ByMatthew Bailey, writer at
Husband. Father. Gamer. Cinema Lover. Mix it all together, and there I am. I love all things pop-culture and coffee; but coffee is the best.
Matthew Bailey

When DC started making live-action feature films the world was wowed. Then it seemed that the genre took a turn for the worse as we were given two reasons why nobody cared about live-action superheroes anymore.

Those two reasons were built into Batman’s suit. Yeah, the infamous Batnipples.

Batman & Robin (1997) [Credit: Warner Bros]
Batman & Robin (1997) [Credit: Warner Bros]

This divergence from the source material caused countless comic book readers to groan and whine about the genre, much like video game players do about the painful transition that video games are having while they move from console to theater screen.

For many DC fans, it appears that the studio has seemingly failed to hit the mark with their lackluster cinematic world, especially recently compared to how has developed their universe over the last decade. Although the studio hopes to rebound with the rising Cinematic Universe that started with Man of Steel and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, both which lead into the highly anticipated releasing November 17th.

More Justice League:

The truth is that DC and Warner Bros have created some of the greatest films to date; well animated ones at least. These films have set the standard for what an animated superhero adventure should and could be, by continuously producing quality and quantity.

DC’s animated division is steadily pushing out successful feature films, and with 20 years under their belt there is no reason to think that DC & Warner Bros won’t continue to add more phenomenal content to their coffers. So if you’re looking for a good superhero film, look no further than this list.

7. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis

Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: DC Entertainment

Year: 2015

Why to Watch: Learn about all things Aquaman

This film is essentially an Aquaman story but is branded as a team-up film because the rest of the are all on the scene. Throne of Atlantis is technically a sequel to Justice League: War, and serves to show the vast wake of damage done during War.

Throne of Atlantis explores how the actions in War altered life for the secret world of Atlantis as the king is found dead and many believe it to be the fault of the surface dwellers.

Arthur Curry, a.k.a. , takes center stage in this film as he learns the truth of his heritage and how he will play an integral role in the future of Atlantis and the surface world.

6. Justice League: The New Frontier

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Year: 2008

Why to Watch: See how the Justice League adapts to be a reflection of the times

The Eisner Awards are a big deal in the comic book world, as they are comparable to the Oscars or Emmy Awards, so when Darwyn Cooke's Justice League: The New Frontier took two awards for best finite series and coloring - it was a big deal. The comic series tells how the Golden Age superheroes meet their Silver Age counterparts. The animated film follows right along with the award winning comic.

With clean, crisp animation and a striking story, The New Frontier takes a classic approach to these characters and how they would have interacted in the '50s to advance the incredible story of an alien threat amidst the fears of a post-WWII era entering into the Cold War tensions.

5. Justice League: War

Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: DC Entertainment

Year: 2014

Why to Watch: One of the most recent Justice League origin stories and is likely to be heavily referenced in the new movie

As one of the more recent adaptations, Justice League: War follows the New 52 story, Justice League: Origin. Regardless of how you feel about the character’s within the confines of the New 52, Justice League: War tells an inspired retelling of how the core members of the Justice League came together.

The upcoming Justice League film is rumored to pull from the same original source material, so the framework within Justice League: War will likely be present when Justice League hits theaters.

4. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

The Crime Syndicate [Credit: DC Entertainment]
The Crime Syndicate [Credit: DC Entertainment]

Year: 2010

Why to Watch: Watch the Justice League take on a parallel universe evil Justice League

As one of the more faithful interpretations of the source material, especially in regards to the infamous Crime Syndicate. This film is an adaptation of JLA: Earth 2 and Crisis on Earth-Three, and sees the heroes of the Justice League go up against their evil doppelgangers of Earth-3, namely the Crime Syndicate.

The Justice League of Earth-Prime, are warned of the threat by the hero of Earth-3, Lex Luthor. As the Crime Syndicate attack both earths, the JLA must face themselves and their evil counterparts on both earths if they wish to restore the balance to either world.

3. Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: DC Entertainment

Year: 2015

Why to Watch: Reimagined versions of the main leaders of the Justice League, including Latino Superman and vampiric Batman

This is my favorite storyline in the entirety of the DC's collection of alternative universes. Gods and Monsters doesn't follow a comic book arc, but rather follows the story of the trinity as they are falsely implicated in the deaths of some of the leading world scientists. This film is based on the original story created by Alan Burnett and simply places the intriguing "what if?" concept on each of the main characters.

Gods and Monsters creates three very different versions of the beloved characters in DC's wheelhouse with Superman being a Mexican immigrant who grows up to be a sadistic anti-hero thanks to DNA from General Zod, Batman is a vampiric Kirk Langstrom, and Wonder Woman is a New God and exiled queen of Apokalypse.

The sheer darkness and divergence from tradition is what makes Gods and Monsters rate so highly on this list.

2. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: DC Entertainment

Year: 2013

Why to Watch: The Flash alters the past and the Justice League never forms

DC has always focused on Batman and Superman, and why shouldn't they considering that the characters have withstood the test of time and are two of the most popular characters of all time. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is a refreshing change for DC's animated film collection considering that both Batman and Superman appear as key support characters and Barry Allen takes center stage.

The Flashpoint Paradox takes a look at how the impact of one character's choice can affect the entirety of the universe. After accidentally alters the past, he awakens to a new reality where the Justice League never formed and the world he sees is caught in the middle of a war between Aquaman's Atlantean forces and Wonder Woman's Amazonian army.

1. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse

Credit: DC Entertainment
Credit: DC Entertainment

Year: 2010

Why to Watch: Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman hash out ethical choices and define the Justice League's core principals

This animated film is one of the more cleverly nuanced adaptations of the comic book material. Even though this film is titled Superman/Batman, the reality is that the film revolved around Supergirl. That being said, it's one of the most balanced animated films for DC as it plays each of the iconic heroes against each other and really carries how the Trinity interact with the other iconic characters.

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse takes on the story of as she crash lands in Gotham City and loses control of her new-found abilities. After and clash over how she could be integrated into society whereas believes she should travel to Themyscira to be trained as to how to control her powers. All the while Darkseid looms with other plans for the Kryptonian and her comrades on Apokolips.

Once you've checked out these seven films, you should be prepared for everything that will appear in the upcoming live action Justice League film.

Which do you think will be better - the Animated Universe or the live action Cinematic Universe?


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