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How to watch the DC movies in order

There are now 10 official DCEU (Extended Universe) movies out in the world, and despite having different directors and styles, they all work together to form a more or less continuous movieverse timeline. That’s good news for viewers who want to jump in — or fans who are planning a complete run of the movies from beginning to end.

We’re helping make DC binges and other events more fun by giving you a quick list of how to watch the DC movies in order, depending on your preference. Given the nature of the DC heroes and when certain movies were greenlit, chronological order is wildly different from the order in which the titles were released. We’re going to tackle chronological order first for those who care the most about the overall storyline — and then we’ll dive into the release order for those who want to mimic an in-the-theater experience through the years as closely as possible. Finally, we’ll give you a look at what’s coming from the DCEU, from this spring’s The Batman and The Flash to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s upcoming DC debut in the Shazam! spin-off/sequel, Black Adam

Task Force X in The Suicide Squad.

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).

First note: No, Joker does not qualify as a DCEU title. The titular character is from DC, but doesn’t fall into this movieverse, and this particular origin story is not considered canon in the DC movieverse. The same appears to be true of the upcoming The Batman, which we will mention below.

Second 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 %
7.4/10
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 1984 (2020)

Wonder Woman 1984
60 %
5.4/10
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 musuem 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.

Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel
55 %
7/10
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.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
44 %
6.4/10
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 heros 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.”

Suicide Squad (2016)

Suicide Squad
40 %
5.9/10
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 some time after Dawn of Justice but before the gang gets together in Justice League.

Justice League (2017)

Justice League
45 %
6.1/10
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 invidiuals 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.

Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)

Zack Snyder's Justice League
54 %
8.1/10
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 hero.

Aquaman (2018)

Aquaman
55 %
6.9/10
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.

Shazam! (2019)

Shazam!
71 %
7/10
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 triumps, 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 superheros is common knowledge.

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

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)
60 %
6.1/10
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. 

The Suicide Squad (2021)

The Suicide Squad
72 %
7.2/10
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 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.

How to watch DC movies in release order

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)
The cast of Shazam! Fury of the Gods.

Okay, what about future releases?

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 2022 is going to be a big year for the DC movieverse. Here are the confirmed titles coming in the future months and years that will change our list.

  • The Batman (March 4, 2022)
  • Black Adam (July 29, 2022)
  • The Flash (November 24, 2022)
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kindgom (December 16, 2022)
  • Batgirl (2022 — TBA)
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods (June 2, 2023)
  • Blue Beetle (August 28, 2023)
  • Wonder Twins (TBA)

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Movie images and data from: