From "Superman" and "The Dark Knight" to "Wonder Woman" and "Joker" – plus, all the DC Comic imprint adaptations in between – we rank all the movies ripped from the pages of DC.
41Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Absolutely one of the worst movies ever, and definitely the most terrible DC movie on record. The plot? Something about the Man of Steel (Christopher Reeve) taking on Lex Luthor's (Gene Hackman) buddy, a He-Man wannabe named Nuclear Man. Does it matter? No. No, it doesn't.
Halle Berry may look great as a loner artist who acquires super strength and agility and transforms into Catwoman. Unfortunately for her, the look's about the only thing happening for this rotten superhero movie, which earned Raspberry Awards for Worst Actress, Worst Picture, Worst Director and Worst Screenplay. One of the worst movies of all time? Take a look and see...or don't.
In some universe, the story of an Army scientist (played by ex-pro basketball player Shaquille O'Neal) who fights bad guys in a steel suit is likely a formula for box office success...this is not that universe.
Having a hard time remembering "The Spirit," an adaptation of a DC comic about a risen-from-the-dead police officer (Gabriel Macht) who fights crime in Central City? That's o.k. No one else remembers it, either.
Before he was Thanos, he was supernatural gunfighter Jonah Hex. However, Josh Brolin would probably like to snap his finger and make all memories of this genre stinker disappear from the universe. Accompanying him on this failed superhero ride were respected actor John Malkovich and blockbuster bombshell of the era Megan Fox.
36Batman & Robin
After this Batman movie, the studio would go on a long hiatus before attempting another one. Blame it on the batnips on George Clooney's costume. Or director Joel Schumacher's over-emphasized camp. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger's ill-advised take on Mr. Freeze. Whatever the reasons, this movie exists as a prime example on how not to produce a mega-budgeted Batman movie.
35The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
No offense to the original cinematic James Bond, but the concept of important adventurers from literature led by Sean Connery uniting to stop a mad bomber was always going to have limited appeal. This isn't exactly the buff heroes of the MCU coming to the rescue. To the surprise of perhaps few but the studio executives who greenlit this DC project, "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" bombed in extraordinary fashion.
So unremarkable and overlong that star Ryan Reynolds would later on have no shame at all in making fun of the movie and himself in the title role. It helps that Reynolds found his own true superhero calling later on as Deadpool (in the title movie, as opposed to Reynolds' Deadpool version in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine"). Hopefully, someone will revisit this character some day with better success.
This version of Batman (Adam West) and Robin (Burt Ward) taking on all of their greatest hits villains is intentionally campy, corny...and honestly, not very good.
This is where the resurgence of "Batman" movies in the late '80s to mid '90s started to go off the rails. Val Kilmer actually makes a decent Batman, and comic book movie fans could do worse than the supporting cast of Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face, Jim Carrey as the Riddler and Nicole Kidman as Dr. Chase Meridian. Chris O'Donnell's Robin is definitely a little suspect, though, and Joel Schumacher's direction is way over the top.
The third "Superman" in the Christopher Reeve series featured our hero alongside comedian Richard Pryor, which was funny in a way, but not nearly funny enough. The less said about Robert Vaughn's villainous tycoon, the better. While it isn't quite as bad as the horrid "Superman IV," it's not good.
The second time for the veteran "Red" crew was not the charm. The all-star cast still seems to be having fun, but most of this spy thriller is going through the motions. It's a bit long in the tooth - pun intended.
The big news is that this 2019 picture based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC stars A-list talents Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss. And...that's about it. Everything else about this adaptation is executed poorly. The story of wives taking over their husbands' corrupt business was covered much better a year earlier in the Steve McQueen film "Widows." See that instead.
Was it studio meddling or the idea of giving final edits to the marketing team behind the successful trailers? Whatever it was, the film ended up being a jumbled mess. The saving grace, if there was one? Margot Robbie's delightfully psychotic Harley Quinn impresses, who continued to delight as she took charge in "Birds of Prey." We can't wait to see where her character goes next year in James Gunn's psudo-sequel/psudo-reboot "The Suicide Squad."
The 2010 action ensemble "The Losers" had plenty of potential. "Captain America" star Chris Evans? Check. "Guardians of the Galaxy" star Zoe Saldana? Check. "Watchmen" star Jeffrey Dean Morgan? Check. Somehow though, this story of a special-ops team hunting down the person who tried to have them killed never quite comes together. It's subpar in the same way that both of Evans' "Fantastic Four" films also underwhelmed.
