All 34 DC Comics Movies Ranked, Including ‘Shazam’

How does the critically acclaimed “Shazam” hold up against decades of DC Comics movie history?

The DC Comics universe hasn’t quite flooded the big screen the way Marvel ones have in the past decade, but the DC brand has been hitting the big screen longer in the era of color, starting with the 1966 Adam West “Batman.” We ranked all those modern flicks, from “Batman: The Movie” to the DC Extended Universe’s “Wonder Woman,” “Justice League,” “Aquaman” and “Shazam.”

34. “Jonah Hex” (2010)

every dc comics movie ranked jonah hex

Despite the efforts of Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbender, this is one of the worst comic book movies of the modern era.

33. “Superman IV: The Quest for Peace” (1987)

every dc comics movie ranked superman 4

Christopher Reeve is by far the best Superman. But “Superman IV” is a bomb in every sense — partly because of its heavy-handedness about bombs. Nuclear bombs. The film finds Superman trying to eliminate the world’s nuclear threat, but his best intentions run afoul of a silly, badly dated villain named Nuclear Man.

32. “Supergirl” (1984)

every dc comics movie ranked supergirl

We had a female-superhero movie in 1984, and it was pure cheese. But hey at least they tried. The best thing I can say about it is there are worse things in life, and in DC Comics, than this movie.

31. “Suicide Squad” (2016)

every dc comics movie ranked suicide squad

Less a movie than it is a fever dream of unrelated sequences and montages that somehow end up using more than two hours of your time. Totally incomprehensible experience.

And, no, the extended cut doesn’t do anything that warrants improving its standing.

30. “Steel” (1997)

every dc comics movie ranked steel

Best known as “the one Shaq was in back when he tried acting,” “Steel” is pretty bad. But the fun kind of bad.

29. “Justice League”

every dc comics movie ranked justice league

Warner Bros has continued to innovate in how to make bad DCEU movies, with “Justice League” managing to be terrible in a totally different way from “Batman v Superman” and “Suicide Squad.”

28. “Man of Steel” (2013)

every dc comics movie ranked man of steel

Could have been worse, I guess — the history of DC Comics on film certainly has. But it’s still morally gross and has a plot that doesn’t make sense. That it’s very pretty to look at doesn’t override those things nearly enough to make it watchable.

27. “Catwoman” (2004)

every dc comics movie ranked catwoman

Thoroughly horrible, but the fun kind. Sad that it’s seemingly been swept into the dustbin of history.

26. “Batman & Robin” (1997)

every dc comics movie ranked batman and robin 1997-2

Rightly hated, but it’s tremendously entertaining here and there. Uma Thurman and Arnold Schwarzeneggar are going so far over the top I can’t help but admire them.

25. “Superman III” (1983)

every dc comics movie ranked superman 3

Featured a brilliant corporate rip-off — one later referenced in “Office Space” — but the attempt to funny things up with the addition of Richard Pryor didn’t gel. There was also a weird bit about a weather satellite creating bad weather, which isn’t what weather satellites do. Seeing Clark Kent fight Superman was pretty cool, though.

24. “Green Lantern” (2011)

every dc comics movie ranked green lantern

Overreliance on cartoony visual effects during a period when big blockbusters were moving away from that aesthetic meant this was a movie nobody liked. Not that it was especially horrible. It just looked like a dumb cartoon and is hard to watch.

23. “The Dark Knight Rises” (2012)

every dc comics movie ranked the dark knight rises

Probably wasn’t intended to be a grim and gritty Shumacher Batmovie, but that is indeed what it is. This is Nolan going full Hollywood, smashing plot points into place by sheer force of will rather than because they make sense. An extremely theatrical Tom Hardy as Bane is amusing front to back, and a nuke with a countdown clock on it will never get old.

22. “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” (2016)

every dc comics movie ranked batman v superman

A total mess that hates Superman and turns Batman into a total maniac. None of those things are good. Ben Affleck can’t save the thing, but he’s excellent nonetheless and gives it a huge bump it probably doesn’t deserve.

21. “Watchmen” (2009)

every dc comics movie ranked watchmen

I have no particular affection for the revered “Watchmen” comic the way a lot of other nerds do, so my distaste for this adaptation isn’t personal. It just doesn’t add up to nearly as much as it thinks it does.

20. “Batman” (1989)

every dc comics movie ranked batman 1989

Fondly remembered mostly because it was the first Batmovie in a couple decades. It isn’t actually very good, though. The reveal that a younger version of the Joker killed Bruce Wayne’s parents is as hamfistedly dumb as it gets in a “Batman” movie.

19. “V for Vendetta” (2006)

every dc comics movie ranked v for vendetta

Felt nothing watching this. I tried, OK. It’s impeccably made, though, and very watchable.

