Every DC Comics Movie, Ranked

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Photo: Emily Denniston/Vulture and photos courtesy of the studios

The DC Extended Universe, if that ’ s what we ’ ve all decided to call it, formally kicked off with 2013 ’ south Man of Steel, but limiting the films made from DC Comics precisely to those ( by and large spotty ) films is to miss decades of history … decades with their own drama .
We had multiple sets of Batman films, a Superman arc that, because of corporate maneuverings, wholly fell apart at the end, and two Swamp Thing movies. Alan Moore had his own wing, and of course don ’ thyroxine forget about the animate films, Keanu Reeves, Jonah Hex and Shaq. besides : Ryan Reynolds has some thoughts about his function in all of this.

For a long time, the DC Comics movies had no unite ribbon, no Kevin Feige overseeing everything. This makes them deviate dramatically in quality, but it besides eliminates any sameness : The badly movies are in truth bad, but the ceiling is raised deoxyadenosine monophosphate high as a Christopher Nolan, Richard Donner or Patty Jenkins can take it. It ’ mho quite a journey .
indeed, today, we rank the 37 DC Comics movies, including this week ’ s League of Super-Pets. ( By the way, we intentionally left off films made from imprints late purchased by DC Comics. so, deplorable, Hellboy, Road to Perdition and A History of violence : You ’ re excluded here. )

37. Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

Christopher Reeve called this a “ calamity from start to finish, ” and if you don ’ t believe him — you should very believe Christopher Reeve, by the direction, when he tells you a Superman movie is a “ calamity ” — you can try sitting through this bargain-bin, basement-price title, made by Cannon Films on a shoelace budget in which even the shoes and the strings don ’ thyroxine count substantial. Gene Hackman seems to realize immediately that he ’ sulfur equitable signed up for a shitshow and hams it up in his final run as Lex Luthor, but nothing could save us from the monstrosity of Nuclear Man, a villain so crippled that he ’ south never mentioned in DC canon again. Honestly, watch this contend view :
It makes us sad that Christopher Reeve had to do that .
available to stream on HBO Max .

36. Steel (1997)

Writer-director Kenneth Johnson think of his champion as a “ blue-collar Batman, ” and, you know, he ’ s not entirely wrong : If you took away everything that was aplomb about Batman and replaced all his technical school with tin cans and garbage lids, you might have Steel. This movie is wide derided nowadays for its cast of Shaquille O ’ Neal as the bomber, but Shaq, while wooden and bum, at least has enough natural charisma to escape by and large unharmed. Judd Nelson, as the villain ( recur : Judd Nelson as the villain ! ), is not so fortunate. The movie is pitched at the humor and dramatic tied of a Bazooka negligee, and it has approximately the like lasting affect .
available to stream on HBO Max .

35. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

“ Batman vs. Superman is where you go when you admit to yourself that you ’ ve exhausted all possibilities. It ’ s like Frankenstein Meets Wolfman or Freddy vs. Jason. It ’ second reasonably of an admission that this franchise is on its last gasp. ” A spot-on review of Zack Snyder ’ s abysmal 2016 team-up between the two iconic superheroes ? Nope, that was what the screenwriter David S. Goyer himself told the Los Angeles Times back in 2005 about Warner Bros. ’ s former abort undertake to make this project happen. Goyer was right then, and he ’ sulfur right nowadays. Like his spiritual forefather Michael Bay, Snyder is a visionary natural process film maker who conceives blockbusters with an absolutely original aesthetic and sensibility. And like Bay, that doesn ’ thyroxine base they ’ re any good. The culture has already properly roasted Dawn of Justice ’ s unintelligent Martha business, but we ’ ve so far to amply absorb how much this movie tarnished the bequest of Christopher Nolan ’ s Batman. His Dark Knight was a powerfully conflicted, loath hero. By comparison, Sad Affleck was just a fellow encased in a alloy suit .
available to stream on HBO Max .

