It’s a known fact that the DC extended universe had quite a rough start as compared to the Marvel cinematic universe however the intricate timeline of events that occur throughout the DC comics movies released in the past seven years is an intriguing one. This makes watching DC Movies in order an inherently rewarding process.
It all started from the gutsy reboot of Superman in the form of Man of Steel. Produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder with the intention to kickstart an interlinked series of films that would pave the way for a double-barreled Justice League episode. Unfortunately, due to a multitude of factors this dream of Snyder’s never came true.
Despite this, there still is a chronological order for at least five movies or so. The story of these films are interlinked and the events of each one have a ripple effect. This captivates the audience as it leads to exciting crossovers and cameos that add additional depth to the storyline.
We understand that as exciting as this timeline sounds, it can be extremely overwhelming to figure out the right order to watch the DC movies. For this reason, precisely we have crafted a whole list of how to watch the movies in chronological order. Before diving into the list let us clarify that the list only consists of movies that are a part of the “DC Extended Universe”- these are the films made specifically to adjust and build upon the timeline. This means that films like Ryan Reynold’s Green Lantern, Tim Burton’s Batman and Nolan’s Dark night trilogy are not part of this list.
Well now that’s clear, let’s jump onto the list.
DC Movies in Order – Chronologically & by Release Date
If you’re someone who’s looking to engage on a deeper level with the storyline and actually appreciate the underlying ideas and symbology found in stories. If you’re looking to finding and appreciating the nuanced connections found within the DC Universe Movies you definitely MUST watch the DC movies in chronological order.
Set in ancient times, the story of Diana Princess (Gal Gadot) begins from flashbacks of the Amazon women warriors incarnated by Zeus, living and prospering on the secret island of Themyscira. Though much of the story is situated in the 1918 setting where Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) accidentally finds himself on the Island of Themyscira while fighting in World War 1 and Diana Princess accompanying him to fight in the war alongside allied forces. The “present-day” scenes of the movie imply that they have taken place sometime after Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Wonder Woman 1984
This sequel of Wonder Woman, by Patty Jenkins, takes place in 1984 and is the second DC movie to be watched in the order. The story revolves around the greed and fear growing with the profit-oriented world and is key to understanding how the DC universe really evolved over the years.
Man of Steel
The film that started it all draws its plot around the timeline of present-day, circa 2013. However, the film opens up with a prologue depicting the catastrophic destruction of the planet Krypton, moreover scenes of Clark Kent’s early years when he was situated in Kansas are also included in the movie so we can say that it’s set about 20 years after the destruction of Krypton. Insights into Superman’s younger years contain hints about how Superman’s personality shows nuances no one really expected!
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
From the perspective of the timeline, this movie is all-encompassing. From flashbacks into Bruce Wayne’s childhood in 1981 revealing the gruesome death of his parents to flashforwards of a desolate Earth controlled by Darkseid (the Knightmare scenes) and adding onto it, there is even insight into Bruce Wayne’s perspective of the ending of Man of Steel. However, the majority of the film’s story takes place about 18 months after Man of steel, with Batman (Ben Affleck) harboring a grudge against Superman. Talk about nuanced personalities!
The setting of Suicide Squad is situated after Batman vs Superman in the timeline, as it references Superman’s death and there is even a cameo by Bruce Wayne in which he meets Amana Waller who is now a leading superhero. However, there are flashbacks to Batman as well, where he is on the mission to track down Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), which occurs right before Man of Steel.
The film Justice League is set two years after Batman vs Superman and one year after Suicide Squad, but there is a major flashback to thousands of years ago depicting Steppenwolf’s villainous attempt to take over Earth and his defeat by the alliance between Amazons, Gods and humans. With Batman putting together the Justice league against Steppenwolf! Remember the clues found Suicide Squad when Batman meets Amanda Waller!
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
A more thorough and grander in every way Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a four-hour-long film that is a lot more intense than the theatrical version cut of Justice League. Its place in the timeline is exactly the same. It’s basically great for filling in the gaps found within the storylines of all of Justice League.
Set several months after the events of Justice League, Aquaman is a standalone film that follows Jason Mamoa’s journey to protecting his own kingdom. The flashbacks of Aquaman’s childhood date back to 1985. Now compare this time with the one in Wonder Woman 1984.
Shazam itself is a standalone film However the film opens with the origin story of Thaddeus Sivana (the villain) in 1984. This one occurs almost parallel to Aquaman. Sadly, Shazam doesn’t provide much hints into the DC Universe, but still introduces Shazam and Sivana. We have hopes from Shazam! Fury of the Gods to provide more insight into Shazam’s story arc.
Birds of Prey
This standalone of Harley Quinn takes place around four years after the Suicide Squad. Due to the timelines of Batman vs Superman and Justice League, the DCEU got so disconnected that Birds of Prey has only numbered references to Harley Quinn’s action in Suicide Squad.
Release dates of DC Movies in order
To make it even easier for you here are all the release dates of the DC extended universe in chronological order:
Man of Steel – June 14, 2013
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – March 25, 2016
Suicide Squad – August 5, 2016
Wonder Woman – June 2, 2017
Justice League – November 17, 2017
Aquaman – December 21, 2018
Shazam! – April 5, 2019
Birds of Prey – February 7, 2020
Wonder Woman 1984 — December 25, 2020
Zack Snyder’s Justice League — March 18, 2021