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How to watch the DC movies in order

DC movies are in a weird place right now. Four of the DC Extended Universe films are being released this year, and two of them, Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash, have already hit theaters. What makes it strange is that the DCEU as we know it is going to come to an end with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in December 2023. In 2025, James Gunn and Peter Safran’s DC Studios films will start the new DC Universe with Superman: Legacy, which will be a true fresh start for the franchise.

Where does that leave fans of the DCEU? All of those DC movies are still on Max (formerly HBO), and those films aren’t going anywhere unless Warner Bros. Discovery really wants another huge tax break. That means you can watch any and all of them at a moment’s notice, except for The Flash which has only just hit theaters. As for the rest, you have two options to watch them in order: Chronologically or by release date. And in this post, we’ll give you the correct order for both.

The cast of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Image via Warner Bros.

How to watch DC movies in chronological order

When you have main characters that are essentially immortal, come from other planets, or have trouble remembering what day it is, then timelines can get a little tricky. This list is for those who prefer to watch things as they unfold from past to present, moving through time in a logical way (well, as logical as we can get it).

Note: We’ll let you decide if Justice League and the immensely long full-cut of Zack Snyder’s Justice League are the same movie or not. Hardcore fans will want to watch the re-made, uncut version (which feels more like a miniseries) after the original movie. If you want to save some time, you can choose one or the other, and if you want to save the most time, just watch the originally released film.

Wonder Woman (2017)

Wonder Woman
76 %
pg-13 141m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Robin Wright
Directed by Patty Jenkins
Diana of Themyscira (Gal Gadot) has stayed protected behind the magical barriers of her island for her entire life, but everything changes when a American spy fleeing the Nazis crashes on her shore. She and the spy embark on a mission to uncover and end an evil plot to make the war even worse. Diana learns to embrace her destiny as an immortal hero and goddess in her battles with the god of war, Ares. The WWII setting officially makes Wonder Woman the earliest DC movie. Yes, there are also flashbacks to the times of the Greek gods, but that happens in multiple DC movies, so we’re not really counting it.
WONDER WOMAN - Official Trailer [HD]

Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984
60 %
pg-13 151m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine, Kristen Wiig
Directed by Patty Jenkins
The time skip all the way to the 1980s doesn’t prevent Wonder Woman (Gadot) from again having one of the earliest chronological movies. Here, Diana has found a balance between her human life as a museum curator and her identity as the hero Wonder Woman. But the 1980s hold plenty of challenges — and temptations. Diana faces Maxwell Lord, Cheetah, and the destructive power of humanity’s own desires. By overcoming her own tests, she is able to unite humanity to defeat the threat.
Wonder Woman 1984 - Official Main Trailer

Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel
55 %
pg-13 143m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon
Directed by Zack Snyder
Superman’s origin story clocks in as the next big DCEU event. Here, we follow the destruction of Krypton and Clark Kent’s (Henry Cavill) boyhood up to his time working as a reporter at the Daily Planet, where he has learned to hide his powers from the world. But everything changes when General Zod (Michael Shannon) and the last Kryptonians invade earth and develop superpowers of their own. Superman defeats them and fully embraces his own destiny as a protector of mankind.
Man of Steel - Official Trailer 3 [HD]

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
44 %
pg-13 152m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jesse Eisenberg
Directed by Zack Snyder

Storylines and personalities clash in this sequel that sees Batman (Ben Affleck) following a dark path that makes him wary of Superman’s (Cavill) power, while Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) plots to turn the world against Superman. These plans birth a monstrosity that can only be taken down when the two heroes stop fighting and help each other … but the victory costs the life of Superman. Dawn of Justice serves as a sequel to Superman’s story, along with the introduction of a DCEU Batman and eventually Wonder Woman (Gadot), who finally shows up in the “present day.”

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - Comic-Con Trailer [HD]

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad
40 %
pg-13 123m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Will Smith, Jared Leto, Margot Robbie
Directed by David Ayer

Intelligence officer Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) puts together a team of expendable (and dangerous) criminals to battle an ancient magical threat. The team, including members like Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Killer Croc (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Deadshot (Will Smith), battle evil forces, face off against The Joker (Jared Leto), and get in lots of trouble. The threat is eventually sealed away, with only a few of the squad left alive. Based on the references to other events, this particular Suicide Squad is put together sometime after Dawn of Justice but before the gang gets together in Justice League.