34. Catwoman (2004)

May we humbly submit that the time might be right for a Catwoman solo film ? A movie that ’ second willing to go into the darkest target of Batman, but with the annoyance, risk, and righteous ferocity of Catwoman, might have some legs in the current nightmare-scape in which we live. still, overcoming the stigma of this DOA Halle Berry vehicle might be excessively baffling to accomplish even 15 years late. The problem with Catwoman is that it never thinks about its character any further than “ Halle Berry in a catsuit, ” and while that might have its implicit entreaty, Berry and the pillow of the hurl ( particularly Sharon Stone as the villain ) just flail about. Another shot at this international relations and security network ’ t the worst mind, right ?
available to stream on HBO Max .

33. Batman & Robin (1997)

This was the moment when a distribute of people became refer that George Clooney wasn ’ thymine going to be able to make the leap from ER hunk to actual movie star. And even now, when watching Batman & Robin, you ’ five hundred be forgiven for assuming that this guy doesn ’ thymine seem destined to have a successful big-screen career. indeed, the two-time Oscar achiever ’ mho worst qualities are on display here — headman among them, the off-putting glib attitude mean to convey crust. Batman & Robin leveled the franchise, reducing it to ash. It was Batman ’ s humble item … until Zack Snyder got his hands on him a couple of decades belated .
available to stream on HBO Max .

32. Suicide Squad (2016)

The year of our Lord 2016 was a nightmare for Warner Bros. creatively in terms of its DC properties. Batman v Superman was nasty, while Suicide Squad was only moderately better. ( Of course, both films made a long ton of money, so what did the executives care ? ) Suicide Squad rhythm Venom by a couple of years on this solid “ What if a superhero movie … but bad guys ? ” conceit, bringing together a properly mold in Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Viola Davis for a punk-rock action flip in which a group of criminals have to band together to defeat an even greater evil. Robbie has a musket ball letting loose as Harley Quinn, but Jared Leto ’ s heinously irritating performance as the Joker strips away whatever meager merits Suicide Squad has. Turns out, end of Watch director David Ayer ’ s cynical brand of big-budget brassy and stupid is just about a noxious as Snyder ’ sulfur .
available to stream on HBO Max .

31. Jonah Hex (2010)

Before he was Thanos or even Deadpool ’ mho buddy, Josh Brolin got into the comic-book game by playing Jonah Hex, a deface post–Civil War bounty hunter who can raise the dead, or something — it ’ mho hard to keep it all straight in energizer Jimmy Hayward ’ south muddled mess. You could possibly do a blue adaptation of Jonah Hex in the Sin City expressive style, and if allowed to go truly R-rated ( like it might be today ), you could possibly have a supernatural Deadwood. alternatively, you have this compromised, cobbled-together odds and ends. Two positives : ( 1 ) the grinding, apocalyptic score from death-metal ring Mastodon ; ( 2 ) wow, that shed. seriously, front at the actors in this movie : Brolin, John Malkovich, Will Arnett, Wes Bentley, Michael Shannon, and Michael Fassbender. ( Oh, and besides Megan Fox. )
available to stream on HBO Max .

30. Supergirl (1984)

Before we get into the stay of it, Helen Slater was a absolutely adequate Supergirl : She was strong and kind and charitable and charming in the function, and if she wasn ’ t precisely Christopher Reeve, heck, she came near. It ’ s a shame she has this movie surrounding her, which takes everything you liked about the first two Superman movies and runs it through a wash car so many times that the S looks rinsed and beige. Suffice it to say, Peter O ’ Toole, in basically the Marlon Brando part from the first film, does not comport himself about equally well as Brando did … and Brando wasn ’ metric ton that great in his entrance either. ( For that matter, Faye Dunaway is no terence Stamp. ) In an surrogate universe, this could have been played for maximum camp and been a moment of a smash. This is not that universe .
available to stream on HBO Max .

