Right now we are less than 24 hours away from the premiere of Zack Snyder’s Justice League on HBO Max. While it is sitting at a comfortable 77% (at the time of this writing) on Rotten Tomatoes (far higher than the 40% 2017’s “Josstice League” received) we thought it would be time to rank the DCEU films from worst to best.
In 2013, Warner Brothers introduced us all to the DC Extended Universe (although they never called it DCEU) with Man of Steel and have since released an additional 9 more films featuring the characters of the DC comics (including Joker). Here are those ten films ranked in order.
10. Justice League is the worst of the DCEU films. After such a strong start to the DCEU with Man of Steel and then successfully carrying on the storyline with Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice and directly into Wonder Woman, Justice League was positively abysmal.
There are a ton of excuses as to why this movie was so ridiculously disappointing, including the claim that Zack Snyder wasn’t permitted to fulfill his vision, but what should have been the most amazing DC movie ever, fell very, very short. HBO Max recently announced that they will be releasing the FOUR HOUR FILM, Zack Snyder’s Justice League in March of 2021.
Wonder Woman had already been introduced in Batman v Superman, so the character wasn’t unknown or new and for some reason, either Zack Snyder or Joss Whedon (or both,) felt it was necessary to include multiple shots of Gal Gadot’s crotch, up her skirt, focused on her breasts, or on her butt.
When you want and expect comic book fans to bring their girlfriends to see a DC movie, it might not be the best idea to completely sexualize the one character who women could identify with. The amount of screen time Gal Gadot’s crotch was featured was just abusive to her and the audience.
9. Suicide Squad is another DCEU film that had so much potential, but went a little too far off the rails. The difference between Suicide Squad and Justice League is that at least Suicide Squad has a few laughs in it and even though Margot Robbie’s butt was digitally altered, she was enjoyable as Harley Quinn. The storyline dripped like a leaky faucet notwithstanding the multiple side stories that strayed away from the main storyline.
Suicide Squad was A LOT more fun than Justice League and Margot Robbie successfully stole the entire film for herself, leaving the other actor’s performances in her dust. Unfortunately, someone has to make up the bottom of the list, and when competing against the other DCEU films, this one belongs in the bottom five.
8. Wonder Woman 1984 started off strong with critics before it was released, but tanked very quickly after more and more critics and fans had the opportunity to witness this trainwreck of a film. Taking place in 1984, for no apparent reason, the film seems to ignore events that transpired in Justice League and even Batman v Superman.
Wonder Woman 1984 followed the horrible examples set by the older DC movies and crammed two perfectly good villains into one film. Kristen Wiig and Pedro Pascal were both significantly underused and the Villains they portrayed should have been so much more.
Either Cheetah OR Max Lord should have been the ONLY villain in the DCEU film. They are both really awesome villains and making them share the movie was a disservice to both the actors and the characters whom they portrayed.
7. Aquaman is only slightly better than Wonder Woman 1984. While it was very pretty to look at, the acting fell very flat with the exception of Nicole Kidman as Atlanna. The CGI was also significantly lacking, which is kind of weird and disappointing because Man of Steel had great special effects and CGI.
Amber Heard and Jason Momoa are nothing more than eye candy and the entire film would be better off without any dialogue at all, set to some kind of awesome music, much like watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Where Marvel comes up with such amazing villains with depth and complexity, DC consistently presents audiences with very boring and 2 dimensional villains and Aquaman maintains that trend.
6. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is where we are introduced to the DCEU Batman and learn his backstory and Gal Gadot is introduced as Diana Prince AKA Wonder Woman. We also get a glimpse of The Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman, which sets us up for the abomination we now know as Justice League. Batman v Superman ranks a little higher on the list than the other films directly related to the overall story, but it’s still not the greatest film.
Lex Luther successfully manipulates Batman into fighting with Superman and ultimately manages to kill Superman. At some point it was decided that Batman isn’t just a millionaire who deals with the loss of his parents as a caped vigilante, he now has no qualms about killing people.
