Every DC Extended Universe Movie Ranked from Worst to Best

DC Extended Universe

Aquaman has quickly become the most profitable — and possibly the most popular — DC Extended Universe film to date. With the AT&T-WB merger in the past, we’re now entering a time when DC has a better, more defined outlook of the future. It’s fairly safe to assume that the darkest days of the DCEU are behind us. 

Still, the DCEU now has a colorful, all-over-the-place library of films. Here are our rankings of every DC Extended movie put to screen thus far:

#7: Suicide Squad (2016)

The film’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 2010’s.

Honestly, Suicide Squad acts more like a music video to a subpar New Metal band than an actual movie.

*To read the site’s full review of Suicide Squad, please click here.

dc extended universe

image via Variety

#6: 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.

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image via Den of Geek


#5: 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 2008.) 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 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.

dc extended universe

image via Den of Geek

#4: 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 multiple Pitbull covers of a Toto song, something went wrong.

*To read the site’s full review of Aquaman, please click here.

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image via YouTube

#3: 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 best comic book movie villains of recent memory, you understand him and why he does what he does. Plus, Shannon has that evil stare down pat. (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.

dc extended universe

image via The Hollywood Reporter

#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. All of this is brought together for a third act that perfectly silly and frightful while placing an emphasis on over-the-top wish fulfillment.

I could watch Zachary Levi act as a fourteen-year-old for weeks straight; 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.

dc extended universe

image via Screen Geek

#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 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.

Above all else, Wonder Woman is an important film from a societal perspective without the need to be preachy. 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.

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image via Vox

Thank you for reading! How would you rank the DC Extended Universe films? Comment down below!

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society and the Washington DC Film Critics Association. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

