Ranking The DC Animated Films (Part 1)

If there was one studio consistently kicking out amazing superhero films, it would definitely be Warner Bros. They have one of the most diverse and solid track records of any studio. They made an amazing Wonder Woman film 20 years before Marvel would make a film with a leading lady. They turned Batman into a vampire the same year Fox fucked up the Fantastic Four for the fourth time. Hell, they had 3 superhero team up films before the Avengers came around. They perfected the genre years ago and continue to create interesting, fan pleasing films.

At this point you’ve probably realized I’m talking about Warner Brothers Animation and not the studio behind such gems as Martha: The Movie and Jared Leto and Friends. Why their live action films are such a mess is baffling to me considering right down the hall, for a fraction of the budget, one of their divisions is fucking killing it. Just bring those motherfuckers over to make your film. It ain’t hard. But I digress.

In honor of the new release of Justice League, let’s honor the studio that should’ve been tasked with doing the job in the first place, with a comprehensive list of every DC animated film ranked from the worst to the tippity top.

This list will not include the Lego films.

 

45. The Killing Joke

This is unquestionably their worst film to date. Whether you like the Alan Moore penned original graphic novel or not, there’s no denying that that is the definitive Joker origin story. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s beloved but it’s definitely respected and has, for the most part, been established as canon. So fans were clamoring for years to see Mark Hamill finally get a chance to voice his iconic Joker in his definitive story.

What we finally got was a travesty. The first 30 minutes of this film, which was made up of brand new material, is shockingly, offensively bad. How they treat Barbara Gordon in this is absolutely fucking insane. You do not need to be a fan of Batman or even comics to know that this is the worst written, most ineptly handled depictions of any character in history. Her character arc is literally “Sex Puppet who gets shot.” That’s all. It’s infuriatingly bad.

This isn’t just the worst DC animated film, this is the worst DC film period.

 

 

44. JLA Adventures: Trapped In Time

Not every entry will be an in-depth review. Case in point: JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time. 

The animation is sub par, the plot is forgettable and it feels like a piss poor attempt to make ‘Dawnstar’ and ‘Karate Kid’ a thing. They’re not a thing. Stop trying to make them a thing.

That was a Mean Girls reference. Nobody has ever tried to make ‘Dawnstar’ or ‘Karate Kid’ a thing.

It does have a mini Avatar: The Last Airbender reunion with Dante Basco (who voiced Prince Zuko) and Jack De Sena (who voiced Sokka), so that’s a plus, I guess.

 

 

43/42/41. Batman Unlimited: Mechs vs Monsters/ Monster Mayhem/ Animal Instincts

I don’t know what to make of these films. Are they supposed to tie into a cartoon that never made it or a toy line? Which of these elements came first and are any of them successful? Those questions that I asked myself while watching these films, are the only thing I remember about said films. I don’t remember hating them and I probably would’ve liked them as a kid but they feel like movies you’d get as a promotional giveaway at a McDonald’s. Harmless, forgettable fluff.

They do however have Troy Baker as the Joker and that man is always a plus.

 

 

40/39. DC Superhero Girls: Hero of the Year/ Intergalactic Games

I really, really wish I liked these films more. I admire the intention and respect the fact that they’re trying to make films just for girl fans but the execution feels lazy. Again, just like the last couple of entries, there’s nothing offensive about these films, they’re just extremely mediocre. There’s films that will show up later I actually dislike more but they’re objectively better made films. These feel like two episodes of a television show placed back to back and then edited into a film. I hope that younger audiences are connecting to them because I’m tired of comic book properties feeling like a boys club but they’re not made for me.

On the plus side: they both feature Dean Cain and that’s a fun callback to his days as Superman.

 

 

38. Teen Titans: Trouble In Tokyo

The show that this film ties into, is revered by this generation. Along with Young Justice and whatever iteration of Spider-Man was out at the time, was many a childs gateway into superhero fandom. They have strong nostalgic ties to the adventures of the Teen Titans. I was damn near done with high school by the time this show came around, so it never really connected to me but I always understood the appeal.

