All of the DC universe movies ranked from 'Man of Steel' to 'Zack Snyder's Justice League'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kirsten Acuna
·14 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
justice league snyder cut trailer
The heroes are united in Zack Snyder's original vision in his "Snyder cut." HBOMax/DC
  • Warning: There are some mild spoilers ahead.

  • Insider ranks the movies in Warner Bros.' DC Extended Universe from worst to best.

  • "Suicide Squad" is easily the worst of the bunch while "Wonder Woman" is the best.

  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

10. "Suicide Squad" is not only the DCEU's worst installment, it's easily one of the worst superhero movies ever made. And that's a bummer.

suicide squad
Sorry puddin'. Will Smith and Harley Quinn couldn't save this film. Warner Bros.

Though Margot Robbie's take on Harley Quinn won over fans and inspired a hit Halloween costume and cosplay, there's not much else anyone loved about this movie.

The film was overstuffed with too many uninteresting characters, a comical CG mess of a villain, and Jared Leto's strange gangster, tattooed take on the Joker wasn't well-received.

Despite making over $746 million at the box office, "Suicide Squad" is in leagues with other superhero movie abominations including "Elektra," "Catwoman," and Fox's recent "Fantastic Four" reboot attempt. Here's to hoping James Gunn can do better with his take on the group in 2021's "The Suicide Squad."

You can read my review of "Suicide Squad" here.

9. "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" was supposed to be a huge all-out brawl between the Caped Crusader and Man of Steel, but it turned into a two-and-a-half hour slog and the Wonder Woman show.

batman v superman wb
Yes, Batman, you should be bowing your head in shame. Warner Bros

When the addition of Wonder Woman outshines two of the most popular superheroes known to man in their own movie, you have a problem.

The trailers promised a battle of the ages against the two titans, but gave audiences a mere tease of a savory smackdown. It didn't help that their quarrel was resolved by the realization that the heroes' moms share the same name. (I wish I was joking.)

I enjoyed Affleck's take on an older Caped Crusader affected by PTSD more than most. I thought the film delivered a raw, realistic interpretation of the Gotham Knight. But Affleck and Gadot's performances couldn't save the film from its silly third act with another overly-processed CG villain.

From my review:

"It's difficult to not feel like a lot of 'Batman v Superman' is an exhaustive — and expensive — effort from DC and Warner Bros. to catch up to Disney and Marvel's well-oiled cinematic universe. The full title of the movie tells you what the movie is really all about: "Dawn of Justice." This is the setup for 2017's "Justice League."

While all the parts click by the film's end, it's a journey getting there. 'BvS' is a busy film with a lot of players involved in one overarching story while making sure there's enough setup for future films. Sometimes the pacing feels rushed. When a villain is finally added into the mix, the film is nearly over."

You can read the full review here.

8. "Justice League" serves as a palate cleanser to the last two ensemble movies with some fresh, eager faces, but they get lost in a lame story with a silly, forgetful CG-rendered villain.

justice league wonder woman aquaman
Sorry, Diana. There just isn't a lot that's wonderful about "Justice League." Warner Bros.

The first reviews for "Justice League" criticized the film for its lack of a villain worthy of the DC superheroes, awful CG, and a lame story.

While the film has a few stand-out performances from Ezra Miller as The Flash, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and Gal Gadot's popular take on Wonder Woman, the group feels underutilized and rushed through a stuffed, generic story with a second-rate villain who isn't even a main baddie of the Justice League.

You can see how much influence "Avengers" director Joss Whedon had in trying to deliver a lighter, more fun tone to the film. However, it seems certain aspects of the movie — like the villain and main plot — were so set in stone when he joined the film that he had to work with the hand dealt. At best, you can say the film is a restart button for the DCEU to start fresh.

You can read INSIDER's review here.

7 "Wonder Woman 1984" isn't better than the original, but it's still enjoyable because of its performances.

ww84 wonder woman steve trevor
Sparks fly between Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) and Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) once again in "WW84." Warner Bros.

"WW84" is an enjoyable, feel-good sequel — as long as you don't think about it too hard. It's the performances over the somewhat messy story which will keep you watching this slightly bloated superhero sequel.

Chris Pine and Gal Gadot's palpable reunion as star-crossed lovers three years after the original is the film's greatest strength. Fast-forwarding 66 years into 1984, it's delightful to watch a role reversal from the 2017 film as Steve Trevor (Pine) tries to get acclimated to fashion and technology in the future.

