The Final Ranking of DC Extended Universe Films

The Final Ranking of DC Extended Universe Films

That only 10 years have passed since the first film in the DC Extended Universe seems absurd. Somehow, through all the ups and downs, it feels like we’ve lived with Henry Cavill as Superman, Ben Affleck as Batman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman, Ezra Miller as the Flash, Ray Fisher as Cyborg, and Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman for our entire lives.

But, obviously, that’s not true. Ten years brought us 15 (-ish) movies of such wildly varying quality that parent company Warner Bros. finally decided to wipe the slate clean. Starting in 2024, we’ll get the first tastes of a new DC Universe led by James Gunn and Peter Safran on the way to 2025’s big kickoff, Superman: Legacy.

In the meantime, we thought now would be the perfect time to look back at all the films released in the DC Extended Universe to remember which worked, which didn’t, and how ambitious it truly all was.

16. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Official Trailer 2 [HD]

Even without “Martha,” Batman v Superman is, in our mind, the worst of the DCEU films because of its wasted potential. Zack Snyder put everything DC fans could want into a single movie: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Lex Luthor, Doomsday, and more, but it was just too much, too soon. Maybe if it came out later, when we knew these characters better, it would’ve worked better. But here, early on in the DC saga, it’s just a mess.

15. Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad – Official Trailer 1 [HD]

As is the case with many of these DC movies, there are plenty of rumors out there about studio interference changing the final project. So, we do believe there’s probably a better—maybe even great—version of David Ayer’s Suicide Squad out there somewhere, but this ain’t it. The version that was released was a tonal nightmare, unsure if it wanted to be funny and exciting or dark and scary, and the story was pretty damn dumb too.

14. Justice League (2017)

JUSTICE LEAGUE – Official Trailer 1

We’re not gonna get into all the ins and outs of who finished what when it comes to Justice League. However, that said, there’s little denying that the movie released in 2017, the one Joss Whedon had a huge hand in, feels somehow incomplete. Like it’s 15 movies put into one. Origins for a few characters, returns for others, some laughs, some excitement. There’s a simple joy in merely seeing these characters on screen together that gives it a tiny bit of good faith, but in the end, it’s a letdown.

13. Black Adam (2022)

Black Adam – Official Trailer 2

The movie many people thought could breathe new life into the DCEU ended up being the one that killed it. On the one hand, Black Adam is built like a thrill ride. Just a non-stop barrage of action and story. But that doesn’t give the film enough time to connect with the audience, leaving it feeling cold and disjointed. That it also tried to shoehorn in Superman feels, in retrospect, like a last-minute Hail Mary.

12. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984 – Official Trailer

Personally, I like Wonder Woman 1984 more than most people. But part of that was just finally seeing a big, highly anticipated Hollywood blockbuster after a year of covid lockdown. The movie on its own, without that context, is like a lot of DC movies before it. Kind of fun, kind of exciting, but just way too sloppy in terms of story and themes. It’s a head-scratcher that’s kind of enjoyable but never quite works well enough.

11. Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom | Trailer

Being the last film in the DCEU, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is removed from all the plot and characters that linked the other movies. On the one hand, that works for it, letting it focus on this specific story. On the other hand, the story is still just way too bogged down by random set pieces and interactions that detract from everything else. It’s almost a unique movie about a father torn between worlds. But in the end, it loses that focus for more action-based purposes.

10. The Flash (2023)


While many people despise The Flash for a myriad of reasons (Ezra Miller’s personal life, fan service, shoddy CGI), I find it to be one of the few DC films that takes a lot of what had by then become the studio’s signature mess and cleans it up a bit. The story is wild, but it works. Bringing back Michael Keaton as Batman is audacious, but we loved it. Adding Sasha Calle as Supergirl was excellent. That the movie maybe went a little too far in many ways certainly hurt it, but it definitely tried.

9. Shazam: Fury of the Gods (2023)

SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS – Official Trailer 2

Another DC movie, same old issues. Shazam: Fury of the Gods bites off much more than it can chew, making it feel like it isn’t sure what kind of movie it wants to be. However, after the much stronger first installment, simply bringing back those characters, those actors, and that dynamic blending kids and heroes was enough to make it more of a win than not.

8. Birds of Prey (2020)

BIRDS OF PREY – Official Trailer 1

If any one film on this list really makes you sad for the death of the DCEU, it’s Birds of Prey. A film filled with imagination, excitement, energy, and characters that never got fully realized, not even Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. She got multiple movies and it still didn’t feel like the surface had been scratched. That’s Birds of Prey in a nutshell: a great start to something that we’ll now never see completed.

7. The Suicide Squad (2021)

THE SUICIDE SQUAD – Rebellion Trailer

James Gunn’s first foray into DC was, basically, what the original Suicide Squad attempted to be. Incredibly funny, incredibly violent, loads of fun, and, most importantly, thematically coherent. The cast is great, the action is exciting, and it’s a world you want to see more of.

6. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League | Official Trailer #2 | Max

A huge improvement from the film that was released in theaters, Zack Snyder’s Justice League showed that the filmmaker had vision and purpose. Was that vision and purpose a little too ambitious for a single movie? Yes. But nevertheless, in this extended format, you got a much more cohesive, rewarding story than the theatrical film and a true showcase of the promise that was never quite realized.

5. Shazam (2019)

SHAZAM! – Official Trailer 2 – Only In Theaters April 5

While this is a long list, there are certain tiers. Roughly, it breaks into “good, average, and bad.” Here’s where we enter the “good” range. In fact, the first Shazam isn’t just good, it’s really good. It’s a very human, emotional story that just so happens to have gods and superheroes in it. Tonally, it hits that bullseye beautifully and it’s a shame we never really got to see the character interact fully with the other DC characters.

4. Blue Beetle (2023)


Blue Beetle is weird, because while it came out in the midst of the DCEU, it purposefully doesn’t get into any of that, leaving it open to potentially becoming a part of the upcoming Gunn-verse. We debated putting it here at all. Ultimately though, the film is—similarly to Shazam—such a great character and family story told in the superhero genre that we just wanted to include it to give it another shout-out.

3. Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel – Official Trailer 3 [HD]

Man of Steel isn’t perfect by a long shot. It makes mistakes. It’s never quite a grand slam. But that’s largely overshadowed by how epic and sweeping Zack Snyder makes Superman, giving his well-known origin story a new modern take. Henry Cavill is fantastic, Michael Shannon’s Zod is terrifying, and the cast beyond that is just icon after icon after icon. It’s big, bold, and full of potential that sort of got realized, but also didn’t.

2. Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman – Official Trailer 1 – Now Playing In Theaters

It’s a movie about a man who can talk to fish. There was every danger that Aquaman would be a total and utter joke. But James Wan and his team somehow made a legitimately great movie that has spectacle for days, just enough humor, just enough emotion, and enough DC connections to basically be the perfect balance of everything you’d want in a DC movie.

1. Wonder Woman (2017)

WONDER WOMAN – Official Trailer [HD]

What else was it going to be? Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is flat-out fantastic. It’s a powerful origin story, sweeping romance, exciting period piece, and has probably the best scene in all of the DCEU in the No Man’s Land sequence. Wonder Woman is easily the most comprehensive and cohesive film in the bunch and that’s why we think it’s the best.

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