16 Responses

  1. As of 2019, this is how I rank the DCEU films: 8. BvS: Dawn Of Justice (theatrical). Upon revisiting the first five entries when I was prepping for Aquaman, I found this to be an utter slog to get through. Aside from Ben Affleck and Jeremy Irons who gave the best performances as Bruce Wayne/Batman and Alfred Pennyworth, Superman was dower throughout (and even instantly knows when Lois was in danger, yet is oblivious when it comes to his own mother), Wonder Woman almost had no reason to be here, Doomsday was badly handled in its creation (taking the Superman IV creation route and becoming a generic monster) and Lex Luthor was far too goofy to be taken seriously.
    7. Suicide Squad. I could honestly go back-and-forth on whether this or the next entry is worse, but this was part of a string of movies within the series that suffered from WB execs doing a massive course correction following BvS’s negative reception. Will Smith & Margot Robbie turn in the best performances since Deadshot and Harley Quinn get the most development out of everyone. Unfortunately, lots of Joker’s scenes were cut thus making Jared Leto’s performance look like a pretentious cameo, Slipknot was utterly pointless (“Don’t know what to do with a minor DC character? Eh, just kill ’em off.” was the mentality.), Viola Davis’ performance is somewhat undermined by Amanda Waller causing this whole disaster via lack of control over Enchantress and our main villain was out-of-place for this kind of story. Also, Hawkman’s hometown of Midway City suffers because of it (not just by the fact that he’s not here).
    6. Justice League. What should have been an exciting feeling as our previously-established heroes come together to stop an otherworldly threat never reaches that moment, especially since this was the final leg of studio interference. While our heroes were mainly good in their performances (Ezra Miller as Flash being a particular standout), Steppenwolf was absolutely generic, the villain plot was a tad bland and our heroes are barely able to hold their own. Not to mention that once Superman comes back and eventually regains his mental faculties, he absolutely curb-stomps our antagonist. While not offensively bad, it’s not impressively good either. It’s just ‘OK’.
    5. Man Of Steel. Never have I felt more conflicted about a film upon a revisit that I did with Zack Snyder’s attempt at modernizing Superman. Initially, there are some good stuff about the DCEU’s inaugural entry. Michael Shannon is stellar as General Zod with a motive that’s part of who is his, Superman has some nice chemistry with Lois and Henry Cavill does show some initial promise as our titular hero. However, it’s ultimately bogged down by a narrative that jumps around with hardly any time for brevity (not to mention that it’s missing important details that are vital to the story), Kevin Costner’s portrayal of Johnathan Kent is problematic due to his “Save No One, Not Even Me” mentality that he instills on his son and the oh-so-present elephant in the room of Collateral Damage without consequence. In the end, it’s a potentially-good movie that’s weighed down by some bad decisions.
    4. BvS: Dawn Of Justice (Ultimate Edition). Unlike the trimmed-up, 2 1/2-hour, PG-13 version, this 3-hour R-Rated version feels like a breath of fresh air in comparison. Both Lois and Clark (especially Clark) get to do some meaty investigative reporting that helps flesh out plot details and make the overall story significantly better. However, a lot of the problems that made its theatrical counterpart suffer are still here, though I didn’t feel that Eisenberg’s portrayal was as over-the-top here as it was there. While not a perfect film, this was the sophomore outing that we should have gotten instead of the watered-down and inferior stand-in that ended up on the big screen.
    3. Aquaman. With bright neon colors, bombastic action and a thrilling venture, the series began to pick up steam as Arthur must go a personal quest in order to properly establish himself as Atlantis’ true king. Jason Momoa and Amber Heard develop a genuine friendship with each other during the film as each of them display their abilities with confidence, Patrick Wilson’s portrayal of Ocean Master felt fairly solid and is up there with Zod in terms of the series’ best villains and the supporting cast properly compliments the story. The only thing that hold the movie back for me is that its plot beats felt a bit too familiar to me. Other than that, it’s a step in the right direction.
    2. Shazam! It’s a superhero tale that has some of the best child acting I’ve ever seen in any project. Asher Angel handles his portrayal of Billy Batson with ease, Zachary Levi is utterly effective in bringing the child-like wonder to his portrayal of DC’s Captain Marvel (Side Note: He’ll always be DC’s Captain Marvel to me!), Jack Dylan Grazer is solid as the wide-eyed and nerd-tastic Freddie Freeman and the rest of the foster siblings (Mary, Darla, Eugene & Pedro) each get their moments to shine. Unfortunately, there are some things that prevent this from claiming the top spot. There a little wonky CGI and it takes a little time to get going. However, it’s still a fun time and proves that the series is heading in the right direction.
    1. Wonder Woman. Without a doubt, the pride of the Amazons is still the queen of the DCEU. Gal Gadot proves herself as a leading lady (thus breaking past her ‘Fast & Furious’ days) with a character arc that teaches her about the complexities of good & evil in the real world. Also, Chris Pine is solid as Steve Trevor, our two leads share a wondrous relationship (professional & personal), the No Man’s Land scene is iconic, the action scenes have an energetic weight, the Amazons are all impressive in their scenes and the soundtrack makes a great use of war drums (continuing the awesomeness of “I Thought She Was With You” from BvS). Yes, the third act and our villains prevent the movie from completely sticking the landing, but it doesn’t change the fact that this film (which finally broke the live-action, theatrically-released superheroine movie jinx, by the way) was the first sign that this series was by no means unsalvagable. It’s energized, it gives us perfect brevity and it makes everything that happens throughout have meaning and purpose. Way To Go, Diana!

  2. Kali Tuttle says:

    I can’t believe that you put BvS above any movie at all. I haven’t seen Suicide Squad, though, so I my opinion isn’t fully informed. But BvS was the worst superhero movie I’ve ever seen.

  3. Nick Kush says:

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  4. Nerd-Feed says:

    Completely agree with your list! Wonder Woman is easily the best so far but I do really like Man of Steel as well.

  5. Pratip says:

    I wonder hasn’t DC already came up with many other movies in their Extended Universe before as individual movies which wasn’t planned to move forward into an untied movie? Green Lantern, Superman Returns, different batman movies, Swamp thing movie, Supergirl movie?

  6. Bookwraiths says:

    I totally agree with you about WW: best of the bunch by a long way. I personally like Dawn of Justice more than Man of Steel, but I did prefer Zod to Lex though. 🙂

  7. Jason says:

    I think #1 is a no-brainer….haha!

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