Onscreen, Batman has taken on the role of a modern-day Hamlet. Many performers have tried their hand at playing Batman throughout the years, with varying degrees of success. It’s almost become a rite of passage. Tim Burton’s 1989 portrayal of Batman kicked off a rotating door of actors, filmmakers, and other creative teams who would each add their unique touch to the DC superhero universe. Burton’s picture was a box office hit, kicking off a storied cinematic reign for the renowned crusader. Since then, the series has grossed billions of dollars thanks to the character’s enormous appeal.
Batman has proven to be a profitable franchise for Warner Brothers, with the character receiving more screen time than the rest of the Justice League members. The DC Extended Universe may have experienced problems throughout production, but Batman did not. Even when it appeared like Batman would take a vacation following Ben Affleck‘s performance in Justice League, the DCEU changed its minds and Warner Bros. greenlit a parallel Batman, culminating in Matt Reeves‘ The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson. The Batman demonstrated, as with prior installments, that fans will always come to theaters to see the renowned Caped Crusader onscreen. These are the top-grossing Batman films according to box office receipts.
9. Batman & Robin — $238.2 Million
With Batman & Robin in 1997, George Clooney often joked that he ended The Batman franchise. It’s easy to see why he believed that after viewing the box office results and critical reaction. Despite the fact that film was more of a collaborative effort, Batman & Robin bombed spectacularly, recouping only a fraction of its $125 million budget. The film’s campiness and strange sexual overtones did a number on it, resulting to an eight-year absence for the character on the big screen.
8. Batman Returns — $266.9 Million
Michael Keaton’s Dark Knight crossed encounters with Catwoman and The Penguin in Tim Burton’s sequel to Batman. The original Batman film was already somewhat gloomy, but Batman Returns upped it up a notch. Despite some critiques about the film’s darker tone, Batman Returns was a huge success. In fact, in 1992, it was the highest-grossing picture. Unfortunately for the company, that wasn’t enough, and Keaton and Burton were forced to leave the franchise – until the actor’s imminent comeback in The Flash.
7. Batman Forever — $336.5 Million
With an all-new Batman, Joel Schumacher takes over The Batman series. In the 1995 sequel to Batman Returns, Keaton was replaced by Val Kilmer. The Dark Knight faced out against Jim Carrey’s Riddler and Tommy Lee Jones’ Two-Face this time around. Everything dark and macabre about Burton’s flicks was replaced with a campiness closer to Adam West’s show in this version of Batman. While many disliked Batman Forever‘s interpretation of the character, the film was nonetheless a box office hit, grossing more than Batman Returns.
6. Batman Begins — $373.6 Million
If Batman & Robin was the death of the series, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins resurrected it. Nolan ditched the previous films’ neon-drenched toy-commercial look in favor of a darker, grittier, and more realistic Batman. This time, Christian Bale wore the cape and cowl, and unlike earlier renditions, he was given the opportunity to explain the origins of Bruce Wayne’s vow to cleanse Gotham City of crime. Batman Begins marked the start of Nolan’s successful run of Batman films, which breathed fresh life into the brand and, by extension, comic book films in general.
5. Batman — $411.5 Million
Batman became the cinematic juggernaut that fans have come to know and love in 1989. The picture wasn’t certain to appeal to moviegoers, Burton wasn’t the obvious option to direct it, and Keaton wasn’t exactly a fan favorite to play Batman himself. Keaton, who is well known for his humorous parts, was originally panned for his casting. When Batman was ultimately published, he would go on to prove his skeptics wrong.
Batman would go on to become a huge success and launch a long-running franchise for Warner Bros. The adaptation gave comic book movies and the character itself a sense of respectability. Burton and Keaton teamed up to create a new Batman who could fight crime.
4. The Batman — $736+ Million
The Batman is the most recent installment in the franchise, and it debuted with a bang. While this isn’t an origin story, it does take a look at Batman’s early years. It follows Pattinson’s melancholy Bruce Wayne as he squares off against the Riddler in his second year as Batman. The Batman, as expected, was a smash hit. While it might be argued that there are just too many Batmen on screen at once, as seen by The Batman‘s box office results, Batman weariness has yet to set in.
3. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice — $836.6 Million
It was just a matter of time before the two most renowned superheroes in comics met, and it eventually occurred in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Henry Cavil’s Superman faced a fight against Ben Affleck’s Batman in this quasi-sequel to Man of Steel. Despite grossing almost a billion dollars at the box office, the picture was seen as a letdown, especially given the epic first-time crossover between the two characters. Despite its flaws, Zack Snyder’s vision was a visual feast, with stunning vistas and spectacular action sequences straight from the pages of comic books. Although Affleck’s portrayal of Batman was a little more brutal than usual, it was a welcome return to a more realistic version of The Dark Knight.
2. The Dark Knight — $1.060 Billion
With Batman Begins, Nolan got off to a solid start, but it was The Dark Knight that gave comic book films a new sense of respectability. The film became the first Batman film to gross more than $1 billion at the box office. It was not only a huge commercial success, but it was also well-received by reviewers. The Dark Knight, widely recognized as one of the best comic-book films ever filmed, dominated the box office in 2008 and even went on to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Heath Ledger’s renowned performance as The Joker.
1. The Dark Knight Rises — $1.081 Billion
The Dark Knight Rises marked the conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and fans were eager to see how he would wrap up the story. This time, Batman had to deal with a tangible menace in the form of Tom Hardy’s Bane. While not as well-received by critics as The Dark Knight, the film was nevertheless well-received and generated even more money at the box office. Given that it was released the same year as The Avengers, its success was excellent. The Dark Knight Rises showed that Batman alone is enough to draw audiences to the theaters.