30+ DC Movies Ranked Worst to Best

ranking dc movies

Detective Comics has been in the storytelling game for quite a while. Although they surely have a lot of experience, handing the reigns of their comics to movie directors or someone with their own ideas of the DC Universe, is where things have got a little tangled.

Occasionally, though, the results have been superb, must-watch superhero spectacles. I mean, you’ve got to give it to them – DC has been competing with Marvel for years, a challenge that has been by no means easy in the superhero movie genre.

So, to see just where things stack up in the Hollywood world of Superman, Batman and (yes) Catwoman, we’ve looked over the years and had a go at comparing over 30 DC movies.

From their early days of the 1960s right up to their latest release, here’s our list of DC movies ranked from worst to best.

38. Catwoman (2004)

IMDb Rating: 3.4/10

If you like Catwoman at all, do yourself a favor and don’t watch this movie. We’ve given it this ranking for a reason. It really isn’t fun seeing the feline character turned into a human-cat hybrid superhero. The plot of 2004’s Catwoman revolves around an evil cosmetics company developing a deadly skin cream and there seems to be no substance but Halle Berry’s body. Dubbed our “worst” DC movie, it tries to be empowering, but comes off as exploitative thanks to her stripper-style catsuit.

37. The Spirit (2008)

IMDb Rating: 4.8/10

Watching this, you’d think it was a 90s attempt at giving us classic superheroes. But no, it actually came out alongside the Nolan Batman movies in 2008. The Spirit looks, smells and stains like a Sin City knockoff. The story is complex, but while there’s merit to it being cerebral, this experience is so convoluted, it makes Odysseus’ route home relatively straightforward.

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

IMDb Rating: 3.7/10

Okay so…Superman declares for the world to surrender its nuclear arsenal for him to throw into the sun. A payload which combined with a lock of his hair creates a solar powered Nuclear Man. It’s ridiculous and Superman rebuilding the Great Wall of China back together is the limit. No wonder we didn’t see another Superman movie for 20 years. Possibly one of the worst from the movie saga

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35. Batman & Robin (1997)

IMDb Rating: 3.8/10

Ranking DC movies may be a challenging task at times, but there’s no doubt about the positioning of this one! Oh Warner Bros. Why. Why. Why? Batman is a catwalk model, the product placement is in your face and the love triangle doesn’t sell. Arnie’s blizzard of ice puns as Mr. Freeze drag this movie into 60s territory, but you know what? Frosty the Homicidal Snowman telling people to “chill” is kind of a saving grace.

34. Justice League (2017)

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Warner Bros. could be applauded for making bold decisions with its movies. If only they were the right ones. Justice League introduces three major team members without any prior setup, it fails suggesting “you can’t save the world alone” by having Superman solve everything, and the key villain is so forgettable, we’ve forgotten what he sounds like.

33. The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)

IMDb Rating: 4.8/10

While the original had its silly charm, with this one, you can see the dollar signs in the eyes of whoever came up with it. It takes everyone back, pretends like it’s a new story when it’s more of a repeat, and tries far too hard to be funny. There’s knowing you have stupid, but this one comes off like “yes, that’s the joke.”

32. Green Lantern (2011)

IMDb Rating: 5.5/10

Something must have gone wrong after the success and brilliance of The Dark Knight. How did DC manage to make one of its most out-there cosmic heroes so dreary?! The Guardians of the Universe are drab, Parallax the master of fear is bland and it seems no one knows how to use Ryan Reynolds. Thank goodness for Deadpool. Marvel didn’t do the actor so dirty.

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

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

Starting from Man of Steel and jumping several years ahead. Batman is jaded, now killing people and bent on exposing Superman is a threat having survived Metropolis. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor sets a convoluted plan that includes kidnapping Lois Lane and Martha Kent. We’re not sure on Zack Snyder’s train of thought with this one.