29. Green Lantern (2011)

All right, all right, we know that mocking Green Lantern has become its own bungalow diligence in late years, not least of which by its headliner. And, yes, there ’ s a short ton of cheese here, peculiarly when it comes to Peter Sarsgaard ’ s bizarrely phallic villain invention. ( His headway is like a penis crossed with a Brussels shoot. ) But badly, not all of Green Lantern is frightful. The movie has a certain dorky good cheer that, peculiarly in the wake up of Christopher Nolan ’ s Batman films ( and particularly now that we ’ ve seen Zack Snyder ’ s DC films ), is about classify of welcome ? fleeceable Lantern is earnest and bright and, yeah, incredibly pathetic and a short obstruct. But it besides means well, and it turns out that Ryan Reynolds international relations and security network ’ t entirely without appeal in the contribute character. The movie international relations and security network ’ triiodothyronine well by any reach of the imagination. But we ’ d watch it 40 times before we ’ vitamin d watch Batman v. Superman again .
available to stream on Amazon Prime Video .

28. Constantine (2005)

Another in the long line of post-Matrix messianic, pseudo-superhero roles for Keanu Reeves, which is a boastful problem because the Hellblazer comic this film is based on has a fortune more going on than equitable being a Reeves vehicle. The mind here, that a man damned to Hell for a suicide attempt in his young exorcises demons to get back in the good graces of Heaven, has its pleasures, and you wonder if it might work as a Netflix series down the line ( preferably than the weak cable version we got a few years back ). But this one is excessively rush and besides ill thought through to reach the heights you want it to .
available to stream on HBO Max .

27. Superman III (1983)

It doesn ’ t matter how many times you watch it : It is never ever not surreal to see Richard Pryor show up in a Superman movie. The bummer part is that it ’ sulfur stunt casting top to bottom : The movie never lets Richard Pryor be anything but Richard Pryor the fame, rather than Richard Pryor the comic, and frankincense it neuters him and makes him entirely boring. Robert Vaughn is a particularly pale villain, and the movie ’ s sheath against computers, uh, hasn ’ thymine aged excessively well. It is fun to watch Superman in a bar though. “ Hey, count, Superman ’ s intoxicated ! ”
available to stream on HBO Max .

26. Justice League (2017)

A movie marred by tragedy — Zack Snyder, who had to leave mid-production because of the death of his daughter, was replaced by Joss Whedon — Justice League feels very much a collection of bits and pieces, a litany of reshoots and warring sensibilities all fighting for attention. The film ’ randomness brilliantly spot is Wonder Woman, although Gal Gadot international relations and security network ’ thyroxine about adenine brilliant as she was in her solo film, which came out a few months early. Do we remember anything of the plot ? not truly : Basically, a bunch of joyless dudes ( and an Amazonian princess ) struggle Steppenwolf, who wants to enslave the population or something. Between the halfhearted wisecracks and Henry Cavill ’ s freaky digitally erased mustache, Justice League collapses under its own weight. This movie was meant to be DC ’ s epochal Avengers-like consequence. rather, it was wholly forgettable .
available to stream on HBO Max .

25. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

The seminal Alan Moore comedian got an inspire adaptation that ended up making more news for a setting in which Batman and Barbara Gordon get it on .

That actually exacerbates a trouble in the original comedian, in which Barbara Gordon is sexually assaulted by the Joker ’ s goons, but it ’ s only taken ampere seriously as is required to raise the stakes for Batman. ( The old “ fridging ” trouble. ) The movie international relations and security network ’ thymine corpulent enough to take on all this subtext, and it ends up making you uncomfortable in the wrong ways .

24. Batman Forever (1995)

The first post–Tim Burton Batman has hints of the disasters that would be coming — the squash racket nipples, Joel Schumacher ’ s by and large glib, cartoonish vibration — but it never veers entirely into Mr. Freeze land. Val Kilmer cuts an excellent cowl, Nicole Kidman enjoys a rare vamp function, and even Jim Carrey carries some lawful hellzapoppin ’ menace as the Riddler. The less said about Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face the better, and this was surely a step in the improper steering for the franchise, but it ’ s not the debacle its follow-up would be .
available to stream on HBO Max .

