DC movies are being released as fast as lightning (remind you of anyone?) to compete with Marvel’s jam-packed roster of superhero movies. 2016 saw the release of two DC movies within only a few months of each other. Warner Bros. will release two DC movies in 2017, as well.
I recently created a Marvel movie timeline to help newbies get acquainted with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Here, I’m creating a similar DC movies timeline for the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). I’ll cover what movie is released when, which superheroes are starring in which movies, which ones you can skip, and which DC movies are must-see.
Confused by the guide? Skip to the end for a primer on how to read Media Medusa’s guide to DC movies.
Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel is the first movie in the new-ish DC movies timeline. Man of Steel is the origin story of Superman. This movie goes a little deeper than previous Superman movies into what might have happened on Krypton that lead to Kal-El being shipped to Earth. Man of Steel also veered away from the Superman of the comics in one very important way. More on that later.
Man of Steel was a huge disappointment. I’m a big Superman fan, so I was psyched for this “re-imagining.” Man of Steel seemed like it was going to be more grounded than previous Superman movies, a la Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy of movies. Unfortunately, there were two movies happening in Man of Steel. There was a goofy movie, with a soft Lois Lane and softer military generals. Then there was a darker movie, about Clark Kent trying to find his way when he’s stuck between two planets. He’s also torn between the need to save people, and his father’s fervent desire for him to stay hidden. Neither of these mini-movies worked very well.
Man of Steel spends way too much time building up to Clark Kent becoming Superman. We really didn’t need so much time spent on Krypton his father, Jor-El, either. It’s pretty boring, Russell Crowe’s performance aside. Then there’s too much time spent on Clark’s relationship with his father, played effectively by Kevin Costner. (He does farm boy real well.) Get to Superman being awesome, already!
The biggest plot point that fans took umbrage with occurs at the end of Man of Steel. (SPOILERS) At the end of the movie, when Superman is fighting General Zod, it seems like he can’t be beaten. Finally, Superman snaps his neck, killing Zod. That is a HUGE difference between Zack Snyder’s Superman and the Superman of the comic books. Droves of fans cried out against it, and rightly so. Superman doesn’t kill his enemies. Ever. (END SPOILERS)
In addition to finding a better ending, I wish Man of Steel would have been more linear. There were clearly too many cooks, including Chris Nolan. You just cannot treat Superman like he’s Batman. You can’t make a “dark” movie about Superman, because that just isn’t his nature, not like Batman. The studio, Zack Snyder (director) and Chris Nolan all had very different ideas of how Man of Steel should be made. The result is a mess.
Henry Cavill makes a fantastic Superman. He brings much-needed gravitas to a character that is made fun of a lot for being a goody-goody. You can see his inner struggle writ plainly on his face. And while Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe deliver good performances, I can’t say the same for the very talented Amy Adams. She’s a terrific actress, but she is much too soft to play Lois Lane. I don’t know if Zack Snyder was sending her in the wrong direction, or if she just naturally can’t find the steel in her spine. Regardless, her breathy voice and puppy eyes just don’t work as hardened reporter Lois Lane.
According to Box Office Mojo, Man of Steel made $291 million in domestic grosses. Is that a lot? No. Not when you compare it to, say, The Dark Knight, which brought in $535 million. Man of Steel’s box office total was considered a disappointment. Man of Steel fought middlin’ reviews, which was one of the reasons fans didn’t flock to the theaters. It received a 55% at Rotten Tomatoes, which is just shy of being rated Fresh.
Do I need to see any movies before this one? No. It’s the beginning of the timeline.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice sees Batman go after Superman for his part in the destruction of Metropolis, during his fight with Zod. A friend of mine watched it then said, “Batman’s an a–hole. He should have just called him up and said, ‘Hey, what are you up to?'” I argued that Batman didn’t care what Superman was up to; he was out to save his planet, no matter what.
Batman v Superman had some problems. According to some fans and critics, it had a lot of problems. A lot of fans didn’t like how Lex Luthor was portrayed as crazy as, say, the Joker. Fans also didn’t like how Superman and Batman were portrayed, saying they were too different from their comic book versions. I, however, really liked Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. (I, especially, like the soundtrack.) Yes, there were some scenes that bothered me, mostly involving Lois Lane or Lex Luthor. But, overall, I really enjoyed how the movie takes time to build up to the main event. You can read my full review on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Here, I’ll say that I’ve watched it several times since it came out, and I enjoy it more each time. I especially love finding new Justice League and Wonder Woman Easter Eggs (speech about Zeus, anyone?). And, the desert and warehouse fight scenes with Batman are fantastic.
To my surprise, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was more maligned by critics than Man of Steel. It earned only a 27% (ouch!) at Rotten Tomatoes. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice managed to pull in $330 million at the box office, which is more than Man of Steel earned. (Interesting fact: Batman v Superman earned $542 million in foreign markets.)
Do I need to see any movies before this one? No, but seeing Man of Steel before you see Batman v Superman will make some plot points clearer. You’ll still be able to catch on, if you skip Man of Steel, but it helps.
Suicide Squad (2016)
Suicide Squad was meant to be a fun aside, a summertime movie that flew under the radar. Thanks to disappointing box office returns for Batman v Superman, however, Suicide Squad took on much more attention and pressure than it was meant to.