30. Batman Forever (1995)

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

Batman Forever is confusing to say the least. And for that reason, this DC comic movie has been ranked quite low in our list. Two-Face comes out of nowhere, a Dick Grayson acts more like Jason Todd, and how can Batman take so long to recognise that Edward Nygma has a vendetta against him? No surprise, this is when Warner Bros’ started getting a little too hands-on with their DC property.

29. Steel (1997)

IMDb Rating: 2.9/10

This one kind of feels like a knock-off Iron Man, 10 years before the Marvel movie. What this did in one film could have been done in an entire series, as Steel spent half the movie fighting petty criminals. The villain’s role is so tangential, he could have accomplished his plan without notice.

28. Superman III (1983)

IMDb Rating: 5.0/10

We think the writers might have been running out of steam on this one compared to the better Superman movies. Supes is exposed to artificial Kryptonite which makes him all mean and an accomplice to evil businessmen. It isn’t helped by some very over-the-top comedy. Superman III is certainly one of the series’ mediocre points.

27. Swamp Thing (1982)

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

Very much a 50s B-movie, there’s a corny charm to this Wes Craven project. It’s not his usual work, and it kind of shows in the relative flatness of the action. He tried, it did okay, not very impressive though. What keeps Swamp Thing afloat is definitely its absurdity. Given the premise, maybe this wasn’t so surprising?

26. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

IMDb Rating: 5.4/10

This movie was highly-anticipated at the end of a chaotic year. But upon its release came immense disappointment. Following its mega successful predecessor, Wonder Woman 1984 turned out to be a pretty bad sequel. In fact, it’s so much of a letdown, that it makes Suicide Squad look Oscar-worthy. With less action and more drama, this is not what we expected from a superhero movie. At least we didn’t have to pay for movie theatre tickets. We streamed it.

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25. Suicide Squad (2016)

IMDb Rating: 5.9/10

Continuing on from the whole Superman-Doomsday incident. Batman and the Joker make some scene-stealing appearances for the DC crime team-turned heroes, but they are more a distraction connected to Harley Quinn, who more genuinely steals the show. And boiling down the Enchantress to being cliché evil? Really?

24. Man of Steel (2013)

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

After Superman Returns, DC decided to reboot the superhero’s movies and hired Zack Snyder to do the job. We’re not sure why, as a lot of fans find his portrayal of Superman to be too ‘Jesus-like’ and a little too grim to be the defender of truth justice and the American way. At least Zack knows how to cause spectacular property damage.

23. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

Made for those who couldn’t forgive Joss Whedon for his 2017 rendition of the movie, Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a triumphant improvement that gives fans exactly what they expected four years prior. A clearer plot, in-depth character depictions and stunning visuals that make it well-worth the four-hour-long watch.

22. Birds of Prey (2020)

IMDb Rating: 6.1/10

Kudos to Margot Robbie – the Oscar-nominated actress plays Harley Quinn effortlessly well. But the movie itself is nothing short of a chick flick with messy storytelling. As a standalone film from the rest of DC’s blockbusters though, Birds of Prey deserves some slack. Despite it being all over the place, it was still a fun ride overall – it’s even ranked as the third highest-grossing movie of 2020!

21. Batman Begins (2005)

IMDb Rating: 8.2/10

As movies go, this one is pretty solid, but somewhat forgettable. We’re shown Bruce Wayne’s origins, a surprising introduction to Batman villain, Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows, while making a deadly combination of Scarecrow’s fear gas and some missing WayneTech. Batman’s progression to the top was nothing easy, that’s for sure.

20. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

Ranked at the halfway mark is none other than this extravaganza. The Dark Knight Rises is a bit of “where to now?” for Batman. While it does suffer a few direction issues, it’s hard to say that Tom Hardy isn’t impressive as Bane. Silly as it was to rob the stock market like it were a bank and the extreme end of Batman’s grave-voice, there’s a comic book charm to the ridiculousness.

19. Constantine (2005)

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

When you think of a man who knows the occult inside out, has seen the war between Heaven and Hell, you can imagine someone pretty jaded battling to sustain their optimism. Keanu Reeves doesn’t quite have the venom of the comic character, but as supernatural thrillers go, Constantine is an underrated watch.

