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Compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe had a rough start. However, the complex timeline of events in the DC comics movies released in the past seven years is fascinating, making it enjoyable to watch them in order.
It all began with Man of Steel, which was a daring new take on Superman produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder. The goal was to create a series of films that would lead to a double-header finale. Unfortunately, Snyder’s dream never came to fruition due to various factors.
Nonetheless, there is a chronological order for at least five interlinked movies. The events in each movie impact the others, leading to exciting crossovers and cameos that enhance the story’s appeal. These movies are available on HBO Max.
Despite the intriguing timeline, it can be challenging to determine the correct order to watch the DC movies. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of how to view the movies in order. However, it’s essential to note that our list only includes movies explicitly made to alter and expand the DC Extended Universe’s timeline. Films like Ryan Reynolds’s Green Lantern, Tim Burton’s Batman, Warner Bros., Director James Gunn, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Night Trilogy are not on our list.
So with that out of the way, let’s get to it. Here are the DC movies in order.
DC Movies in Chronological Order of Events
The events of Wonder Woman take place before all the other DC movies. It tells the story of how Zeus created the Amazon women warriors and how they now live secretly on the island of Themyscira. The main part of the movie happens in 1918 during World War I. US pilot Captain Steve Trevor accidentally discovers Themyscira and Diana Prince joins him in London to fight alongside the Allies. The movie also has scenes set in the present day, after “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” to bookend the story.
Wonder Woman 1984
Wonder Woman’s sequel, directed by Patty Jenkins, is set in 1984 and is the second DC movie to watch in the correct order. The plot revolves around the greed of a digital spy and the fear of growing up in a world obsessed with making money. However, it should be noted that there are not many DCEU connections in this standalone film.
Man of Steel
The movie’s storyline begins in 2013, but it includes a prequel that portrays the tragic destruction of Krypton. Additionally, the film features scenes from Clark Kent’s childhood in Kansas, indicating that it takes place approximately two decades after Krypton’s demise. The insights into Superman’s upbringing suggest that his personality has surprising facets.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
The timeline of Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is somewhat complex. It includes flashbacks to Bruce Wayne’s childhood in 1981, when his parents were killed, and how Bruce Wayne witnessed the end of Man of Steel. Additionally, there are flashforwards to a future where the villain Darkseid has taken over (known as the “Knightmare” scenes). However, most of the movie’s plot transpires 18 months after the events of Man of Steel, during which time Ben Affleck’s Batman has grown more formidable and holds a grudge against Superman.
The setting of Suicide Squad is roughly a year after the events of Batman v. Superman. During the movie, the demise of Superman is acknowledged, and Bruce Wayne (played by Ben Affleck) makes a brief appearance to meet with Amanda Waller (played by Viola Davis), who has taken on a more significant leadership role among the superheroes. However, some flashbacks occur before the events of Man of Steel, which depict Batman’s pursuit of Joker (played by Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (played by Margot Robbie).
The events of this story take place two years after Batman vs. Superman and one year after Suicide Squad. The story includes a flashback to thousands of years ago, which shows how Steppenwolf attempted to conquer Earth and how the Amazons, Gods, and humans united to prevent him from doing so. Batman leads the group to fight against Steppenwolf, as indicated by clues found in Suicide Squad when he meets Amanda Waller.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
“The Justice League,” directed by Zack Snyder, is a four-hour film that outshines the previously released theatrical cut in terms of intensity, completeness, and grandeur. It remains faithful to the original timeline and serves as an excellent way to connect the missing dots in the stories of other Justice League productions.
Aquaman is an independent film that occurs a few months after the events of Justice League. It follows the story of Jason Momoa’s character as he endeavors to safeguard his underwater kingdom. However, the movie also includes flashbacks that detail Aquaman’s origin story from 1985.
The movie Shazam is a standalone film, but it begins with a flashback to 1974, revealing the origins of the main villain, Thaddeus Sivana. While it does not delve deeply into the DC Universe, it does introduce the characters of Shazam and Sivana.
Birds of Prey
This Harley Quinn story happened four years after those in Suicide Squad. Because Batman vs. Superman and Justice League occurred at different times, the DCEU became confusing, resulting in Birds of Prey only making numbered references to Harley Quinn’s actions in Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad
The James Gunn DC movie The Suicide Squad takes place sometime after the first Suicide Squad movie and probably after Birds of Prey, but the movie has nothing to do with how DC films connect. We know that Harley Quinn is back in jail, which is why she is part of Task Force X’s latest mission, and that Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a pro at putting these “Suicide Squad” missions into action.
The Batman movie, directed by Matt Reeves, features a younger version of the iconic superhero in his second year of crime-fighting. Robert Pattinson portrays Batman, and Keanu Reeves’ influence creates a darker and more atmospheric portrayal of Gotham. The movie includes classic Batman villains such as the Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and his allies Alfred and Jim Gordon. If the film performs well, we can anticipate more future Batman movies and TV shows.
Release dates of DC Movies in order
To make things even easier for you, here are all of the DC Extended Universe release dates in order:
- Man of Steel – June 14, 2013
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25, 2016
- Suicide Squad – August 5, 2016
- Wonder Woman – June 2, 2017
- Justice League – November 17, 2017
- Aquaman – December 21, 2018
- Shazam! – April 5, 2019
- Birds of Prey – February 7, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 — December 25, 2020
- Zack Snyder’s Justice League — March 18, 2021
- The Suicide Squad — August 6, 2021
- The Batman — March 4, 2022
- Black Adam — October 21, 2022