Ranking the Complete DCEU from Best to Worst

I really hope someone writes a book someday on the historic wet, steaming catastrophe that was Warner Bros. DCEU. I’ve never seen a studio so hell bent on sabotaging themselves before. They had a golden opportunity, holding possession of some of the biggest icons and money making characters in pop culture history. It should have and could have been an easy slam dunk during a climate where comic book movies were all the rage. Instead rather than let directors make movies they just destroyed any momentum the DCEU had at every turn.

With “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” arriving in theaters and signaling the very last movie in the Zack Snyder engineered DCEU, I ranked all of the movies in this universe from best to worst. Here’s hoping James Gunn brings these properties and beloved characters back to their former glory very soon.

The Suicide Squad (2021)
James Gunn’s soft reboot of David Ayer’s embarrassing adaptation is just a fantastic hyper violent action picture filled strong performances,, big laughs, and spotlights some often overlooked DC universe entities like Starro, Rat King, and Bloodsport; it also takes a super villain reject like Polka Dot Man and turns him in to a signature James Gunn tragic character.

Aquaman (2018)
The long gestating adaptation of “Aquaman” to the big screen is an often fun, dazzling and exciting film. Jason Momoa really embraces the role of Arthur Curry while Patrick Wilson lends real respectability to the Aquaman nemesis Ocean Master. Black Manta is also a very imposing super villain who works shockingly well in live action; I think he’d have made an excellent nemesis in future DCEU films.

Wonder Woman (2017)
After many failed reboots, director Patty Jenkins brings the Amazon warrior to the big screen in a very good, often touching action film. Gal Gadot is great as Diana Prince, a woman who finds her place in civilization as Wonder Woman, and becomes a bonafide superhero during World War II. It’s still a raucous good time, despite some narrative flaws.

Blue Beetle (2023)
Blue Beetle just deserved so much better and with a better company, “Blue Beetle” might have been a surprise hit. Angel Manuel Soto’s big screen version of Blue Beetle is a fun, exciting, and light hearted take on the modern Blue Beetle, garnering a slew of immense performances, as well as an inventive mythology. I’m sad we’ll never get a real follow up going over the legacy of the Blue Beetle and actually enjoying being a superhero.

Shazam! (2019)
Another director usually focused on horror, David F. Sandberg offers up a great action film that also works as wonderful wish fulfillment. “Shazam!” is a full powered take on the original comic book series, balancing out great action, light comedy, and some genuinely emotional stakes for such a humble superhero adaptation. Shazam really stands out among the DC library of heroes, and I’m glad he got his due.

Man of Steel (2013)
I know “Man of Steel” is packed with weird narrative choices and Snyder’s awful objectivist ideas, but his treatment of Superman is still a fun, exciting, and fascinating action picture that still lures me in whenever I cross paths with it. It’s really a damn shame that Snyder never allowed Henry Cavill to open up and make Superman his own all the while folks like Michael Shannon and Russell Crowe really manage to shine in their respective characters.

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)
While it’s not the most faithful adaptation, Cathy Yan’s take on “Birds of Prey” is a damn good, exciting, and fun action film aimed toward the female gallery of heroes from the DC Universe, while simultaneously acting as a spotlight for our favorite psycho Harley Quinn. Cathy Yan balances a great cast for what is such a weird, but memorable action picture and team movie.

Justice League (2017)
The Joss Whedon/Zack Snyder film is abrupt, way too soon and tries to squeeze in three movies worth of narrative and mythology in to ninety minutes. All things said, “Justice League” is a good enough action film that sadly feels like the season finale for a TV series, more than anything. What should have been an epic team movie is just an okay action picture with one or two neat action scenes.

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (2023)
The return of Arthur Curry feels a lot like it’s just going through the motions, which is sad considering I liked the original so much. James Wan doesn’t seem to offer anything new in the realm of sequels; instead “The Lost Kingdom” is a book end for the first film with the same basic premise as the first one. If anything, it’s fun seeing Dolph Lundgren hob knobbing with Nicole Kidman, and Patrick Wilson.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
This mid-COVID pandemic feature film allows Zack Snyder basic carte blanche over the “Justice League” movie he intended. Except it’s way too long, way too convoluted, and features about thirty slow motion scenes (that Flash scene goes on forever). Snyder’s version of his intended “Justice League” competently builds Darkseid as a threatening villain, but everything else is washed away in favor of some baffling narrative choices and a really silly pair of epilogues.

Suicide Squad (2016)
A movie created by committee more than anything else, Warner took David Ayer’s film and chopped it up to ape the success of “Guardians of the Galaxy.” What should have been a sleek, gritty, and fun action picture is busy, stupid, and just downright dull from beginning to end. It also has zero faith in the material, taking a ragtag group of criminals and giving them something street level. Instead it pits them against another boring demon with a whirling sky portal. Yawn.

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
This is about as far away you can get from what should have been a follow up to “Wonder Woman.” Patty Jenkins delivers such a baffling, bizarre, overlong follow up to her original outing, spending too much time on a convoluted super villain plot, and placing one of Wonder Woman’s most interesting female nemeses in the back burner. Despite some fleeting moments of fun, “Wonder Woman 1984” is so disappointing.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)
Contributing to the Flanderization of Shazam, this follow up spends a lot less time on Billy Batson and his family, and so much more time on Shazam and his superheroics. This removes the human element of the original movie that was so unique and exciting. Pair that with the way Dwayne Johnson essentially sabotaged the movie from the starting gate, and it’s an otherwise forgettable sequel that accomplishes nothing.

Black Adam (2022)
Such a great director like Jaume Collet-Serra shouldn’t have been strapped with such a gloomy, dull, stale, awful movie. But then, “Black Adam” had no reason to exist, in the first place. Dwayne Johnson doesn’t even allow the courtesy to disappear in to the character with make up (or even pointy ears), essentially playing over powered Dwayne Johnson who is easily upstaged by actual fun superheroes like Hawkman, and Atom Smasher.

The Flash (2023)
What should have been a massive, excellent scifi action film for the iconic DC superhero is a laughable, tedious, and pointless waste of time. The Flash is dead weight in his own story, the return of Michael Keaton as Batman is mishandled, and the special effects are just downright embarrassing at times. Even worse, the movie has no actual villain at its center. We never even find out who murdered Barry Allen’s mother. It’s a massive wet fart of a movie.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Director Zack Snyder goes in the opposite direction for his handling of the DCEU opting for a movie that works as a pseudo-sequel to “Man of Steel,” a debut for the DCEU Batman, and a platform for slew of failed or cancelled DCEU spin offs. Snyder proves he has nothing but contempt and disregard for these iconic characters sticking them in a dark, over serious, shockingly nasty action picture that fails to derive even the slightest excitement over the battle of two comic book icons.