There’s always a compulsion to pit DC’s franchise of interconnected films, the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU), against its Marvel equivalent. Yet, it’s important to keep this in mind: the Marvel Cinematic Universe had a head start with 2008’s Iron Man, while the DCEU’s own Man of Steel had to hit cinemas hard on the heels of 2012’s The Avengers – otherwise known as the crossover blockbuster that changed the superhero genre forever.
The DCEU, arguably, is still finding its feet. Although it’s faced a number of blunders, with 2016’s Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman being roundly mocked by critics and facing significant drops in audience attendance during their release, more recent entries have zapped some life back into the franchise.
2017’s Wonder Woman proved a boundary-breaking tale of female empowerment, grounded by Patty Jenkins’s confident direction and a heroic performance from Gal Gadot. Last year’s Aquaman saw director James Wan take some major creative risks, letting all kinds of oceanic mayhem loose as a counter to the DCEU’s history of sombre palettes. The DCEU’s latest, Shazam!, borrows heavily from Tom Hanks’s Big for a film that breezes along, playfully skewering superhero tropes and concluding with a light-hearted, low-stakes climax.
Meanwhile, the series has already grossed over $4.91 bn (£3.71) at the global box office, making it the 12th highest-grossing film franchise. And, with Wonder Woman 1984 on the horizon, there is still plenty of promise in the DCEU’s future.
Suicide Squad’s Harley Quinn also receives her own team-up film with next year’s Birds of Prey, while DC have a string of other projects currently in development, including The Batman, The Suicide Squad, The Flash, and Aquaman 2. Until then, here are the currently released DCEU films ranked in order – from worst to best.
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