It mixed a Japanese anime inspired art style with western sensibilities to create an interesting hybrid. Some were put off by its visuals while others fully embraced them. But even the naysayers admitted the cast was on point. The voice actors injected each one of the Titans with personality and charm and the villains were a legit threat. Arrow has spent 5 seasons trying to make Deathstroke a formidable foe and he’s no where near as villainous or threatening as he is in this show.

They took all of the elements of the show and made a quick cash grab TV movie. If you love the show, this is more to love but there’s nothing here that would bring in new fans.

 

 

37. Batman And Harley Quinn

If it wasn’t for the TV show movies and McDonald’s Happy Meal toys/movies, this would be right next to The Killing Joke. I truly despise the “sex tramp” version of Harley Quinn. She’s always skirted the line of innuendo but in a playful way. She always came across as naughty, not sexualized. This film is made for teenagers that look up “Rule 34” porn or have a Harley fetish.

She has sex with Nightwing, shakes her tits to get a reaction from the crowd she’s telling a joke too and works at a hooters-esque bar called “superbabes” where the employees dress like scantily clad superheroes.

I fucking hate this film.

The only saving grace is Kevin Conroy and the appearance of Swamp Thing. That’s it.

“Idiot meat skank” is a term this film uses to describe Harley and it made me want to punch my goddamn television.

Fuck this movie.

 

 

36. Batman: Assault On Arkham

Harley Quinn has sex with Deadshot in this.

Stop having Harley Quinn fuck everybody. It’s not empowering. Its not edgy. It’s gross and is blatantly pandering to young boys.

But even without the sex scene, the film is still a mess. Granted, it’s leagues better than whatever the fuck Ayer tried to pass off as a film but that still doesn’t mean it’s great.

But on the brightside, there’s Troy Baker as the Joker. He’s given nothing to do but that man is great and will always be a plus.

 

 

35. Green Lantern: Emerald Knights

No offense to Green Lantern fans but who the hell was this made for? This is an anthology film that focuses on different members of the Lantern Corps that only fans, and I’m talking dihard fans will even know, much less give a shit about.

The only remarkable thing about this film is the fact that, no matter how seemingly disposable the film seems, Warner Bros Animation will still assemble a killer fucking cast of actors.

In the leads, you have Nathan Fillion returning as Hal Jordan (the role he was born to play), Jason Isaacs as Sinestro and Elizabeth “I’ve done more things than Mad Men” Moss as Arisia. And the supporting cast includes inspired choices such as Henry Rollins and Rowdy Roddy Piper.

The film is as forgettable as they come but if you’re a fan of the Lantern, they made a movie just for you buddy.

 

 

34. Superman Unbound

Let’s cut to the chase: Superman is boring. He’s a boring ass character. Back in the 20’s he worked because he was as strong as 10 men, slightly faster than a train and could jump pretty high. That’s impressive for a generation that got paid in half-pennies but over time, he’s become so overpowered, that almost every film or story struggles to come up with a threat for him to overcome.

When you have the strength to move a planet, fighting evil loan sharks that want to intimate poor ol’ Jimmy Olson ain’t gonna cut it. So you constantly have to come up with more and more elaborate villains for him to punch. It’s the Dragon Ball Z problem. Goku is the strongest person on earth but for the show to have any stakes, he has to fight somebody stronger than himself for there to be drama. But what that inevitably leads to is the villains becoming cartoonishly overpowered. Each one has to one up the last one to the point where it gets silly.

In Superman Unbound, the villain Braniac has the knowledge of “10,000” planets. Which essentially means he’s destroyed a shit ton of fucking worlds. Superman is so goddamn powerful, that they need a force that’s destroyed 10,000 planets to fight him.

And he still wins.

This film is boring and forgettable but does have a fantastic performance by John Noble as Braniac. That’s about it.

 

 

33. Superman: Braniac Attacks

Far better than the last outing but still not a good movie. You’d be forgiven to think that this was a TV movie based on the amazing show but it’s not. It’s just a movie that used some of the same cast and animation assets.