Suicide Squad is about a group of incarcerated criminals, who are released by super-secret government agent Amanda Waller. Her vision is to create a band of nutty brothers, who are so bad, they’re good. Plus, she figures if they get killed, no biggie. Each of them has a tiny bomb implanted in their head. That way, if they don’t follow the rules, they’re blown to bits. It’s a kind of hardcore leash.
I know plenty of fans who like Suicide Squad better than Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. I think they like it better simply because it has more laughs. That’s it. The story — what there is of it — is horrible. There’s no build-up, just pay-offs. And those are predictable.
The movie spends entire music videos introducing each character. Really, a title slate for each one would have been fine. Or, how about Waller just running down their rap sheet, quick-like.
The time wasted on introductions could have been spent getting the audience invested in the team and the story. I wanted to see the Suicide Squad take on some petty criminals here and there, learning their moves, gelling as a team, then taking on a boss. However, Suicide Squad wastes a ton of time in the lead-up, and then sends them into a boss battle. Except, the boss battle is so. Damn. Long. And in the meantime, we get a couple of exposition dumps that are shoe-horned into the story.
Speaking of the boss battle, the identity of the boss is supposed to be a twist, a surprise. (SPOILERS!) How can we feel betrayed by one of Waller’s chosen nut-jobs, when we haven’t even had time to get to know her? Again, we needed to see her fighting alongside her fellow Suicide Squad team members. That way, we’re invested when she splits. (END SPOILERS)
There are too many deaths. What I mean is, too many times a character dies and then — gotcha! They’re back. Once is clever. More than that? They lose all meaning. Those gotcha moments are the result of lazy movie-making. Make a choice and stick with it!
Plus, there are just far too many characters. There are so many characters, that when one of them gets a moment, like Katana, it seems completely out of place. We are given no reason to care about any of them, except Deadshot and Harley Quinn (most likely because big shots Will Smith and Margot Robbie, respectively, made sure they got enough screen time). So, when something happens to a character, it’s like, meh.
And don’t get me started on the Joker. He should have been used much more sparingly. Jared Leto isn’t starring in the same movie as everyone else. His storyline could have been completely removed, to great effect. Or, even better, his story could have been part of the overall story. Instead, it runs parallel and just gets confusing.
What’s frustrating is that there is a good movie hiding in Suicide Squad. But writer/director David Ayer needed a tighter storyline, a better focus, fewer characters, and more fight scenes (with different villains).
Suicide Squad got beaten up by the critics, only racking up 26% on the Tomatometer. And while Suicide Squad remained at the top of the August box office, it still only brought in $282 million to date.
Do I need to see any movies before this one? No. In fact, skip this one.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman was a highly anticipated DC movie for a couple of reasons. First, Gal Gadot, as Wonder Woman, was the best part of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Her character was true to the comic books, fighting like the warrior she is.
Second, Wonder Woman is helmed by — wait for it — a woman! Female directors are few and far between in Hollywood. Female directors of superhero movies are unheard of. Director Patty Jenkins’ previous work includes Monster and AMC’s The Killing.
Wonder Woman is an origin story. Before she was Wonder Woman, she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, when an American pilot crashes on their shores and tells of a massive conflict raging in the outside world, Diana leaves her home, convinced she can stop the threat. Fighting alongside man in a war to end all wars, Diana will discover her full powers, and her true destiny.
Wonder Woman is the best of the DC movies to date. It took in over $103 million in its opening weekend, taking the top spot for that weekend and the following. Wonder Woman broke the record for the biggest opening of a movie directed by a woman, and deservedly so. Wonder Woman is the superhero movie millions of fans, especially women, have been waiting for. Read my full review of Wonder Woman.
Justice League (November 17, 2017)
We can only guess at what Justice League will be about, at this point. Details are thin on the ground. We know who’s starring in it: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Joker, Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Commissioner Gordon, to name a few.
Henry Cavill, who plays Superman, posted this intriguing image of his costume to his Instagram account. Bizarro?
The Flash (March 16, 2018)
There was a bit of an uproar from fans, and from Arrow actor Stephen Amell, when Warner Bros. cast Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) as Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash.
Unlike Marvel, DC doesn’t dovetail their movie and TV properties. Therefore, the TV series (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl) have nothing to do — and do not share cast members — with the movie versions of their worlds. The casting announcement came the day after the TV series premiere of The Flash, starring Grant Gustin, on the CW. Many felt it was poor form for Warner Bros. to draw the focus away from the fantastic performance of Grant Gustin, and the high ratings of the TV series’ premiere.
Personally, I love Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller hasn’t won me over. Granted (see what I did there?), Miller hasn’t had much screen time yet. Also, I like the TV show’s suit much better.
TBA (July 27th, 2018)
Maybe the stand-alone Batman movie?
Aquaman (December 21, 2018)
So far, the cast of Aquaman includes Jason Momoa, as Arthur Curry (Aquaman); Amber Heard as his wife, Mera; Michael Kenneth Williams, as Black Manta (rumored); and Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko.
Release Dates for Future DC Movies
Shazam (April 5th, 2019)
TBA (June 14th, 2019)
TBA (November 1st, 2019)
Cyborg (April 3rd, 2020)
Green Lantern Corps (July 24th, 2020)
Gotham City Sirens (TBA)
Suicide Squad 2 (TBA)
Justice League 2 (TBA)
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