You’ve seen us bring you timelines that explore the ever-growing universes of the MCU and Star Wars, but now it’s time to explore an often overlooked universe, one that deserves more credit than it actually receives…
Spanning 15 movies and one TV show in just under a decade, the DCEU film saga is well established within the movie lover’s world.
But with most of its films being released in random order and being canon and non-canon entries, it can be confusing to enjoy them in chronological order. Never mind the DC movies which actually belong to separate universes and are disconnected to the main events of the DCEU timeline (e.g. The Batman, Joker, and DC League of SuperPets).
So, to make sense of the timeline and thoroughly appreciate this universe as though it was told in chronological order, here are the DCEU movies (and TV shows) in order…
1. Wonder Woman (2017)
The first movie to watch in this timeline is actually the fourth instalment of the DCEU – with Gal Gadot reprising her role as Wonder Woman after her initial introduction into the universe in Dawn of Justice.
Set during the first World War, we follow the story of Diana Prince, the Princess of the Amazons, who just so happens to be an elite warrior.
She meets a stranded American pilot who tells of horror and war, convincing Diana to leave her home and unknowingly unlock her true potential.
2. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Wonder Woman 1984 is the sequel to the first Wonder Woman film and is pretty much a standalone story that only references it’s predecessor and no other DC movie. But seen as it’s set in (you guessed it) 1984, it makes sense to watch it next, before Man of Steel, which takes place in 2013.
The film sees the heroine try to stay true to her word and prevent threats from destroying the world she swore to protect.
However, her promise is ruthlessly tested by the means of two powerful enemies; Cheetah and Maxwell Lord. Can Wonder Woman remain true to her word, or will she fall to her greatest threats so far?
3. Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel is the third movie for chronological viewing order, but was in fact the very first film to officially kick off this complex universe and the DCEU timeline.
Starring Henry Cavill as Superman, Man of Steel depicts the origin story of Kal-El, who is forced to abandon his home planet of Krypton as a child.
Growing up on the planet Earth, Kal-El adopts the alias of Clark Kent – before inevitably becoming the iconic Superman. Kent must learn to control his powers as he seeks to protect Metropolis from destruction.
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Next up is Dawn of Justice, inspired by the classic DC comic ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and set months after the events of Man of Steel.
Dawn of Justice stars Ben Affleck’s Batman and follows the troubled emotions of Bruce Wayne, who stood by as the events of Man of Steel imploded. Convinced the alien Superman is now a threat to humanity, Bruce suits up to take revenge for the people of Metropolis.
This is the first ever live-action Batman & Superman movie, which also introduces the audience to fellow characters of the DCEU such as Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash and many more!
5. Suicide Squad (2016)
Set a year after the events of Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, despite the ‘controversial’ labels on release, sets a whole new tone in the DCEU.
The film boasts a star-studded lineup including Will Smith, Jared Leto and Margot Robbie, as we deviate away from what we know as superhero team-ups, venturing down a darker path to explore what would happen if several, notorious villains were forced to work together.
Hired by the US government to complete a top-secret mission, the team dubbed ‘Task Force X’ must unite to take down a mysterious new enemy or face a horrific end.
Although a standalone movie in and of itself, Suicide Squad does connect to other films in the DCEU by including guest appearances from The Flash and (Ben Affleck’s) Batman.
6. Justice League (2017)
Justice League features the biggest team-up yet in the DCEU, as the stars of Batman v Superman return to take on their greatest threat to date.
While dealing with the fallout from Superman’s sacrifice, Batman recruits a new ally in Wonder Woman to assist him in building a team of ‘metahumans’ to defeat an overwhelming enemy; Steppenwolf.
Armed with his league of heroes, Batman and co lay it all on the line to save the Earth, all while simultaneously dealing with an old friend.
7. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
After being forced to quit production of the original Justice League due to personal reasons, Zack Snyder finally released his entire cut in 2021.
The extended cut sees the return of Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad, as well as a greater role for antagonist Darkseid.
Focusing on the same base story, with a few adjustments, ‘The Snyder Cut’ aligns closely with the main DCEU timeline, but it is officially considered non-canon material. It’s still worth placing it in the movie timeline, though, as you’ll probably be disappointed with the 2017 cut, and crave for something more thorough.
8. Aquaman (2018)
A year on from the events of Justice League, Aquaman sees Jason Momoa return as the heir to Atlantis – struggling to maintain peace under the sea.
The standalone story takes a dive into the origins of Aquaman, his rise to power and his dedication to protect the kingdom of Atlantis. However, his attention remains divided between dealing with threats on the surface, and threats from the sea.
Ranked as one of the most successful films of all time, this movie also sees the introduction of popular Aquaman characters into the DCEU, including Mera, King Orm and Black Manta.
9. Shazam! (2019)
Now for another switch up in the tone of the DCEU, this time with Shazam! adding a softer touch to the franchise.
