The DC Extended Universe is erratic and uneven, currently undergoing an aggressive shake-up that could potentially reshape it considerably. However, it also has flashes of brilliance, the same thrills and wonders that turned DC Comics into an industry juggernaut and a crucial part of pop culture. The DCEU has some of the most recognizable and beloved characters in comic book history within its ranks, and while it doesn’t always know how to use them, it somehow manages to do them justice against all odds.
Throughout the DCEU’s eleven movies, a large parade of characters have come and gone, showing off their considerable abilities and dazzling audiences, if not always critics. The mightiest are practically gods, possessing powers that defy imagination, turning them into nearly invincible beings. New arrivals like Black Adam can quickly make a name among these god-like figures, but the best and brightest of the DCEU are mostly the usual suspects from the comics.
Barry Allen is the fastest man alive. After being struck by lightning, Barry gains the power to run at superhuman speed. He can also access the Speed Force, an extradimensional energy source from which he seemingly draws his power. The DCEU has yet to fully explore his connection to the Speed Force, although it could happen in the future — that is, if The Flash ever comes out.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League shows Barry is capable of time-traveling by entering the Speed Force. His abilities go way beyond just “running fast;” indeed, Barry can alter reality itself. On a more practical level, he can also generate lightning and use it as an attack. The one thing holding Barry back is his lack of fighting experience and physical training; in short, he is less than useful in hand-to-hand combat. However, his considerable metahuman abilities more than compensate for his clumsiness in battle.
Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is a force of nature. An immortal demigod princess and Amazon warrior, Wonder Woman lives for the battle. She can’t help it; it’s in her blood. Her might is clear enough in both her solo big-screen adventures, with Wonder Woman showing her skill as a leader in times of war and Wonder Woman 1984 showcasing her strength of spirit. Wonder Woman is a major threat thanks to her superhuman strength, speed, stamina, and ability with her sword and shield. She also possesses the Lasso of Hestia, a magical golden lasso that compels others to speak with candor.
However, Wonder Woman’s signature weapons are the Bracelets of Submission, although the DCEU portrays them as bracers. Banging them together releases a massive blast of energy capable of knocking back some of DC’s most powerful characters, including Superman, Doomsday, and Steppenwolf. Wonder Woman has proven her might in hand-to-hand combat, holding her own against Doomsday and Steppenwolf, although she isn’t quite capable of defeating them by herself.
An abomination in every sense of the word, Doomsday is the result of an experiment where Lex Luthor mixed his DNA with that of General Zod. It is a creature of pure rage and violence, capable of absorbing energy and strengthening from it. It becomes larger, stronger, and increasingly deformed with each direct hit it receives, cementing itself as one of the biggest threats in the DCEU. It doesn’t seem capable of reason; instead, it appears to be a creature of hatred and wrath, the ultimate hunter looking for its prey.
For all its strengths, Doomsday is still Kryptonian and thus vulnerable to kryptonite. Still, the beast is almost unstoppable, capable of destroying entire cities in a matter of seconds. It takes the combined might of Superman and Wonder Woman to subdue him. However, Doomsday faces a tired and already injured Superman; if the Man of Steel had been at his best, the battle would’ve still been brutal but much more even.
The DCEU isn’t exactly famous for its villains. Like its main competitor, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most of the DCEU’s antagonists are forgettable and underdeveloped. However, the four-hour epic that is Zack Snyder’s Justice League comes closest to introducing a worthy foe for DC’s mightiest heroes. Steppenwolf is not particularly three-dimensional or well-developed, but he is compelling and even slightly sympathetic. Above all, he is menacing, living up to his role as the one villain capable of bringing the Justice League together.
Steppenwolf is powerful enough to fight an entire army of Amazon warriors and prevail. He is also capable of fighting Aquaman and Wonder Woman at once without ever losing the upper hand. Steppenwolf is one of Darkseid’s military officers, although his status in Apokolips is contentious at best. And although the film portrays him as one of the New Gods’ lowliest officers, he is still a massive threat to the people of Earth. Steppenwolf also commands an army of Parademons, which only increases his destructive power.
Who else but the Man of Steel would top a ranking of the most powerful DCEU characters? Superman lives up to his name, acting as the mightiest being in most iterations of the DC Universe. The Last Son of Krypton has a multitude of destructive and potentially catastrophic powers that include super strength, flight, heat vision, and freeze breath. He is as fast as Flash — presumably, anyway — and as brave as Wonder Woman, as fierce as Aquaman and as kind-hearted as Cyborg. Superman is the whole package.
Man of Steel shows him battling and defeating the much more experienced General Zod in hand-to-hand combat. He can also stand up to Doomsday even though he is severely injured from his previous exposure to kryptonite during his battle with Batman. Zack Snyder’s Justice League shows him dealing with the entire Justice League without so much as breaking a sweat before subduing Steppenwolf in a one-on-one match. There is no contest here and no way to go around it; Superman is the most powerful character in the DCEU, and although he hasn’t been around the big screen since 2017, his reputation is safe, at least until Darkseid makes his debut — if that ever happens.
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