While it may seem that comic book films have only became a major part of Hollywood during Marvel Studios’ near decade of box office dominance, four color heroes have actually been appearing in films since the Golden Age of Comics. Numerous heroes, including Superman, Captain Marvel and Captain America all appeared in theatrically released episodic serials during the 1940s. In 1943, Columbia Pictures released the first of two serials based on the DC Comics character Batman, bringing the Caped Crusader to the silver screen for the first time.
Following the second Columbia serial’s release in 1949, Batman didn’t appear on the big screen again for nearly two decades. In 1966, Batman (starring Adam West and Burt Ward) premiered on the ABC Television Network. The series’ campy, self-referential sense of humor was an immediate hit and led to a wave of “Bat-Mania” sweeping across the United States. Seeking to cash in on the show’s success, 20th Century Fox rushed a feature film into production, releasing Batman: The Movie that July.
After “Bat-Mania” died down, the character took another two-decade break from cinemas before appearing again in Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. The film was a massive success and lead to a sequel in 1992. Following Batman Returns, Burton handed over the reigns of the character to Joel Schumacher for 1995’s Batman Forever and 1997’s Batman & Robin. An animated film, Batman Mask of The Phantasm, was released between the the Burton and Schumacher films. Christopher Nolan was next to sit behind the directer’s chair, crafting his Dark Knight Trilogy between 2005 and 2012.
Batman is currently back in theaters everywhere as the co-lead in Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. With the character back on the big screen, now seemed like as good a time as any to rank his cinematic appearances. In the upcoming pages, I’ll be listing each of the Dark Knight’s full-length theatrical films. As always, these opinions are mine and mine alone.