The Bat catalogue
Audiences over the decades clearly haven't been able to get enough of the Caped Crusader. Since (and including) the first Batman film screened in 1966, there have been no less than eight films featuring the crime fighter, culminating in The Dark Knight Rises.
Originating from a 1939 comic, the story has been told in vastly different ways in the movies over the years, although the key elements remain: Batman is the alter ego of wealthy industrialist Bruce Wayne, who, after seeing his parents murdered as a child, swears to fight crime in his beloved city of Gotham.
Here's how the films have fared over the years...
Batman: The Movie was the first full-length adaptation of the popular television series, also starring Adam West as the superhero and Burt Ward as his trusty sidekick, Robin. It was made for about US$1.4 million and received an 83 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 1989 came Tim Burton's vision of Batman, starring Michael Keaton in the lead role and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. It made more than US$411 million worldwide, and scored 70 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Keaton reprised his role in 1992 with Batman Returns, this time going up against Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as the Penguin. The production earned US$266 million at the global box offices, although still scoring an impressive 78 per cent among critics.
Three years later, Joel Schumacher hired Val Kilmer to play the masked crime fighter, and Jim Carrey as the Riddler, in Batman Forever. The film grossed US$336 million, but scored just 43 per cent among critics.
Schumacher was back behind the camera in 1997, directing George Clooney and Chris O'Donnell in Batman and Robin, with Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy and Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr Freeze. It made US$238 million - not bad, but disappointing considering the commercial highs to which the franchise had risen. More damning: critics roundly panned this instalment, giving it a paltry 13 per cent on Rotten Tomatoes.
In 2005, Christopher Nolan presented his innovative and compelling vision of the superhero story in Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale in the lead role. The movie made US$372 million worldwide, and scored an unprecedented - for this character, anyway - 85 per cent among critics.
That was followed in 2008, again by Nolan, with The Dark Knight. Bale returned as Batman, Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent, and Heath Ledger as an unforgettable Joker. The movie was a blockbuster, raking in just over US$1 billion worldwide, making it among the highest-grossing films in history. Critics loved it too, giving it a near-unanimous 94 per cent rating.
Nolan is wrapping up the story with The Dark Knight Rises, pitting Bale's Batman against a terrorising Bane (played by Tom Hardy). The film cost US$250 million to make, so box-office expectations are understandably high.