From Man of Steel to Shazam, here are the 7 DCEU Films ranked from worst to best.
The DCEU is one interesting franchise. Considered by many as the “little cousin” to the much bigger and established MCU and at one point, was written off 3 years ago as a “dead franchise.” It also didn’t help that previous Warner Brothers Executives constantly felt the need to get handsy whenever a DC film didn’t turn out the way they wanted.
But thankfully, the DCEU has been reborn, in part to proper leadership (Walter Hamada) and a director driven slate that has people optimistic about DC’s future. Birds of Prey, Wonder Woman 1984, The Batman and The Suicide Squad are all shaping up to be winners. Get excited DC fans.
Here we go.
7. Justice League
A Complete Disaster
When Zack Snyder was fired early into production, “The Avengers” director Joss Whedon was brought on to finish the job. Naturally, fans became concerned that Justice League would end up feeling like a film made by two directors. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Almost nothing works with this film. The tone is all over the place. There are scenes that were clearly meant to take place at night, now brightened up for levity. The jokes fall flat, the editing is all over the place and the main baddie Steppenwolf is one of the worst comic book villains ever put on screen.
Actually, the less said about this the better. Just take a look because there is no need to explain.
Unfortunately, a few great character moments and seeing the Justice League for the first time on the big screen does not save this film. The film feels more like a product, rather than a film handled with love and care. It’s watchable but its nothing more than disposable entertainment.Justice League deserved better for its theatrical debut.
6. Suicide Squad
A Mess but a fun mess.
Suicide Squad could have and should have been great. A star-studded cast lead by Will Smith and Margot Robbie, an up and coming director in David Ayer and the movie was to feature villains as the lead characters.
What could go wrong?
Tragically, after movie audiences and critics rejected Batman v Superman, Warner Brothers spent millions of dollars on reshoots to add humor and to lighten up the dark tone. What we ended up with was absolute disaster of a movie. Warner Brothers wanted the film to be Guardians of the Galaxy so much, that they brought in the company who made the trailers to edit the Final Cut of the film.
This is exactly why the film feels more like a 2016 music video, rather than the dark and gritty comic book movie we were promised. It’s also why so many Jared Leto Joker scenes were missing (maybe for the best), why multiple subplots were set up and then suddenly dropped and why the film kept jumping all over the place.
Harley to the rescue
On the bright side, Suicide Squad gave us one of the most iconic comic book characters of the decade.
Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is the best part of Suicide Squad. One of the few saving graces, Harley actually makes this film far more watchable than it should be. She became so popular that she’s getting her own spin-off in 2020’s Birds of Prey and starring in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad in 2021. She earned them.
Suicide Squad is mess, but it’s a fun mess barely held together by it’s great characters. Unfortunately, some can’t help but wonder what David Ayer’s original cut would have been. Here’s to hoping we can see his original vision one day.
5. Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition
Nothing short of divisive
Possibly the most divisive film of the DCEU and 21st Century, Batman v Superman still dominates online debates and water-cooler talk. Is it a pile of garbage? Is it an underappreciated masterpiece? Well, it’s neither.
The Ultimate Edition of Batman v Superman adds 30 minutes to the theatrical release and fixes many problems. Lex Luther’s plan now makes sense, we see Superman saving people and adds more back crucial Clark Kent journalism scenes; allowing the movie to be a Batman and Superman film.So when we got to the title match between Batman and Superman, it felt may more earned.
Same with many of the action scenes. The Batman warehouse fight is just as beautifully shot today as it was in 2016. Truthfully, all of BvS is shot well and has a breathtaking tone and visual style that only Zack Snyder could pull off, and seeing the Trinity of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman for the first time is it treat to all DC fans.
Buts let’s be honest, it was Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman who stole the show.
Almost too much to overcome
Unfortunately, “The Ultimate Edition” does not fix all of the films problems. Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor might be one of, if not THE biggest miscast in movie history. Another thing working against the film, is that there are zero moments of levity. You have got to have moments of humor or you will lose the audience and sadly, the film stays dark and never really let’s up.
