Ah the DCEU…. DCCU or Worlds of DC? I honestly don’t think anyone really knows anymore. But anyway DCs’ live action films are ever controversial, liked and maybe even loved by some and loathed by many, these series of films over the last 5 almost 6 years now have always had an uphill battle competing directly with the MCU and its monumental success. That being said, we’ve had an interesting and well, varied bunch of films released in its shared cinematic universe so here’s my ranking.
And yes, Shazam is out in April so I’ll be updating the list again for that release.
Man of Steel (2013) – 8/10
The film that officially kicked this whole thing off is still one of the most divisive in the DCEU, I actually really like it though, though it’s a fairly long film, the story is cohesive, has some great storytelling and explores typical Superman motifs that clearly fit the character and Cavill is arguably the best Superman to date. This is possibly one of Snyders’ best pieces of work in my opinion and it shows, with great fight sequences, good drama and some levity, it feels like a much more solid, paced outing compared to the more cramped and almost rushed feeling Batman V Superman.
Wonder Woman (2017) – 7/10
Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman isn’t the first female led superhero film but is quite easily the best, though there isn’t too much competition with Catwoman and Supergirl but we’re getting there. WW showed the DCEU can have fun, be serious and tell an interesting, captivating story even set in the far past, presenting one of DCs most iconic and popular superheroes with accuracy and a lot of fun. Gal Gadot is a wonder (pun intended) as Diana and a great choice, playing off well with the rest of the casts and really embodying what the character is and stands for.
Aquaman (2018) – 7/10
The latest DCEU outing is a wild ride, there’s a lot to unpack, different characters, kingdoms, factions and so on but the story is easy to follow, with a very solid cast and a breakneck pacing to things, there’s never a dull moment albeit a lot of it is quite cheesy in the style of early 2000s superhero films. The cinematography and action are top notch though and James Wan really knocks it out of the park, showing the strength of the Atlanteans and Aquaman himself, this film really solidified the characters legitimacy in the DCEU as it stands and I’d quite like to see what more can be done with potential sequels and the world that has been set up.
Suicide Squad (2016) – 7/10
Suicide Squad is the much maligned and probably most hated film in the DCEU if we’re being honest but I’m also being honest in saying I actually enjoyed it! It’s gritty, stupid and you’re watching a bunch of misfit losers fighting because they have to and I just think it’s mindless fun. Will Smith and Margot Robbie undoubtedly both steal and save the show but despite that, the story is straightforward and the character interactions are surprisingly quite fun, though some of the characterisation is cheesy and cliché to the point of being cringe-y (Killer Croc is a hip hop fan….?). And yes there’s some bad dialogue and a generic sky beam in the final third but I still see Suicide Squad as a hot mess and a hot enjoyable mess at that.
Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) – 6.5/10
Another widely criticized film in the DCEU, BVS is a lot, a lot to unpack and a film with a lot going on in the story, Batman and Superman fighting, Wonder Woman being introduced, Doomsday, visions from the future…. yeah, maybe it didn’t quite stick the landing in juggling all plot points but it has redeemable features. The action sequences are fantastic, especially anything involving Batman on his own and of course the two titular heroes fighting, plus the visuals and score are highlights. Though there is some odd characterization with Batman seemingly being a killer and Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor simply being miscast. The film wasn’t terrible but just off the mark from being a more solid final product. And in fact upon re-watches I’ve liked it more so go figure.
Justice League (2017) – 6/10
Disappointingly, Justice League just feels like a 2 or 3 parter episode from the Justice League Unlimited series but just not as good, the ‘league’ unites to fight a common enemy but with production issues and the film being half Snyder and half Whedon, you can sort of tell. The dialogue in parts feels out of place for some characters, especially Batman who feels a bit.. not like Batman, while we don’t really get that much pure interaction between all of the characters which is what makes the Justice League so great.
Throw in a CG, generic villain no one cares about and well, this is what you get, it’s a shame because the casting is so on point as are the visualizations of the characters, the story was just a bit lackluster (and Superman alone in this could have taken on Steppenwolf).