Ranking The DC Animated Films (Part 2)

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.

 

32. Superman Vs The Elite

I don’t care if the script is pitch perfect or the cast is dynamite, if I don’t like the animation, I’m not going to like the movie. The character models are downright ugly in this. Superman looks like an ape and the animation isn’t doing anyone else any favors either. The only reason this isn’t ranked much lower is the fact that it atleast tries to handle politics of power (whether it succeeds is up to you) and I enjoyed the character of Manchester Black.

So I applaud the effort and dug one character. That moved it up five spaces but it’s still on the really shitty end of the scale.

 

 

31. The Batman Vs Dracula

The bar from the previous movies on this list was set so low, that this is ranked higher simply because it has Peter Stormare as Dracula. That and the way the Penguin resurrects Dracula is eerily reminiscent to the old Hammer horror film Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

Other than that (which isn’t much), I really didn’t dig it. I talked about the Teen Titans cartoon coming out too late for me to appreciate that and that sentiment is doubly true for The Batman. I have absolutely no nostalgia for it and unlike Teen Titans, I don’t see the appeal. I think it has the weakest voice cast of any Batman show and I don’t care for the character designs.

If you liked the show, you’ll probably dig the film but it did nothing for me.

 

 

30/29. Batman: Return Of The Caped Crusaders/ Batman Vs Two-Face

Holy nostalgia goggles Batman!

Look, I’m actually a huge fan of the 66′ Batman show and have had to defend it for years but this isn’t that show. It tries very hard to be that show and I really respect the effort that went into both films but I truly believe the majority of the praise these two films (that mostly applies to Return of the Caped Crusaders) have received is due mostly to that fact that it’s hip to love Adam West again. Family Guy made him extremely popular among millennials and I believe that love is spilling over into these films. Or maybe it’s because Batman vs Two-Face is his last film, so it gets a pass. I don’t know.

But what I do know is that although they’re both filled with tons of love for the source material (there is more Easter eggs in these films than a church on Sunday) the villains sound fucking terrible. That might sound petty but when you’re trying desperately to recreate the look and feel of the old shows, your voice cast better carry that weight and they don’t. This is one of the worst Jokers committed to screen and the Penguin isn’t much better. The Riddler fares a bit better but none help me buy into the world.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman obviously gets a pass since she was on the show but I hate to say it, she’s not that great either. It’s a sad state of affairs when William fucking Shatner is the best actor besides West in either film.

It really pains me to put these films so low on the list because I really do respect what they were trying to do but honestly, they were a chore to get through.

RIP Adam West. You deserved better.

 

 

28/27/26. Son Of Batman/Batman Vs Robin/Batman: Bad Blood

It’s ironic that one of these films is named Bad Blood because there’s enough drama between these three films to fill a whole catalog of Taylor Swift albums. Fans are pretty divisive of Damien Wayne. Some like his brashness, while others find him intolerable. I don’t mind him and I don’t think he’s the problem with these films. My problem is twofold:

  1. There’s nothing memorable about any of them, so they all bleed together in my mind.
  2. I really don’t like Jason O’mara as Batman.

If you were to put a gun to my head and made me describe the plots of each individual film, I would’ve just given you the titles and hoped for the best. “One is about Batman finding out he has a son. One is about Batman fighting his son. The last one is them fighting everyone.” I have no idea how close I am but I feel like I’m not too far off base and that’s a problem. The plots shouldn’t be able to be boiled down to the films title. Maybe there’s some great shit in these films that I’m not remembering but nothing stuck out to me other then there being a lot of bat drama.

And I know the second problem I have is a personal one but if I don’t dig Batman’s voice, it’s really hard for me to connect. I think O’mara is one of the worst recurring Batman voices. He has no personality or character traits other than gruff. They should’ve brought back Greenwood.

 

 

25. Superman: Doomsday

Here’s a controversial hot take: I don’t think The Death of Superman was a good comic. I have no problem with them killing of Superman and I think Doomsday is actually pretty badass but there’s no explanation given to anything in the comic. Why the fuck is Superman saddled with D list superheroes? Where the hell are the rest of the Justice League? Who is Doomsday and who created him? Nothing is explained.

It has some great action set pieces and that panel (you know the one) is still powerful but it’s a terribly written comic that felt like a gimmick to sell comics. And it was. He was brought back in less than a year. It’s everything wrong with 90’s comics distilled into one book and almost crashed the goddamn industry.

It’s overrated as hell but there’s always room for improvement. The film adapts not only The Death of Superman but the next two arcs in the series: Funeral for a Friend and Return of the Superman. And it does a pretty admirable job with the source material. They rewrite what doesn’t work and streamline the stories to make them all work as a one complete story.

