Earlier I read a list titled DC's mind Blowing animated Films list. I was curious to take a look, because up until recently the animated films and universe of DC have been something that has kept them in the game, and relevant. The New 52, regardless of it's cult fanbase, was overall a failure of a relaunch and the DC You didn't get more than 6 months before yet another relaunch for Rebirth (which 3rd time looks to be the charm because it looks great), and the DCEU (while I have enjoyed both MOS and BvS) has been a shaky success thus far. For a while it seemed that the animated films were to be DC's dominating legacy. Except, they managed to screw that up. The past two Justice League animated features, and the past 4 Batman animated features are the definition of mediocrity and it is sad because things like Justice League Gods and Monsters show that the talent and ability is still there, but they instead give us crap in response. Anyways, this article isn't supposed to be me bitching about how DC's animated features have slipped in quality recently, but to honor the achievements of their greatest films. So, I am going to put up my list of the top ten DC animated feature films.
10. Dark Knight Returns part 1& 2
A list about the best DC movies ever made has to include the almost panel to panel interpretation of what is argued to be the BEST Batman storyline ever written. Dark Knight returns parts 1 & 2 bring the iconic Frank Miller storyline to life through incredible animation, superb voice casting, and tremendous scores that truly capture the gravitas of the story.
9. Batman Beyond Return of the Joker
Batman Beyond quite possibly the perfect finale for the chapter of Bruce Wayne and an excellent intro to a new Batman. Batman Beyond Return of the Joker gives us a story that cements Terry McGuinness as a true and worthy bearer of the cowl, while tying up all loose ends left in the wake of the Batman Animated series. The performances from the voice cast are unforgettable and the animation style is the best you can come to expect only from the dream team of the original DC animated universe (I.E Bruce Timm and crew). The voice cast of Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Will Friedle bring their characters to life in a way only the crew of a show from the Batman animated series universe could.
7. Batman: Under the Red Hood
This movie ended a fairly long hiatus of exceptional DC animated features. Using the classic story of the revival of the second robin Jason Todd as the antagonizing force the Red Hood, this film soars. The animation style is cemented more in realism than Timm's style, and it owns a much more dark tone. Voice acting again is one of the films strongest points as you have an ensemble cast of Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing/ Dick Grayson, Jensen Ackles as Jason Todd/ Red Hood, Bruce Greenwood as Bruce Wayne/ Batman, John Dimaggio as Joker, and Jason Isaacs as Rhas Al Ghul. The script flows so well, and the action sequences are invigorating. This movie is also responsible for the now immense following of Jason Todd because as a robin he kind of sucked, however, Red Hood is a far more interesting character.
6. Wonder Woman
This movie is honestly a genuine treat. The Wonder Woman movie showcases all the things that you want in a DC film: great action, good story telling, and an animated voice cast. The movie tells the origin of Wonder Woman and stars Keri Russel as Diana/ Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Steve trevor, and as the antagonist Alfred Molina as Ares. The movie has whit, charm, and showcases wonder woman the way it should.
5. Assault on Arkham
Not going to lie, this movie genuinely shocked me. It came out during the middle of the time where DC had started it's mediocrity streak. Justice League War was meh, and Throne of Atlantis (a movie that had looked so promising) had turned out to be garbage. So a movie about the suicide squad using an almost anime style, with a guy trying to be Mark Hamil's joker honestly didn't offer too much hope. However, damn was I wrong. It was an amazing movie that captured my attention all the way through. The voice acting was good, and Troy Baker does a good job as the Joker, even if he is clearly just trying to be Mark Hamill.
4. Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
This was yet another movie that caught me off guard. The animation style initial gave me reservation as it's odd mixture of anime and Western cartooning made muscle look unflattering and gave the bigger characters double chins that made them look fat in my opinion. However, Justice League Flashpoint Paradox is one of the best DC films ever made. The story is compelling, and the alternate reality that DC creates through this event is incredibly interesting, and honestly deserves its own set of movies. Voice Acting once again remains a strong point of the film and the films ending leaves you with an utterly heart warming and beautiful moment for Batman that is captured perfectly by a combination of great animation, and the voice talent of Batman veteran voice actor Kevin Conroy.
3. All Star Superman
Superman is by far one of the most difficult characters to write. This is due to the fact that many writers fail to grasp that writing superman well has never been about putting up against a more powerful foe, or anything of that nature because those kinds of obstacles are ones that we know he will overcome based off the nature of his power. The true struggle of superman is that he is a god looking into the window of humanity with envy on the outside. He is a being on a whole other level wanting more than anything to be normal like us. All Star Superman is a story that puts Superman both at his most powerful and most vulnerable, the solar radiation his body intakes keep giving him more and more power, but his body is having trouble maintaining it all so he is dying. So as Superman becomes more powerful in the story, so to does he come closer to death's door. It's just a beautiful story, and barring missing my favorite moment from the comic, the movie is a very faithful adaptation and I honestly love it.
2. Justice League Gods and Monsters
When you think of all the big names that have contributed to the golden standard of the DC brand two names come to mind for me: Jack "the King" Kirby, and Bruce Timm. Bruce Timm once again delivers us one of the BEST designed animated features ever produced by the DC company in Justice League Gods and Monsters. The film is set in a reality where the identity of the DC trinity is altered slightly, causing a huge shift in general to the universe we know and love. Here we get a darker and grittier Justice League, that could in ways almost be considered villains in a way. They are fighting the good fight sure, but they are also kind of acting like big Brother in their attempts to do so. The film uses the ever recognizable Bruce Timm animation style, and is written by the same man who wrote the Batman Beyond series as well as the next movie on this list.
Now before I go onto the number one pick, I want to mention a few films that were close, but ultimately didn't make it. Justice League New Frontier: it's use of 40's and 50's style comic art to show these characters at the beginning was refreshing and very cool. Justice League Doom: based on the storyline Justice League Tower of Babel, it's just a real interesting movie to watch as the worst possible people get ahold of all Batman's Justice League countermeasures to take out the League. Teen Titans Trouble in Tokyo: it's the conclusion of the Teen Titans show, and it is so much fun. Batman: Sub Zero: you can't go wrong with a show set in the Batman animated series universe with Mr. Freeze as the bad guy. Batman Bad Blood: this movie gets an honorable mention because I want so much to like it, the first half of the movie is amazing as it focuses on Dick Grayson really struggling to take on this mantle he has been trying to get away from for so long, however, ultimately it's final act is way too cluttered and turns a good movie to a mediocre one.
and now for the moment we've all been waiting for......
1. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
To date this is the ONLY DC animated film that has had a theatrical release, that in and of itself speaks volumes. It is a brilliant product of the animated series universe with the voice talents of Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill. The story of the Phantasm is incredible and keeps you on the edge of your seats. The opening theme gives you goosebumps, and the Phantasm's design is haunting.
Anyways, that is my list. I hope you enjoyed, and please let me know your thoughts in the comments, what are your favorites? Do you think I am an idiot with no taste? Do you think that the New 52 films are the best thing since sliced bread (I seriously hope not because they are just so disappointing)? Anyways leave your thoughts in the comments, thanks for reading my rant. This is my first article I am writing on here.