DCEU Film Marathon: How to Watch the DC Movies in Order – PCMag

Before Black Adam hits theaters in October, catch up on every installment of the DC Extended Universe on HBO Max. Here's our recommended watch order.
Who’s your favorite superhero? Fans of Spider-Man and the Avengers have Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its 30+ films and a dozen series. But if you’re a fan of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, they’re part of the DC Extended Universe streaming on HBO Max.
Beginning with 2013’s Man of Steel, Warner Bros. took a different approach to the cinematic universe formula by giving control to the director. Instead of building the brand around one all-powerful producer (like Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios), DC Films recruited the likes of Zack Snyder, Patty Jenkins, James Wan, and James Gunn.
Results have been mixed. Aquaman took in over $1 billion, while Wonder Woman was a critical darling. However, much of the output has not been well-received by fans or critics. On top of that, the financial promises of Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad were greatly hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Superhero flicks are supposed to be our comfort food, but the future of the DCEU is in doubt. New leadership at Warner Bros. Discovery has already scrapped the Batgirl film. HBO Max is also expected to merge with Discovery+ in 2023, so we don’t know where you’ll be streaming these movies a year from now.
Despite the uncertain future, DC Films has found recent success with Joker and The Batman. Multiple movies set in the DCEU are also on the schedule for release in the near future, from Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam in October to Shazam! Fury of the Gods in December. If you’re ready for a re-watch or finally want to binge all the movies in one go, here’s how to watch everything in order.
The most basic way to watch these movies is to simply see them in release order. This way you don’t have to make things complicated or view anything out of the intended order. You start with Man of Steel, go in to Batman v Superman, and then hit Suicide Squad and Wonder Woman.
From here, you have a choice to make. You can either watch the original Justice League released in 2017 or skip it and see the four-hour director’s cut called Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which was released in 2021. (I’d recommend watching the re-release.) You can also go back and watch the black-and-white Justice is Gray edition, if you’re feeling freaky.
After the Justice League crossover comes Aquaman, then Shazam!, followed by the Suicide Squad spin-off Birds of Prey, starring Harley Quinn. You can then finish up with Wonder Woman 1984 and The Suicide Squad, which is a different (and superior) movie than the one released in 2016. Here’s your watch order:
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
Original Cut: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Director’s Cut: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Black-and-white ‘Justice Is Gray’ version: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Unfortunately for those looking to try an alternate watch order, the DC Extended Universe doesn’t have that much to offer chronologically. Your watch would start with 2017’s Wonder Woman, which takes place during World War I. You would then switch to Wonder Woman 1984, which takes place in—you guessed it—the year 1984.
After that, it’s the same order as release order, since the events of these movies directly feed in to the next. Superman’s death in Batman v Superman is referenced in Suicide Squad and is an integral plot point in Justice League. You then have Aquaman and Shazam!, which take place after the Justice League’s battle against Darkseid.
Birds of Prey takes place after Suicide Squad, but before The Suicide Squad, though the continuity there is purposefully ambiguous. You could then add the Peacemaker TV show on to the end, which serves as a continuation of the second Suicide Squad film.
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Original Cut: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Director’s Cut: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Black-and-white ‘Justice Is Gray’ version: HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Hulu with Live TV
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Are you wondering where Joker and The Batman fit in to all this? While there is a Joker and a Batman in the DC Extended Universe, these films focus on completely different versions of those characters, which are unrelated to DCEU continuity.
In Joker, Joaquin Phoenix plays a middle-aged version of the character alongside a living Thomas Wayne and young Bruce Wayne. And The Batman stars Robert Pattinson as a younger Batman instead of Ben Affleck’s older version of the character. It should also be noted that these films are unconnected; Joker is not a prequel to The Batman.
Feel free to see these movies in whatever order you want, though you should probably see them separately from your DCEU binge-watch if you want to keep things neat in your head.
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
HBO Max(Opens in a new window)
Despite the Warner-Discovery uncertainty, DC Films still has several movies on the schedule for release. Black Adam, starring Dwayne Johnson, is a spin-off of Shazam! that centers on the Wizard’s former champion. Shazam! Fury of the Gods will see Billy Batson and his superhero family go up against the daughters of Atlas.
Based on the Flashpoint comic book storyline, The Flash will see Barry Allen mess with the timeline of the DCEU when he goes back in time to prevent the murder of his mother. However, given star Ezra Miller’s legal trouble(Opens in a new window), it’s hard top say what will ultimately happen with this movie.
Not much is yet known about the story for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, but the sequel is expected to see Arthur and his brother Orm team up in order to save Atlantis. Also on the schedule is Blue Beetle, about a teenager who has an alien artifact attached to his spine that gives him a superpowered exosuit.
As for DC films set outside the DCEU, Joker: Folie à Deux will be a musical sequel to the 2019 film that stars Joaquin Phoenix opposite Lady Gaga. You can also expect a sequel to The Batman and a spin-off TV series starring Colin Farrell as the Penguin.
Black Adam – Oct 21, 2022
Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Dec 21, 2022
The Flash – June 23, 2023
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – March 17, 2023
Blue Beetle – Aug. 18, 2023
Joker: Folie à Deux – October 4, 2024
The Batman Sequel – TBD
The Penguin series – TBD
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