Adam Baldwin is a pretty serviceable Supes but James Marsters is fucking terrible as Lex Luthor. He’s a god awful actor that only got work because he was attractive to young women. I don’t know why anyone would pay him to read lines when his range is slightly higher than that of a mannequin.

And speaking of mannequins, Anne Heche is in this as Lois Lane. She’s a much better actor than Marsters but she’s still garbage.

There’s some good story elements and good performances but Marsters and Heche bring the film down hard.

 

 

24. Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

This is nothing more than a pretty good episode of the television show that includes a stand out performance by David Ogden Stiers as the Penguin. If the film lived up to his performance, it would be in the top ten, no question. It’s easily the greatest depiction of that character and actually makes him feel intimidating instead of either being gross or a joke.

The biggest problem is that it tries far too hard to recapture the magic of Mask of the Phantasm. It even steals that films mystery of trying to keep the audience guessing who the titular character is. It’s unfortunately not the Penguin. And I’m probably mistaken but I believe this is the first appearance of Hector Elizondo as Bane and if it is, the makers realized they struck oil because he played the character for damn near a decade.

 

 

23. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

This film has Ed Asner as Granny Goodness in it. I know he was first cast in that role back on the Superman: The Animated Series but it’s such a brilliant piece of casting, I just have to mention it. This is the first film on the list I have almost no issues with. Its not perfect by any means but the pros far outweigh the negatives.

The story isn’t the best but it leads to some really great character moments and the cast is exceptional. I’m such a fan of most of these characters, that just watching some of them interact is extremely entertaining. There’s a scene between Big Barda and Wonder Woman that’s better than every single film before this one combined and all they do is talk to each other.

The worst thing you can say about this film is that it feels like an extended episode of the Justice League cartoon but what’s wrong with that?

 

 

22. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

I’ve never read the Jeph Loeb comic this film is based on, so I can’t tell you how close it follows that story but it’s one hell of a premise:

In a time of severe economic downturn and financial crisis, the United States turn in desperation to one man, Lex Luthor, and elects him president in hopes that his vast resources can turn things around for the better. With Luthor now in power, the country returns to a state of peace. That is until the a gigantic meteorite composed entirely of Kryptonite is discovered to be on a collision course with earth. President Luthor wastes no time in capitalizing on this opportunity and, through devious manipulation and media propaganda, gets Superman branded as a criminal. A One billion dollar bounty is declared on the Man of Steel which draws not only a vast array of villains looking to cash in on the bounty, but other superheroes either convinced that Superman as gone rogue. Teaming up with Batman, the two must work together if they are to save the world, clear their names and uncover Luthor’s sinister hidden agenda.

That premise alone could be an amazing live action film or a season long arc of a television show but instead, we got a 67 minute movie. That’s no where near enough time to deal with every plot line but what it makes up for in story, is it’s break neck pace. It’s impossible to be bored by this film. It’s damn near nothing but action.

It’s the equivalent of watching a kid play in a sandbox with all of his toys.

 

  • Joe Newman

    Lol. I’ve actually met him and heard him speak at a con. He does tend to play very similar roles, but I’d blame that on typecasting. You’re welcome to your opinion pf course. Here’s another gif:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e894eb7769f68446b7228f1b5747a63f1c0cba4138e2df9cf71649bf854af34.gif

  • sailor monsoon

    Keep uploading gifs.
    I want my point to be proven harder

  • Joe Newman
  • sailor monsoon

    I really wish i liked it more because it does try to be entertaining

  • sailor monsoon

    He’s trash
    Trash i say!

  • Joe Newman

    Don’t be hating on James Marsters.

  • Joshua Martyniouk

    I agree with this list and Superman Batman Public Enemies is fantastic!

  • sailor monsoon

    He would’ve been the perfect two face

  • sailor monsoon

    I can’t argue with that

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    You’re insane.

  • sailor monsoon

    That’s insane

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    Part 2? That means I missed Part 1. Uh oh.

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    I always thought James Woods would make a terrific Two-Face. I’ll settle for Owlman. He really knocked it out of the park.

  • I also don’t care that much about Superman, probably why I liked vs The Elite, since it puts his goody-two-shoes persona to the test.
    I wasn’t aware until now that the Dracula one came from a show, so that didn’t have any impact on my enjoyment

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders is outstanding and should be required viewing for any Batman fan. The style of that show is so perfect for animation. They take the ridiculous nature of 60’s Batman and crank it up. The scene where he’s reciting famous Batman lines is my favorite. Hearing Adam West say “Wanna get nuts?!” is just gold.

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    I wiped Superman vs The Elite from my memory.

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    James Woods is so damn good in that.

