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.