23. Man of Steel (2013)

The great feel for about Man of Steel is that it never lived up to its terrific theme song .
consciously moving aside from John Williams ’ s equally fantastic subject for the Christopher Reeve films, Hans Zimmer gave us a sense of Superman as a mighty, brave digit — possibly a little dark than the Man of Steel that Richard Donner had conceived in the 1970s, but still a noble, powerful pull of good. unfortunately, except for some stimulate segments, Man of Steel fails to craft a fib worthy of its character. basically copy Superman ’ s lineage fib while inserting Superman II ’ s bad guys, Zack Snyder ’ s first go-round with the Kryptonian is a typically self-serious, lumbering matter. Henry Cavill is better in the function than he was given credit for at the time — cipher was going to replace Reeve in our heed — but very fine actors like Amy Adams and Michael Shannon are absolutely wasted in beloved roles they fail to make their own .
available to stream on HBO Max .

How much should imagination count when evaluating a superhero movie ? If nothing else, Zack Snyder ’ south restored, expanded, exhausting Justice League leaves no doubt that it ’ s the movie he wanted to make. No studio interference, no Joss Whedon adding his own sensibility : This 242-minute totem is the purest expression of the maximalist film maker ’ s fabulous take on the gods who roam the land, utilizing their incredible powers to protect us puny humans. If you find such a self-serious approach absurd, well, sturdy : Snyder is unabashed in making us kneel in awe as Batman & Co. face off against their greatest foe. Beyond offering more pumped-up action, this version does actually make Cyborg an interest character and, sincerely, there ’ second never been another comic-book movie quite this epic, although its built-in limitations besides suggest why that ’ s not necessarily a good thing. ( At any length, the story is pathetic, and our heroes aren ’ thymine ampere engaging as they are in their standalone films. ) This fallible, ambitious miss is undeniably capture, but all told, we ’ rhenium hop that Warner Bros. doesn ’ thymine allow Snyder to make sequels to it. Part of what makes this film so bewitching is knowing that it ’ s a skillfully executed fool ’ south errand — a imagination of a DC universe that no one else could possibly ( or possibly sanely ) dare to live up to .
available to stream on HBO Max .

21. V for Vendetta (2005)

In the wake of The Matrix, Lana and Lilly Wachowski were thus hot that although they only wrote and produced V for Vendetta, many assumed they directed the film a well. C ’ mon, “ James McTeigue ” had to be an alias, right field ? But no : McTeigue, an adjunct director on the Matrix films, made his sport debut on this big-screen remake of the Alan Moore/David Lloyd comic. ( Moore, it will not surprise you, hated the film, requesting his name be taken off the adaptation. ) There ’ south no interrogate that the movie has a stylish, vaguely revolutionary tone — it ’ s mildly extremist for a 21st-century studio apartment offer — and Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving are sufficiently engaging as, respectively, a burgeoning insurgent and the terrorist who kidnaps her. At the same time though, V for Vendetta ’ mho politics aren ’ triiodothyronine more twist than “ Hey, homo, bullshit ’ randomness fucked up, ” and the filmmakers ’ pride in their not-very-edgy position gets terribly boring .
available to stream on HBO Max .

20. Aquaman (2018)

Because it had a pulse — something Batman v Superman or Justice League couldn ’ t claim — Aquaman was credibly a bit overestimate when it came out ; critics and audiences were good so grateful not to have to suffer through another mope-fest that they ’ vitamin d happily accept an ultragoofy subaqueous venture that ’ mho part Raiders of the Lost Ark, contribution palace-intrigue drama. Jason Momoa makes for a pretty cheerful buff-bro Aquaman, and Furious 7 director James Wan cranks everything to 11, piling on the extraordinary imagination and spectacle until you burst out laughing or plainly succumb to the hale pathetic onslaught. Aquaman is spirited without ever being particularly dependable. however, its relative high gear placement on this list indicates how often DC has done bad .
available to stream on HBO Max .

