With Wonder Woman 1984 fast approaching, we’re looking back over the entire DC Extended Universe with a ranking of each movie from best to worst.
Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which for the most part has a high level of quality control, the DC Extended Universe has had a mix of great highs and unfortunate lows over the last decade of cinema.
Movies like Shazam! and Wonder Woman have soared as some of the best superhero movies of all time, while other (seemingly) more bankable names like Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad have faced the wrath of fans and critics for a number of reasons.
We’ve ranked every entry into the DC Extended Universe from worst to best below. Make sure you check back in the future to see where upcoming sequels Wonder Woman: 1984 and The Suicide Squad place.
8. Suicide Squad (2016)
Hopes were high for Suicide Squad, a movie that promised to shake up the sometimes-stale superhero franchise by putting the focus on the villains instead of the do-gooders.
It certainly showed promise. An intriguing setup? Check. A stellar lineup of big-hitting names like Margot Robbie, Will Smith and Viola Davis? Check. Stylish visuals? Check. But when it all came together, it just didn’t work.
The movie didn’t seem to know what to do with its cast of colorful characters, and struggled to find not only a balance between being zany and serious, but also a decent story. Hopefully the upcoming ‘soft reboot’ The Suicide Squad can live up to the supervillain team’s potential.
7. Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
On paper, a movie pitting two of the most iconic superheroes of all time against one another sounds like every comic book fan’s dream. In reality, it just didn’t quite land. More cynical viewers might consider it a soulless cash-grab rather than a genuine show of love for the characters.
The movie was released to almost universal disapproval after three years of hype-building, and time hasn’t done anything to improve its reputation. A quick Google search will bring up high-ranking articles detailing “every single thing that is wrong” with the movie, and to be honest, we can see why.
Most bizarre is that conclusion to the titular fight between Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent, who call it quits after realizing their mothers both shared the same name. It’s still mocked today. The movie got one thing right, though: Gal Gadot’s debut as Wonder Woman. More on her later.
6. Justice League (2017)
Justice League should’ve been DC’s finest hour. They had the same amount of time as Marvel to set the stage for this epic team-up, but it just can’t hold a candle to even the worst Avengers movie (that’s Age of Ultron, by the way).
When it gets going, it’s great to see the heroes together, but it takes too long to get there. Also, keeping Superman out of the action for most of the movie may have seemed like a good anticipation-builder at the time, but it doesn’t quite work in the grand scheme of things. Imagine the Avengers without Thor or Iron Man?
With Zack Snyder’s cut of Justice League coming to HBO Max, it will be interesting to see if the movie’s reputation among fans changes at all. We’ll update you when it arrives in 2021.
5. Man of Steel (2013)
With Zack Snyder at the helm, 2013’s Superman movie Man of Steel followed the trend of turning franchises dark and violent, making the iconic superhero a broody loner without the hopefulness of previous incarnations. This extends, for better or worse, to everything from the storyline to the color palette.
Henry Cavill does a fine job as Superman, and while it’s not the most memorable superhero movie – though Superman as a character has never been that interesting – it’s a solid entry to the DC Extended Universe that will please viewers looking for some blockbuster action.
4. Aquaman (2018)
James Wan’s vision of Aquaman was a surprisingly fun movie that brought a fresh face to the big-screen superhero genre. Visually, it’s one of the DC Extended Universe’s most impressive and unique movies, and there’s plenty of heart behind the action.
It’s often ridiculous, but always enjoyable, and we can’t rave enough about that absolutely stunning deep-sea battle that takes place during the movie’s finale.
3. Shazam! (2019)
Of all the DC Extended Universe entries, fans probably weren’t expecting Shazam! to end up being one of the best. The premise may seem a little goofy compared to the darker stories of other superheroes like Batman and Superman, but that actually works in its favor.
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Shazam! isn’t trying to be overly-mature or gritty, it’s just here to have fun, and give viewers some A-grade superhero action. Watching teenager Billy Batson explore his new powers is great fun, and it doesn’t suffer from getting bogged down trying to link together a larger universe of characters.
2. Birds of Prey (2020)
While many comic book fans went into Birds of Prey still feeling jaded from Suicide Squad, the standalone movie achieved what previous entries into the DCEU have, by and large, failed to do – it’s just so much fun.
Justice League and Batman v Superman often felt like a slog to get through, but we keep coming back to Birds of Prey for more. The cast are insanely watchable, the fourth-wall-breaking commentary is on-point, and the eye-popping visuals really bring Harley Quinn’s wild mind to life.
We’re glad DC took note of the fan love for Margot Robbie as Quinn, and look forward to seeing more of her in the upcoming sequel The Suicide Squad. Hopefully, the studio will give her a proper solo movie in the near future.
1. Wonder Woman (2017)
Expectations were extraordinarily high for Wonder Woman’s first-ever solo outing on the big screen. Fortunately for fans, it met them… and then some.
While Birds of Prey brought a hefty dose of camp and garish color to the genre, Wonder Woman showed that the DC Extended Universe can master that darker, more gritty presentation style without completely lacking in soul.
Gal Gadot’s charismatic portrayal of Diana was one worthy of an Amazonian princess, and watching her power through No Man’s Land while deflecting a torrent of bullets and grenades with her shield truly solidified her place as one of the finest superheroes on screen.
With Patty Jenkins behind the camera, DC beat Marvel to the post of having this generation’s first female-led superhero movie directed by a woman, proving the power of letting women lead their stories. There’s a place for more variety in the superhero genre, and Wonder Woman is part of that history.