It’s not 100% a total misfire but you can tell they were half assing it. I believe this is the first appearance of Tim Daly as Superman and he’s easily in the top tier of Superman portrayals. There’s also Powers Boothe, who, while I don’t like the direction they took Lex Luthor in this (it’s more Gene Hackman than Clancy Brown) is never not great.

Oh and it has Lance Henrickson. I’m desperately trying to find the positives here.

Nobody fucks either Batgirl or Harley Quinn. There’s your positives.

 

  • Tanis11

    Whelp, I look forward to it. This list will definitely introduce me to a lot of new movies to watch. I’m excited.

  • I can’t speak for Batman and Harley Quinn, but I felt in the Suicide Squad movie her character was more than just her good looks/sex life, it really wasn’t her main focus as far as I remember.
    Of course objectification and over-sexualization of characters is a cheap shitty gimmick, but it didn’t bother me there

  • sailor monsoon

    Ironically though, a superman film makes it very high on the list.
    There’s only one way to write superman and the film nails it.

  • sailor monsoon

    I just saw this
    It looks really good

  • Tanis11

    “Let’s cut to the chase: Superman is boring. He’s a boring ass character.”

    Holy fucking “nail on the head” shit. This is exactly how I feel about this character. I would’ve quoted your whole paragraph but it seemed a little excessive. But this is why I don’t mind Snyder’s portrayal of Superman just for the human elements….it brought me to care or at the very least become somewhat interested.

  • Yay, it worked! Looks interesting. I hope we see more Elseworlds adaptations (live-action would be cool too).

    The guard kinda sounded like Kevin Conroy.

  • Something is wrong with my YouTube on desktop, so I figured this was relevant enough to post here (and hopefully watch). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6340tX9M_eM

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    I want to know how far did The Dark Knight Returns PT 2 and Flashpoint and JL War and All Star Superman got as those are some of my favorites!

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    You should of just watched the second half like I did.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    But Deadshot wanted to have sex so I wouldn’t blame Harley for this instant.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    There’s a scene where Harley almost has sex with Nightwing and it’s just nasty.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Pointless Batgirl Batman sex and the side plot did not have to be there and im sorry but the animation is cheap and looks average however im surprised Batman & Harley isn’t last.

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s indicative of a much much larger problem.
    DC has a long history of fucking over their female characters
    Having Batman have sex with batgirl is a godawful decision.
    It’s icky as fuck.

  • Because they had sex. Cmon y’all taking it a bit too seriously.

  • sailor monsoon

    It’s the objectification of the character.
    Almost every single joke in Batman and Harley Quinn is sexual.
    “I’ll call you when i run out of batteries”
    That’s not flirty or fun, that’s trashy.
    It’s a pointless addition to the character that they only added because she’s the most famous female comic book character among teenage boys.
    I really fucking hate it.

  • Ha, I knew somebody would bring that up… Yeah, I know people voted for him to die and all that, maybe not the best example, but you get the point.
    And why would having a one-night stand=tramp?

  • sailor monsoon

    But that robin that was beat to death was a piece of shit That nobody liked.
    The fans actually voted for him to die.
    Nobody liked him and that was actually his defining character moment.
    Harley quinn is more than just a “tramp”
    She’s a fucking doctor.

  • sailor monsoon

    Wonder woman will be very high on the list

  • That said, I miss the days when they did more than Batman and Justice League movies. I quite enjoyed their standalone Wonder Woman movie.

  • Hhhhmmm.. I understand where you come from, but to me it’s just tonal differences because it’s 2 different versions, like in the comics.
    You can have Robin being held hostage while the villain monologues or have him beaten to death by a crowbar, just like you can have Harley make some tongue-in-cheek sexual innuendo or have her have a one-night stand

  • sailor monsoon

    She was always sexual but we never saw the sex.
    She’s like a Marilyn Monroe character.
    She’s a sexpot but once you see her actually having sex, the character is no longer charming.
    It’s gross.
    And unbound has elements i like.
    I just think there’s 4 superman films that are better.

  • I guess I’m not all that aware about the context, I don’t know her character that much. That being said, she was always a quite sexual character, even in the animated series…. and I don’t know, in the movie it’s just 2 very good looking villains screwing, why shouldn’t they?
    It’s not like Deathshot’s magic cock cured Harley of her obsession with the Joker or something, she’s in character (at least to me) the whole time.

