Last month I started rewatching the DCEU films because it has been very easy to slam and dismiss a lot of them for their aesthetic, weak storytelling, and just a polarizing response to nearly every aspect. Yet when you look at the DCEU as a whole, it’s pretty 50-50. The DCEU has four really good films and four that range from weak to unwatchable.
Here is how I would rank them, starting from the bottom, with some choice observations from my in-depth dives.
Justice League: (8)
Sorry, Justice League you may be getting the Snyder Cut, but I still think you are a bloated, too-long experience that attempts to bring together two different creative directions and fails shockingly to deliver on either. The mustache scene renders much of the movie unwatchable from just a character standpoint. From a movie that was meant to bring together the greatest team of heroes in Western comic book history. What a dumpster fire.
“The film finally allows Henry Cavill to be charismatic and showcase just how powerful Superman can be. The problem is that you can’t look at him directly in the face because the CGI that removed his mustache from the large volume of reshot material is so terrible. My reaction to that was actually worse at home than in the theater, because I could pause and really see the damage.
I may fundamentally disagree with previous DCEU visionary Zack Snyder’s Superman and enjoy the Superman that Whedon delivered once he took over here, but it doesn’t erase that this film is pretty much an Avengers movie with a different team. It doesn’t have anything to say. It doesn’t have any real thoughts behind it. It is a reset, which would be fine if the film had something to offer besides Easter eggs, jokes that the internet had already made, and some of the worst CGI I’ve ever seen.”
Suicide Squad (Uncut): (7)
It’s just so, so, so long and pointless. Great cast, but has zero rewatchable value and that makes it such a waste.
“Following the death of Superman from Batman v Superman, Amanda Waller (Davis) decides that she needs to create Task Force X, a secret government group for the United States, made up of felons, that would be able to combat Superman. Who is this A-List group of supervillains that will be able to take on a Superman-like threat? Well, we have Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), El Diablo (Jay Hernandez), and Enchantress (Cara Delevingne). Oh wait, I forgot Slipknot (Adam Beach), the man who can “climb anything.”
Superman is quaking in his coffin.
Seriously, the very premise is outrageous because there is no way Amanda Waller thinks that Captain Boomerang can compete with someone like Superman. The only two people there who could stand a chance are El Diablo maybe (Superman is invulnerable) and, of course, Enchantress, who has magic—one of the only things he’s weak against.”
Man of Steel: (6)
Pa Kent being turned into an objectivist is one of the worse things that has ever happened to the Superman mythos, and that always makes this movie so hard to get through. It also takes forever to end and it just fails as a good Superman origin story to me—and we already had a perfect one.
“Where the movie falls apart for me, fundamentally, is that I think they got the Kents wrong. Jonathan Kent telling a young Clark that maybe he should have let a bus full of school children die is something the narrative just cannot come back from. One of the cores of Superman’s character is that he gets his morality from the Kents. In Man of Steel, it doesn’t feel like they’re teaching him any moral lessons. They always say that whatever he will be, “good or bad,” will change the world, but they treat it as a yolo, not a “we hope you are good.”
Batman v. Superman (Extended Edition): (5)
I really thought this was going to be below Man of Steel because that is objectively a better-made film. But if I had to rank pure enjoyment level between the two, I enjoyed this more. Rewatching it was fun, because there was so much silliness, but there was a lot of good here that fumbled because of terrible execution and a lack of understanding of how to make the pieces all fit together.
“The biggest problem with BvS is that the story is pure nonsense. First of all, you can’t just take the Dark Knight Returns version of Batman and plop him into a movie like this that is meant to be a sequel to Man of Steel and a bridge to Justice League. That version of Batman, as created by Frank Miller, is an alternate universe, non-canonical version of Batman that is overall a loner, and not someone who would want a Justice League. That character was created when the grim, older version of Batman was not a thing, and while popular and important to the comic book history of the Bat, he is a character that is best used in his own environment.
Deconstruction versions of comic book characters only work when you use them for that purpose.”
Wonder Woman: (4)
The first great victory of the DCEU. I think that despite my own personal feelings and taste, it is still a well-done movie and Gal Gadot captures the look and feel of the character. While I preferred her BvS version more, I did warm up to this film. It’s not my Wonder Woman, but it’s still a very good Wonder Woman movie.
“Wonder Woman is a triumph, but sometimes it feels that way because we have been given so little—not because the film is particularly exceptional. The fight scenes still get me pumped, and I think this third re-watch was the first time I really enjoyed this film. I just wish it did more with the amazing source material they have to mine from when it comes to Diana. “
I hadn’t realized how excellent Shazam was going to be and when I say the trailers don’t do it justice, I mean it. If you have not seen this film, it is absolutely worth watching. Asher Angel is a perfect Billy Batson and Zachary Levi is great at playing a literal man-child in the best ways. The themes of found family, childhood trauma, and growing up too fast all hit fantastically well. It also was the first film that really took advantage of being in a comic book world. All the call outs to Batman and Superman felt really natural and fun. This is a PG-13 comic book movie done right. It drags a little towards the end, but other than that … man what a fun film.
Birds of Prey: (2)
Y’all know I love pretty much everything about this movie despite some of its imperfections when it comes to the canonical Birds of Prey comics. Still, what it delivers is a great AU that managed to give me the perfect live-action Black Canary. I don’t know if we will ever see a sequel, but I know that Birds of Prey is a film that made me really have to rethink everything I thought I knew about the box office and comic book fans.
“I love how the film doesn’t waste a lot of time. It’s a big ensemble piece, so it needs to establish how these characters are connected and what’s going to bring them together in the final act. Nothing about it feels like characters are just slapped together by happenstance.
The action scenes are great, and you can tell that they worked with a good stunt team, because all of the women fight the way women with their certain skills and body-types would fight. There was no “I’m going to flip a whole man with my crotch” scene, and I was very grateful. Yan and Margot take full advantage of Harley’s acrobatic background in the stunts she does, and man does she look great doing it. It also earns its R-rating with plenty of f-bombs and gory, vicious fight scenes and face peeling.”
I’m sure many of y’all thought Birds of Prey would be on here, but haha, I got ya. I think Aquaman perfected what Wonder Woman started and laid the foundation of the perfection that is Shazam. Jason Momoa’s Arthur is excellent even if it just the actor being himself—if John Wayne can do it why not him? It had great fight scenes and did an excellent job allowing Mera to be a very powerful character in her own right. Plus Aquaman rode into battle on a kaiju voiced by Julie Andrews herself. Aquaman ended up grossing over $1.1 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing DCEU film, the highest-grossing film based on a DC Comics character over Batman. You love to see it.
How would you rank the DCEU? Share down below!
(image: Warner Bros.)
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