18. V for Vendetta (2005)

IMDb Rating: 8.1/10

This vicarious film tells the riveting tale of a Guy-Fawkes themed anarchist in a future fascist Britain. While it does give a face to a notorious hacker group (literally), this tale of vice and vengeance is gripping end to end. We have to say, we definitely prefer Hugo Weaving doing stuff like this. Things exploding to the 1812 Overture was also a nice touch.

17. Batman Returns (1992)

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

Batman Returns is perhaps the high-water mark of the first Batman cinematic saga and escalation done right. More Gotham, more dynamics. Bruce has to stop the quickingly maniacal Penguin causing havoc; it’s one of Val Kilmer’s great performances and a good movie sequel overall. Not to mention it introduces Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman. Meow!

16. Batman: The Movie (1966)

IMDb Rating: 6.5/10

If you’re familiar with Adam West’s camp 1960’s Batman, this one is quite a riot. It’s not the Batman of the Bronze and Silver Age, but what keeps it from joining Catwoman at the bottom is how it is quintessentially Silver Age Batman – silly, but in a way that is respectful. You’re laughing with it, not at it.

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15. Aquaman (2018)

IMDb Rating: 6.9/10

After the disappointment that was Justice League, fans finally got to see more from one of its leading characters, Aquaman in his 2018 standalone movie. Extravagant visuals, a fantastical plot, and the brilliant Jason Momoa certainly keeps fans watching. In fact, Aquaman’s blockbuster is officially DC’s highest-grossing movie!

14. Wonder Woman (2017)

IMDb Rating: 7.4/10

Diana was teased in Batman v Superman, but her standalone movie certainly paid off – in a World War I setting of all times. She tours the Western Front, meets people affected by the Great War with homes destroyed, and learns about true human nature. A deconstruction of your classic heroic tale as Diana was sure Ares’ death would end human suffering, but a convincing one.

13. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)

IMDb Rating: 6.4/10

This one has got to be Mark Hamill at his best. A very faithful adaptation of the Joker’s supposed origin story, as we can almost live the madness being presented. It’s not perfect though, the Batgirl opening comes off as a wedged-in romance plot that spends half an hour explaining why Barbara was at home when the J-man came with a candygram.

12. Shazam! (2019)

IMDb Rating: 7.0/10

After years of watching DC trying to take on dark and gritty tales, Shazam! came as a breath of fresh air. For once, fans were treated to a good DC movie that’s more lighthearted, funny, and heartwarming. Who needs death and destruction when you can have humor and heart?

11. Superman (1978)

IMDb Rating: 7.3/10

The classic, iconic Superman movie. This film has so many iconic things about it from Reeve’s seamless transition from Clark Kent to Superman, Krypton itself, and introducing the crystalline Fortress of Solitude. Plus who can forget that opening score?

10. Superman II (1980)

IMDb Rating: 6.8/10

If the first film was about Superman then Superman II was about Clark Kent showing the world how the ordinary man is just as capable as the superhero. We’re tying this one with its prequel in our ranking of DC movies, but the second film wins out only by inches for its more satisfying ending. But yeah, reversing time was weird.

9. Superman Returns (2006)

IMDb Rating: 6.0/10

Superman came back pretty spectacularly from the embarrassment of Superman IV. Lex Luthor returns with a vengeance and loot he stole from the Fortress of Solitude. It was up to a returning Superman to save the day in a world of his very weakness. Seriously, Lex is brilliantly villainous here.

8. Batman vs. Robin (2015)

IMDb Rating: 7.1/10

Batman vs Robin is a little obscure, but well worth the watch. The Court of Owls are something of an under-appreciated group in Batman mythology, but this top movie gives them the full spotlight, as well as demonstrating the emotional struggles of Damien Wayne. Creepy, surreal, intense, but intensely cerebral. Classic Batman.