    Regarding Unbound, it’s been a while since I saw it, I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favorites or anything, but I just remember really liking that ending. It was interesting thematically, how Braniac believing himself to be achieving universal knowledge ends up overwhelmed by the chaos that is actually in the real universe outside of his controlled parameters.

  • Joe Newman

    I’ve only seen Assault On Arkham from this entry. I didn’t think it was terrible.

    EDIT: Oh, I watched part of The Killing Joke adaptation, but I had to shut it off pretty early on. I’m a big fan of the comic.

  • sailor monsoon

    All i will say is that Batman destroys this list.
    If Warner brothers knows anything, it’s how to make a Batman film.

  • sailor monsoon

    Batgirl and Batman.

  • sailor monsoon

    I know a lot of these look really low on the list but i think there’s only 2 more films i consider either average or bad.
    The rest of the list is grade A shit.
    They’ve produced a lot of great movies and i accrual didn’t hate most of the ones already listed.
    They just needed to be ranked somewhere.
    Killing Joke and Batman and Harley quinn are the only 2 i think are actually unwatchable.
    The rest i found to be either boring or forgettable.

  • sailor monsoon

    I justified the inclusion of 3 films because i remembered you wanted that film

  • sailor monsoon

    If it was catwoman or poison ivy, i wouldn’t mind but just like in Batman and Harley quinn, they know teenagers think quinn is hot, so they’re going to sacrifice character for gratuitous sex.
    Slutty quinn= monney
    It’s a personal problem I’ve had ever since the show ended. She’s a character they’ve mishandled as badly as batgirl.
    A huge part of the rankings is if i can remember anything about these films.
    All of these movies have either been watched or rewatched within these past 2 months and if all i remember about the plot is that “superman fights brainiac” it gets placed pretty low.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    Teen Titans Trouble In Tokyo is not as bad and not a cheap cashgrab movie as the animation, story, and the romance is great and was super funny and was a great movie like the TV Show! Also just because Batman: Assault On Arkham had a sex scene doesn’t not underestimates the great story,animation and a great SS film. Otherwise great list!

  • If The (uncut) Return of the Joker isn’t near the top, Attic Bros are no mo again.

  • That was a fun one.

  • Reading now… That. Sounds. Awful.

  • I found Assault on Arkham quite good actually, don’t get the hate there.
    What’s wrong with some (relatively) gratuitous sex in your superhero fare? I didn’t see the other ones in which it bothered you, but in this one it didn’t ruin the plot or any characters or whatever, in fact it actually played into the Joker/Deadshot rivalry (without it turning into a dumb love triangle or some shit like that).

    Superman: Unbound was alright too, Braniac was cool and his final confrontation with Superman on Earth is quite memorable.

  • Ruins two characters?

  • The previews scared me off. Using the BTAS style almost feels like a trick.

  • Damn if you doing like superhero girls and shit like that The Batman v Dracula better make the cut.

  • sailor monsoon

    Batman and Harley quinn is almost as bad.
    Avoid at all costs.

  • I can’t wait to dig into this. I’ll add one of my trademark “EDIT”s later.

  • I came in here to commend where you placed it. Despite being warned before seeing it, that movie was an insult.

  • sailor monsoon

    This perfectly explains everything i hate about killing joke

  • sailor monsoon
  • sailor monsoon

    If it wasn’t for conroy and hamill, i would’ve put it on the list twice.

  • sailor monsoon

    None of them fundamentally destroy a character.
    Most are harmless pap designed just to entertain the youth but killing joke ruins 2 fucking characters.
    I can not believe it was actually given the greenlight

  • Agreed. Killing Joke in dead last seems cruel when all the films coming directly after are pure garbage.

  • ResonanceCascade

    Wow, you hated The Killing Joke that much, huh? I thought the added filler was pretty bad, but I enjoyed Mark Hamill’s performance enough to call the flick decent overall. And I say that as a big Alan Moore fan who never really liked The Killing Joke in the first place.