Those of you who listen to the Awards Radar Podcast got a tease of this earlier in the week. Listen here for that, but Myles and I ranked the films in the DC Extended Universe. Piggybacking off of that, and tied in to the release today of The Flash, I’ve expanded the ranking to include some words on each of the movies. Of course, we’re moving on shortly to what James Gunn has in store for us, but while it’s here, we’re looking at the best and worst of the DCEU.
Below, you’ll see how I rank the DCEU films we’ve gotten so far. Keep in mind, I’m not going back to the Christopher Nolan trilogy of Batman movies, nor am I including Matt Reeves‘ The Batman or Todd Phillips‘ Joker (my rave of the former here suggests where it would land). So, we’re looking at the flicks from Man of Steel all the way up to The Flash.
Here now is my ranking the films in the DC Extended Universe so far, and while it lasts…
14. Suicide Squad – It’s just bad. Now, it’s a compromised film for reasons that would have rendered almost anyone unable to make it work, but there’s so much wrong with this that even a usual David Ayer fan like myself absolutely despised it. Suicide Squad is not just the nadir of this era of DC, it’s also one of the all-time worst movies ever to win an Academy Award (that Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling isn’t terrible on the surface, but having the flick be an award winner is).
13. Justice League – Fundamentally broken, mixing Zack Snyder and Joss Whedon was never going to work. So much has been written about Justice League, including Snyder’s personal tragedy, Whedon’s abhorant behavior, and Warner Bros just not knowing how to get what they want, that I don’t need to rehash it. We just now the film itself is poor, though we’ll be discussing it more (in a way) shortly…
12. Wonder Woman 1984 – The biggest DC disappointment to me is Wonder Woman 1984. Fumbling a great start, this is just a huge letdown from Wonder Woman. My review here includes this bit: “Wonder Woman 1984 probably would not seem as disappointing if it weren’t for how strong Wonder Woman was. That solo adventure/origin story for the iconic hero hit at the perfect moment. The sequel, on the other hand, just feels like another tentpole project for a studio. The heart is harder to find, and as such, but core of what makes this character so appealing is somewhat lost. Plus, the plot is fairly silly, barely making any sense. The relative realism of the first one, set in World War I, is decidedly lost.”
11. Black Adam – There are elements that work here in Black Adam, but much of it is just bland and forgettable. My review here says as much, as you can see: “Black Adam harkens back to a time where comic fare was all origin stories on the big screen. It also has many of the issues, too, including focusing too much on human characters, stumbling with their villain, and an overall feeling of indifference. The leading man is all-in, but no one else seems quite as invested. They’re doing the hard work of introducing the character, and they succeed in making me want to see more, but they fail in making a fully enjoyable adventure in the here and now.”
10. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – The longer cut is better, and the issues have been well documented, but the germ of a god idea is here. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is Snyder and WB trying to rush us to where Marvel had been, but the results just aren’t there. Had they slowed down and built towards this, it could have been as epic as we’d all hoped. Alas.
9. Aquaman – Ridiculous is the operative word here. Aquaman is very silly and winks at you the whole time, while never being an outright comedy. Considering how this could have been a train wreck, the fact that more of it works than doesn’t is actually notable. I don’t love it as much as some do, but I certainly didn’t dislike it, either.
8. Shazam! Fury of the Gods – I didn’t like this sequel as much as the first installment, which I really enjoyed, but there’s still fun to be had here. Shazam! Fury of the Gods probably took too long to come out, but once it did, it mostly continued what Shazam! started. Just look here at some of what I had to say in my review: “Is Shazam! Fury of the Gods disposable? Sure. Is it still a lot of fun? Absolutely. There’s plenty of charm in watching a more innocent type of hero, especially when so many other outings of this ilk are on the darker side. Both paths are worthwhile and effective, but this flick just feels like a nice palate cleanser, if nothing else.”
7. Zack Snyder’s Justice League – It’s more of a miniseries than a movie, but still, a lot of the issues we saw in Justice League are fixed here with the infamous Snyder Cut. Here is a bit of what I had to say in my review of Zack Snyder’s Justice League when it finally released to (then) HBO Max: “Zack Snyder’s Justice League is still a shaggy dog, but it’s one with a coherent vision at its core. That really does count for something. The movie takes far too long to get where its going, almost trying to be individual short films for most of its heroes, but it does build to something effective. Plus, improved CGI, as well as a better tone, help make this a surprisingly smooth ride, bumps and all.”
6. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – Never quite as wild as it could have been, Margot Robbie helps make it as much fun as it is. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn mostly teases you at its potential to be great, but even so, it’s fairly badass and certainly good, so there’s that.
5. Wonder Woman – Rock solid, if slightly overrated to me, Wonder Woman still showcased the heroine in a deserving manner. Honestly, if not for the third act being kind of a huge mess, this would have cracked the top three for the DCEU. Even so, it did give us a great showcase for Gal Gadot as the title character, and she’s been the one undisputed success for DC in this era.
4 Shazam! – I had a blast with Shazam!, that’s for sure. It’s giving us Big vibes and not taking itself too seriously, which I appreciated. To be sure, it’s lighter and thinner than even lesser DC outings, but it separates itself from the pack by having a ton of personality. That went a very long way for me here. The sequel wasn’t as good, but oddly, this might be the most consistent of the company’s franchises within.
3. The Flash – The highs are definitely high in this one, even if it’s not the masterpiece some made it out to be. From my review here of The Flash from a week and change ago: “Now this is what the DCEU was capable of. With a few exceptions, much of what DC and Warner Bros. was doing with their superheroes tended to underwhelm. Sure, the Snyderverse, as it was called, had its fans, but nothing ever consistently clicked. Now, with that world closed, here comes at long last The Flash, which is the sort of big, fun, and even emotional, adventure that we knew they had the abilities to do. It’s perhaps too late for the prior era of DC and WB filmmaking, with James Gunn taking over to go in a new direction, but if nothing else, it shows just how good a well done version of this can be.”
2. Man of Steel – Before it was all world building for DC, Snyder was brought on board by Nolan to start it all. Man of Steel doesn’t get into the shared universe aspect just yet, but was meant as the groundwork. Though the ending isn’t good, the rest of it is, making for a strong Superman adventure that never properly got followed up on. Gunn’s Superman: Legacy will somehow be our true return to the hero’s solo stories.
1. The Suicide Squad – This is the cream of the DCEU crop. Go figure, it comes from Gunn as well. The Suicide Squad is, in fact, one of my all-time favorite superhero movies. I’ll refer you here to my rave review of the flick: “The Suicide Squad, for what it’s doing, is perfect. For as much as Suicide Squad was a misfire, this hits the bullseye. Not only is it absurdly violent and absolutely hilarious, it beats with the heart of a work that truly cares about its characters. I loved every second of it. Gunn’s choices all pay off, even the ones that seem like long-shots (and especially some of them, even). Ambition, confidence, and just a bit of insanity come together to form a masterpiece. When a giant silly thing is phenomenal, as well as a sentient rat (not to mention a man-eating shark) capturing your imagination, you know you’re in for a one of a kind experience.”
What is your DC ranking? Let us know!