When tragedy struck, Zack Snyder left the reigns to one of the most iconic superhero supergroups of all time in the hands of Joss Whedon, the man who successfully brought to the screen a similar group in another comic universe (i.e. "Avengers" in the MCU). However, where things worked in that space, it just didn't seem to stick in DC, proving that Marvel may have had the right formula all along -- give each member their stand-alone adventure first, and then get them all together.
25Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Zack Snyder's bloated opus tried to be two movies in one, philosophizing on how a super-man with super-strength can fit into our world, while also attempting to set up a larger universe filled with other supers. The end result was a mess that left critics and fans scratching their heads, though we can't help but feel that there is a great movie in there somewhere. Of course, the film did introduce us to Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman. So there's that...
Bryan Singer left Fox's X-Men franchise for a chance to bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen (years prior to Zack Snyder's attempt). While it was great to catch up with Superman and his rousing theme after 20 years, instead of carrying the legendary character forward, the movie was perhaps a bit too beholden to the films of the past.
One of Keanu Reeves' more underrated genre flicks is this one based on the DC comic book character Constantine, a man who can see the demons that plague our human world. Along with his sidekick Chas (a young but eager Shia LaBeouf), Constantine attempts to help a policewoman (Rachel Weisz) investigating the death of her twin sister.
Based on another limited run DC comic series, this all-star affair is novel mostly because it features an older ensemble as retired CIA agents back on the job. Here, they reunite for an action-packed adventure that's normally reserved for stars half their age. It's fun stuff. Amongst the veteran players are Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Morgan Freeman and Helen Mirren.
21Teen Titans GO! to the Movies
DC Comics breaks the fourth wall with this rousing animated adventure that follows on from their successful Cartoon Network series. If you liked the TV show, there's plenty more to like here.
20Wonder Woman 1984
Gal Gadot reprises her popular role as superheroine Wonder Woman, stepping into the 1980s to battle evil villaness Cheetah and sleazy businessman Max Lord, who has the power to fulfill anyone's wildest dreams. In spite of it's many flaws, we have to give credit to writer and director Patty Jenkins, who tried to do something different with the superhero formula.
19Man of Steel
Zack Snyder's re-telling of the "Superman" origin style is in nearly every way inferior to the Richard Donner '78 version. It's also a lot darker, which doesn't fit as well as it did with Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy. There are things to enjoy. Henry Cavill is entirely credible as the Man of Steel and Clark Kent, and he earns a lot of empathy. Likewise, both Diane Lane and Kevin Costner are effective as Kent's adopted parents on Earth. And, while many may view Hans Zimmer's score as too bombastic, we think it's a nice follow-up and something different to what John Williams provided for the original. Considering the true bombast of the other Snyder-directed DC films, this one's mostly a keeper.
Most won't recall this 2007 movie as a DC Comics film, but it is based on a Neil Gaiman graphic fantasy novel published by DC, and it's an underrated tale all about a young gentleman (Charlie Cox) who embarks on a journey to retrieve a fallen star (Claire Danes). Veteran thespians Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer lend support to the whimsical adventure.
While not as influential as Tim Burton's first Batman movie, the director's follow-up is still handsomely made and quirky enough to fit the bill. Plus, both Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman and Danny DeVito as Penguin are memorable in the roles, while Keaton further enshrines himself as a fine, slightly off-kilter dark knight.
Remember when "Aquaman" the motion picture was just an imaginary project envisioned for the imaginary movie star Vincent Chase on the Hollywood wish-fulfillment HBO series "Entourage"? This one doesn't star Vince and it's not directed by James Cameron. But it does feature an enthusiastically game (and appropriately yolked) real-life movie star, Jason Momoa, and it's ably directed by former "Fast & Furious" guru James Wan. It's a little bit campy and a little bit "Star Wars." And it's not half bad.
15Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
The ladies take the charge in this follow-up to the much-maligned "Suicide Squad." Stripping away Jared Leto's way too method Joker, and turning the focus on Margot Robbie's delightfully quirky and wonderfully psychotic Harley Quinn, "Birds of Prey" does well enough to stand on its own. More, however, could have been done to give each "bird of prey" some proper character development. But, well-deserved props must be given to WB for handing the reigns to director Cathy Yan, as this is one of the very few DC comic movies to be helmed by a female director.
