A Guide to: DCAU (DC Animated Universe) Shows
The DC Universe Animated Original Movies (also known as DC Universe Original Movies) are direct-to-video film projects being created by Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, and DC Comics. These more recent movie projects have also included many of the voice actors who worked on previous DC animated series and films. The film series was launched in 2007.
Not to be confused with Bruce Timm’s DC animated universe. (I have a guide for this)
These movies are fairly consistently considered better movies than the current DCEU (DC Extended Universe) that has been coming out in theaters.
Unlike earlier animated DC films (most of which also involved Bruce Timm and were part of the DC animated universe), the films in the line are aimed at a more adult audience, often containing profane language, stronger violence, sexual scenes and more mature themes. The artstyles for the films are also generally more realistically proportionate. The majority of the films are rated PG-13 by the MPAA with the exception of All-Star Superman and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, which are rated PG, and Batman: The Killing Joke, Justice League Dark, Batman: Gotham by Gaslight and Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay, which are rated R.
Of the first seventeen films, most of them are set in different continuities to each other, but since Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox most of the films are set in the DC Animated Movie Universe.
Why Watch These Movies:
- If you like DC.
- If you want to read or watch more DC but don’t have the time or inclination to parse hundreds and thousands of comics and storylines.
- If you are even slightly disappointed with the current DCEU (Justice League was…a bit of a mess to be honest. Maybe more than a bit.)
- Neil Patrick Harris voices Nightwing in one, and Nathan Fillion voices Hal Jordan in several.
The first of these projects was Superman: Doomsday, which was loosely based on the popular 1992–1993 storyline “The Death of Superman” where Superman fights Doomsday in a duel to the death. It was released on September 21, 2007.
Too condensed – its a broad comic storyline that was too much for 75 minutes.
Justice League: The New Frontier
Justice League: The New Frontier was based on Darwyn Cooke’s 2003–2004 comic book limited series DC: The New Frontier where the heroes of Earth unite to take on an evil entities called the Centre. It was released on February 26, 2008.
One of the most fun Justice League movies.
Batman: Gotham Knight
Tying into the release of the 2008 Batman film The Dark Knight, Batman: Gotham Knight is an anthology film that tells a series of stories that take place between 2005’s Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, though it is not officially considered to be part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film series. The film was the first to feature Batman using authentic Japanese anime from four different Japanese animation studios. It was released on July 8, 2008.
A bit of an experimental thing rather than a cohesive story.
The solo Wonder Woman film dealt primarily with the origin story of Diana of Themyscira and how she became the recognizable superheroine Wonder Woman. Much of the structure of the origin story was borrowed from George Pérez’s post-Crisis on Infinite Earths comics 1987 relaunch entitled “Gods and Mortals”. It was released on March 3, 2009.
Super fun and its Wonder Woman!
Green Lantern: First Flight
The film focuses on Hal Jordan and his relationship with veteran Green Lantern Sinestro, and their relationship as pupil and teacher, until Sinestro betrays the Green Lantern Corps. It was released on July 28, 2009.
Better than the live action movie.
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies is based on the first story arc, “The World’s Finest”, from the Superman/Batman monthly comic book title from 2003–2004 by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. President Lex Luthor uses the oncoming trajectory of a Kryptonite asteroid to frame Superman for the “pending destruction of the planet” and declares a $1 billion bounty on the heads of the Man of Steel and his “partner in crime,” Batman. Superheroes and super villains alike launch a relentless pursuit of Superman and Batman, who must unite to stave off the action-packed onslaught, stop the asteroid, and uncover Luthor’s devious plot. It was released on September 29, 2009.
Look, its so much better than Batman v. Superman that I can forgive its flaws.
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Loosely based on Grant Morrison’s 2000 comic book JLA: Earth 2, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths dealt with a heroic Lex Luthor from an alternate universe appearing to recruit the Justice League to help save his Earth from the Crime Syndicate, a gang of villainous characters who are essentially evil versions of the Justice League. What ensues is the ultimate battle of good versus evil in a war that threatens both planets and, through a devious plan launched by Owlman, puts the balance of all existence in peril. It was released on February 23, 2010.
Super fun and one of my favorites!
Batman: Under the Red Hood
This was an adaptation of Winick’s story “Under the Hood” from 2005 in the main Batman title, featured in issues #635-641. It was released on July 27, 2010.
One of my favorites, and I love Jason Todd.
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, a sequel in the Superman/Batman series. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is based on the second story arc, “The Supergirl from Krypton”. It was released on September 28, 2010.
A GREAT supergirl story.
All-Star Superman is an adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s 2005–2008 comic book All-Star Superman. It was released on February 22, 2011.
One of the best Superman films!
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, similar to Batman: Gotham Knight, is an anthology film that tells a series of stories featuring various members of the Green Lantern Corps. It was released on June 7, 2011.
Pretty fun. But not super cohesive.