This standalone film follows the story of Billy Batson, a 14-year-old orphan who has been chosen by an ancient wizard to be his champion. Such a privilege grants Billy ancient powers that can only be activated by shouting “SHAZAM”!
With the body of a superhero and the mind of an innocent child, Billy, a.k.a Shazam, must gain a fast grip on his powers in order to defeat Thaddeus Sivana, who wants the powers of Shazam all to himself.
Shazam! probably occurs after the events of Justice League and Aquaman as a newspaper with the headline ‘Superman Is Back’ can be spotted in a particular scene and a joke about Aquaman is made during a post-credits scene.
10. Birds of Prey (2020)
Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) sees Margot Robbie return to her iconic role of Harley Quinn in this standalone, albeit semi-sequel to Suicide Squad.
Set four years after the events of the latter film, Birds of Prey, uniquely narrated by Harley herself, follows the story of her devastating heartbreak with the Joker.
Now alone in this world, Harley’s recovery leads her on an epic path of confrontation with Gotham crime lord Roman Sionis, as she protects one of his most desired targets; a young pickpocket known as Cass.
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11. The Suicide Squad (2021)
The somewhat ‘sequel’ to Suicide Squad, sees fan-favorites return for another dramatic mission of Task Force X.
Directed by the MCU’s own James Gunn, The Suicide Squad story mainly centers around new characters Peacemaker and Bloodsport; the latest recruits to Task Force X. Together, with the likes of Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and Javelin, this team of notorious criminals must set their differences aside as they venture on a top-secret mission to the island of Corto Maltese.
Once again, this movie almost acts as a standalone film away from the rest of the DCEU, with a few nods to events taking place in the main timeline.
12. Peacemaker (2022 TV Show)
After the success of The Suicide Squad a year earlier, HBO commissioned an ‘MCU-esque’ miniseries, following the story of John Cena’s Peacemaker.
With James Gunn returning as director, Peacemaker follows the actions of Christopher Smith after the events of The Suicide Squad. Since recovered from his injuries, Smith is forced to join the ARGUS – a black ops kill squad seeking to eliminate parasitic, butterfly-like creatures.
However, Peacemaker’s nature continues to get the best of him, as he continues to slaughter anyone who gets in the way of his true mission.
13. Black Adam (2022)
The only DCEU film to be released in 2022 is Black Adam, which takes place last in the Worlds of DC timeline.
Black Adam is imprisoned for using his powers for vengeance, but is freed 5,000 years later, only to instill more justice to protect the ancient Kahndaq. All the while, the Justice Society is introduced to the DCEU, a form of modern-day heroes, who challenge Black Adam in his quest.
Featuring cameos, crossovers and Easter Eggs from the DCEU such as Amanda Waller (from Suicide Squad and Peacemaker), Emilia Harcourt (The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker) and of course Superman, this latest DCEU movie hints at a more interconnected universe in the future.
14. Shazam! Fury Of The Gods (2023)
Billy Batson’s latest blockbuster picks up two years after the events of the first Shazam movie. The titular superhero faces the Daughters of Atlas alongside his foster family, as they all battle to retain their superpowers and save the world.
A mid-credits scene hints at Shazam’s role in the larger DC cinematic universe and also tells us that this DCEU film takes place at the end of this timeline.
Said clip shows Emilia Harcourt and John Economos inviting Shazam to the Justice Society, making it pretty clear that this story occurs following the events of Black Adam.
15. The Flash (2023)
A heartbroken Billy Allen takes advantage of his powerful time-traveling ability to save his mother from dying. But with that comes a lot of ‘multiverse’ madness and confusion for us viewers…
Billy, a.k.a. The Flash, revisits the events of Man of Steel, where things play out rather differently – Kara Zar-El as Supergirl has replaced Kal-El as Superman. What’s crazier? All this time-travelling has led Billy to stumble upon another Batman from outside the DCEU – Michael Keaton’s version from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).
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While other familiar faces from the DCEU pop up, so do some from separate DC movies (urm, hello George Clooney’s Batman and Nicolas Cage’s Superman?!), meaning the timeline is officially all over the place.
But while it makes sense to watch The Flash here in the timeline (since it mainly takes place post-Justice League), it’s clear that this movie has transformed the whole DC cinematic universe going forward.
16. Blue Beetle (2023)
Last in the DCEU timeline (for now) is Blue Beetle, the story of Jaime Reyes, who’s chosen to be the host of an alien scarab. Bestowed with superpowers and an extraordinary suit, Reyes takes on the mantle ‘Blue Beetle’ and his destiny is changed forever.
While this movie does mention Batman and Superman and hints at the return of The Flash, it’s not directly confirmed that it belongs in the DCEU. But we’d like to think it does, so you can happily watch it at the end of this timeline if you like!
And there you have it! All DCEU movies and TV shows in order to make your marathon much easier. The timeline is all wrapped up…for now.
There’s more still to come, with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom due to release later this year!
This article was originally published in October 2022.
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