Gadot steals numerous scenes by just reacting with her eyes. Pedro Pascal pulls off playing one of DC's zanier villains with at least one line fans may quote after watching. Kristen Wiig gives a great performance as a scientist who slowly devolves on screen into Wonder Woman's iconic nemesis.

Once you sit with the film for awhile you may start thinking about some of the film's many unanswered questions, including, whether or not the film teased and then dropped a romantic story plot between Barbara and Diana, and if Wonder Woman ever returned a stolen jet to the Smithsonian.

Though "WW84" is a fun time fans should enjoy if you suspend your disbelief, we can't rank it higher than "Aquaman" because of its numerous plot holes and dropped subplots.

You can read my colleague, Jason Guerrasio's, review here.

6 "Shazam" is unquestionably funny with a charming Zachary Levi and a surprise ending, but other than that, the film is just OK.

shazam zachary levi
Zachary Levi is the best part of "Shazam!" Warner Bros.

"Shazam!" may not be a Batman or Superman movie, but boy is it filled with product placement for both heroes — from backpacks, to T-shirts, to an actual Batarang. When you can't go an entire DC movie without reminding fans that your other heroes are still out there somewhere, maybe you should make sure you make a few good movies with those characters first.

That's why it's a bit wild that "Shazam!" is a pretty decent movie. It's not the best superhero movie I've ever watched. The first half hour is a bit of a boorish slug. It picks up when Levi finally enters the picture. But honestly, this movie is just a superhero version of the movie "Big."

For some reason, the DCEU continues down the path of terrible-looking CG villains in this movie with seven ghastly ghouls. They take you right out of the film a little. A surprise with several more superheroes showing up near the film's end makes up for some of the film's less inspired moments.

If The Rock's villainous Black Adam was in this movie, it would have been 10 times better. At the end of the day, "Shazam" is hilarious, but it's not the DC movie we needed right now.

You can read my colleague Jason Guerrasio's review over at our sister site Business Insider here.

5. "Aquaman" has some visually dazzling scenes and Jason Momoa reimagines what it means to be the King of the Seven Seas.

aquaman mera
Jason Momoa embodies a new, likable vision for Aquaman. Warner Bros.

"Aquaman" has so much going on that it easily feels like several movies in one. I don't necessarily believe "Aquaman" is better than "Shazam," but visually, it has some much better shots, including the electric one of Jason Momoa and Amber Heard diving into the Trench-infested waters with only the light of a red flare to guide them out of harm's way. (Click here to see what I'm talking about.)

Momoa is not only convincing as Aquaman here, but he also helped redefine the DC hero that became the punchline of every joke because of his original take on the character. Even if all of his jokes didn't land in the film, it was easy to see Momoa had a blast as the King of the Seven Seas.

If the DCEU has gotten anything right, it's been its female characters. Amber Heard, Margot Robbie, and Gal Gadot have done more for the DC's movie universe than Batman and Superman and are more popular than any female characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the past two years, Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman have been among the top Halloween costumes for kids.

From my review:

"Director James Wan brings a fresh eye to the DC universe with some great and intense visual moments on screen, Jason Momoa is an excellent Aquaman, and the underwater sea world of Atlantis looks like something out of "Avatar." But there are some things that feel too cartoonish, some jokes don't quite land, and the film continues to make some mistakes of past Warner Bros.' DC entries.

For better or worse, the film is parts "Splash," "The Lion King," "National Treasure," and an original Wan horror flick."

Read more: Jason Momoa is a great superhero in a visually dazzling 'Aquaman,' but it still has some flaws of the DC films before it

4. "Birds of Prey" is a lot of fun and is hopefully the first of more superhero movies centered around women.

birds of prey
Margot Robbie continues to show us why her Harley Quinn was the best thing to come from 2016's "Suicide Squad." Claudette Barius/Warner Bros

Harley Quinn is the role Margot Robbie was born to play. She effortlessly brings the quirky and fun spirit of the Joker's former sidekick to life from the comic pages.

DC has always had a leg up on developing its female characters on screen. While highlighting Harley, the film introduces at least two new characters fans will want to see more of in the future. Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Huntress and Jurnee Smollett-Bell's Black Canary can stand alongside the likes of DC's Catwoman or Poison Ivy.

On the villain front, Ewan McGregor gives us one of DC's best villains with the eccentric and despicable mobster Roman Sionis.

The film loses some points because of some unorthodox storytelling. The first hour is told out of order from Harley's perspective, making the movie a little tough to follow the first time around. You may not be clear on what the film is about until all of the pieces come together.