Then there is the Martha scene.
The butt of all memes and jokes, this scene will make or break your viewing experience of this film. In context, this scene should work, Batman and Superman are both fighting for the same cause. But in execution, the scene came across as Batman and Superman stopped fighting because their mom had the same name.
It was laughable.
In the end, Batman v Superman: Ultimate Edition a flawed but ambitious film that attempted to do something different. For better or worse, BvS will certainly never be forgotten.
4. Man of Steel
The one that started it all.
The film that kicked off the DCEU was met with mixed reactions. Some thought the film was too dark. Others thought the film was a fresh and exciting new take on the Last Son of Krypton. The film divided fans as well. Some fans considered it a betrayal of the character. While others thought it made Superman far more relatable. But after 6 years of endless debates and reflection, Man of Steel might be the best Superman film out there.
Sometimes bold and exciting and other times, deep and thought-provoking. Director Zack Snyder asks many tough questions. Should Superman never reveal himself? Should he be a beacon for humanity? Which Robin Hood dad should he listen to?
In all seriousness though, Man of Steel provides some of the most iconic superhero moments ever put on the big screen.
The first time Superman flies will give you Goosebumps. The final showdown between Superman and Zod is nothing short of breathtaking. Superman saving oil rig workers is just plain heroic. Finally, Superman sacrificing the chance of Krypton having a second life so that Earth could live is why we love Superheros.
Many of Man of Steel’s detractors point out the film’s climax and villain death and others think he should have saved more people. But in all honesty, it was Superman’s first day on the job. Also, Zod made it very clear that either he or Superman were going to fall in this fight.
Superman had to make a decision, it was either Zod or the fate of the humanity. Superman chose humanity. That is what Superman stands for and who he fights for. Man of Steel will always have it’s naysayers but the film succeeded in presenting a fresh new take on the character. The film may not have worked for everybody, but it accomplished what it set out to do.
Just say the word.
The most recent DCEU film is the most lighthearted one yet. To be honest, Shazam is the closest a comic book movie has gotten to the feel-good tone of the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies. With a genuine tone of family, and a sense of belonging; Shazam speaks to the kid in all of us.
Zachary Levi is absolutely perfect as Shazam/Billy Batson and will have you believing that this is a boy in a man’s body. Asher Angel is solid as young Billy Batson and Jack Dylan Grazer is a huge standout as Billy Batson’s foster brother Freddy Freeman. Together, Shazam and Freddy create a dynamic friendship that harkins back to films like The Goonies and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
Mark Strong is also extremely solid as the villainous Dr. Sivana, a man who was once a boy who was denied the opportunity to become Shazam. His motivations are clear and you understand why he is the way he is. But also, he never overshadows our hero and does his job perfectly.
Full credit should be given to Director David F Sandberg. He made it very clear that he aimed to make a film that drew inspiration from 80s films like The Goonies. There are even a few fun nods and Easter eggs spread throughout the film that pay tribute to Tom Hanks’ BIG.
After all, Shazam basically is BIG with superpowers.
It’s not without it’s scary moments though. There are a few elements of Horror spread throughout the film (David Sandberg is a horror director after all). In all fairness, the horror scenes are no different from the tunnel scene in Willy Wonka or the Fratelli’s in The Goonies. Kids movies need to have moments of adult scenes. That’s what makes them fun.
Yes, I use this word a lot for this film; the movie is FUN.
Shazam is a wholesome film that never shies away from being light-hearted and fun. It’s a thrill ride for the whole family and firmly establishes that the DCEU is here to stay.
2. Wonder Woman
The film that saved the DCEU.
There is no debate on this one. The DCEU was on its last leg after a disastrous 2016. Along came Director Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman; the best comic book movie of 2017.
