The DC Extended Universe has finally reached a total of 10 films and it has been one hell of a ride. The future still appears to be uncertain with the direction of the DCEU but it feels like Warner Brothers are finally finding their footing with it. Following Warner Brothers righting their wrongs with Zack Snyder’s Justice League, there is a lot to look forward to with the DCEU starting with James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Here are our Top 10 DCEU movies:
10. Suicide Squad
The day is July 14, 2015, Comic-Con is on and you go watch the Suicide Squad teaser that just dropped. WOW, dark, ominous and fittingly creepy – so much promise in just those three minutes and Jared Leto looks as if he will own the Joker role. Over the next few months, you are subject to a completely dreadful marketing campaign where Bohemian Rhapsody plays in the background alongside mainstream pop artists joining the soundtrack. The end result of Suicide Squad is one tonal mess, offbeat “you don’t have the balls” dialogue and a directors vision that has been extremely tampered with.
9. Joss Whedon’s Justice League
Yeah, we are going to call it that so we can have a clear distinction between the two visions. Initial reports stated that Zack Snyder had decided to leave the film after principal photography was done following the news that Snyder’s daughter had committed suicide, which is completely understandable. Later, it was revealed that Snyder was fired from Justice League as Warner Brothers execs deemed his vision unwatchable – the characters being too dark and gloomy. Joss Whedon took over the director position and did extensive reshoots for it. Whedon injected humour and murky aesthetic that is a complete disservice to everything the DCEU had set-up. The unethical tampering behind-the-scenes showed themselves on-screen which led to a poor debut for the Justice League.
This is directly referring to the theatrical release of the film, not the ultimate edition that was released on home media. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is a beautifully shot film and a tour de force of blockbuster filmmaking that is smothered by an overreaching narrative that can’t juggle all of the narrative pieces. There is definitely a compelling and thematically rich story buried in this film but the execution prohibits that from being revealed as there are too many shifting parts for the story to handle.
Releasing in the midst of a pandemic was not the release we all wanted but hopefully most of you saw this on the big screen. It was tough to say that we didn’t like Wonder Woman 1984 as it was an exciting release but there is a stark contrast between this film and the previous Wonder Woman. Wonder Woman 1984 is thematically confused with characters that have no compelling motivations which offer Diana very little room to grow. The cinematography doesn’t come close to the work done in Wonder Woman and the action is often lifeless with little visual flair to initiate engagement from the viewer.
If you look back at our 9th film – Joss Whedon’s Justice League – it is clear that we feel quite strongly about what is happening in the development here. It pains us to put Zack Snyder’s uncompromised vision of the Justice League at 6th in our DCEU rankings but what else is there to say? It is essentially the same story with some narrative elements and characters being fleshed out a little more – all of the faults in the narrative are still mostly here. The film required 242 minutes in an attempt to provide compelling character and continue to expand on its story. It is not as well-shot as Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and lacks the substance that Wonder Woman has. We are super thankful that we got Zack Snyder’s uncompromised vision but we have to be real here.
Director Cathy Yan was fortunate that she is not pinned down and cuffed like Suicide Squad director, David Ayer was – this is her project and it looks as though full creative freedom has been given. Birds of Prey is a chaotic combination of a colourful visual aesthetic, kinetic energy and the anarchist and deranged spirit of Harley Quinn. Margot Robbie continues to make a case that the Harley Quinn character belongs to her in ways like Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool or Robert Downey Jr as Iron Man. Warner Brothers appears to be allowing much more creative freedom and if this film is any indication, then it feels like it is paying off.
It is a joyous movie that embraces its modern take on superheroes while being a deconstruction of superhero culture shown through a satirical lens. Zachary Levi embraces the man-child alter ego and delivers a heartfelt performance alongside the Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer. A great blend of humour and heart that makes up for the flat note villain and uneven pacing of the film.
3. Man of Steel
Zack Snyder’s first entrance into the DCEU began with Man of Steel – he set both the tone and the visual precedence over all future films, there’s no denying Snyder is a master of visuals, and this is where he shines, he has produced some of the greatest visual cinematography in the superhero genre; not only that, he is renowned for being faithful to the original material. There is little regard to the film’s flow as the narrative contains little substance for the viewer to cling to. Man of Steel is a self-contained film that explores the Superman character and is a solid adaptation that remembers its origins.
James Wan’s Aquaman released at an awkward time for the DCEU, surrounded by the success of standalone film Wonder Woman and critical and box-office failures Justice League and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Aquaman was a refreshing take on the usual DCEU film by providing a humorous and heartfelt buddy-cop adventure film. Another important aspect that Aquaman does is world-building, establishing Atlantis in the DCEU and embedding it with a culture and visual aesthetic. Aquaman splashes down with impressive force, commanding its own standalone position within the DCEU.
1. Wonder Woman
Party Jenkins brings a lot to the standalone Wonder Woman film which surpassed every expectation and DCEU stereotype. The visual aesthetic is set-up through tonally appropriate colour grading alongside impactful close-up shots and other various camera-shots. Wonder Woman has compelling world-building by exploring the Amazonian culture and world. Wonder Woman is by far the DCEU’s best film, it brought a tidal shift in Warner Brothers decisions on where these films need to go – Gal Gadot was “wonderful” and Patty Jenkins stands at the top with the other great Superhero directors; overall Wonder Woman was satisfying and truly is the savior of the DCEU.