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(Pocket-lint) - Whether it’s Wonder Woman 1984, the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League, or the upcoming Robert Pattinson-led film The Batman, there are a ton of reasons to be excited about the modern DC Extended Universe.

Despite decades of movies, the "official" DCEU didn’t technically begin until 2013, with the Superman reboot Man of Steel. Another DC project in the works might retcon some older DC films into the DCEU, however. Rumours suggest Michael Keaton, who played Batman in both 1989’s Batman and 1991’s Batman Returns, will return as the Dark Knight via a solo Flash film due out in 2022. The most interesting part about all this is that Ben Affleck, or Batffleck, may return as Batman for this same film. Flash can bend time and space, potentially bringing together Batmen across multiverses.

It’s complicated, but it opens the door to connecting every DC film.

This all has us wondering: If you wanted to watch every DC film in chronological order, how would you do it? We put our thinking caps on and came up with a definitive 37-film order for every movie featuring DC characters. Since we did this chronologically, or by when each film is set, we’re leading with Wonder Woman, which released in 2017 but is set during World War I.

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DC movies: Best viewing orders
Chronological DC movie order (spoilers)Chronological DC movie order (spoiler-free)
'Official' DCEU movie order (spoiler-free)Superman movies (spoiler-free)
Theatre release date order (spoiler-free)Live-action DC TV series (spoiler-free)

Every DC movie in chronological order

If you’d prefer to watch every DC movie based on the order they released in theatres, we’ve included a separate list at the bottom. We also appended a spoiler-free version of this guide, a Superman order, plus an order for watching all the eight "official" DCEU films (which is different from our guide that showcases every movie featuring DC characters).

We even have a release date order for all the live-action DC TV shows.

NOTE: THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW.

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Wonder Woman (2017)

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 Let’s start with one of the more recent films from DC because it’s set against the backdrop of World War I. Wonder Woman serves as an origin story for the Amazonian goddess Diana (Gal Gadot). She rescues US pilot Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), and after interrogating him, learns of a German scientist working to make a deadlier version of Mustard gas. She believes the scientist is the evil God of War known as Ares in disguise, so she leaves her island home of Themyscira in the hopes of facing Ares and ultimately stopping the release of his poisonous gas. 

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Superman and The Mole Men (1951)

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The first official superhero movie featuring DC characters sees George Reeves star as the Man of Steel. Superman, as his alter ego Clark Kent, along with Lois Lane (Phyllis Coates), goes to investigate the world’s deepest oil well only to discover a race of humanoid creatures who have emerged from the underground. This film, directed by Lee Sholem, was intended to drum up interest for the Adventures of Superman, a TV show that premiered the following year.

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Batman: The Movie (1968)

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Another film intended to pique interest in a new TV series was 1966’s Batman. It sees Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as his sidekick Robin. Interestingly, the Caped Crusader faces off with not one but four of his most fearsome foes: Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Cesar Romero’s Joker.

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Superman (1978)

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Superman started the superhero movie genre. We see Superman’s origin story, in which his father Jor-El (Marlon Brando) sends him from the dying world of Krypton to Earth, where his unique molecular structure gives him superpowers. He’s raised by the Kents until he learns the truth about where he comes from and has to face off against Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), who has a plan to sink the entire west coast of the US using a nuclear weapon.

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Superman II (1980)

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A hydrogen bomb is sent into space by Superman and inadvertently releases three Kryptonian war criminals led by General Zod (Terence Stamp). Granted the same powers as Superman, the three Kryptonians set out to conquer Earth. Meanwhile, simultaneously, Superman rids himself of his powers so he may live a normal life with Lois Lane (Margot Kidder). Richard Donner directed both Superman I and the sequel Superman II.

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Joker (2019)

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We know 2019’s Joker isn’t officially part of the ongoing DCEU film universe - it’s intended to be a standalone film. We’re still recommending it in your DC watch because it has DC characters and gives you a look at how Batman’s most notorious villain came to be, well, the Joker. Plus, with DC planning to retroactively add older characters, like Michael Keaton’s Batman, to the DCEU, we could end up seeing Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker reprised down the line. 

