While Marvel’s created a global empire, there is another studio fighting for dominance in the superhero realm. With its sixth feature, the much anticipated Aquaman, set to debut this holiday season, we thought it was time to look back at the films of DC and rank them accordingly.
I'm not counting Nolan in this ranking, so step off.
6. SUICIDE SQUAD (2016)
Look, I’ll be honest… I wasn’t familiar with the Suicide Squad before the movie was announced. But a bunch of villains teaming up to defeat an even greater evil? Cool idea!
The resulting film was…less than cool. David Ayer had six weeks to write this script before he rushed into pre-production. It shows. The entire film’s messy. Forget the narrative issues, the craft on display isn’t even polished. There are noticeable ADR and sound issues throughout the movie.
This particular collection of anti-heroes left something to be desired. Consider Jai Courtney’s character—Boomerang. He is all-powerful because of… a boomerang.
No, really. That’s his superpower. I cannot imagine something lamer and less interesting. While Margot Robbie provides a spark, she’s bogged down by the material she’s given. Even the inimitable Viola Davis looks confused to be there. A promising premise is squandered here.
5. JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017)
The premise of the Justice League is that superheroes band together to fight evil. You would imagine that’d be the goal of this film…to put Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Flash in a room and have them play off each other to have them fight someone.
Well, this film makes one curious decision. Superman’s dead for three-quarters of it. His return is inevitable, of course, because he’s… Superman.
Yet, we have to wait. And wait.
When Superman’s away, the heroes must square off against Steppenwolf, an incomprehensible and one-dimensional villain, not the Canadian rock band. The movie’s not as pitch black as Batman v. Superman, but its sense of humor is a series of snappy one-liners that often fail to land.
A dream team, sure. A dream movie, certainly not.
4. BATMAN V. SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE (2016)
The movie that spawned a thousand memes. When Ben Affleck finished polishing his (well deserved) Oscar and decided to don Batman’s cape, I was confused. Why would he go back to the superhero well when he’d already had an unfortunate experience with Daredevil?
When Argo writer Chris Terrio came aboard to script the movie, I felt a flush of optimism.
We had just lived through the golden age of Batman. Christopher Nolan crafted a brilliant hero for our time, and well…what if Affleck and Terrio could pick up right where he left off? Unfortunately, they did not.
The central conceit of the film is silly. Why should we care about the battle between Batman and Superman when there are no stakes? Neither guy is going to die or lose anything meaningful.
When Wonder Woman cuts in, the film finally finds its footing. Her entry is a high point. She’s the bright light amidst the darkness of the DC canon. Fast forward to her scenes. Skip the rest.
3. AQUAMAN (2018)
As a die-hard Vinnie Chase fan, I was skeptical when DC announced that Jason Momoa would step into this role. But then came Patrick Wilson… and Willem Dafoe… and Nicole freaking Kidman.
The result is fun, if not quite worthy of their talents. James Wan has created a rich, sumptuous world underseas. If you’re looking for an amusing diversion over the holidays, you could do worse than spending two hours with Aquaman.
2. MAN OF STEEL (2013)
Let’s give it to DC and Warner Brothers. They know how to cut a GREAT trailer. This thing is a work of art. It might be one of the best I’ve ever seen. By the time Superman’s sitting across from Lois Lane, I was salivating and I was surprised.
I’ve never been the biggest Superman fan. His relative invincibility bores me. Batman’s just a rich guy in a suit. Theoretically, he can die at any moment. Superman can survive bullets and bombs and everything in between. Yet, I was encouraged.
While the film didn’t meet my lofty expectations, it’s a serviceable origin story with some poignancy. Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent grounds the story and provides moments of complexity and emotion amidst the constant city wreckage.
Michael Shannon’s Zod is a well-motivated villain. The film takes its cue from Nolan’s work with Batman, but the drama’s not as rich, the dialogue’s not as sharp, and the humor is non-existent (yeah, I realize I ranked this as the 2nd best film.)
1. WONDER WOMAN (2017)
Wonder Woman is an iconic character. She is badass, she is funny, and she is inspiring. And yet, when DC started production on the film, when Diana’s journey was finally coming to screen, I was a little nervous.
The studio didn’t have the best track record (see above), and this character deserved a great movie. Wonder Woman was destined to create a movement.
I just hoped the film would live up to its promise.
Separating a movie from its movement can be hard. I still remember getting a text from my little cousin opening weekend, as she sat in a packed theater with her Wonder Woman glasses on. It was amazing. I desperately wanted the movie to live up to her, and so many people’s, expectations.
They’d waited so long for this story to be told and well… Patty Jenkins, a visionary director criminally ignored by the studio system for years, delivered a fantastic film.
Gal Gadot is pitch perfect and Chris Pine is an excellent partner in crime. The movie really plays with the fish out of water element expertly as we watch Diana navigate the strange society that was 1910s London. Check out our interview with the director of photography.
Its character work isn’t its only strength. The No Man’s Land set piece is a moment the will go down in movie history.
Wonder Woman was wondrous after all.
Summing Up The DC Movie Ranking
Why do I keep doing it?
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