Leading up to Wonder Woman’s release, many people were curious as to how the Amazonian goddesses first theatrical film would pan out. Many critics had written the film off before it even started, others thought Gal was too skinny to play the role. A heavy helping of crow was dished out soon after.
Wonder Woman was it critical darling and a huge financial success for Warner Brothers. Raking in over 800 million dollars at the box office and giving the DCEU its first fresh film on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer. People can criticize the Rotten Tomatoes Website, but the bottom line is, people use that site for reference.
She’s all that
The film was also a revolutionary film.
Wonder Woman proved that females can lead action films, even if it had already been proven multiple times with films like Aliens and Terminator 2. Wonder Woman smashed the glass ceiling, spawning a new wave of female-lead films. But Wonder Woman wasn’t just revolutionary for starring a female, it’s also packed with amazing performances and memorable moments.
Gal Gadot is a star, and Wonder Woman shot her into the mainstream. She is Diana Prince. Chris Pine delivered an incredible performance as the male lead Steve Trevor. Together, Gadot and Pine oozed chemistry; creating one of the best romances ever seen on film.
But the moment that everyone remembers, is the No Man’s Land scene.
That scene was the defining moment, not just of Wonder Woman but the entire DC Cinematic Universe. Inspiring, captivating and raw, it’s a scene that men and women alike can draw strength from. In short, the No Man’s Land scene is one of the most iconic cinematic moments of the 21st Century.
Wonder Woman is everything people wanted it to be and is exactly what the DCEU needed at the right time.
Now Wonder Woman is normally at the top of most DCEU rankings, but there’s another film that made a different sort of impact…..
“It’s Fish MAN”
Yes, DC’s highest grossing film ever is also the DCEU’s best film ever. Aquaman is a visual feast of breathtaking action, eye-popping CGI, 100% comic book accuracy and over-the-top awesomeness. This film is why we go to the movies.
It’s big, it’s loud and it’s ridiculous in the best way possible. Fans of DC had to wait patiently one full year after Justice League for the one DCEU film of 2018 to hit theaters. As fans would find out, the wait was absolutely worth it.
Director James Wan knew he had to deliver something special after so many people were disappointed in DC coming off of Justice League. But wow, not only did he deliver, he silenced and crushed every DC doubter and every expectation in his path. Wan set out to make a pure fun action flick and that’s exactly what we got.
Jason Memoa as Aquaman was perfect casting.
Now, he is never going win an Oscar or anything like that, but Momoa belongs in the same category as Keanu Reeves and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Charismatic, likeable, relatable and down-to-earth, Memoa embodies all of the traits that audiences are drawn to. Jason Momoa IS Aquaman.
Momoa also had pretty decent chemistry love interest and total badass Mara, played by Amber Herd. After the surface world is threatened, Momoa and Heard go on an under seas adventure for the ages.
“Call Me Black Manta”
The plot, while nothing special, never stops moving. It’s big action set-piece, to big action set-piece, but then takes a break to see the sites in Italy; allowing Aquaman and Meras relationship to blossom. But they can’t get too comfortable because danger lurks.
Those dangers are Black Manta and Ocean Master.
Shouting their comic book names with no shame, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Patrick Wilson portray their villains with all the campiness of a 1985 action film. Armed with colorful outfits, one liners, an endless memorable moments; the Aquaman villains are standouts. It’s very rare for a comic book movie to deliver not one but two great villains.
“I am Aquaman”
Objectively speaking, Wonder Woman and Shazam are the better-made films. They both have the better dialogue and the better acting. However, there is no film like Aquaman out there. It’s so entertaining, so unique and so one of a kind; that it deserves the Number 1 spot. Aquaman shocked the world by making 1.148 billion dollars, just as much money as Captain America Civil War. If Wonder Woman saved the DCEU, Aquaman was the DCEU’s complete turnaround and it deserved all the accolades it obtained.
In the end, Aquaman was the dawn of a bright future for the DCEU.