Set entirely in a 1981 version of Gotham, which is why it earns its place earlier in our watch guide, Joker tells the story of Arthur Fleck, a mentally ill man who works as a party clown while dreaming of becoming a stand-up comedian. Phoenix won an Oscar for best actor for his performance, while Todd Phillips wrote and directed.

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Swamp Thing (1982)

Swamp Thing isn’t as well known as his DC counterparts, Batman and Superman, but his 1982 debut on the big screen is a campy cult classic still worth watching almost 40 years later. The film shows scientist Alec Holland (Ray Wise) transformed into the Swamp Thing after he is doused with a special formula during an attack on his laboratory by a group of terrorists led by Anton Arcane (Louis Jordan). Wes Craven, who immediately went on to make Nightmare on Elm Street, directed Swamp Thing.

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Superman III (1983)

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Superman III marks a precipitous fall in quality from the first two Superman films, perhaps because a new director, Richard Lester, was brought on board. His rendition sees Christopher Reeves return as Clark Kent, who heads back to his hometown of Smallville, Kansas. Meanwhile, the CEO of Webscoe, Ross Webster (Robert Vaughn), hires a talented but-klutzy computer programmer (Richard Pryor) to help him destroy his competitors and kill Superman.

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Supergirl (1984)

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Supergirl is the forgotten spinoff from the Christopher Reeves’ Superman films. It was a box office and critical disappointment, but it does give a glimpse at the future of interconnected universes in superhero films. Supergirl follows Kara Zor-El, a Kryptonian refugee who lives in Argo City and accidentally loses a device that powers the entire city. But we see Kara follow it all the way to Earth, with the hopes of getting it back. 

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Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

This sequel for 2017's Wonder Woman sees Gal Gador returns as Diana Prince in a story set over 50 years after the events of the first film, which took place during WWI and saw her love interest, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine), die. Thanks to a powerful artifact, Diana can bring Steve back to life, but it comes with a high price to pay. The film also stars Kirsten Wiig as the Cheetah and Pedro Pascal as the conman Maxwell Lord. 

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Superman IV (1987)

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The final Christopher Reeves’ Superman film sees the Man of Steel take on a nuclear arms race. When Superman announces that he intends to destroy every nuclear weapon, the nations of Earth agree too and begin to shoot the weapons into space. Superman intends to collect them in space and throw them into the Sun. However, Superman’s nemesis, Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman), attaches a strand of Superman’s hair to one of the nukes, and when it’s thrown into the sun, it creates another super-powered being, Nuclear Man (Mark Pillow), who equals Superman’s power. Sydney J Furie directed The Quest for Peace.

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The Return of the Swamp Thing (1987)

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Abby Arcane (Heather Locklear) heads to the Everglades in Florida to find her stepfather, Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan), who was resurrected following the end of the first Swamp Thing film. Arcane has begun creating a race of human-alien hybrids, so when he tries to experiment on his daughter next, it’s up to Swamp Thing (Dick Durock) to stop him. Jim Wynorski directed The Return of Swamp Thing.

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Batman (1989)

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This reboot sees the debut of Michael Keaton as Batman. (Keaton is expected to reprise the role of Batman once again in an upcoming Flash film. There are also rumours of a Keaton-helmed Batman Beyond feature film coming.) Anyway, Tim Burton directed this film, which sees Keaton’s version of the Caped Crusader taking on a disfigured gangster, the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson.  

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Batman Returns (1992)

The second and final Batman film directed by Tim Burton sees Keaton’s Batman take on Oswald Cobblepot, aka the Penguin (Danny Devito). The film revolves around Penguin’s plan to seize power in Gotham, with the help of Max Shreck, a millionaire who wants to build a power plant in the city. Batman teams up with Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) to foil the two’s plans. 

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Batman Forever (1994)

With Batman Forever, we have Joel Schumaker directing and Val Kilmer as Bruce Wayne. It sees Batman contend with not only Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones) but also a former employee at Wayne Enterprises, Edward Nygma (Jim Carrey), who becomes the Riddler. Batman also takes in a young man, Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell), after his parents are killed by Two-Face. Once Grayson realizes Bruce Wayne’s secret identity, he joins him as his sidekick Robin.