7. The Suicide Squad (2021)

IMDb Rating: 7.2/10

Pat on the back for James Gunn! He reworked 2016’s Suicide Squad into a glorious spectacle. The Suicide Squad is uniquely funny, gorgeously gruesome and action-packed, making it worthy of the silver screen experience. Safe to say Gunn done a great job in saving Suicide Squad’s antiheroes and introduced loveable new ones like Idris Elba’s Bloodsport and John Cena’s Peacemaker (who now has his own TV series). These characters are so cool, you end up wanting more.

6. Watchmen (2009)

IMDb Rating: 7.6/10

Based on the graphic novel series by Alan Moore, Watchmen is an epic deconstruction of the superhero genre, exploring the consequences of power, responsibility, and what it does to the head. Most of all, the implications of being an all-powerful being expected to protect ants. It’s quite long, but by the end you’ll feel like you completed a very long, well-worth it journey.

5. Batman (1989)

IMDb Rating: 7.5/10

You can practically hear the theme tune just thinking about this classic. Batman made a return to the dark tones long after the campy Batman TV series of the 60s. Ranked as one of the best DC movies of all time, this film also gives us one of the greatest Jokers with Jack Nicholson’s wacky performance. Ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

4. The Batman (2022)

IMDb Rating: 8.6/10

Indeed, we’ve ranked The Batman higher than Tim Burton’s films – a bold choice that not many will agree with. But we couldn’t help but thoroughly enjoy this take on the caped crusader. It’s a wonderfully dark cinematic tale about a brooding Dark Knight who’s striving to take down one of the most frightening villains of all time, the Riddler. With fantastic visuals, a hauntingly beautiful score and a Batman/Bruce Wayne that’s like no other, we have to admit, this DC movie is one for the ages.

3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)

IMDb Rating: 7.8/10

While his live-action movies had a lot of trouble in the 90s, the animated Batman films fared a lot better. Mask of the Phantasm represents the high-action, but cerebral detective drama that certifies one of Batman’s aliases as the World’s Greatest Detective – something the 90’s live-action movies started to leave behind under Joel Schumacher. We won’t let this one go unnoticed. Mask of the Phantasm really is one of the best of DC movies out there.

2. Joker (2019)

IMDb Rating: 8.4/10

It doesn’t get darker, grittier, and more enticing than this. 2019’s Joker movie isn’t your average DC blockbuster with superhero battles and eye-catching visuals. Instead, this take on the killer clown’s origin story is realistic and ‘human’ enough to leave an imprint on your mind for days to come. We finally get a sense of what the Joker is all about, and let’s not forget to mention Joaquin Phoenix’s gripping performance!

1. The Dark Knight (2008)

IMDb Rating: 9.0/10

The standout moment from the Nolan trilogy and of course, the best DC movie ranked on our list. Heath Ledger gives a stunning performance as the legendary Joker on a mission to return Gotham to havoc and play with Batman, after the Bat’s efforts bring order to the city. Ledger brings an A-game so intense, that he is famous for dying after he was done.

It’s difficult to forget this one, as it even stars the best Batman actor since the character was introduced – none other than Christian Bale, of course! Haven’t seen it? What are you waiting for? It’s the best Batman film out there!

Looking back, it turns out DC’s adventures into cinema are not as bad as everyone says they are. But they definitely took a nosedive as the 1990s came about. Even when the DCEU was plummeting in popularity, there were still a few gems that didn’t make them a complete joke.

What did you think of our list of DC movies ranked? Are there any other blockbusters on this list that you think deserve a different ranking? What superhero flick would you say is the greatest and worst? Let us know in the comments!

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Tale Teller
Mark S

Mark S

Mark Stamp has a head for writing, whether it's short stories, logs, journals or the latest news. When not deep in exploring a new tale or world he is on the lookout for movie, video game and TV news. What brings him back to the narratives are often the deeper or hidden philosophies in great works, niche publications and new releases. Mark also enjoys sharing discoveries, answering queries or pondering an implication or two.

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