Here's Where You Can Stream Or Rent Every Batman Movie

(Welcome to Where to Watch, which provides a clear and simple answer to the question, "Hey, where can I watch this thing?" In this edition: the Batman franchise.)

It's tough to argue the lasting cultural impact of the Batman franchise. The character was created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, debuting in Detective Comics in 1939. Since then, the character has featured in numerous live-action and animated movies, TV shows, comics, video games, and more. There are Batman slot machines in Vegas, for goodness' sake.

So whether you like your Batman super serious, super silly, or somewhere in-between, there's a perfect Batman movie waiting for you to rent or stream.  Here's where you can find them.

Batman: The Movie

Where to Rent: Amazon ($3.80), Google Play/YouTube/AppleTV ($3.99)Batman: The Movie is the movie based on the 1960s Batman television series. It was the first full-length theatrical adaptation of the character, and starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. It was directed by Leslie H. Martinson, who directed two episodes of the series, and was written by series writer Lorenzo Semple Jr. The movie was released two months after the finale of the first season of the series, to generally positive reviews. Batman: The Movie follows the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder as they face off a coalition of their most powerful enemies. The Joker (Cesar Romero), the Penguin (Burgess Meredith), the Riddler (Frank Gorshin), and the Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) have all teamed up to kidnap a scientist who can turn people into dust. They set their eyes on dusting the United World Organization's Security Council (basically the United Nations), and only Batman and Robin can stop them.Batman: The Movie is a campy blast that should bring a smile to every Batfan's face. Because some days, you just can't get rid of a bomb.


Where to Stream: HBO Max

Visionary director Tim Burton brought the Bat to the screen in a whole new way in his 1989 movie, BatmanThe film repurposes the Red Hood's origins to Joker, making Batman inadvertently responsible for the creation of his most terrifying nemesis. Michael Keaton stars as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Jack Nicholson eats up every inch of the screen as the clown prince of crime, the Joker. Kim Basinger plays Wayne's love interest, Vicki Vale, and Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams, plays Harvey Dent. (Imagine a world where we would have gotten a Billy Dee Two-Face! Just imagine.)

Batman was lauded by critics and audiences alike and allowed Burton to make a second Batman film three years later. The score by Oingo Boingo's Danny Elfman is one of the all-time greats, and this stylish comic noir is a beloved classic for a reason.

Batman Returns

Where to Stream: HBO MaxBatman Returns takes everything fun about Burton's Batman and turns it up a notch. The first film's gothic brutalist vision becomes something more, with two major villains for Keaton's Batman to face: Danny DeVito's grotesque Penguin and Michelle Pfeiffer's lovely-but-lethal Catwoman.Batman Returns isn't as nihilistic as its predecessor, and it gives Catwoman and Batman's alter-egos, Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne, a chance to have a little romance. It also features DeVito having a ball as the cantankerous, fish-gobbling Penguin and Christopher Walken as his business partner-in-crime, Max Shreck. Everyone is firing on all cylinders both on-camera and off. If there was a Batman film I'd recommend to someone who had never even heard of the Caped Crusader (maybe they live on the moon?), it would be Batman Returns.

Batman Forever

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Some folks are pretty hard on 1995's Batman Forever, directed by Joel Schumacher. I am not one of those people. This ridiculous romp through Gotham City, starring Val Kilmer as Batman, is about as close as you can get to '60s Batman without actually starring Adam West. Batman Forever features the first live action appearance of sidekick Robin (Chris O'Donnell) since the 1966 movie, and centers on their relationship. After Robin's acrobat family are killed by Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), he is taken in by playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne. He eventually discovers Bruce's double life, as does a flirtatious therapist played by Nicole Kidman.

Bruce has to deal with more than facing his dual identity, as Two-Face and The Riddler (Jim Carrey) have teamed up to take over Gotham once and for all. Batman Forever is campy and colorful, with one of the most unique Batmobile designs. It's not perfect, but it's a lot of fun.

Batman & Robin

Where to Stream: HBO Max

Schumacher stuck around for one more swing at the franchise with Batman & Robin in 1997. Kilmer didn't come back for the sequel, so George Clooney donned the cowl and cape in this cornball caper. The film focuses on the relationship between Batman and Robin, as the title implies, but there's a whole lot of other wildness happening, too. Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as Mr. Freeze, shouting ice puns at every turn, and Uma Thurman stars as Poison Ivy, a seductress with a passion for plants. Oh, and Batgirl shows up too, played by Alicia Silverstone.

Batman & Robin never quite knows what it wants to be. The Mr. Freeze subplot is a romantic tragedy about a man grieving his lost love, while Poison Ivy is trying to get between the Bat and the Boy Wonder using her womanly wiles. Is it sad? Is it horny? Why does Mr. Freeze keep using so many puns?! There are no answers, only more questions. Batman & Robin is a puzzle this critic will never be able to crack.

Batman Begins

Where to Stream: Hulu, HBO Max

Eight years after the disappointing disaster of Batman & Robindirector Christopher Nolan and his co-writer David S. Goyer rebooted the series with a whole new look, mood, and cast. This Batman was darker and edgier, more like the comics written by Frank Miller and Alan Moore than the '60s TV series. The movie gives us an updated origin story for Bruce Wayne/Batman, played by Christian Bale. The flick starts with a deep look into his ninja training with the League of Shadows, led by Ra's al Ghul (Liam Neeson). He returns to Gotham intending to clean up the streets, and quickly meets his match at the hands of the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy).

Batman Begins is a decent superhero origin story with some great action-packed moments. Murphy is the highlight as the chief villain, though Michael Caine as Batman's butler is the most perfect incarnation of the character.

The Dark Knight

Where to Stream: Hulu, HBO Max

Nolan, Goyer, Caine, and Bale all returned for The Dark Knight in 2008. This movie gives us a different adaptation of the Joker, a character many at the time thought had been played to perfection by Nicholson. Teen-movie heartthrob Heath Ledger was cast as the killer clown, blowing everyone away with his performance. Tragically, Ledger died shortly after filming was completed. His work was so powerful that he received a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

The Dark Knight follows Bale's Batman as he tries to battle the Joker, who keeps getting the upper hand. Joker manages to kill someone close to Bruce, and he injures District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) so badly that Dent becomes the villain Two-Face.The Dark Knight has gone on to be one of the most influential superhero movies, becoming only the second DC film to be selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." (The first was 1978's Superman.) It's a complicated, occasionally messy film that features an unparalleled performance by Ledger.

The Dark Knight Rises

Where to Stream: HBO MaxThe Dark Knight Rises closed out the Nolan Batman trilogy in 2012, and it tried to go even bigger than The Dark Knight. There are 45 minutes of movie before Batman even shows up, and when he does, he's a depressed Bruce Wayne moping about his mansion over his loss from the previous film. He also makes Michael Caine's Alfred cry, which is completely inexcusable in my book.The Dark Knight Rises shows Batman licking his wounds after the trauma of the Joker's terror spree, only to turn around and have to face the enigmatic Bane (Tom Hardy). He also starts falling for Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), who may not be who she seems. Anne Hathaway also stars as Catwoman, a jewel thief who both helps and hinders Batman according to her own whims. The movie is overlong and full of big themes it doesn't know what to do with. Batman completionists can watch this one, but I'm happy to stop after The Dark Knight.