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The 12 most powerful DCEU characters, ranked

Black Adam promised that “the hierarchy of the DC universe is about to change.” But that’s even more true after The Flash, especially since the ending of that film has upended everything we thought we knew about the DC Extended Universe. So far, there have been 13 movies in the DCEU, or 14 if you count Zack Snyder’s Justice League. And there are only two DCEU movies left to come, Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which will presumably wrap things up before James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Universe debuts with Superman: Legacy in 2025.

But we’re not done with the DCEU yet, and there’s no question that many of these characters are the equivalent of modern gods. Some of them are quite literally divine, like Wonder Woman. Their powers are often breathtaking, but the heroes aren’t always the ones who end up on top. And yet, their never-ending battle with evil is one of the big reasons why these characters have endured for decades. And quite frankly, it’s fun to figure out who the most powerful in the DCEU characters are. That’s why we’ve updated our rankings now that The Flash is in theaters.

12. Cyborg

Cyborg standing in front of a wall of smoke and fire in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Poor Cyborg had the short end of the stick in the now-infamous Justice League. Even when receiving good characterization in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, he was still cursed with some of the worst CGI in any superhero movie. At least his powers got a good showcase in Snyder’s version, but barely.

Cyborg’s abilities come from a Mother Box, meaning he can fly and possesses technopathy. Furthermore, his body becomes several weapons, usually cannons or other blasters. The Snyder cut hints that Cyborg’s abilities are far more impressive than anyone believes; however, the film doesn’t have time to fully explore them, probably because, once upon a time, there was supposed to be a Cyborg solo film dated for April 2020. Alas, the DCEU’s current version of Cyborg is powerful but underdeveloped.

11. Starro, The Conqueror

Starro, the Conqueror rampaging in The Suicide Squad
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Leave it to James Gunn to adapt one of the most bizarre characters in DC Comics. Under the filmmaker’s vision, Starro the Conqueror came to glorious life in the acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful 2021 film The Suicide Squad. Starro is an alien captured by the Thinker and being experimented on by the US government.

Starro’s power of control makes it incredibly dangerous. Overpowering most living organisms, Starro commands entire armies without moving an arm. However, Starro is quite slow and somewhat clumsy, living up to the traditional perception of the dumb giant. Furthermore, Starro is extremely vulnerable to physical attacks; heck, Harley Quinn kills it by stabbing it in the eye. Starro is strong, but considering it has a massive weakness in the middle of its body, it’s far from the almighty weapon.

10. The Flash

A close-up of The Flash running.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Where do we start with Barry Allen? With the powers of The Flash, Barry should be in the top five on this list. But this supposedly brilliant man is more like a man-child, and he’s prone to acting like a moron. It’s almost as if Barry has no idea how to act like a normal human being. As seen in The Flash movie, Barry’s emotionally stunted development had dire consequences for the DCEU. Because even with firsthand knowledge that his newfound time travel abilities are dangerous, Barry went ahead and changed history again for his own benefit. And that’s why the film ends in such a weird place.

Yes, Barry is also the fastest man alive. But if Barry insists on acting like he’s also the dumbest man alive, then he’s still doomed to be “the Justice League’s janitor,” as he calls himself in the movie. There’s really no excuse for Barry to be this inept at this point in his heroic career. And after breaking the universe twice in one story, the only direction left for Barry is down.

9. Aquaman

Aquaman standing in front of a waterfall holding a trident in the movie Aquaman.
Warner Bros. Pictures / Warner Bros. Pictures

Jason Momoa’s Aquaman hasn’t been around for a while now — Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom keeps getting pushed; it currently has a release date of December 25, 2023, but who knows if it will make it. It’s a shame because the character is fun and very powerful, as evidenced by his numerous battles within the DCEU. Whether he’s fighting Parademons, deranged aquatic kings, or even the Man of Steel himself, Aquaman is no longer the joke of the DC Universe.

However, there are limits to Aquaman’s powers. He couldn’t take on Superman alone and had trouble defeating his half-brother, Orm. Black Manta also gave him a run for his money, proving that Aquaman’s strength is limited. He remains a mighty hero with considerable abilities but is far from the strongest character in the current DCEU.