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Joel Schumaker again directed this film, albeit to much less critical success than previous Batman films. We would argue that this film is a subtle comedic masterpiece thanks to the nipples and codpieces on all of the batsuits and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze slinging ice-related puns every second he’s on the screen. The film sees George Clooney take a turn as Batman/Bruce Wayne, Chris O’Donnell return as Robin, and Alicia Silverstone make the big-screen debut of Batgirl. There’s also Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. Yeah. So 90s.

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Steel (1997)

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Steel is a relic from a moment in the late 1990s - when people thought Shaquille O’Neal could be a movie star. It has the NBA big man take on the origin story of Steel, aka John Henry Irons, an advanced weapons designer who makes a suit of armor to fight crime after he sees his weapons used by criminals. Yes, this sounds a lot like the plot of Iron Man.

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Catwoman (2004)

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Catwoman stars Halle Berry as Patience Phillips, a timid ad designer for a cosmetics company. When she’s discovered listening to a conversation about the dangerous side effects of the company’s product, she is murdered by corporate goons. However, she’s resurrected by a mysterious cat and awakens as a new woman.

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Constantine (2005)

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Keanu Reeves stars as John Constantine, a detective who works with the occult. Think Columbo mixed with the priest from The Exorcist. While not a huge box office theatrical hit, the film has been graced with a long life on US cable TV. Directed by Francis Lawrence and inspired by the comics from Alan Moore, Constantine is a titular detective battling terminal lung cancer while facing eternal damnation for having attempted suicide. If cancer wasn’t a big enough enemy, he also has to stop Satan’s son, Mammon, from seizing Earth.

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Batman Begins (2005)

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The first chapter in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy sees a disenchanted Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) leave Gotham and find his way into the League of Shadows. He’s trained by the organization’s leader Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) before he heads back to Gotham and begins cleaning up the crime. But he discovers a sinister plot to destroy the city using a fear-inducing hallucinogen. 

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Superman Returns (2006)

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A false start at resetting the Superman universe, this film is a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeves’ Superman films. But it ignores the events of the third and fourth films. It’s the toughest film to place in our timeline because it’s supposed to be set five years after Superman II, which took place in 1982, but it ignores all that and somehow takes place in “modern-day” 2006.

Brandon Routh stars as Clark Kent/Superman, who returns to Earth after a five-year absence to find his archnemesis Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) plotting to kill him and destroy the US to create his own continent that he can rule. Superman also has to deal with problems with his love life, as Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has moved on from him during his absence from Earth.

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The Dark Knight (2009)

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Likely the best superhero film ever made, The Dark Knight brings back Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne to deal with Heath Ledger’s iconic Joker. Wayne is in search of a way out of his life as Batman, however, and believes he’s found it in the form of new Gotham district attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Unfortunately, the Joker has his own plans for Dent. This is the second film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy.

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Watchmen (2009)

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Directed by Zack Snyder and based on the Alan Moore comics, Watchmen tells the story of an aging group of superheroes who discover that there may be a plot to eliminate them one by one. The film takes place separately from the rest of the DC Extended Universe. It’s set in an alternate history version of America, and there is no Gotham or Metropolis. But the Watchmen have come face to face with members of the Justice League on the pages of DC Comics.

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Jonah Hex

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Boasting an astounding 12 per cent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Jonah Hex is certainly one of the most forgettable movies on this list. But, if you’re intent on watching absolutely everything DC, then you should watch Josh Brolin portray Jonah Hex, a confederate soldier who is out for revenge against Quentin Turnbull (John Malkovich), his former commanding officer. Turnbull killed his wife and son and left Hex for dead, but Hex was revived and given the power to resurrect the dead for a short period of time. Keep in mind Brolin portrayed Hex right before switching universes - and franchises - to be Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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Green Lantern

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Ryan Reynolds stars as Hal Jordan, the newest recruit in the Green Lantern Corps, an ancient order sworn to protect the galaxy using the powers granted to them by their powerful Green Lantern rings. They have the power to create anything the wearer can imagine. Jordan is slow to understand his powers before he is thrust into action to defend Earth from the former Green Lantern-turned-evil Parallax (Clancy Brown). If you want a quicker version of the movie, see Ryan Reynolds’ Cut of Green Lantern on Twitter.