Batman: Year One
The film is an adaptation of Frank Miller’s story “Batman: Year One” from 1987 in the main Batman title, featured in issues #404–407. It was released on October 18, 2011, the same day as Batman: Arkham City.
One of the best possible adaptations.
Justice League: Doom
Justice League: Doom, a sequel to Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, is a loose adaptation of Mark Waid’s JLA story arc, “JLA: Tower of Babel” wherein the Legion of Doom is formed to eliminate the Justice League using protocols created by Batman to take down the group should its members ever go rogue. It was released on February 28, 2012.
Fine, its fun, though played pretty safe.
Superman vs. The Elite
Superman Versus The Elite is the second 2012 release and is based on “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?” It was released on June 12, 2012.
This one was a bit of a miss, based on a social commentary story that didn’t mesh well 10 years later.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
A two-part adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was in the works. The film is set in the same continuity as Batman: Year One. Part 1 concentrated on Two Face and Mutant Gang arcs of the graphic novel and was released on September 25, 2012. Part 2 concentrated on the Joker and Superman arcs of the graphic novel and was released on January 29, 2013.
This is a favorite for many people for good reason.
Adaptation of the 2008 story arc Superman: Brainiac by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, The film was released on Blu-ray on May 7, 2013. This was the first DC Universe Animated Original Movie not to be produced by Bruce Timm.
Entertaining, but Superman’s animation budget isn’t as high as other heroes it seems.
Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox
The film was released on July 30, 2013.
So So SOOOOO well done.
Justice League: War
War was released on February 4, 2014. The film is based on Geoff Johns and Jim Lee’s “Origin” storyline. In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC’s continuity, and this is the first animated movie from the DC Universe based on The New 52. A mid credits scene at the end of the movie alludes to a follow up movie involving Atlantis.
Mostly a big action team-up for New 52 – if thats all you expect, its good.
Son of Batman
The film is based on Grant Morrison’s “Batman and Son” storyline. The film was released on May 6, 2014.
Your enjoyment of this movie will come down to how much you like or dislike the character of Damian Wayne.
Batman: Assault on Arkham
The film takes place in the same universe as the Batman: Arkham video game franchise. The film was released digitally on July 29, 2014, and given a physical release on August 12, 2014.
Great for fans of the game.
Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
The film is based on the 2012 storyline of the same name by Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. It is a sequel to Justice League: War. The film was released digitally on January 13, 2015, and physically on January 27, 2015.
Fine but formulaic.
Batman vs. Robin
Although the Court of Owls is set to appear, Batman vs. Robin is not an adaptation of the Court of Owls storyline from the comics.
Your enjoyment depends on your liking Damian Wayne – who I happen to find interesting.
Justice League: Gods and Monsters
The movie, featuring an original plot. The film was released on July 28, 2015.
A little all over the place, but fun.
Batman: Bad Blood
The story is original and not based on any comic book story. It was also revealed that the film will feature Batwoman, as well as Batwing. The film was released digitally on January 20, 2016 and on physical media on February 2, 2016.
Again, depends on if you like Damian or not.
Justice League vs. Teen Titans
Feature the Justice League and the Teen Titans. It was released on March 29, 2016.
This one comes across as a lot more juvenile than many of the others here, but I enjoy it.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Adaptation of The Killing Joke. The premiere was at the San Diego Comic-Con on July 22, 2016. Originally intended to be released directly on home video, the film was instead released simultaneously in theaters, on home video, and digitally on July 26, 2016, before a DVD and Blu-ray release on August 2, 2016.
Fun, but a bit dragged out.
Justice League Dark
An adaptation of Justice League Dark where the titular group will unite to deal with heavenly forces that the Justice League can’t handle. The Justice League will also have new members with them. The film was digitally released on January 24, 2017 and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 7, 2017.
Mostly a quick origin for some New 52 characters.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
At the San Diego Comic-Con International in 2006, an animated film based on the comic book story arc The Judas Contract was announced. The film had its world premiere at Anaheim’s WonderCon on March 31, 2017. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract was then scheduled for release via digital download on April 4, 2017, and straight-to-DVD and Blu-ray on April 18, 2017.
Fun, and surprisingly dark considering the other more kid-friendly Teen Titans titles.
Batman and Harley Quinn
A new original story by Bruce Timm. The film was released on digital on August 15, 2017 before releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on August 29.
A great homage to the Animated Batman series and super funny.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
A film based on the Elseworlds story Gotham by Gaslight.
Fine, interesting but nothing super memorable.
Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay
This film is the first Suicide Squad story in the DC Animated Movie Universe continuity. Although Batman: Assault on Arkham previously featured the Suicide Squad, that film is set in the Batman: Arkham video game universe.
The Death of Superman & Reign of the Supermen
Justice League vs the Fatal Five
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines
Den of Geek Guide to Movies
EW Viewing Order