Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson continuously promised that the hierarchy of power in the DC universe would change once his Black Adam film hit theaters. While The Hollywood Handle critic Dimadude was a fan, I can tell you one thing, the only hierarchy of power that shifted with Black Adam’s release is the bottom-dwellers in my own personal list. And that’s exactly what that list is: my opinion. This little exercise gives me a chance to talk about the often-ignored (by myself) DCEU. I normally don’t even catch the films in theaters and wait for cheap Black Friday deals on their Blu-rays. Without further ado, let’s begin with the worst of the DCEU…
12. Suicide Squad (2016)
Have you ever felt more cheated than when you went into Suicide Squad in 2016 after months of decent marketing and saw a final product so bad that you wouldn’t wish it upon your worst enemy? I know I can’t be the only one, and Suicide Squad is not just the worst DCEU film, it very well may be the worst comic book movie of the last decade. Talking about it brings me physical pain so I’m going to move on.
11. Justice League (2017)
The original Justice League film was simply a mess. My 16-year-old self with no critical thinking didn’t even hate the first 20 minutes or so. I thought that Ray Fisher as Cyborg was pretty cool and this was my first exposure to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman outside of her glorified cameo in Batman V. Superman. Plus, I wanted to see more of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor. Unfortunately, the final product sucked and was only made worse by the MCU hitting its stride building up to Infinity War around this time.
10. Aquaman (2018)
I’m sorry to my dear friend Scott Mendelson, who swears by this film. Aquaman was the DCEU film that took me the longest to see. The only thing that piqued my interest was the 4DX ads at the Regal in Union Square, but I never even bothered to see it. It wasn’t until the beginning of the pandemic when Target was having one of their steller “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” Blu-ray deals that I bit and bought the film and attempted to sit through it. I didn’t envision it taking three viewings to get through, but here we are. I love the underwater visuals, but the rest of the film has since been forgotten.
9. Black Adam (2022)
As much as I wanted to put The Rock’s first DCEU outing higher, the film did very little for me outside of its mid-credits scene. Even that scene wasn’t all that exciting when it felt like the whole internet knew about it. The visuals in the DCEU have likely never been better, but the storytelling sure has. The exposition-heavy film nearly put me to sleep on a number of occasions and likely would have if not for the rest of the crowd clapping like seals for the majority of the film.
8. Wonder Woman (2017)
It was once insinuated that you were “sexist” for not enjoying this film in one of my college courses, so to be clear, the shortcomings of Wonder Woman have nothing to do with Patty Jenkins or Gadot. I just find the film to be a snore-fest and that third act is MCU-level dull.
7. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
Ah, the heart only grows fonder of Wonder Woman 1984 when considering the circumstances. Released as a day-and-date release in theaters and on HBO Max at the height of the pandemic, WW84 had the odds against it. It’s certainly bloated, and I’m unsure why I watched it twice (once on HBO Max and once in theaters), but I love Kristen Wiig doing her “Target Lady” character in a $200+ million blockbuster.
6. Man of Steel (2013)
This isn’t a case of me liking Man of Steel particularly much but rather a case of circumstance. I do have fond memories of purchasing it — it was one of my very first Blu-ray purchases — but the novelization makes a far more compelling story than the actual film. I also remember Man of Steel being one of the first times I actively thought about lackluster CGI in a third act.
5. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
While I’m not fond of the ethics of the movement that resulted in “The Snyder Cut,” it’s admittedly very cool to see a dream realized (but let’s not re-film the sequel trilogy or the last season of Game of Thrones). Zack Snyder’s Justice League, pretentious 4:3 aspect ratio and all, is an improvement over what we got in 2017, even if it’s by default. Superman gets an actual arc and I’ll never complain about getting more Battfleck (though we really do have to give up the dream of seeing a solo film from Affleck).
4. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Speaking of Battfleck, I enjoy Batman V. Superman a good bit. The extended version is far superior, but even the theatrical cut is a ton of fun, if not a tad long. And sure, the actual fight is a bit underwhelming, but there’s something about the journey that comes before that always grips me.
3. Shazam! (2019)
Don’t rewatch Shazam!, at least in my opinion. I loved the film upon first viewing in early 2019, but upon rewatch a year or so later, it was borderline hard to watch. I love director David F. Sandberg’s Lights Out — sequel, please! — and I do think that the film has a touching message. It’s just far more cringey than you likely remember, especially with the jokes.
2. The Suicide Squad (2021)
Another case of being better than its predecessor by default, James Gunn’s sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad, (annoyingly) titled The Suicide Squad, is pretty darn great. John Cena and Idris Elba steal the show in the DCEU’s most gritty film yet. I’d take this colorful film with C-list, disposable characters over almost anything else the DCEU has to offer.
1. Birds of Prey (2020)
This was probably the last time I bought tickets for a film numerous times just for fun. From the very first monologue, I was buckled in for Birds of Prey and the DCEU has yet to top it, in my opinion. The action sequences — choreographed by John Wick album Jon Valera — are just visually appealing to look at. The stakes are low and the story is self-contained, but why can’t more comic book movies be like this? And I get that it wasn’t a box office smash hit, but can we get a sequel or at least more Mary Elizabeth Winstead kicking ass? Plus, that poster is still one of my favorites in the entire genre.