Batman has been the subject of several film adaptations, set in differing timelines. How could the films be seen in an order, allowing viewers to watch the tale in an order resembling a complete story?
One of the least consistent features of the films has been the inclusion (or not) of Batman's favorite sidekick, Robin. Due to the fact that he pops in and out of the timeline, the presence of the Boy Wonder cannot be used as a guide to the chronology of the films. Villains in Batman never die, so the loss of characters is no guide, either. However, the life of arch-nemesis the Joker can provide some clues.
For this analysis, we will ignore a pair of World War II-era films, Batman, featuring the superhero and Robin fighting Japanese terrorists, as well as 1947's Batman and Robin.
Batman is well-known for his origin story, during which the young Bruce Wayne experiences the murder of his parents during an armed robbery. However, his development is told in greater detail during Batman Begins, released in 2005. This makes this film, arguably, the first film in chronological order.
Batman, starring Michael Keaton, is considered by many filmakers to be the "first" of the modern films. This film, the first of these movies to not feature Robin, provided an origin story for Joker, although Batman himself is in full swing during the time of the film.
The early life of Penguin is told in Batman Returns, released in 1992. This would place it after the events of the 1989 release, but before the 1966 release. However, Penguin is 33 years old during most of the movie.
The 1966 Batman film featured the Dynamic Duo of the TV series, Adam West and Burt Ward. Robin was included in this film, as were the villains Joker, Penguin, Catwoman and Riddler. The movie features the Caped Crusader at his peak, placing this film near the middle of the timeline.
Batman Forever tells the tale of how Robin comes to the side of Batman, as the pair must face a devious plot by Riddler. In 1997's Batman and Robin, the pair must work out their personal issues, while preventing Mr. Freeze from bringing a chilly end to Gotham City.
The Dark Knight, released in 2008, is set eight years after the "end" of the criminal career of the Joker, putting this film near but not at the end of our list.
The Dark Knight Rises was set nearly a decade after the events of the earlier film, starring Christian Bale in the role of the masked crusader.
"Eight years after the Joker's reign of anarchy, the Dark Knight, with the help of the enigmatic Selina, is forced from his imposed exile to save Gotham City, now on the edge of total annihilation, from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane," the Internet Database (IMDb) reports.
Batman v Superman shows an aged Batman, and should be considered the last of the films, seen in chronological order.
Although this timeline is not exact, it does reflect the general storyline running through the series of disconnected, if mostly entertaining, films.