Much has changed since the beginning of the DCEU. Gone is Zack Snyder’s dour aesthetic for something very different, something that varies from movie to movie. As such, the DCEU now has a colorful, all-over-the-place library of films. Here are our rankings of every DC Extended Universe movie put to screen thus far.
Note: Joker is not considered as part of the DCEU. Rather, its own entity. (Or, part of the rumored DC Black, Warner Bros.’ offshoot of DC Comics movies that will explore darker, more experimental material.)
#8: Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad‘s production schedule had a ton of studio interference, and the final product clearly shows that.
Suicide Squad had the tough job of introducing many new characters that have never been seen on screen in live-action such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn. While those two characters add a lot of fun to the mix, most of the other characters are hollow cardboard cutouts or racial stereotypes.
The story is another issue altogether as it hardly works as a cohesive unit most likely due to the extensive reshoots on the film. With horrendous editing and no sense of vision, one could make the argument that this is the worst blockbuster of the 2010s.
Honestly, Suicide Squad acts more like a music video for a subpar New Metal band than an actual movie.
*To read the site’s full review of Suicide Squad, please click here.
#7: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Considered by many to be their most anticipated film of all-time before its release, Batman V Superman was vastly underwhelming. Although the film also incurred studio interference, the vision behind the film was also a bit flawed.
The film’s run time is bloated to about two and half hours, and approximately an hour and a half of that time is spent discussing arbitrary traits of gods that you learn in your freshman-year philosophy class from a disillusioned professor that still believes he’s on the verge of writing the next great American novel.
At least Ben Affleck was pretty awesome as Batman. The warehouse scene is the best piece of Batman action that has been on the big screen, and it’ll probably stay that way for a while.
*To read the site’s full review of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, please click here.
#6: Justice League (2017)
We all know the story behind Justice League by now. Radically restructured after negative backlash to BvS, Justice League feels exactly like what it is: a Zack Snyder movie repurposed as a Joss Whedon joint. The characters look odd as they CGI-move around a digitally brightened CGI backdrop to fight a CGI villain with a CGI MacGuffin. (Seriously, the amount of obvious CGI immediately dates the movie to around 2004.) All the initial bite of Snyder’s vision — though probably misguided — is lost for some hit-or-miss quip work by Whedon. Justice League is a facsimile of a Marvel movie in that way.
Still, Justice League removed all of the baggage and pretentiousness from the previous DC Extended Universe films. It moves at an overly brisk pace that feels like a breath of fresh air. (A dark tone is perfectly fine, but when it’s continuously punishing with nothing behind it, it becomes a problem.)
He has a jello mouth as a result of a CGI removal of his mustache that he was preparing for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, but Henry Cavill as Superman is nothing short of perfect in the time he gets. The same goes for the rest of the embodiments of these fun characters. I left the theater hoping that this crew of actors gets to stick around for a few more films.
*To read the site’s full review of Justice League, please click here.
#5: Aquaman (2018)
Aquaman feels closer to an 80’s cartoon in how it strives to become the ultimate popcorn flick. James Wan is going absolutely nuts with the visuals in this film; it’s easily the most visually interesting DCEU film to date with its uses of bright, flashy colors and eye-popping settings. Like every other Wan film, the camera zooms and zips through, across, and into the action without ever feeling obnoxious or tiring. Aquaman easily contains the best group of action set pieces in the DCEU library so far.
What holds Aquaman back from becoming an overwhelming sensation from a critical perspective is its inability to break away from the typical superhero storytelling formula. It’s scared to take chances and be bold on a thematic level, to move beyond what so many other superhero films have done and create something different. All character elements are tired and uninspired.
When a movie has a Pitbull cover of a Toto song, something went wrong.
*To read the site’s full review of Aquaman, please click here.
#4: Man of Steel (2013)
Zack Snyder’s first film in the DC Extended Universe was very divisive among fans. Looking to update the Superman character from the beloved, yet somewhat campy Christopher Reeve version of Superman, Henry Cavill’s version shocked many with its grit and darkness. Many people didn’t care for the overblown ending in which General Zod and Superman demolished Metropolis, either.
However, there’s a lot to like about this film, most notably Michael Shannon’s General Zod. One of the best comic book movie villains of recent memory — a lot of it can be attributed to Shannon’s glares that feature his bulging eyes. (He’s been known to stare into people’s souls from time to time.)
As soon as that beautiful Hans Zimmer score begins, a lot of the film’s issues dissolve away and you open up to the film’s scope and epic feel, even if a lot of its thematic elements are misplaced.
*To read the site’s full review of Man of Steel, please click here.
#3: Birds of Prey (2020)
Or, Birds of Prey (and the and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Or, after it underperformed mightily in its first weekend at the box office, Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey. Whatever title you go by, this movie is pretty fun!
If there’s one thing to take away from Birds of Prey, it’s Cathy Yan’s fresh perspective on the character of Harley Quinn. Much of the conversation surrounding Birds of Prey is a lack of a male gaze to the filmmaking, and deservedly so. Gone are the lurid, sexed-up shots of Harley from Suicide Squad that slowly looked up and down her body. The difference between how David Ayer and Cathy Yan decided to present the character should be taught in film schools: presenting how small filmmaking choices can change the portrayal of a character entirely can inform a lot about the craft.
While the film is fairly messy and owes a lot to Deadpool in its structure, you don’t get much better than watching Margot Robbie, one of the most talented stars we have, behave as a hyper-stylized cartoon character for almost two hours. I could watch some of her reaction shots in Birds of Prey on an endless loop.
*To read the site’s full review of Birds of Prey, please click here.
#2: Shazam! (2019)
Shazam! is one of the more corny and goofy superhero movies to come around since Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2. And when you think about it, those two movies have a lot in common, especially with each having a director that was mostly known for horror injecting plenty of wackiness and horrific vibes into them. It all comes together wonderfully in Shazam!‘s third act, which is perfectly silly and frightful while emphasizing over-the-top wish fulfillment.
Zachary Levi acting like a fourteen-year-old is pure gold; he has a wonderful boyish charm that is truly the heartbeat of the movie. It even comes into play during the action as he consistently looks to run away from the evil Dr. Sivana. He’s a kid through and through, and I’m still smiling from his performance.
Although the movie doesn’t fully earn its emphasis on family and togetherness, Shazam! is breezy, fun, and completely separate from the darker times of the DCEU.
*To read the site’s full review of Shazam!, please click here.
#1: Wonder Woman (2017)
This period piece does what the previous DC Extended Universe films failed to do by telling a cohesive story without an ounce of cynicism. Wonder Women is full of heart and emotion to the point where you can’t help but admire its feats.
Although the action is merely serviceable, the best moments of Wonder Woman come from the interactions between characters, especially Gal Gadot and Chris Pine. These two are magnetic as the leads of the film, showing solid chemistry in every single moment of the film. Even when the film dips into CGI action schlock from Hell with fire and darkness covering the screen in its tiring third act, there’s always that human connection to help you stay invested.
Women-led superhero films have come a long way since Supergirl in 1984.
*To read the site’s full review of Wonder Woman, please click here.
Thank you for reading! How would you rank the DC Extended Universe films? Comment down below!
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