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy sees an aging Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) literally hit rock bottom as he faces off against Bane (Tom Hardy) and a newly resurgent League of Shadows bent on destroying Gotham. 

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Man of Steel (2013)

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The film that kicked off the official DC Extended Universe, which includes just eight titles, sees Henry Cavill take on the mantle of Superman. The star-studded origin story casts Russel Crowe as Superman’s birth father, Jor-el, as well as Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the Kents who adopt and raise Superman and named him Clark. 

In the film, we see Clark, who blames himself following his adopted father’s death, travel the world and attempt to hide his true identity and powers. Eventually, Clark must accept his identity as Superman in order to save the planet from a group of evil Kryptonians led by General Zod (Michael Shannon).

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Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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Batman v Superman shows how two of the most recognizable superheroes end up hating each other. Ben Affleck’s Batman views Cavill’s Superman as an unstoppable alien force that’s too great a risk to leave unattended. Meanwhile, Superman views Batman’s brand of vigilante justice as just another example of crime running rampant. While they each work to outmaneuver the other, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenburg) is behind the scenes making a weapon powerful enough to beat them both. Zack Snyder directed Dawn of Justice.

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Suicide Squad (2016)

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Suicide Squad takes place one year after the conclusion of Batman v Superman and sees the government considering new ideas in the wake of Superman’s death. This leads to the creation of a new team of crime fighters, called Task Force X, which is composed of imprisoned supervillains like Dead Shot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), and more. The villains have to come together to stop another recruit for the squad - a demonic witch known as Enchantress - from destroying Midway City.

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Justice League (2017)

Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) are outgunned and still reeling from the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in Batman v Superman, so Justice League sees the classic superhero team unite to take on Steppenwolf, a villain who is out to terraform Earth into an uninhabitable planet like his own home. We highly recommend you skip this one for the new Zach Snyder cut of Justice League on HBO Max. Joss Whedon took over the production of this film halfway through, and let's just say it shows in this version.

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Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

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Released to HBO Max in 2021, the Snyder Cut lets the director who started the DCEU finish his creation off after he was forced to leave production of 2017's Justice League due to a family tragedy. While the new film is an insane four hours long, it is a huge improvement over the 2017 version of the film. If you're really into weird stuff, check out the newly released black and white cut on HBO Max, titled Justice is Grey. 

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Aquaman (2018)

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James Wan wrote and directed the first standalone Aquaman film starring Jason Mamoa as the title character. It sees Arthur, aka Aquaman, forced to stop his half-brother, Orm (Patrick Wilson), who is uniting the underwater people in the hopes of attacking the surface. In order to halt their plans, he has to obtain a mythical trident that belonged to one of Atlantis’ original rulers. 

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Shazam (2019)

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In Shazam, Billy Batson (Asher Angel), a 14-year old-orphan, is chosen by an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou). By saying the word Shazam, he is transformed into Shazam and has powers like super-human strength and speed. He begins to learn how to use his powers with a fellow foster child, Freddy Freeman (Jack Dylan Grazer), before he’s confronted by Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong), who was deemed unworthy by the wizard as a child. 

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Birds of Prey (2020)

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Birds of Prey sees Margot Robbie return as Harley Quinn (who she played in Suicide Squad). Harley is fresh off a breakup with the Joker and dealing with it in some pretty destructive ways that puts her on the wrong side of a crime lord named Roman Sionis. Quinn joins forces with The Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) to take down Sionis (Ewan McGregor) and his criminal empire.

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The Suicide Squad (2021)

 
Another major release that went straight to HBO Max in 2021 is James Gunn's Suicide Squad. Gunn wrote and directed the film, which saw many members of the first Suicide Squad film return, like Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flagg. Other than that, the film isn't really connected to the 2016 film, with DCEU producer Peter Safran referring to the film as a total reboot of the Suicide Squad. Regardless, we're just excited by the talking shark and the giant starfish. 

