5. Suicide Squad
Before Justice League, Suicide Squad was another DCEU film fundamentally altered once production had wrapped. In early 2016, Warner Bros. grew concerned that the tone of David Ayer's film didn't match with the inspired marketing campaign, with the disappointing box office performance of Batman v Superman reportedly leading them to change strategy. In the end, the final theatrical cut was essentially two different versions - one from the director, one a trailer house - stitched together during post-production and feeling more than a little unfinished. The introductory sequence presents the team's backstory in a series of flashbacks, interspersed with the kind of fun graphics that featured in the trailers. Unfortunately, and rather jarringly, those graphics are then ditched completely for the rest of Suicide Squad. To give a sense of just how disjointed this movie really is, there are no less than two scenes in a row in which Viola Davis' Amanda Waller explains why the world needs Suicide Squad and just what the team is supposed to be about.
As choppily edited as Suicide Squad may be, it has some inspired casting. The real stars are Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn and Davis' aforementioned Waller, both of whom inhabit their roles perfectly. Indeed, it's telling that Warner Bros. has moved Harley Quinn to the forefront of their plans for the future, with the troubled antihero leading Birds of Prey.
4. Man of Steel
Zack Snyder's Man of Steel reimagines Superman as a 21st Century superhero who is equally feared and distrusted by the world at large. Taking the baton from Christopher Nolan's work in The Dark Knight Trilogy, the auteur director creates a beautiful and dramatic retelling of Kal-El's origin story, spending more time exploring the planet of Krypton than any previous Superman adaptation. Cavill's grim portrayal contrasts markedly with Christopher Reeves', but fits the aesthetic and tone of the nascent DCEU.
In contrast to what would come, it was less the ideas and more the action that proved controversial, specifically the final battle; it's CGI-heavy, and the amount of destruction caused by the fight between Superman and Zod is startling. As a standalone film, Man of Steel was exciting; indeed, it could even have served as the perfect beginning for a loose series of Superman movies in the style of Nolan's Batman films. Somewhat unfortunately, it became so much more; it's the foundation on which every subsequent DCEU movie was built, meaning Snyder's take on Superman (which is frankly "Elseworlds"-esque) was twisted to be the mainstream interpretation of the character.
Starring Jason Momoa as the titular hero, this year's Aquaman is one of DC's strongest films to date. It's not a perfect movie - there are problems with the CGI, and the glorified "treasure hunt" plot doesn't quite work - but Aquaman is buoyed by director James Wan's lavish world-building as he explores DC's version of Atlantis. Momoa is perfectly cast, and there's tremendous chemistry between him and his co-star, Amber Heard. Wan is a horror director by trade, and that shows in his use of the Cthulhu mythos and an attack by the monstrous race known as the Trench. In a beautiful thematic twist, though, these monsters prove to be the Sea King's first army - and his most reliable allies. The plot acknowledges that Aquaman is commonly mocked for being a superhero who can talk to fish, and turns that much-derided ability into his greatest power.
Aquaman contrasts markedly with the earlier DCEU films. Where Man of Steel was dark and somber, Aquaman has a zany energy that just about sustains it. The film could probably have done with a little bit of editing in the middle, but on the whole it's a very effective movie indeed.
Page 3 of 3: The Top 2 DCEU Movies
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020