There is no question the DCEU has many polarizing views, but what might not get as much credit as it deserves is the DC Animated Universe, or DCAU. DC has had a long history with Warner Bros. Animation of adapting many of their popular characters and story lines as animated shows and movies. No matter your views on the live adaptation films, there a plenty of animated films for any fan to enjoy. Here is a list of the top 8 DC animated films.
1. Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
There’s no surprise Batman is probably the most popular character in DC comic history. One of the best character’s, combined with one of the most in depth storylines that puts Batman to his limits, along with a stellar cast, Batman: Under the Red Hood steals the number one spot. This films boasts the likes of Bruce Greenwood (Batman), Jensen Ackles (Red Hood), John DiMaggio (Joker), Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing) and Jason Isaacs (Ra’s al Ghul). The story revolves around the mystery of a new crime lord, Red Hood, whilst Batman having to face many of his past and inner demons, alongside Joker. The thrill, mystery and action makes this incarnation of Batman the best on film. Not to mention it also has the most heart breaking scene of any platform for DC adaptations.
2. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
What if the roles of the DC heroes and villains were reversed; the Justice League become a team of super villains ruling the Earth. Crisis on Two Earths puts the concept of a good and evil Justice League together. Having our heroes fight against an evil equivalent is the ultimate battle of intelligence and strength. It is by far one of the smartest written superhero films, also unleashing one of the greatest batman sequences ever, where he has to face the evil equivalent of himself.
3. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Based on the beloved Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm managed to grab a theatrical release, also gaining a large cult following over the years. Although not as good as the first, it warranted two sequels and showed the power of an animated Batman movie. It still stands as one of the greatest Batman mysteries, exploring the roots of how Batman is arguably seen to many, as a detective instead of a crime fighting brute. Mask of the Phantasm also features arguably the best actors of Batman and Joker, Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill respectively.
4. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
One of the most popular arcs in DC comic history, The Flashpoint Paradox explores the timeline paradox, where Flash finds himself in an alternate timeline where he doesn’t have his super speed. He must try to restore the timeline whilst meeting alternate versions of his superhero colleagues for the first time. Batman is often the focal point of almost every single DC animated film, so to have Flash as the protagonist instead is a breath of fresh air. This film features a compelling story with a beautiful art style, creating smooth flowing action sequences.
5. Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)
If you didn’t like the live adaptation of Suicide Squad, Batman: Assault on Arkham might restore your faith. A far superior film featuring the Suicide Squad, with a much more contained and coherent story. Assault on Arkham contains a much more believable story, where the Suicide Squad is forced to recover confidential information stolen by the Riddler, faced with Batman also trying to stop a bomb planted by the Joker all in the same location. More character development, better acting, cooler fights, more Joker, watch Assault on Arkham.
6. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)
In case you missed our recent review of this film, here it is. No Batman? No problem. Even though The Judas Contract contains Robin and Nightwing, they are still by no means as popular as Batman. The Judas Contract comprises of very real characters, with problems that are very relatable. It is a dark story arc that focuses on the dynamic relationships between our characters, instead of what many superhero films can be all about, action and battles. There are still amazing set pieces featuing the teens’ superpowers, but Teen Titans: The Judas Contract offers a lot of raw emotion and personal connections compared to many other superhero films.
7. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000)
Another film based on a hit TV series, but this one based on Batman Beyond. A futuristic batman, an old Bruce Wayne, and a mysterious new Joker, there is a lot to love about this film. Return of the Joker is a must watch for any fan of the TV show, or anybody interested to see a sleek look on Batman. The old Bruce Wayne mentor trope is a very intriguing dimension on the Batman character, and offers just as much excitement as any other incarnation of Batman
8. Batman: Year One (2011)
The story of Bruce Wayne’s first year as the Batman as he learns what it means to be a hero. Year One explores the gritty nature and struggle Bruce Wayne had to face. As he tries to gain the trust of close allies like a young Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston), he also must dive straight into a mafia filled Gotham, led by the ruthless Falcone.
The DCAU has the advantage of trying out different incarnations of each character, although there is a clear heavy emphasis on Batman in a majority of their films. There are still many different voice actors who have played many of the iconic characters, with fans getting to experience a huge variety. Who have been your favourite voice actors/characters? And what are your favourite DCAU films that didn’t make the list?