19. Shazam! (2019)

It is an indictment of the DC Extended Universe that this sympathetic meadowlark is one of the best films of this newish serial … and even it ’ s however not that great. Zachary Levi is grand piano fun as the pornographic superhero that adolescent orphan Billy ( Asher Angel ) turns into whenever he shouts “ Shazam ! ” Jack Dylan Grazer is a delightful buddy. And the movie has a very sweet and sincerity to it, determined to give family audiences a superhero flick that ’ s not all ponderous sulk and dark origin stories. But that doesn ’ triiodothyronine keep Shazam ! from feeling a moment formulaic. Mark Strong ’ randomness menacing villain is a act of a dribble, and the finale devolves into CG overkill. Nonetheless, director David F. Sandberg delivers a decent-enough ride for a first installment. Hopefully, the Shazam ! sequel will have more of a personality and boldness .
available to stream on HBO Max .

18. DC League of Super-Pets (2022)

It ’ s probably best to think of this as a softer, less frenzied, less amusing but inactive fine translation of The Lego Batman Movie : That ’ s clearly what the filmmakers ( and DC proper ) were going for. The premise — that Krypto ( Dwayne Johnson ) has to team up with animals with especial powers ( voiced, amusingly, by Kevin Hart, Natasha Lyonne, Diego Luna and Vanessa Bayer ) to save the Justice League — is more cunning than cagey, and the jokes are pitched closer to the level of a Illumination movie than, say, the fantastic ( and much more adult ) HBO “ Harley Quinn ” series. Those pets are very cunning, though, and any movie that casts Keanu Reeves as Batman and Marc Maron as Lex Luther has its heart in the right place. This is fine adequate, though we guarantee you the sequel ’ s going to be a lot worse .

17. Birds of Prey (2020)

That Harley Quinn ’ s spinoff is far ranking to Suicide Squad is unsurprising : After all, it ’ mho more about her and a solid hell of a set less about everything else that was atrocious about that 2016 film. Margot Robbie has given better, more nuanced performances, but she seems to absolutely love playing this wrench sociopath, who this time teams up with a local anesthetic street hood ( Ella Jay Basco ’ s Cassandra Cain ) to protect a rare diamond from a pitiless gangster ( Ewan McGregor ). When Robbie ’ randomness onscreen, her character taking such delight in all the havoc she causes, the film is a gas. unfortunately, it ’ s not called Birds of Prey for nothing : Director Cathy Yan ’ s superhero movie besides means to introduce that team of rebel, all-female superheroes. Give the film major points for being far more diverse and female-centric than most comic-book flicks. But the annoyance truth is that the Birds of Prey weigh down Birds of Prey. Harley had to split meter with less matter to characters in Suicide Squad — why make her do it again ?
available to stream on HBO Max .

16. Return of Swamp Thing (1989) and 15. Swamp Thing (1982)

We know it ’ mho cheating a short to put these two movies together, but jeez : They ’ rhenium two Swamp Thing movies, and they ’ re both roughly similar in quality, so here they are. The first one is a little more priggish and straightforward. Directed by Wes Craven, it ’ south just a report of a nice guy ( Ray Wise ! ) turned into a monster who attempts to take revenge on the evil scientist who made him that room. The movie has some skittish midnight thrills and a very crippled Adrienne Barbeau, but it ’ second largely conventional. The sequel is reasonably a lot a drollery, which might not be genuine to the comedian but, well, probably makes a fiddling more sense. They both work evenly well, which is “ fair a little. ” The downgrade from Barbeau to Heather Locklear in Return of Swamp Thing, however, is substantial .

14. Superman Returns (2006)

What if Superman III and Superman IV never happened ? What if you good made a raw movie that took seat after the events of Superman II ? Predating the “ direct sequel ” phenomenon, Superman Returns revisited the openhearted emotional state of the foremost two Superman films, casting relative nameless Brandon Routh to channel the spirit of Christopher Reeve in the dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent. Quite frequently, Superman Returns is a affecting court and besides a black bile reminder that the era that birthed the master Superman movies is long gone. At its best, the film leans into that reality, giving us a floor in which Clark tries to repair past mistakes he ’ s made with Lois Lane ( Kate Bosworth ). ambitious, spotty, filled with feel, Superman Returns ultimately couldn ’ metric ton compare to the early on Reeve pictures, but the attack is touching .
available to stream on HBO Max .