At one point, he almost kills Superman himself. It was a shocking change of character that many DC fans were not prepared for.
5. Joker isn’t technically in the DCEU. It’s a stand alone film featuring a DC character starring the incomparable Joaquin Phoenix. It’s an incredible yet sad film about a man who suffers from a cognitive disability as well as a mental illness which causes him to laugh at inappropriate times.
If we were comparing films as films and not as DCEU films, this would have been much higher on the list, but it makes a good end cap between the terrible movies and the good movies. Even though the film is called Joker and it’s about one of Batman’s most notorious villains, it’s not “comic book” at all. As previously stated, it is a stand alone film with an unbelievable cast who gave magnificent performances.
4. Wonder Woman was so amazing when it came out. Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot started off as an amazing team together, and Patty Jenkins did an excellent job bringing her vision to film that was creative and visually appealing. Gal Gadot did a fantastic job portraying a woman who had never seen “modern” civilization and Chris Pine was a great casting choice for her love interest who often found himself wrangling Diana out of patriarchal situations.
Once again, the villain was flat and while there was a mild twist when Wonder Woman discovered the person whom she thought was the villain was just his pawn, the villain himself wasn’t very interesting. The special effects and CGI are some of the best in the DCEU, but to be fair, that’s not saying much.
3. Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey allowed Margot Robbie to really spread her wings and dive into the role of Harley Quinn. This movie was colorful and fun where Batman movies are dark both cinematically and storywise. This was simply a woman who broke up with her boyfriend, who happens to be a notorious crime lord and how she processes and deals with that very traumatic breakup.
Birds of Prey does a wonderful job at following the “birds” until they ultimately have to team up to fight against the evil villain who wants to gut a teenager who swallowed a diamond. Unfortunately, there is a fine line between “feminism” and “misandry” and Birds of Prey crosses that line.
No male has any redeeming qualities, even the old man who was loyal to Harley Quinn throughout the film ended up betraying her. There’s also the little detail that The Birds of Prey from the comics are Canary and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle).
2. Shazam is one of the best non-Christmas Christmas movies and is also one of the best films in the DCEU. The only thing that’s lacking is the CGI for the smoke monsters.
It would be really awesome if DC can be as consistent with their special effects and CGI as they are with their lousy and flat villains. In this particular film the villain was a Shazam reject from when the previous Shazam was searching desperately for his own replacement. The Shazam reject partners up with the 7 deadly sin smoke monsters who are manipulating him into society’s destruction.
The smoke monsters could have been a million times better, but the casting for Shazam’s multiracial foster siblings, who ultimately also become Shazams along with him, was absolute perfection. Aside from the lacklustre smoke monsters, this film was great and totally worth watching multiple times.
1. Man of Steel was the first DCEU offering and the best movie on this list. Henry Cavill had HUGE shoes to fill as the new Superman and he does an absolutely incredible job. Man of Steel set the bar pretty high for DCEU films, and unfortunately none others have even come close.
Everything about this film was great, it’s just an all around great movie. The flashbacks illustrating Clark Kent’s younger years were flawlessly edited throughout the film like a gorgeous tapestry.
The love story between Kent and Lois Lane develops slowly, but is paced very well, and the casting is fantastic for all of Clark Kent’s parents as well as the main villain who is terrifying. Please, Warner Brothers and DC: more movies like this!!!
While it is unfortunate that the oldest movie on this list is easily the best out of the bunch, there are so many new and exciting things on the horizon for Warner Brothers, DC and the DCEU including the much anticipated Zach Snyder’s Justice League which comes out tomorrow, March 18, 2021 as well as James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad in August 2021, AND Robert Pattinson as The Batman in 2022, not to mention the new and ongoing series’ on HBO Max and the CW.
We certainly can’t wait to watch, enjoy and critique everything the DC Extended Universe has to offer in upcoming months and years to come.
Joia DaVida reports on the entertainment industry in both Chicago and Los Angeles.