Thu 15 Nov 2018, 09:16
From Tim Burton’s iconic Batman to the baseball-bat swinging Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, DC Comics superheroes and their villainous counterparts have been lighting up the box office since the 50s. With the launch of the M-Net Movies DC Heroes pop-up channel for DStv Premium subscribers, which is also available to stream on DStv Now, we’ve ranked every live-action DC comic movie ever!*
30. Stamp Day for Superman (1954)
Superman takes time from fighting crime to promote war stamps, used to fund the fight against the Axis powers of World War II. So it’s not the worst movie on this list, but it’s not actually a movie either - just something designed to be shown in cinemas.
29. The Return of Swamp Thing (1989)
This movie had about as much budget as the Joker has sanity. With that in mind, it does a respectable job. But only with that in mind - otherwise, this is just an awful low-budget monstrosity.
Everyone had lost interest in making another Superman. But they were contracted to make one, so we got a fourth movie starring the man of steel. Its most memorable moment is how bad the special effects of the finale are. Yikes.
27. Catwoman (2004)
The first Batman character to get their own movie (other than Bats), there was a lot of hope for Catwoman’s maiden outing. Alas, very little is right here. It opted to invent its own story for the character, but just made a mess of everything. Not even Halle Berry could save it.
This movie shouldn’t be ranked so low. It’s funny and has some entertaining villains. But you know what? The entire thing was motivated to sell action figures. Seriously. Even the director apologised for it.
25. Steel (1997)
Back in 1997 nobody wanted to make comic book movies, not unless it was Batman. Steel, already a B-list DC character, got a low-budget straight-to-video movie. It doesn’t help that Shaq, who plays Steel, is not as good at acting as he is at basketball…
24. Jonah Hex (2010)
If comic book movies teach us anything, it’s that actors should stick to the genre. It worked for Ryan Reynolds, Chris Evans and Ben Affleck. Ditto for Josh Brolin, who has portrayed three comic book characters. But even though he was a cool Jonah Hex, the movie not so much…
Some comic characters are relatively simple and easy to put into a movie. Green Lantern is not, yet this movie wanted to make things even more confusing. Even Ryan Reynolds started making fun of it in his other films.
22. Superman and the Mole Men (1951)
It’s the 1950s, things are still in black and white, and Superman has the time to work out squabbles between frightened small-town people and underground creatures with big eyebrows. Most memorable as the first Superman movie and perhaps the first-ever true superhero movie.
21. Batman: The Movie (1966)
Back in its day, this was a big hit. But it’s really a case of “you had to be there”. Shot after the success of Season 1 of Adam West’s Batman, it’s a whole movie of WHAM! BANG! POW! and 60s pin-up girls gyrating with the dark knight to surf music. No, we’re not making any of this up.
Superman III would have been forgotten today, were it not for three things: the Superman vs Superman fight, Richard Pryor’s non-stop jokes, and that scary android woman created by Lex Luthor’s supercomputer. Oh, and Superman dumping a frozen lake on a chemical fire. Ah, the 80s.
19. Supergirl (1984)
Superman’s cousin comes to Earth to retrieve a powerful artefact, while a wannabe witch uses it to amplify her powers. The result is a weird tale that stumbles and jumps through plot holes, but it’s still entertaining. Fun fact: Supergirl actress Helen Slater later played Superman’s biological mom in Smallville.
It is overstuffed, convoluted and had some nondescript bad guys that nobody can remember. Too much icing on too little cake. On the other hand, the main cast of characters are really cool and the soundtrack rocked, so it has a place in some fans’ hearts.
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17. Swamp Thing (1982)
It’s the DC movie you’ve never heard of - and the DC character you’ve never heard of. This quirky comedy would have been lost to time, were it not a campy cult masterpiece directed by Wes Craven long before he created Freddy Krueger.
Tim Burton’s second Batman film is a little overproduced and lacks that raw shine of the original. But Michelle Pfeiffer is still the best Catwoman to appear in a movie and Danny DeVito is the perfect Penguin. Yet leave it to Christopher Walken to play a villain with no mask and no powers, yet still be the meanest thing in Gotham.
Joel Schumacher’s first go at the Batman world is a clear hat-tip to the 60s era of the character. It was more fun and camp, and who doesn’t like George Clooney’s smirking Bruce Wayne, or Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones as Riddler and Two-Face? But it was a little too much at times...
14. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
The hopes were really high for this film and it was never going to please everyone. Lex Luthor’s inane and complicated plan sucks a lot of wind from its sails. On the other hand, the Batman combat scene not only saves the movie but shows why Ben Affleck is great as the character.
13. Watchmen (2009)
There are very few graphic novels more revered and complex than this epic - and director Zack Snyder tries to fit every bit of it into his film. Yet even after cutting a major sub-plot, Watchmen is still a long and dense experience. It’s got its fans, but like the comic, is the antithesis of superheroes. That’s not for everyone.
12. Justice League (2017)
Justice League isn’t perfect and its biggest problem is an overly generic bad guy that nobody cares to remember. But the team works well together, the fight with Superman is epic, Jason Momoa was born to play Aquaman, and we definitely want to see more of The Flash.
The sequel to the original Superman movie was mired with problems, from losing its director and design consultant to being filmed right on the heels of the first film. But it holds up well, not least because Terence Stamp’s General Zod gives us every reason to remember why we need superheroes.
Lex Luthor proves why he is as dangerous as any villain with superpowers, while the darker tone helps create a Superman persona that fits better with the 21st Century.
It gets a little tiring to hear how old and beaten Batman is and maybe Tom Hardy’s Bane does too good a job, overshadowing just about every other character in this movie. But as a conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, this was a classy send-off for Gotham’s saviour.
Not only do we finally, after many years, get a new Superman movie, but some inspired genius casts Michael Shannon as the evil General Zod. It’s been too long and we’re happy Krypton’s son is back!
At the time it was not a hit. But the first movie adaptation of the Hellblazer comics has since gathered a big cult following. Today it can claim a lot of fans because it’s actually really good. Hey, Keanu, where’s our sequel?
Since 1989’s Batman, there have been other superhero movies that made their mark on the genre. Then Christopher Nolan shows up, hires Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, and turns comic book movies into crime thrillers. Brilliant.
A slightly weak third act doesn’t hurt the appeal of the Amazonian superhero in her first major movie outing. Let’s face it - nobody is panicking anymore about what might happen to Superman. Wonder Woman can take care of things.
There had been a few superhero movies before 1978’s Superman. But this set the stage: big effects, great hero, amazing soundtrack - and Gene Hackman deserves more credit for his mean Lex Luthor.
Tim Burton unleashes his quirky style in grand form, creating the superhero movie that still influences the genre today. Then there’s Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Michael Keaton’s dry wit and the original soundtrack by Prince. Enough said!
2. V for Vendetta (2005)
This dark tale of a near future under a totalitarian state is already a gritty and powerful movie. But Hugo Weaving as the antihero V just takes it to another level. On top of that, this is an experience with real purpose and a serious message underneath. Remember, remember, the fifth of November...
Why so serious? Heath Ledger’s Joker is just entirely in his own league. And not just him - everything in this movie fires on all cylinders. The greatest DC movie? No. This is the greatest comic book movie in history.
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*With the exception of Aquaman, which hits theatres in South Africa mid-December.