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Optional: Peacemaker (2022 - TV show)

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OK, so this isn't a DC movie, but it is the latest entry into the DC Extended Universe and is getting a lot of good reviews. But, because it's a TV show, you can consider it optional viewing. 

The series is a spinoff of John Cena's Peacemaker, who debuted in 2021's Suicide Squad. It airs in the US on HBO Max and picks up with Peacemaker following his fight to the death with Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag. The show sees Peacemaker join a black ops squad controlled by an organization known as A.R.G.U.S to help stop Butterfly-like alien creatures. 

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Upcoming: The Batman (2022)

The next DC film on the docket is Matt Reeves' The Batman.

The highly anticipated film will see Robert Pattinson star as the new Batman in a film that isn't connected to the rest of the DCEU. Pattinson's Batman will face off with two different members of his iconic rogue's gallery: Penguin, played by Colin Farrell; and The Riddler, played by Paul Dano. Batman won't take them on alone, however, as Zoe Kravitz is slated to star as Catwoman. 

The film releases only in theatres on 4 March 2022. 

Spoiler-free version: Every DC movie at a glance


Chronological order

Here is the bulleted, spoiler-free version of the guide above.

  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
  • Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Superman (1978)
  • Superman II (1980)
  • Joker (2019)
  • Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Superman III (1983)
  • Supergirl (1984)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  • The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman & Robin (1997)
  • Steel (1997)
  • Catwoman (2004)
  • Constantine (2005)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • Superman Returns (2006)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Watchmen (2009)
  • Jonah Hex (2010)
  • Green Lantern (2011)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2018)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Optional: Peacemaker (2022 - TV show)
  • Upcoming: The Batman (2022)

Theatrical release date order 

Here is every movie featuring DC characters, but in the order that they released in cinemas.

  • Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
  • Batman: The Movie (1966)
  • Superman (1978)
  • Superman II (1980)
  • Swamp Thing (1982)
  • Superman III (1983)
  • Supergirl (1984)
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
  • The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Batman Returns (1992)
  • Batman Forever (1995)
  • Batman and Robin (1997)
  • Steel (1997)
  • Catwoman (2004)
  • Constantine (2005)
  • Batman Begins (2005)
  • Superman Returns (2006)
  • The Dark Knight (2008)
  • Watchmen (2009)
  • Green Lantern (2011)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2018)
  • Joker (2019)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Upcoming: The Batman (2022)

Official DC Extended Universe order

Here is every movie in the "official" present-day DCEU:

  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman V Superman (Dawn of Justice)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam (2018)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Optional: Peacemaker (2022 - TV show)

Superman order

Here is a specific order for the Superman movies (if you want a Batman order, we have a separate guide):

  • Superman (1978)
  • Superman II (1980)
  • Superman III (1983)
  • Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)
  • Superman Returns (2006)
  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021

DC TV show order

Didn't think we'd forget about all the live-action TV series in the DC universe, did you? Here's that definitive order:

  • Adventures of Superman (1952 to 58)
  • Batman (1966 to 1968)
  • Shazam (1974 to 1976
  • Wonder Woman (1975 to 1979)
  • Superboy (1988 to 1992)
  • Swamp Thing (1990 to 1993)
  • The Flash (1990 to 1991)
  • Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993 to 1997)
  • Smallville (2001 to 2011)
  • Birds of Prey (2002 to 2003)
  • Arrow (2012 to 2020)
  • Gotham (2014 to 2019)
  • The Flash (2014 to present)
  • Constantine (2014 to 2015)
  • Supergirl (2015 to present)
  • Legends of Tomorrow (2016 to present)
  • Powerless (2017)
  • Black Lightning (2018 to present)
  • Titan (2018 to present)
  • Krypton (2018 to 2019)
  • Doom Patrol (2019 to present)
  • Batwoman (2019 to present)
  • Swamp Thing (2019)
  • Pennyworth (2019 to present)
  • Peacemaker (2022)

Did you like this?

Then maybe you'll like our other movie order viewing guides:

We also have these rumour round-ups on upcoming movies:

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Adrian Willings.
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