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Legends on the page, legends on the screen. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the "Top 10 DC Movies of all Time.
For this list, we’re delivering our definitive ranking of DC Comics movies, be they live action or animated. It takes a lot to do these heroes justice, but these movies pulled it off.
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#10: “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 & Part 2” (2012-13)
Very few comics have had the lasting impact on the Batman mythos as the groundbreaking 1986 comic by writer/artist Frank Miller. This two-part animated epic brings that legendary story to life, depicting a futuristic Gotham more in need of the Caped Crusader than ever. But this isn’t your dad’s Batman. Older, wiser and with more extreme methods than ever, Batman comes out of retirement to bring the fight to gangs, supervillains and more in an adventure that no one movie could do justice to.
#9: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” (2006)
While the version that made it into theatres was a bit too silly for some fans, the re-cut version of the second Christopher Reeves Superman movie did a lot to restore the movie to what Richard Donner had intended. When three Kryptonian criminals escape from the Phantom Zone, they find themselves on Earth and in possession of all of the Man of Steel’s powers. And by no small coincidence, Earth’s caped protector is the son of the man who imprisoned them in the first place. Meanwhile, Superman finds himself longing for a simpler life after revealing his secret identity to Lois, but can Earth get by without him?
#8: “Batman: Under the Red Hood” (2010)
Without a doubt, the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, is one of the darkest chapters in Batman’s history. This animated movie sees that horrible moment coming back to haunt the Dark Knight when his former sidekick reappears alive and well and out for blood. Now suited up as the vigilante Red Hood, Jason is determined to clean up Gotham for good, even if it means taking human lives. Based on a story ripped straight from the Batman comics, this movie pulls no punches when it comes to shaking Batman’s world to its core, and putting the Caped Crusader’s moral compass to the ultimate test.
#7: “Watchmen” (2009)
Adapting the landmark graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is no easy task, and some would say it’s outright impossible. But for a two-hour feature film version of the epic comic, Zack Snyder’s 2009 effort does a terrific job of bringing the legendary story to life. Set in a world where costumed vigilantes are on the decline, the movie casts superheroes in a whole new light and isn’t afraid of depicting them as unhinged, weird and even insanely dangerous...and dangerously insane. Not all Alan Moore properties have had great success when being brought to the screen, but at least we have this and V for Vendetta.
#6: “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)
Spinning out of the wildly successful Batman: The Animated Series, this epic tale of Batman’s past and present retains a soft spot in the hearts of fans, some of whom will go to their graves calling it the best Batman film ever produced, animated or otherwise. The film tells the story of Batman’s early days as a crime fighter, while simultaneously showing the Dark Knight facing down a murderous vigilante in present-day Gotham. The film brought new levels of pathos and tragedy to the Batman mythos, presenting a caped crusader who becomes unsure of his mission when faced with the possibility of a different destiny.
#5: “Superman” (1978)
Viewed by many as the first truly great modern superhero movie, this is the film that brought Superman to the big screen in all his timeless glory, making us really believe that a man could fly. Showcasing the Man of Steel’s origin and his first battle with Lex Luthor, the film practically glows with grandeur and optimism, painting the legendary hero as the champion of truth and justice we always knew he could be. Yes, we know, the costume and effects are a bit on the dated side, but don’t let the film’s age deter you from going back to see where the comic book movie got its first big break.
#4: “Batman” (1989)
Before Christopher Nolan, before the MCU and definitely before the DCEU, one movie defined comic book films for a whole generation. Starring Michael Keaton as The Dark Knight and Jack Nicholson as The Joker, this movie by director Tim Burton took the box office by storm and brought comic books to life as very few films had before. Sure, Batman can’t exactly turn his head, and the soundtrack sure has a whole lot of Prince on it, but this film’s legacy as one of the most important comic book films out there can’t be argued. Burton even came back three years later with one heck of a sequel.
#3: “Batman Begins” (2005)
Bringing the Batman franchise into the modern era, this grim and gritty reboot of the mythos eschewed the bright colors, campy antic and bat-nipples of the earlier Joel Schumacher films. Instead, we got a dark and dramatic action adventure that much prefers keeping things grounded in reality to the larger-than-life fantasy of previous entries. Retelling Batman’s origin and depicting his training and first adventure as a vigilante, the film set the bar for comic book movies in the early 2000s, with its grounded approach becoming the standard for years afterward. It may live in the shadow of its hugely successful follow-up, but hey, aren’t shadows kinda Batman’s thing anyway?
#2: “Wonder Woman” (2017)
The DC Extended Universe has had its fair share of detractors, but pretty much everyone agrees that the very first film to star this legendary hero is a resounding triumph. Set in World War I, the film follows Diana of Themyscira as she ventures into Man’s World in search of the villainous Ares. There, she comes face to face with everything wonderful and horrible about life outside her island home, prompting her to don the iconic outfit and become the DCEU’s first hero. A financial and critical smash, the film proved not just that female-led superhero movies work, but that they can carry whole universes without breaking a sweat.
#1: “The Dark Knight” (2008)
Christopher Nolan had a lot to live up to when he set out to direct a sequel to his trendsetting Batman reboot, Batman Begins. But not only did he manage to deliver a satisfying sequel, he created what many consider the finest comic book movie ever. A gritty crime drama that also happens to feature Batman and The Joker, the film dazzled critics and audiences with its grounded approach and of course the legendary performance by Heath Ledger in the role of The Joker. While it’s generally agreed that the film remains unsurpassed, the follow up The Dark Knight Rises also capped Nolan’s saga off nicely.