Suicide Squad - Official Trailer 1 [HD]

Justice League (2017)

Justice League
45 %
pg-13 120m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Amy Adams
Directed by Zack Snyder
An ancient and terrible enemy is returning to destroy earth … but there is hope. Batman (Affleck) gathers together a team of superpowered individuals to help uncover the truth and prevent the enemy from succeeding. Their battles eventually lead to a desperate attempt to revive Superman (Cavill). After much turmoil, the full team bands together to save the day and realize the potential they all have. Justice League progressed the DCEU story significantly while introducing characters like Aquaman (Jason Momoa) and The Flash (Ezra Miller) for the first time.
JUSTICE LEAGUE - Official Trailer 1

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Zack Snyder's Justice League
54 %
r 242m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Stars Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Gal Gadot
Directed by Zack Snyder
If you want every detail possible and every extra scene, this four-hour-long cohesive version of Justice League is for you — and is even available in black and white. This version is packed with extra scenes, new CGI, and altered details that make the world of the Justice League feel more fleshed out. The characters are given more time to feel human as much as heroic.
Zack Snyder's Justice League | Official Trailer | HBO Max

Aquaman (2018)

55 %
pg-13 143m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe
Directed by James Wan
Born the son of a lighthouse keeper and an Atlantean princess, Aquaman (Momoa) has struggled to find his place in two very different worlds. But there’s an evil churning in Atlantis that wants to bring about a new age of domination, forcing Arthur to accept his destiny and work to save the separate kingdoms of Atlantis — as well as the rest of the world. While the movie covers many parts of Aquaman’s life, the primary plot appears to be set after he has already made contact with the Justice League.
AQUAMAN - Final Trailer - Now Playing In Theaters

Shazam! (2019)

71 %
pg-13 132m
Genre Action, Comedy, Fantasy
Stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Mark Strong
Directed by David F. Sandberg
Young Billy Batson is granted the ability to transform into the adult superhero known as Shazam (Zachary Levi) by an ancient wizard. Now he must learn about his powers while getting used to his new foster family. With new friendships and plenty of practice, he is ready to face Dr. Sivana (Mark Strong), who has been possessed by the Seven Deadly Sins. The power of Shazam triumphs and spreads to Batson’s new family at the same time. References in Shazam! make it clear it’s in a post-Justice League world, where the concept of superheroes is common knowledge.
SHAZAM! - Official Trailer 2 - Only In Theaters April 5

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
60 %
r 109m
Genre Action, Crime
Stars Margot Robbie, Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Directed by Cathy Yan
Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) has left the Joker and seeks a life of her own. But new plots by crime boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor) make life particularly dangerous for her. To survive, she teams up with Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett), and a detective, Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez). Harley’s sort-of redemption arc takes place after her first round with the Suicide Squad in a Gotham very familiar with Batman. 
BIRDS OF PREY - Official Trailer 1

The Suicide Squad (2021)

The Suicide Squad
72 %
r 132m
Genre Action, Adventure, Fantasy
Stars Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena
Directed by James Gunn
The second Suicide Squad is a minor reboot of the concept, this time directed by the talented James Gunn, but it very clearly takes place after the first. When everyone is expendable, you can have a lot of squads! This time Harley Quinn (Robbie) is joined by team members like Peacemaker (John Cena), King Shark (voiced by Sylvester Stallone), and Bloodsport (Idris Elba) to infiltrate the island of Corto Maltese and take down a decades-long alien experiment. Despite some detours and direct defiance against Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), they ultimately succeed — and some of them even survive. Perhaps one of the best things to come out of The Suicide Squad is the incredible HBO Max spinoff series, Peacemaker.

Black Adam (2022)

Black Adam
41 %
pg-13 124m
Genre Action, Adventure, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Stars Dwayne Johnson, Aldis Hodge, Noah Centineo
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra

“The hierarchy of power in the DC universe is about to change.” In retrospect, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may have overhyped the importance of Black Adam. Suffice to say, Johnson’s character, Teth-Adam/Black Adam, did not become the most popular antihero in the DC Universe. But he did get his own movie.

Within the film, Adrianna Tomaz (Sarah Shahi) awakens Teth-Adam after he was imprisoned for thousands of years. Both Adrianna and her son, Amon (Bodhi Sabongui), believe that Teth-Adam is the legendary champion of Kahndaq. However, the Justice Society of America, sees Teth-Adam as a potential threat. Soon enough, Hawkman (Aldis Hodge), Doctor Fate (Pierce Brosnan), Cyclone (Quintessa Swindell), and Atom Smasher (Noah Centineo) confront Teth-Adam on his own turf. But he is far too powerful for even their combined might.

Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)

Shazam! Fury of the Gods
47 %
pg-13 130m
Genre Comedy, Action, Fantasy
Stars Zachary Levi, Asher Angel, Jack Dylan Grazer
Directed by David F. Sandberg

The Shazam family has the power of the gods, and now the gods want their power back. Or more specifically, the daughters of Atlas want the power in Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Billy Batson truly seems like two different people in this sequel, with his younger self (Asher Angel) nervously approaching adulthood while his superhero alter ego (Zachary Levi) is an overgrown and immature child in an adult’s body.

Djimon Hounsou’s Shazam returns from the grave to warn Billy that Hespera (Helen Mirren), Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Anthea (Rachel Zegler) are coming. However, those warnings come too late to prevent Billy’s foster brother, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer), from being depowered. And if Billy isn’t careful, the entire family may lose their powers as well.

The Flash (2023)

The Flash
56 %
pg-13 144m
Genre Science Fiction, Action, Adventure
Stars Ezra Miller, Sasha Calle, Michael Shannon
Directed by Andy Muschietti

The Flash isn’t on Max yet, but give it time. It may be going there sooner than expected. Ezra Miller reprises his role as Barry Allen/The Flash, the fastest man alive. Yet Barry feels powerless to change his life or to free his father, Henry Allen (Ron Livingston), from prison after spending two decades in prison for supposedly murdering his wife (and Barry’s mother), Nora Allen (Maribel Verdú).

Upon realizing that he can go back in time and save both of his parents, Barry inadvertently creates a new timeline with some problematic elements. That includes a duplicate of Barry himself and a Kryptonian invasion. Fortunately, there’s a Batman (Michael Keaton) and a Supergirl (Sasha Calle) who may be able to help the Barrys save the world.

How to watch DC movies in release order

Barry Allen in the Flash suit.
Warner Bros.

This option is for viewers who prefer to watch the movies in the order that they hit theaters. For some, this feels like a more authentic experience and can help more clearly explain the difference in tone or style as the movies progress — as well as any small retcons that may otherwise be confusing. Here’s how to watch:

  • Man of Steel (2013)
  • Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  • Suicide Squad (2016)
  • Wonder Woman (2017)
  • Justice League (2017)
  • Aquaman (2018)
  • Shazam! (2019)
  • Birds of Prey (2020)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  • Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  • The Suicide Squad (2021)
  • Black Adam (2022)
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)
  • The Flash (2023)

What about The Batman?

Robert Pattinson in The Batman.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Matt Reeves’ The Batman is not on our list because is it a standalone story that is unconnected to the DCEU. It’s just not part of the timeline or even the DCEU multiverse as a whole. Like Joker before it, The Batman exists all on its own, and you shouldn’t expect its characters to make appearances in other DC movies until its sequel.

OK, what about future releases?

Xolo Maridueña catches a bus in Blue Beetle.
Warner Bros. Pictures

Our list works for the DC movies released so far — but true fans are probably wondering about future releases, too! Don’t worry; we’ll keep our list updated. But for now, it’s important to know that 2023 is going to be the last year for the DC Extended Universe before James Gunn and Peter Safran begin the new DC Universe in 2025. Here are the confirmed titles coming in the future months and years that will change our list.

  • Blue Beetle (August 18, 2023)
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 20, 2023)

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Movie images and data from:
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