18. “The Losers” (2010)

every dc comics movie ranked the losers

Chris Evans, Idris Elba, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Zoe Saldana. How was this movie not amazing?

17. “Batman v Superman Ultimate Edition” (2016)

every dc comics movie ranked batman v superman extended cut

Giving this its own slot because it fundamentally changes the narrative of the movie and the character of Superman in the DC Extended Universe. This version is still not great (especially at three freaking hours), but it’s a monumental improvement over the theatrical version.

16. “Red 2” (2013) 

every dc comics movie ranked red 2

Did you even know these were comic book movies? Whatever, it’s a great cast in a serviceable action movie and everybody’s having a good time. Hard to remember, but fun.

15. “Red” (2010)

every dc comics movie ranked red

Better than its sequel, but they’re basically the same.

14. “Batman Forever” (1995)

every dc comics movie ranked batman forever

Hits just the right tone for what Joel Shumacher was trying to do with the two films he directed. Tommy Lee Jones, as Two Face, is doing stuff in this movie that is hard to believe even today, given his perpetual sour face in nearly every other movie he’s been in.

13. “Superman Returns” (2006)

every dc comics movie ranked superman returns

Actually a pretty decent attempt by Bryan Singer to do a Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie in the present day, but Brandon Routh couldn’t pull off the charisma it takes to be the Man of Steel. It was his first movie, so that’s not surprising. But it’s a shame, because Routh has gotten much better in the years since.

12. “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)

every dc comics movie ranked batman mask of the phantasm

Remember that time they released a “Batman” cartoon theatrically? It gets lost amongst all the live-action ones, but “Mask of the Phantasm” is better than most of them.

11. “The Dark Knight” (2008)

every dc comics movie ranked the dark knight

Should be way shorter, but Heath Ledger‘s Joker is far and away the best villain in any of these movies. Ledger elevates what would otherwise be just another self-indulgent Christopher Nolan exercise into an endlessly watchable picture.

10. “The LEGO Batman Movie” (2017)

every dc comics movie ranked lego batman movie

Funny, sweet and self-deprecating — exactly what we needed in the wake of the disaster that was “Batman v Superman.”

9. “Superman II” (1980)

every dc comics movie ranked superman 2

Made kids everywhere cry as they watched Superman give up his powers for a normal life with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). There are different edits of this movie, and we frankly can’t keep them straight. But the sight of a powerless Clark getting beat up in a diner made Superman as sympathetic as he’s ever been.

8. “Wonder Woman” (2017)

every dc comics movie ranked wonder woman

Has the standard origin movie problem of “too much story, not enough time.” And the standard DC Extended Universe problem of “We gotta have a nonsensical CGI battle at the end.” But it’s otherwise a delight, and a big step forward for the DCEU.

7. “Batman Returns” (1992)

every dc comics movie ranked batman returns

One of the best of the franchise because it’s really just a political thriller. The Penguin emerges from the sewer and runs for mayor of Gotham! It’s great stuff, especially as we continue to watch the rise of Trump in our world.

6. “Shazam” (2019)

Shazam Zachary Levi

It’s just so much fun! It’s a blast to watch, and is just a really nice celebration of the good parts of humanity. “Shazam” is a movie that simply feel good to watch.

5. “Constantine” (2005)

every dc comics movie ranked constantine

A happy balance of serious and ridiculous, manages to find exactly the right tone for this weird religious fantasy and a cast led by Keanu Reeves. They all seem to get it.

4. “Aquaman” (2018)

every dc comics movie ranked Aquaman

It’s not often that we get a comic book movie that is: full on ridiculous; loves how ridiculous it is; and is made with skill by a legitimately great filmmaker. James Wan’s “Aquaman” is all of that, and it’s just a wonderful experience.

3. “Superman: The Movie” (1978)

every dc comics movie ranked superman

This is the gold standard of Superman movies, and was the best superhero movie bar none for many, many years. John Williams’ score soars, and so does the believable and compelling romance between Superman and Lois Lane. The film convincingly blended camp (in the form of Gene Hackman‘s wonderful Lex Luthor), an epic origin story that actually felt epic, and funny lines. The scene in which Supes and Lois fly together is one of the most beautiful metaphors for new love ever captured on film.

2. “Batman: The Movie” (1966)

every dc comics movie ranked batman 66

Has a timelessness that none of the other films do, and it’s just a delight from beginning to end thanks to Adam West‘s winking Batman and the coalition of villains who can’t stop cackling maniacally. Watching it again recently, I found it functions almost perfectly as a parody of the super-serious Christopher Nolan Batfilms, which is incredible.

1. “Batman Begins” (2005)

every dc comics movie ranked batman begins

The most complete film, on its own, in the entire live-action franchise. It’s just, like, a regular movie… except it’s about Batman. It has actual characters and everything, and Christian Bale‘s Bruce Wayne even has emotions. It’s weird.