  • Kemosabe 🦇

    Bull. Shit. He was amazing. He’s probably my second favorite voice.

  • sailor monsoon

    Elite really didn’t connect with me at all.
    I thought it had some interesting ideas but i just don’t care about superman.
    Dracula wasn’t terrible but mostly forgettable
    Plus i hate that show

  • Your last part is exactly why in theory I prefer Damien Wayne to the other Robins… Being Batman’s son, expertly trained by the league of shadows and with a penchant for ruthlessness, it makes all the sense in the world for him to become his protégé.

    Unless you’re going for a more light tone and campy feel, Batman having a young inexperienced side-kick just sits very wrong with me. The worst example of that is in The Dark Knight Returns imo, if that comic wasn’t so damn good that stupid-ass Robin would have been a deal-breaker

  • – I really liked Superman vs The Elite, I didn’t care much for the designs, but they didn’t bother me either, and the actual story was pretty great and interesting.

    Batman vs Dracula would also be much higher in my list, if only because of the great execution of an out-there concept, and Vampire Joker! Him laughing maniacally while blood rains down on him was epic.

    – Agreed about the Damien films, they’re fine but just not memorable. Conceptually, I actually prefer Damien to all other Robins, because him working with Batman actually makes complete sense. The execution isn’t the best though from what I saw and read.

    – Both Superman/Batman films are good fun well worth the watch, even if somewhat unremarkable.

  • sailor monsoon

    I purposefully didn’t mention the artwork because i didn’t dig it either but i can’t fault it for being faithful

  • I’m not crazy about the character design in Public Enemies, but I still appreciate the attempt to adapt Ed McGuinness’ artwork. I also think the buddy-cop banter didn’t really work for me, but your review makes me want to revisit it.

  • sailor monsoon

    Outside of the actors already established from the shows, woods gives the best performance out of any of these films. He’s crazy fucking good

  • It’s fantastic. And I love Owlman, probably because of James Woods.

  • sailor monsoon

    I actually had to flip a coin between apocalypse and public enemies

  • sailor monsoon

    Ding ding ding
    We gots a winner.
    I think he’s terrible but that film is fucking insanely good

  • I never watched the Arrowverse, but I will say that if I have to have sidekicks, gimme Grayson and Barbara.

  • I think Damian definitely needs a swift kick in the head sometimes but i don’t mind the fact Bruce has a kid with Talia al Ghul. They just need to age Damian a bit.

    Nightwing and Barbara will always be the original trio with Bruce. Arrow did a pretty successful job mirroring that with Oliver, Diggle and Felicity.

  • I agree with your first statement.

    WB still does standalones, but I wish they’d do more. I’m barely invested in their ongoing New 52 storyline.

    You recently talked about generational preferences. I think Damian Wayne is mostly liked by younger audiences. I’ll give them credit– He gets me talking. But my biggest beef is the “Chucky” effect: I feel like anyone could just punt the runt.

    (Chucky gets a pass though, because I like him… lol)

    EDIT: Note that I’ve never really liked Batman having sidekicks in general.

  • I prefer the animation style shown in BTAS and YJ to stuff like TT Go or The Batman. It’s way more realistic looking. JL Action is a nice blend of both tho.

    And I like the animation cinematic universe. They still do at least 1 or 2 standalones a year. And Damian Wayne is awesome!

  • There’s one that’s far worse but he’s in one of the absolute best

    The Baldwin?

  • – Elite didn’t have great character design, but I’d rather they take more chances than have everything look like Young Justice. I like when try to mimic the artwork from the stories they adapt.
    – I love the action in Apocalypse. And Andre Brower was a great Darkseid.
    – I’m in the camp that can’t stand Damien Wayne. Even worse that the obnoxious brat is blood-related to Bruce. He’s way overpowered too. I don’t buy it that a kid would be a challenge for Batman, Deathstroke, etc. I also think that creating a cinematic universe for the animated movies has really stifled them creatively. At least they’re still doing some standalones.
    – I generally agree about Batwoman, Doomsday, and the Adam West movies (although I’ve only seen the first one).

  • sailor monsoon

    Oh and greenwood was in under the red hood and the show young justice

  • sailor monsoon

    “Whoever was cast….”
    Whoever!!
    Whoever!!!??
    That’s Peter goddamn Weller!
    Robocop motherfucker!

  • I would put that as whoever was cast in TDKR two parter? And how many times has Greenwood done the voice?

  • sailor monsoon

    I don’t mind him
    But of the conroys and greenwoods, he’s the second weakest in my opinion
    There’s one that’s far worse but he’s in one of the absolute best

  • Great list. Bad Blood is actually the worst of those three Bat and Son movies. And I don’t mind O’Mara as the voice of Batman.