Can we all just admit that Wonder Woman is, as of 2017, the best film in the DC Extended Universe line of movies? I mean, it’s the only film that everyone actually enjoyed among all of the films that featured DC’s popular superheroes! The rest of the films that Warner Bros. hoped to compete with Marvel’s almost decades long cinematic universe has been, to put it nicely, less than stellar. So, like in the movie that had Batman kick the crap out of Superman, let’s go pit these movies against each other for no good reason!
I will have to put a caveat of this list/ranking because Warner Bros. does have the habit of creating “extended” or “ultimate” versions when releasing the DC superhero films for home viewing. For this list, they don’t count. In other words, I will be ranking the films based on the version they put out in cinemas… because, if they really wanted their movies to be good, they should’ve been pumping out the “extended” or “ultimate” versions in the movie houses in the first place!
Ahem! Sorry about that. Let’s get on with the list! Let’s go start out with the best film in the DC Extended Universe…
1) Wonder Woman (2017)
Even if the title didn’t give it away, you already know what it was going to be anyway.
Wonder Woman was a breath of fresh air for DC fans as it was the first high note in the series of low notes Warner Bros. was hitting. It was a really good superhero film filled with character, color and humor. While I had my misgivings of Gal Gadot’s casting (even after her performance in Batman v. Superman), she shattered them in Wonder Woman as she put on an almost picture perfect performance of the Princess Diana of Themyscira. Her chemistry with Chris Pine as Steve Trevor also really palpable and made me really feel for the characters.
What put Wonder Woman over the top for me was how it felt like an actual superhero film. Instead of all the mopeyness and emo darkness the previous films of the DC Extended Universe had, Wonder Woman actually felt like an inspirational hero with the intent of spreading hope and peace in the world. Is it any wonder (pun unintended) that Wonder Woman is the best film in the series so far?
2) Justice League (2017)
The best things we can say about Justice League are “just okay” and “a good enough superhero movie.” Yet it’s still the second best film in the DC Extended Universe? Yep, sounds about right!
There is going to be a lot of debate in the future as to if the Zack Snyder version is better than the Joss Whedon edit and vice versa. I guess we’ll all eventually find out once Warner Bros. releases Justice League on DVD and Blu-Ray several months from now. But we don’t have the Zack Snyder version yet. What we have is the one that’s currently playing in theaters all over the world. I will say the current version does lighten the mood quite a bit, making it much more palatable for most moviegoers and superhero fans. They did a fine job balancing out the screentime of all the heroes involved.
However, that doesn’t excuse how the story comes off as really rushed, some really weird CGI effects and secondary characters that don’t add anything to the overall plot. Justice League is entertaining but, at the same time, plays it too safe. It’s a good time but nothing really memorable, which is actually its greatest sin. In what should’ve been the most bombastic coming together of DC’s greatest superheroes (and Cyborg), we got a rather ho-hum film that’s just fine.
3) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
It’s been more than a year but I still really hate the name, by the way.
If I were to describe Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in one word, it would “flawed.” It’s a movie that does have some really decent acting (I’m not including Jesse Eisenberg’s spazzy rendition of Lex Luthor there) and some good looking action sequences. However, the story and character motivations doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The movie has too many moving parts that the plot barely chugs along. This is one movie that’s so easy to nitpick because you’re never drawn into the movie experience because it keeps jerking you out of it with all its problems.
With that being said, there is still some enjoyment to be had from BvS: DoJ. The titular fight between Batman and Superman is actually really good (despite the “Martha” ending). We got to hear Wonder Woman’s badass theme song for the first time here as well. But the film just tries to juggle too many things, like introduce The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg (with very little fanfare, I might add) and the Batman “nightmare”, that everything barely holds together by the end of its theatrical runtime of 151 minutes.
4) Man of Steel (2013)
The birth of emo Superman.
Let me say this from the outset: Man of Steel isn’t a bad movie. It’s actually a good movie, in my opinion. There were more than just a few scenes that I really like, such as Superman’s first learning how to fly, and the first fight in Smallville was glorious. I actually liked Henry Cavill’s acting overall as well. However, there were a lot of things that also irked me in Man of Steel. The pacing was weird as the first third of the film moved very deliberately in order to introduce all the characters. But when Zod started attacking, things just started moving incredibly fast and all characterization got thrown out the window in the process. And while the early fight scenes were good, the battle against Zod’s terraforming machine and Superman’s climatic punchfest with Zod were just ugly blurs.
Honestly, deciding between Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman for the third and fourth place on this list was close but the thing that edged out BvS was the inclusion of Ben Affleck as Batman and Gal Gadot’s rather surprising performance as Wonder Woman. Man of Steel isn’t all that bad, in my opinion. It’s just not all that good as well.
5) Suicide Squad (2016)
Maybe this film should’ve committed suicide. Am I right?
Did you see the trailer I embedded above? Did you see all the little bits of humor and levity? Did you love that rip-roaring song by Queen that blared in the background? Did you think Suicide Squad was going to be good? Well, so did I and millions of fans all around the world! How wrong we were! Instead of getting a fun movie that was filled with action and personality, we got this mess!
There are a few things Suicide Squad did get right. Casting Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn was a stroke of genius as she pulled of the character without even batting an eyelash. Will Smith’s Deadshot was functional and he does give the character a lot of personality that made DC’s greatest marksman much more human and, ultimately, relatable. Oddly enough, I enjoyed the slower moments of Suicide Squad. That one scene in the bar, where all of the villains are just drinking beer and talking worked really well and is actually one of my favorite scenes in the DC Extended Universe ever.
The rest of the film is a whole other story. Everything felt disjointed and the fight scenes just didn’t work, which is bad because, if you looked at all the comments I’ve made about the other movies, I would at least say the action scenes were good. Suicide Squad’s action scenes were hard to see. The main villain as well as just dumb and her plan nonsensical. The saddest thing about Suicide Squad was it was supposed to be the one to drag DC out of the doldrums and actually be a fun superhero film. Instead, we got this mess of a film.
At least we got a lot of Harley Quinn cosplay thanks to Suicide Squad. That’s a plus, right? Right?
How would you rank the DC Extended Universe films? Let me know in the comments section below!