • Batman Forever  • Batman & Robin

The Dark Knight Trilogy

Chris Nolan Triology

Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises

The films produced by filmmaker Christopher Nolan, marketed collectively as The Dark Knight Trilogy, were released between 2005 and 2012 and substantially rebooted the franchise aiming for a darker, more realistic tone.

Batman Begins

In 2003, Christopher Nolan and co-writer David S. Goyer outlined a draft of a Batman origin story. Christian Bale was cast in the title role along with Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon and  Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox . The film introduced a new character, Rachel Dawes played by Katie Holmes and the main villains were Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). Batman Begins was opened on June 17, 2005 to critical and commercial success.

The Dark Knight

Plans for a sequel were already in the works around the time of Begins when Goyer outlined a story featuring the Joker. Robin Williams and Steve Carrell were big contenders for the role which ultimately went to Heath Ledger. The film featured Harvey Dent/Two-Face in prominent role and was played by Aaron Eckhart while Maggie Gyllenhaal replaced Katie Holmes as Rachel. A animated home video tie-tin, Batman: Gotham Knight was released to promote the film. Each film is presented with its own unique art style and is not meant to be canon with the other Nolan films.The film opened on July 18, 2008 to massive critical acclaim with Heath Ledger, who died during production, being posthumously awarded the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.

The Dark Knight Rises

The third and final installment of the Nolan series was released on July 20, 2012 and featured Bane as the main villain played by Tom Hardy with Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle. The film also introduced characters of John Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Miranda Tate played by Marion Cotillard.

The Dark Knight Trilogy
Films:   Batman Begins  • The Dark Knight  • The Dark Knight Rises

DC Extended Universe

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman - Dawn of Justice (official logo)

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice was released on March 25, 2016, directed by Zack Snyder. A sequel to Man of Steel, the film features Ben Affleck as Batman and started what would be known as the "DC Extended Universe", a shared continuity between different DC Comics properites. Batman v. Superman follows Batman and Superman as they are brought into conflict by criminal mastermind Lex Luthor. Despite being a commercial success, the film received negative reviews, though Affleck's portrayal of Batman was praised.

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad was released on August 5 2016 and directed by David Ayer. The film features Amanda Waller as she puts together a team of supervillains to perform tasks the government can't, lead by Rick Flag. Members of Batman's rogues gallery, such as Deadshot, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, are prominently featured as members of the titular team. Affleck returns as Batman in several scenes and the Joker is also featured as a secondary antagonist. Like Batman v. Superman, the film received negatively, but was financially successful.

Justice League

Justice League was released on November 17 2017 and was directed by Zack Snyder, though Joss Whedon took up duties after the former left for personal reasons. Affleck reprises his role as Batman from Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad. The film follows him teaming up with Wonder Woman, the Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to fight Steppenwolf and the forces of Apokolips, after the apparent death of Superman. The film received mixed-to-negative reviews and was considered a financial disappointment.

Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey was released on February 7, 2020 and was directed by Cathy Yan. Margot Robbie reprise her role as Harley Quinn. Set after the events of Suicide Squad, the film follows Quinn teaming up with Black Canary, Huntress, Renee Montoya and Cassandra Cain against crime lord Black Mask.

The Batman

Plans for a Batman film directed, written and starring Affleck were originally made during production of Batman v. Superman. However, in early-2017, Affleck left the project, with director Matt Reeves taking up duties instead. Set to be a crime-noir detective thriller, The Batman is set to be released on June 23 2021 and will feature Robert Pattinson taking over the role as Batman. The film will feature members of the rogues gallery, including Zoë Kravitz as Catwoman, Paul Dano as the Riddler and Colin Farrell as the Penguin.

The Suicide Squad

A sequel to Suicide Squad was planned following the success of the original film, though it would serve as a soft-reboot for the franchise. Robbie, Davis and Kinnaman will return as Quinn, Waller and Flag, respectively. The film will also feature several other Batman villains, including Polka-Dot Man and the Ratcatcher.

Other Films

Joker

Joker was released on October 4, 2019 and was directed by Todd Phillips. Joaquin Phoenix stars as Arther Fleck, a struggling comedian suffering with his mental health. The film is set in an 1980s Gotham City and tells a possible origin story for the Joker. The film was finanncally successful and received positively, many praising Phoenix's performance and willingness to move away from the comics. However, some social commenters were concerned it may inspire real-world violence.

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