When "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" opens this month, actor Ben Affleck will become the latest in a long line of actors to portray the Dark Knight on the big screen. In honor of "BvS," we've ranked all of the Dark Knight's major theatrical releases -- from worst to best.
9. 'Batman & Robin' (1997)
Batman reached his cinematic low point with this atrocious 1997 sequel. “Batman & Robin” took everything that was bad about “Batman Forever” and turned the dial way past 11. More neon, more bad one-liners, more teen sidekicks played by 30-year-old actors. Watching this sequel is akin to contracting MacGregor’s Syndrome (reference!) -- it's no wonder it took the franchise eight years to recover.
8. 'Batman Forever' (1995)
You could argue that this is the worst Batman movie ever, simply because the plot centers on Batman forgetting why he's Batman. Don't think a guy who watched his parents get shot dead would ever need reminded as to why he dresses up as a Bat. That, plus all the neon and dutch-angled everything adds up to a mess we can't believe we liked so much back then.
7. 'Batman: The Movie' (1966)
This uber-camp classic kicked off the Caped Crusader’s Hollywood career (not counting the WWII-era movie serials). It’s certainly campier and sillier than the various Batman films that have come since, but there’s a certain charm to seeing Adam West’s Batman battle a rubber shark or run back and forth across a pier carrying a giant bomb. This film also boasts a bigger cast of iconic Bat-villains than any other.
6. 'The Dark Knight Rises' (2012)
Director Christopher Nolan's trilogy capper is both too much and not enough. "TDKR" bends over backwards to make narrative connections to the previous films; in doing so, it violates core conceits of the character that made this franchise so beloved. Oh, and Batman's arc here is that he goes from retired to really retired. That's -- no. If Bruce Wayne absconding with a woman who did nothing to really earn "love of his life" status other than lie and steal from him, if that's your idea of a good time (coupled with passing off the suit to a cop who literally can't fit in it) then this movie is for you.
5. 'Batman' (1989)
Certain elements of this movie seem dated in hindsight (the inflexible rubber suit and the Prince songs), but there’s still a lot to love about Tim Burton’s first Batman effort. Especially Jack Nicholson’s boisterous Joker and Michael Keaton’s understated, haunted Bruce Wayne.
4. 'Batman Returns' (1992)
"Mistletoe can be deadly if you eat it. But a kiss can be even deadlier... if you mean it." Ah, love, rubber-clad superhero style! If your Christmas list includes "wanting to watch Batman punch Catwoman off a building and the Penguin leak black ooze from his mouth," then Tim Burton's second Dark Knight adventure is all you need. It's not a perfect sequel, but is a weirdly entertaining and darkly comic one.
3. 'Batman: Mask of the Phantasm' (1993)
One year after the release of "Batman Returns," "Mask of the Phantasm" capitalized on the "so hot right now" success of the popular animated series by bringing this unique take on Bats to the big screen. The end result? For some Batman fans, this Batman vs. Joker story is the second best Batman movie -- right after "The Dark Knight."
2. 'Batman Begins' (2005)
After the glitzy, soulless mess that was “Batman & Robin,” the franchise needed a major overhaul. Christopher Nolan did that by taking a grounded, serious approach. This reboot took a much closer look at the origins and complicated psychology of Batman, and also the web of conspiracy and corruption that plagued Gotham. “Begins” might be Christian Bale’s best outing as Batman, in part because his Bat-voice wasn’t yet distorted beyond all recognition.
1. 'The Dark Knight' (2008)
Nolan’s second Batman movie is not only his personal best, it’s the high point for the entire Bat franchise. Nolan took everything that worked about “Batman Begins” and made it better. More than just a superhero film, “Dark Knight” is a powerful story of three men -- Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent -- driven to protect their city and who suffer profoundly because of it. This movie is filled with great performances, but none better than the late Heath Ledger playing Joker as a magnetic, anarchy-obsessed terrorist.