Upon a second viewing, the movie holds up even more, even if we don't get an explanation for some plot holes, like where all of Gotham's other villains are hiding.

Overall, "BoP" serves as an uplifting message for young women to take charge of their lives if they're not happy with the cards they were dealt. It gets some bonus points because it's a film made for women by women because of the attention to detail. (Yes, I'm talking about the hair tie moment.)

You can read my full review here.

3. "Zack Snyder's Justice League" is the movie fans deserved to get years ago.

justice league snyder cut trailer
The heroes are united in Zack Snyder's original vision in his "Snyder cut." HBOMax/DC

Is the Snyder Cut an exercise in excess? Sure. There are a few scenes, including one with the Amazons and another with women singing, that could be cut by a few minutes. But that doesn't really matter. Snyder most likely thought this could be his final opportunity to deliver any story with these characters in the DC Universe so he took his time to deliver almost everything fans have waited to see for years.

A new villain adds a more compelling narrative to the film instead of some third-rate sidekick villain who simply wants to conquer the Earth. The creep factor on 2017's old superhero Steppenwolf has been dialed down, and now you almost feel bad for this new version who clearly just wants some attention from the boss he worships.

Cringeworthy dialogue, Henry Cavill's mustache-gate, and that Russian family are all gone. Diverse heroes have been reinstated and most of the 2017 film's crimes against its female characters have been nixed or altered.

Snyder's long-fabled vision for the "Justice League" is a superior film to the theatrical cut in every sense of the word. It's a shame we'll likely never get sequels.

You can read my review here.

2. "Man of Steel" isn't perfect, but it's a good coming-of-age story about a man trying to come to grips with being different.

man of steel kevin costner
I will defend "Man of Steel" until my dying day to all the naysayers. Warner Bros.

Fans and critics alike were quick to tear "Man of Steel" down for Cavill's portrayal of Clark Kent/Superman. Countless early reviews used the word "brooding" to describe the movie. The giant controversial action scene aside, anyone believing it was a depressing, dark film was missing the point of what Snyder was trying to do.

This movie wasn't delivering us a full-fledged Superman. Instead, it was giving us a Clark Kent who was learning how to be Superman and accept the fact that it was OK he was different from everyone else.

From my review in 2013:

"Being an alien among humans is scary and director Zack Snyder drives this point home showing the world through a young Kent's eyes.

We know Superman has X-ray vision, super strength, heat vision, and supersonic hearing and that all sounds cool.

In reality, it's not.

According to Snyder, Superman doesn't see skeletons when seeing others. He sees people's muscular systems. That's terrifying. The simplest sounds — the opening of a door, getting out of a chair, and placing a coffee pot down are deafening ...

Is Henry Cavill the cheeriest Man of Steel? At the start of the film, no. But when your adopted parents are telling you to hide the special attribute that makes you unique, and you can't answer back to the bullies who constantly refer to you as a freak — who could blame him? ...A fitting alternate title for the film would be 'Superman Begins.'"

You can read my "Man of Steel" review here.

1. "Wonder Woman" is still the best movie in the DCEU right now. It's not even a competition.

wonder woman
The best scene in "Wonder Woman." Warner Bros.

So you're not a fan of the third act where Wonder Woman's taking out the bad guy. Who cares? The rest of the film more than makes up for it.

One of the best movie scenes of the year occurs about an hour into "Wonder Woman." Actress Gal Gadot debuts the superhero costume as she steps out of the trenches and slowly makes her way across a war-torn stretch of land during World War I called "No Man's Land," an area no one has been able to cross in over a year.

Bullets ricochet off her bracelets and she moves faster across the barren wasteland until she clears the other side of danger. It's a scene of many which brought mothers, daughters, and women to tears while seeing the film in theaters.

Our sister site Business Insider referred to "Wonder Woman" as one of the best superhero movies ever made:

"Not only does 'Wonder Woman' power through the potential pitfalls of the modern-day superhero movie — weak plot, boring villain, lackluster third act — but it also shows once and for all that a female-focused superhero movie can be as strong, heroic, thrilling, and funny as the guys' (and, I predict, as profitable)."

Chris Pine is also a scene-stealer — and funny! (Who knew?)

But the best thing "Wonder Woman" may have done was kill off the hero's love interest. It's something Marvel movies haven't had the guts to do. Plus, Diana Prince doesn't need romance as a story crutch. She's awesome on her own.

Read the original article on Insider