8. Black Adam

Black Adam looking to the distance while standing proud in Black Adam.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Fresh off his failed big-screen debut, Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam might already be forgotten by audiences. However, the character is among the most powerful in the current DC power hierarchy. Blessed with the powers of the wizard Shazam, Adam becomes the ruthless protector of the city of Kahndaq, who is unafraid to get his hands dirty to get the job done.

Adam can fly and has super strength, speed, stamina, and lightning powers. He is imposing and dangerous, especially because of his take-no-prisoners attitude. Unlike other characters in DC, Adam is willing to let his powers wreak havoc on the world, civilian casualties be damned. It’s unlikely we’ll see Adam again — James Gunn has no space for him in his DC universe. However, a battle between him and Superman would’ve been a true clash of the titans.

7. Shazam

Shazam faces an unseen enemy in Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Like Black Adam, Shazam has all the powers of the wizard who gave him his name. The wisdom of Solomon! The strength of Hercules! The stamina of Atlas! The power of Zeus! The courage of Achilles! The speed of Mercury! Never mind that Shazam blends Roman and Greek deities for the sake of his acronym. The important thing is he has powers to spare.

Unlike Black Adam, however, Shazam isn’t alone. He has a family of allies that are slightly less powerful than he is but can make all the difference when working alongside him on the battlefield. Although they are still kids, Shazam and his family are powerful enough to face multiple villains; indeed, they might be powerful enough to take on Wonder Woman or Aquaman. Maybe.

6. Supergirl

Supergirl flies in the sky in The Flash.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What’s the key difference between Supergirl and Superman? Experience. Supergirl may be older than her famous cousin, but Kara Zor-El spent decades in suspended animation and she remains a teenager while he is a fully grown adult. As a Kryptonian, Supergirl has all of the powers that Superman has: super strength and speed, flight, heat vision, ice breath, enhanced hearing, and more. But in The Flash, Supergirl’s lackluster fighting skills left her far too vulnerable to General Zod and the renegade Kryptonians.

Assuming that Kara is alive in the new post-Flash timeline, she has the potential to match Superman in terms of sheer power. But for Supergirl to move up on this list, she has a lot to learn about being a hero and living among humans on Earth. Superman’s humanity makes him a great hero. The jury is still out on his cousin.

5. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman runs on a battlefield in Wonder Woman.
Warner Bros. Pictures

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 power is clear enough in both her solo big-screen adventures, with Wonder Woman showing her leadership skill 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.

4. Doomsday

Doomsday looking menacing in battle in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 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.

3. Steppenwolf

Steppenwolf looking up with hopeful eyes in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Courtesy of HBO Max/Warner Media

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 can also fight 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.

2. Superman

Superman lies in Man of Steel.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

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, including 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; Superman is the most powerful character in the DCEU. And while we might’ve seen the last of Henry Cavill’s Superman, his legacy will live on in the minds and hearts of millions of fans worldwide.

1. Darkseid

Darkseid from Zack Snyder's Justice League.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

“Darkseid is.” That is what the evil New Gods of Apokolips whisper in reverence about their lord and master. Because even among the New Gods, Darkseid stands above them all as the most powerful being in the universe. He is the closest thing to a supreme being that the DCEU has in the flesh. But he wasn’t always this powerful. Zack Snyder’s Justice League features a flashback to Darkseid’s past, when he was merely Prince Uxas. Thanks to an unprecedented team-up of the Old Gods, the Amazons, humanity’s heroes, and even a Green Lantern, Uxas’ forces were defeated on Earth.

In the ensuing centuries, Uxas overthrew his mother and eliminated his brother by claiming the Omega Force as his own. Darkseid’s power already has him poised to conquer the universe. The only thing he needs to complete his conquest is the Anti-Life Equation, which will allow him to dominate all living things. Zack Snyder’s Justice League offered a glimpse of what Darkseid’s victory would look like, with Earth in ruins and Superman under his thumb. With the upcoming reboot, that timeline may never come to pass. But don’t assume that Darkseid won’t resurface in the new DC Universe. Darkseid is … and always will be.

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Blair Marnell
Blair Marnell has been an entertainment journalist for over 15 years. His bylines have appeared in Wizard Magazine, Geek…
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