This surprising 2019 kids movie basically takes the DC comics "Shazam" legend and turns it into a modern-day, comic book movie take on Tom Hanks' '80s body-swap blockbuster "Big." Star Zachary Levi has a similar breakout performance in this one, playing a teenager trapped in the muscle-bound thirtysomething body of a superhero.
13V for Vendetta
Years before jumping into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, future "Thor" Natalie Portman starred in this well-made dystopian political thriller based on a DC Comics limited series. The highly stylized action film involves a vigilante named V who fights for right in a futuristic, post-war London. "Matrix" villain Hugo Weaving plays the hero this time around, in a film scripted by his "Matrix" collaborators The Wachowskis.
For all its faults, filmmaker Zack Snyder should be commended for doing what was long thought impossible, and that's creating a film out of a comic book series that many regarded as "unfilmable." The results were mixed, but fans still appreciated the effort -- there's no denying that Snyder is a true fan of the comics. And, in our opinion, the film does have one of the best opening sequences of the past 10 years.
11The LEGO Batman Movie
WB had a hit out of the gate with "The LEGO Movie," and audiences loved Will Arnett's gravelly-voiced take on the Caped Crusader, who aids hero Emmet in his mission. Following the success of the main movie, Arnett's Batman was spun off with his own equally successful and charming adventure. The film keeps the tone of the previous LEGO movie, while honoring the "Batmen" of the past.
Filmed directly after the first movie, "Superman II" faced several setbacks including the replacement of original director Richard Donner with Richard Lester. In spite of all this -- and some obvious continuity errors from the re-shoots -- the movie still managed to carry a good story and introduced an iconic villain in General Zod - played with expert menace by Terence Stamp.
The odds were against Tim Burton in 1989, but he took risks -- like casting Beetlejuice as the Bat -- and it paid off. Burton's Batman managed to shake off the campiness from the '60s TV show, bringing the character back to his dark and gothic roots. As well, actors Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson offered fresh -- and ultimately iconic -- takes on Batman and Joker.
8The Dark Knight Rises
While Nolan's final Batman entry might not be the most loved of the three, it still manages to conclude the trilogy in the best way possible. While it's easy to point out the plot holes, what remains is a thrilling capper to one of the more unique takes on the Dark Knight.
7Road to Perdition
Based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, director Sam Mendes' film plays up the themes of fathers and sons and the effects of violence, while Tom Hanks gave us his darkest role yet, as mob enforcer Michael Sullivan.
Road to Perdition
Crime Drama / 2002 / R
After the camp and spectacle of director Joel Schumacher's turn with the Bat in the '90s ("Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin"), fans were ready for Christopher Nolan to bring the franchise back to its dark and gritty roots. Nolan discarded Batman's cartoonish gadgetry for a more grounded and realistic take on the Caped Crusader.
5A History of Violence
Director David Cronenberg's character-focused adaptation of John Wagner and Vince Locke's noir-esque graphic novel (published under the imprint of DC Comics), was released to critical acclaim, and earned Oscar nominations for Best Supporting Actor (William Hurt) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Josh Olson).
Star Joaquin Phoenix and filmmaker Todd Phillips put a whole new spin on the Batman villain and the superhero movie genre - basically reinventing them both as a character study in the vein of classic gritty, Martin Scorsese pictures such as "Taxi Driver" and "The King of Comedy." The end results caused all sorts of controversy even before the movie opened, with detractors worrying that the film would incite real-life violence. No matter the sides, one thing is for certain - "Joker" is unlike any other comic book movie.
Patty Jenkins' entry into DC's shared cinematic universe took the original "Superman" formula and turned it on its head for an ass-kicking adventure through WWI that proved that anything that men can do, women can do better.
Director Richard Donner's 1978 cosmic adventure proved the viability and mega-success of the comic book movie genre. Even after two new cinematic takes on the iconic hero, we still come back to Christopher Reeve, and that inspiring theme music from John Williams.
1The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his dark and gritty reboot of Batman was a film that not only helped usher in a new era of superhero cinema, but also gave all franchise owners the idea that going dark, stark, and gritty can work to freshen up longstanding IP (at least some of the time).
About the Author
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.