DC's animated movies have offered up some of the best adaptations of the Justice League and beyond - here are the top 10, which are all now streaming on DC Universe. After all, while DC Comics has lagged behind Marvel when it comes to live-action superhero movies, it is generally agreed that DC Films rules the roost when it comes to animated features, both in terms of quality and quantity.
The past decade has seen DC Films produce an average of three animated films each year. That rate is expected to increase to four movies this year, with new films now being produced exclusively for DC Universe. The first of these, Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five, will be released in Summer 2019.
Even without the new releases that will never be available anywhere else, a DC Universe subscription is a bargain considering the comic book archive and classic television and film offerings made available for the same price as two new print comics. While not every DC animated film produced by DC Films is available at this time, there is still an impressive amount of material to sort through. Here are our picks for the ten best feature-length DC animated films you can stream right now.
10. Justice League: War
Based on "Origin" - the Justice League story which first established the New 52 era of DC Comics - Justice League: War similarly sets-up the DC Animated Movie Universe. Based around the galactic tyrant Darkseid's first attempt to invade Earth, the movie introduces DC Comics' most popular heroes as they come together to stop him. The script by Heath Corson recreates some of the best moments from Geoff Johns' original story, yet some of the movie's best scenes center around the wholly original interactions of Billy Batson and Victor Stone. The football star teaches his young fan a lesson on the importance of teamwork (it doesn't matter how good a quarterback is if there's nobody to receive the pass) that echos the chief theme of the film.
9. Batman: Gotham Knight
Set in the same reality as Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, Gotham Knight was timed to release on home video at the same time as The Dark Knight. The DC animated film was built around a simple concept - recruit some of the best Batman writers in the business to write short films around the character and have those stories produced by the greatest Japanese animators working today.
As with most anthologies, the final work is somewhat uneven as a whole. The quality varies wildly from chapter to chapter, though even the weakest sections are merely off-putting rather than bad. If nothing else, Gotham Knight is an interesting experiment and one that invites comparison to its spiritual forebear, The Animatrix.
Related: Top 10 Animated Superhero Movies
8. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
Arthur Curry always felt as if he didn't truly belong in the small town of Amnesty Bay, where he helped his father maintain the local lighthouse. Destiny arrived unexpectedly, as men in strange armor tried to kill him and his life was saved by a red-haired woman who claimed he was the lost heir to the throne of Atlantis. Now, with the help of the Justice League, Arthur must fight to claim his birthright and save two worlds.
Comparisons to Aquaman are inevitable, as both films drew heavily from the Throne of Atlantis storyline from the comics. The animated Throne of Atlantis is distinguished by its presenting a more traditional superhero origin story, with Arthur Curry unaware of his powers or his heritage well into adulthood. The animated version of Ocean Master is also more overtly villainous, though he still plots with Black Manta in secret to fake the attacks from the surface world that push Atlantis toward war.
7. Batman: Gotham By Gaslight
A sinister serial killer stalks the streets of Gotham City, targeting women of low station. Though the local government assures the public that there is no danger to respectable ladies, the letters this "Jack The Ripper" sends the Gotham Gazette describing his crimes in detail leave the citizens of Gotham terrified. The city's only hope lies with a mysterious vigilante, dressed like a giant bat, who is armed with a calculating mind that is the equal of Sherlock Holmes' and strange steampunk technologies.
Based on the graphic novel of the same name (which was also the first book published under DC Comics' Elseworlds imprint), the DC animated movie Gotham by Gaslight builds wonderfully on the classic comic. While staying true to the setting and spirit of Victorian Gotham City, the film gives its Batman allies in the form of suffragette showgirl Selina Kyle and a trio of urchins called the Cock Robins. The movie also changes the identity of Jack the Ripper from the original book, making this one of the few DC Films that fans of the comics can enjoy without having any idea of how the movie will end.
6. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
When the US Government detects a giant meteor made of Kryptonite hurling towards the Earth, President Lex Luthor frames Superman for the murder of the villain Metallo, claiming the approaching meteor has made the beloved hero mentally unstable. Batman is quick to stand by his super-friend and work to prove his innocence, but the task becomes more difficult after President Luthor posts a $1 billion bounty on their heads. With both professional assassins and government-employed metahumans hunting them, can the World's Finest heroes clear their names and save the world?
Based on the story of the same name from the Superman/Batman comics of Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness, Public Enemies sports a unique animation style based on McGuinness' designs. Starring many of the voice actors from the Superman and Justice League animated series, fans of those shows will delight in hearing Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy play off of one another once again as Superman and Batman. It is Clancy Brown's performance as an increasingly deranged Lex Luthor, however, that steals the show.