13. Watchmen (2009)

Zack Snyder ’ s insistence that his Watchmen movie would be then patriotic to the amusing that it would be closely a shot-for-panel remake was an odd one. But considering what Snyder would do when he started adding his own particular sauce to comic-book movies, possibly he should have tried this approach more much. The film doesn ’ t have the apocalyptic menace of the graphic novel, but there ’ s enough commodity stuff here that it inactive works ; Jackie Earle Haley ’ s Rorschach, in detail, maintains much of his angered ability. The best bet remains the open credits succession, which portends a better movie to follow. That movie doesn ’ metric ton quite get there, but it calm might be the best succession Snyder ’ s ever done .
available to stream on HBO Max .

12. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman was such a kick that it ’ second possibly inevitable that the follow-up couldn ’ thyroxine recapture the charming. ( Add to that the fact that 1984 is one of the first major studio movies to appear during the pandemic, unreasonably raising expectations for blockbuster-starved audiences. ) But all told, the sequel is actually reasonably solid. not just set in the ‘ 80s but besides embodying the tenets of ‘ 80s films — there ’ s even a body-switch comedic subplot — 1984 is, at heart, an earnest narrative about doing well in the universe, which consciously feels out of gradation from the grandiloquent, astronomic life-and-death stakes we ’ ve come to expect in superhero cinema. The chemistry between Gal Gadot and Chris Pine international relations and security network ’ t as palpable this meter, and once again we have a Wonder Woman movie with mediocre villains. But the stirring decency of Diana remains this franchise ’ south head appeal. How can you not root for her ?
available to stream on HBO Max .

11. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Christopher Nolan ’ s first two Batman movies were so paradigm-shifting, so overpower, that it was probably impossible for this third base film to match either of them. The plot ’ s a little ceremonious, it ’ randomness more fanboy comics-centric, and the bombast and scope sometimes outpace everything the movie has to say. ( The whole Occupy Wall Street subplot feels like an vacate feint. ) But this is distillery thousand blockbuster filmmaking : The scenery where bomb explode across Gotham is as memorable and terrifying as anything in the series. Nolan doesn ’ triiodothyronine wrap the trilogy up absolutely, but that doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate mean The Dark Knight Rises still isn ’ thymine potent … and even equip. He ’ s moved on, but the rest of us still can ’ thyroxine .
available on HBO Max .

10. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

It ’ s potential that no homo being has brought up this movie in conversation without thinking they ’ re the beginning person to add, “ And you know, Mark Hamill is actually the best Joker. ” We won ’ metric ton go that far, but he ’ south reasonably great in Mask of the Phantasm, the big-screen version of the popular animate serial of the early ’ 90s. Kevin Conroy voices Bruce Wayne, who must reconcile with his past in several ways. ( Dana Delany voices Andrea Beaumont, a early lover who walks back into Bruce ’ mho life. ) Like the serial, Mask of the Phantasm does a nice job of catering both to kids and adults — this international relations and security network ’ t arsenic intense as the Christopher Nolan films or arsenic crisp as the Tim Burton movies, but it ’ sulfur vigorously written and respectful about what makes the Dark Knight such an evergreen character. As for Hamill, he finds his own twist on the Joker ’ s maniacal joke and demented psyche — no slowly feat, as Jared Leto could tell you .
available to rent on Amazon Prime Video .

9. The Suicide Squad (2021)

Forget, if you can, James Gunn ’ s speechless comments about Martin Scorsese and superhero movies. The proof that the Guardians of the Galaxy auteur can turn comic-book material into legitimate film is veracious there on the screen, as he transforms a collection of DC ’ s most rascally criminals into a rousing team of antiheroes who take on a terrifying starfish-like beast known as Starro. much like the film that ’ second coming up next on this number, The Suicide Squad is a comic-book movie for grownups, giving us plenty of adult humor and graphic violence along with a wised-up sense of what the actual global would be like if, say, Harley Quinn were allowed to roam free. Margot Robbie has never been so unbridle, and Idris Elba finally gets the tentpole starring function he ’ mho always deserved. ( He does tire and rugged vitamin a good as anyone. ) Rather than echoing the doom-and-gloom aesthetic of Zack Snyder, Gunn comes up with his own ocular speech that ’ s fresh and more arresting. playful but compel, supercilious but curiously sincere, The Suicide Squad represents a bright modern direction for R-rated superhero films. now if Gunn can precisely keep his scorsese comments to himself .

8. Joker (2019)

If nothing else, Joker accomplishes something that seemed closely impossible in the post-Nolan era : It ’ s a DC film that actually feels relevant, inspire argue, discussion, and controversy, a shocking turn of events after years during which the studio produced largely anonymous product that resided in Marvel ’ s imposing cultural tail. And then there ’ s the movie itself, which manages to accomplish what it sets out to do : create a backstory for the Joker that both shows how he became such a atrocious digit and illustrates the brutality of the malefic that he inspires in the earth. Joaquin Phoenix is exceeding as Arthur Fleck, the troubled manque amusing who will find his calling in the most frightful of ways, and it ’ s a performance full of edgy intensity. There ’ s nothing about Joker that forgives or champions Joker ’ s behavior, and while the whole movie may not be adenine terrific as its most inhale sequences, Phoenix and conductor Todd Phillips competently present a raw room to think of this monster. When Phoenix won the SAG Award earlier this year, he said, “ I ’ m standing hera on the shoulders of my favorite actor Heath Ledger. ” That the two depictions of Batman ’ s greatest foe can stand toe-to-toe is a testament to how much Phoenix brought to the role : You can absolutely see his Joker as the atrocious beginning inklings of the man that Ledger embodied in The Dark Knight .
available to stream on HBO Max .

7. Batman (1989)

“ The Joker ’ south aureate. Batman wants to remain in the shadows. ” That ’ s how Tim Burton described the key combatants in his 1989 blockbuster, which created the template for the modern superhero film — one in which dark, graphic production design, and moody characters would reign sovereign. Michael Keaton was all icy remove, while Jack Nicholson told all his previous extreme roles to hold his beer so that he could give us a supervillain that was pure ham. not all of Batman has held up. ( Danny Elfman ’ s score remains stir, but genius that he was, Prince feels a short out of place on the soundtrack. ) however, Burton ’ s exalted vision of how to translate a comic-book aesthetic onto the large shield remains sandbag. other DC movies rank higher on this list, but they ’ re all indebted to what Batman dared to dream .
available to stream on HBO Max .

6. Batman Returns (1992)

The last Batman movie they ’ five hundred ever let Tim Burton do, and that seems to have been wholly Burton ’ mho intention. This is aggressively wyrd and occasionally off-putting — Danny DeVito ’ s Penguin is good flat-out megascopic — which is the antonym of what Warner Bros. wanted from its sequel to one of the biggest movies of all fourth dimension. But this is silent when Burton had his fastball, and it ’ s thrilling to watch him exorcise some of his personal demons on this fantastic of a phase. These are all misfits and outcasts rear when Burton still felt that way himself, and you feel their isolation, most notably in Michelle Pfeiffer ’ s iconic Catwoman, who strikes back with ferocious vengeance. Batman is more beloved, but Batman Returns is arguably more memorable .
available to stream on HBO Max .

5. Wonder Woman (2017)

Marvel has eaten DC ’ s lunch for years, but Warner Bros. can constantly hold this over its rival ’ randomness head : It made the first female-driven superhero flick of this modern superhero era that was besides directed by a woman. however, those distinctions don ’ triiodothyronine do justice to Wonder Woman, which made Gal Gadot a ace, and deservedly then. Her depicting of Diana gives this Amazonian princess the proper imperial charge, but Gadot besides proves to have a wonderfully wry sense of humor as the character continues to be amazed at how eldritch male mortals are. Director Patty Jenkins mounts a few superb action sequences — Wonder Woman ’ s World War I battlefield gauntlet is an all-time — and Chris Pine is a pitch-perfect romanticist foil. After Wonder Woman, moviegoers weren ’ t necessarily clamoring for any more acid or Batman films. We just wanted more of her .
available to stream on HBO Max .

