He is vengeance. He is the night. He! Is! Batman!

He is also a guy who has worn many faces through the decades. DC Comics’ Caped Crusader made his big-screen debut almost 80 years ago, as the star of his own Saturday morning serial. In the years since, Batman has evolved from a fast-punching agent of the government, to a wise-cracking avenger, to a grim-faced embodiment of vengeance. With The Batman, where the title role is played by Robert Pattinson, that brings the total of big-screen (live-action) Batmen to nine. (Sorry, Kevin Conroy and Will Arnett. You are both wonderful animated Batmen, but it seems weird to compare just a voice to full-bodied performances.)

Every generation gets the Batman it deserves (but not the Batman it needs). That can make it sort of tricky to compare them. If you want a really gritty Batman, you probably don’t want Adam West. If you’re in the mood for a Batman who laughs in the face of danger, you probably should avoid a Ben Affleck Batman movie, cause his version of the character doesn’t laugh at anything.

The list that follows, ranking all the movie Batmen to date, therefore tries to approach each Batman on their own terms. Did they deliver for the audiences of their time? Do they suit the movie they’re in? Do they bring something definitive and iconic to the Batman mythos? That’s how we arrived at the list you’re about to read, starting with...

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