It kneels to no one.
The DCEU is one of the most divisive movie franchises of the last ten years. From Zack Snyder's controversial vision to the mess of Justice League and Suicide Squad to everything in between, tons of headlines have highlighted DC's current position in the film industry. All of their future success hinges on the box office of Black Adam, which is in theaters today. I've already seen the film, so here is my ranking of all thirteen DCEU movies (and the single TV show) from the worst to the best.
13. Man of Steel
I do want to give Man of Steel another chance. I really, really do. But, upon first watch, I hated it. It's one of my least favorite movies of all time. And I know that's an extremely unpopular opinion, but I just don't like Snyder's take on Superman. Batman is brooding. Green Arrow is brooding. Superman is not brooding. Superman is this shimmering light that inspires hope and good throughout the DC universe, and this Superman is dark and sulking. Even though Zod is a good villain, I find their fight in the finale to be unwatchable. It's just CGI noise. And that's what this whole movie feels like to me. Dark Superman CGI noise. And I don't like that.
12. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Batman v. Superman is really bad. Now, I haven't watched the ultimate edition, which I plan on doing before I update this ranking again, but the theatrical version is horrible. The plot is convoluted and dumb. Of course, Batman kills. Jesse Eisenberg's Lex Luthor is an insult to the character. And please don't get me started on "Save Martha". I appreciate Zack Snyder for having a vision for the DCEU, but I just don't like these first two entries in his version of this universe.
11. Justice League
I hate this movie with all of my heart. I know I should have it last because of the atrocity that it is, but I find the previous two movies to be nearly unwatchable. This movie, despite being a disgusting piece of Warner Bros. trash, is watchable. It's not a very good film. It is ridiculously mediocre. But it is made so much worse by the cruelty of Warner Bros. and Joss Whedon during the production of this film. Although I certainly find it more entertaining than some of these other movies, I cannot forgive it for the behind-the-scenes drama.
10. Suicide Squad
This movie feels a little like Justice League without as much behind-the-scenes drama, although there is some. Warner Bros. squished David Ayer into a set release date and forced him to make a more light-hearted movie, because Batman v. Superman was criticized for being too dark. And you feel that in the film. You feel a director being forced to make something that he doesn't want to make. It's a clunky movie with a really weak villain, but there are some good things, mainly Harley Quinn. This movie probably could've been good if Warner Bros. didn't mess with it. But they did, and it kind of sucks.
9. Wonder Woman 1984
I really liked Wonder Woman 1984 upon its release, but as I've thought about it more and more, I like it less and less. I'd still probably give it a positive review, but it's a very flawed film. The film gets too big and too ambitious, where the events of the film clearly have cataclysmic and world-shattering consequences...that haven't been mentioned in any of the DCEU movies before. That becomes a problem because this movie is a prequel to every DCEU movie besides the first Wonder Woman. Diana herself also gets sidelined, which is one of my least favorite superhero movie mistakes. There are good villains here. The action is great. But this movie made some very obvious and very fixable mistakes that I have to knock it for.
8. Birds of Prey
Birds of Prey is a movie that I love that exists. It's so weird. It's so out-there. They do some extremely strange things in this movie, but it makes sense, because Harley Quinn is the protagonist, and she's crazy. Ewan McGregor's Black Mask is one of the DCEU's best villains. He steals every scene with this fantastic performance that he gives. This feels like DC understanding that it needs to let directors run loose. It's not great. The story and supporting characters are problematic. But it's fun and wild, and I appreciate it for that.
I loved Shazam! upon first watch. Upon second watch, I didn't love it. I still really like it. It's a good movie. Zachary Levi gives a great performance as a kid in the body of a superhero. It feels like an MCU movie inside of the DCEU, and I mean that entirely as a good thing. I really don't like Asher Angel, who plays the kid form of Billy Batson. He feels nothing like Zachary Levi. His performance is just dull. But besides that, I really, really enjoy this movie.
6. The Suicide Squad
DC got very lucky that Disney fired James Gunn for a little bit. Have you ever wondered what an R-rated Guardians of the Galaxy would look like? Well, look no further, because it's right here. The Suicide Squad is pure, unfiltered James Gunn fun. He does what he does best: takes an ensemble of weird characters and makes them compelling while providing tons of his type of dark humor all covered in mountains of blood. It's a fun movie. Once again, not great. Major villain problem. But fun nonetheless.
5. Zack Snyder's Justice League
This is Justice League. Not the trash that's near the bottom of this ranking. This is the true version of the Justice League that all of us fans want. Everything, and I mean everything, about Zack Snyder's Justice League is better than Joss Whedon's version. This film gives deep dives into every single character. It single-handedly took Cyborg and Flash from being two of the worst characters in the DCEU to being two of the best. There is no world in which this needed to be four hours long. That is ridiculous. But if you have the patience to stick through this thing, it is truly, truly epic.
4. Black Adam
I do think after time, this placement will likely move down, but right now, I really, really liked Black Adam. I feel like it was a nice return to a simple, fun superhero template. It was familiar, sure, but thrilling action and great new characters make this movie just tons of fun. Is it the movie that's going to save the DCEU? No. But it's a step in the right direction.
3. Wonder Woman
Gal Gadot's first solo outing is the DCEU's first success. It takes what should be a cheesy character and grounds her in World War I. This film does a great job of just building out a story and a world that you are invested in. You care about the characters. You care about their goals. It very much feels like Captain America: The First Avenger, but better. The action is cool. Patty Jenkins does a great job of directing. The DCEU could use more movies like this.
If The Suicide Squad wasn't enough for you, Peacemaker delivers eight hours of James Gunn's shtick. What this show does so well is be absolutely hilarious and also have an incredible amount of heart and emotion. This show has some amazing, amazing characters, and Christopher Smith himself is one of them. It takes a cheesy villain from The Suicide Squad and gives him this rich, tragic backstory that makes you understand why he was the way that he was in The Suicide Squad. I'm not a huge fan of the main plot. I think it's at it's best when focusing on the characters. But this show is really, really good.
Aquaman may not be the highest quality film in the DCEU, but it's just so fun. Jason Momoa is all kinds of charming and hilarious, and that just makes for a charming and hilarious movie. James Wan is one of the top working directors today. He knows how to create visceral worlds and fantastic action, and he does it so well with this film. Sure, it's a little reminiscent of the far superior Black Panther, but Black Panther is one of the best superhero movies ever made, so it's okay to have certain beats from that movie. This film is entertaining as well as having a good story with compelling characters. It's the best of the DCEU all rolled up into one without having much of the usual problems of this universe, so it comes in at number one.