4. Superman (1978)

later in life, Christopher Reeve explained the magic trick to playing the world of Steel. “ Superman is a big fish in a humble pond, ” he told Esquire. “ He ’ mho Superman on Earth only because he ’ mho in a unlike solar arrangement. If he ’ five hundred grown up on Krypton, if Krypton had not been destroyed, he might have been average — nothing special about him. That allowed me to underplay the character and make him quite casual. ” Among its early attributes, Superman is shot through with a winning modesty, embodied by Reeve ’ s no-big-deal delineation of Superman. probably no superhero movie since has articulated what a privilege it would be to find out you had incredible powers. Director Richard Donner chronicles Kal-El ’ s origin report with fear, finally introducing us to one of the best cinematic villains in the dastard, smart-ass Lex Luthor ( Gene Hackman ). This movie could not be made now. It ’ s besides squarely. Too bromidic. Those are some of the reasons Superman remains so special .
available to stream on HBO Max .

3. Batman Begins (2005)

here ’ mho where Christopher Nolan amply established that he wasn ’ thymine going to be typecast as merely a craftsman of apt little puzzle movies. Batman Begins resurrected the Dark Knight from the rubbish bin of cinematic history, erasing people ’ sulfur memory of the Joel Schumacher atrocities but besides investing more in full in the dark position on the character that Tim Burton ’ randomness movies merely hinted at. christian Bale wasn ’ t an obvious Bruce Wayne — he ’ vitamin d previously played a identical different kind of affluent crazy in american Psycho — but he brought the right amount of gravitas to the function so that Batman Begins wasn ’ triiodothyronine less matter to when the superhero took the suit off. Add to the desegregate Liam Neeson as an underestimate Dark Knight nemesis and you ’ ve got one of the finest origin stories always conceived. And, of path, Nolan was just getting started .
available to stream on HBO Max .

2. Superman II (1980)

In the annals of big-budget rescue jobs, Superman II is high on the list of success stories. initially meant to be filmed simultaneously with the first base episode, the sequel faced inner battles, forcing initial director Richard Donner to be booted from the project. Enter Richard Lester, who had to take over the movie, vitamin a well as reshoot already existing material. unusually, Superman II shows little signboard of its unmanageable parentage. here ’ mho where Supes declares his love for Lois Lane ( Margot Kidder ), who comes to discover his true identity. It ’ second besides the movie that let the awful Zod ( Terence Stamp ), who was briefly shown alongside his evil chums in the 1978 original, strut his stuff. inconceivably, Superman II is flush more thrill and stirring, not to mention touching and romanticist, than its harbinger. If only Reeve and company had decided to stop there .
available to stream on HBO Max .

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

“ If you ’ re good at something, never do it for free. ”
“ You either die a champion or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. ”
“ He ’ s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right immediately. ”
“ Some men aren ’ metric ton looking for anything logical. They can ’ thymine be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn. ”
Beyond being one of the most indelible of all superhero movies, The Dark Knight might besides be among the most quotable. ( And we haven ’ triiodothyronine flush mentioned the film ’ s most iconic line, “ Why so good ? ” ) Raising the legal profession after the leading Batman Begins, film director Christopher Nolan dissected the very nature of heroism, evil, and sacrifice for this second installment, and in Heath Ledger we had the greatest of all Jokers — which is to say the most inexplicable and, consequently, most terrific. Before The Dark Knight, comic-book movies were mere playthings, enjoyable but disposable entertainments. After The Dark Knight, they were held to a higher standard. After all, if Nolan could make this, there was no excuse for superhero movies not to be ambitious, nuanced, and mesmerizing. DC has stumbled much since The Dark Knight, burdened by the long shadow this film created. But no superhero movie, from any company, has ever topped it.

available to stream on HBO Max .
Grierson & Leitch write about the movies regularly and host a podcast on movie. Follow them on Twitter or visit their site .

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