Ranking the DC Animated Movies: Part 1
The new trailer for Dc’s Batman: The Killing Joke, arrived this week. The movie marks the return of iconic voice actors Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill as Batman and Joker. Bruce TImm is back in the fold as well. For those that are unaware, DC and Warner Bros. has been consistently releasing animated films based on their comic properties since 2007. Even further back to 1993 if you count the Batman movies based on the Animated Series( Which I do) In many cases, these films have been of a much higher quality than most the live action fare out there. No one should dismiss them as good movies simply because they are cartoons. These stories often reference the source material, and characters are often portrayed as they should be. Team-up’s of Superman & Batman have already been done with much more success than the curent Hollywood version. Almost every major character has been covered at one point or another.
It’s time to rank every single DC animated movie from worst to best before The Killing Joke is released. ( Batman vs Robin & Justice League vs Teen Titans will not be included on this list.)
29. Batman: Son Of Batman
The weakest movie of the bunch in my humble opinion. It basically introduces the idea that Bruce Wanye has a son that he was not aware of. Turns out that the little guy was being raised by Talia Al Ghul( His mother) and Ra’s Al ghul. It’s fairly by the numbers as a superhero movie goes. The voice acting is substandard, and the dialogue uninspired. The action scenes are decent and yet it’s boring. Big points off for the climatic Deathstroke vs Robin fight scene. Made no sense. Don’t start with this one.
28. Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Easily the worst of the Superman animated movies and not much better than Son Of Batman. I was expecting this to be quite good because of it’s connection to the excellent Superman: The Animated Series, but it wasn’t. Far from it. They altered Bruce Timm’s unique art and added a tinge of computer graphics, which wasn’t a good look (animated CGI often doesn’t age well). The result is a less refined version of the Beware The Batman art style. The story is by the numbers. It’s as the title suggests… Brainiac attacks, Superman fights him. Add the most drawn out and boring fight scenes of all time and trying to sit through this one becomes a huge endeavor. The only reason it ranks slightly higher than Son Of Batman is because this movie included the original voice cast from Superman: T.A.S.( Tim Daly & Dana Delany) There is also a nice scene between Clark and Lois that I appreciated.
27. Batman Gotham Knight
Quite an ambitious feat for Bruce Timm and co. I’ll give them that. It was the first movie to feature Batman in the Anime art style. It features a series of short films rather than a full length story. The credits include people like David Goyer, Greg Rucka, and Brian Azzarello. Kevin Conroy also returns to voice Batman. The animation is great for the most part. I took issue with some interpretations of Batman but they did a good job nonetheless. The problem is that some of stories aren’t very good and the ones that are good are simply, good and not great. It is a worthwhile watching experience, and one that may get better after a second viewing but it felt too middle of the road to be anything more substantial.
26. J.L.A.: Throne OF Atlantis
I’m a big fan of the story this movie was based on. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis crafted a truly awesome crossover with Aquaman and Justice League. This movie? Not so much. It’s by no means bad, but it isn’t very memorable. You might glance at the time once or twice which is never a good sign. The animation is very strong and the action scenes are competent, but nothing really pops. It’s worth watching more for the fact that Aquaman is the ” star” of the movie. It’s good to see him get respectable treatment. It’s entertaining enough to recommend but it may be more for die hard fans rather than the general public.
25. Batman: Bad Blood
One of the more recent outings proved to be surprisingly enjoyable. After a few dull releases, I wasn’t very jazzed for this one. At least I can say that while watching this I wasn’t really bored at any time. It’s notable for being the first time that the new 52’s version of Batwoman and Batwing appear on screen. It’s focus is more on the Bat-family rather than the Dark Knight himself, which was a nice change of pace for these movies. The action sequences were very good. On a technical standpoint, some of the best the animated universe has had. It also helped that the plot was pretty much original, so I didn’t really know what was coming. Don’t expect greatness and you’ll walk away entertained and content.
24. Batman: Assault On Arkham
Once again, a pleasant surprise that I didn’t expect to be that good. Turned out to be quite different and an excellent precursor to 2016’s Suicide Squad. It may drag at times but it’s nothing to be too concerned about. It really does a good job focusing more on the villains without overshadowing Batman. We know enough about Batman that feeding us little tidbits is enough and in the end, becomes highly effective. It’s fun to see these what make these characters tick. Harley Quinn being in the movie is an added treat that is not wasted here but Deadshot is the real star of the movie. Get acquainted with this movie before or after watching Suicide Squad.
23. Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman
A decent effort from the last installment coming out of the Batman: T.A.S. universe. It’s aesthetic is based more on the look and feel of season 4 . Most of the voice staples are there, and they do a commendable job. The plot tries it’s best to juggle the mystery of who the Batwoman actually is as the title suggests. It doesn’t quite reach the mark in establishing a truly great mystery but it tries it’s best. Having new characters and heroes does help elevate the story and bring something fresh to the table. I’ve always been a huge fan of the original animation style so, while this isn’t as good as that, it’s still miles ahead better than a lot of other stuff out there. The real highlight is the bonus animated short that is included on the DVD. It’s a silent film written by Paul Dini and Alan Burnett. It’s simple but it really captures the spirit of Batman T.A.S.
22. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
A fun team up movie based on Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner’s Superman/Batman story arc. Both the comics and the movie retcon Supergirl’s origin. There are some nice scenes of Supergirl and Superman interacting for the first time and even talking in Kryptonian, which I had never seen before. Both Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly return to voice Batman and Superman and they even manged to nab Susan Eisenberg back to play Wonder Woman. ( Wonder Woman voice actor in Justice League Unlimited) .The movie does it’s best to emulate Michael Turner’s unique art style from the comics. It’s little details like that where you really see the care they put into each release. Darkseid also makes an appearance that is quite memorable. Ultimately, the comic is better but check out the movie regardless.
21. Superman: Unbound
Based on Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s fantastic Superman: Brainiac storyline. The movie doesn’t reach the heights of the comic but it does satisfy as an entertaining tale. The action scenes here are far superior to Branic’s last outing in an animated adventure, which is a relief. Supergirl provides a nice cushion of support for the Man Of Steel as well. Actor, John Noble provides some excellent voice acting for the villain Brainiac. He feels as imposing as he should be. Lois Lane is utilized quite a bit and her character is as fiery as ever which leads to several enjoyable moments, one in particular that may be the funniest moment of any of the animated movies released.
20. J.L.A: Doom
A throwback of sorts, to the original Justice League animated series. It features all the original voice actors of the show with the exception of Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern( Hal Jordan). The story is based off of Mark Waid and Howard Porter’s, Tower Of Babel storyline, from their lengthy run on JLA. It’s a unique story that shows how dangerous Batman can be and if he has a place in the league to begin with. It turns out that Batman has secret contingency plans to take out every member of the Justice League if he needs to. The bigger problem really starts when the villainous Vandal Savage gets his hands on the plans and carries them out. It’s a cool tale about trust vs safety. Friendship vs duty. It loses steam in the second half but it’s well worth the watch.
19. Batman: Subzero
Bruce Timm and Co. manged to release a better Batman movie featuring Mr. Freeze than Hollywood did thanks to the abysmal Batman & Robin. Ironically, both movies were released in the same year. Batman: Subzero manages to tell a complex tale of Mr. Freeze trying to save his wife Nora, no matter what the cost. He requires a donor with a rare blood type who ends up being Batgirl. It has some wonderful touching moments and it really doesn’t dumb down the material either. The voice acting is great and the animation looks better than any set in Batman & Robin. The pacing may be off at times but it’s going for more than just fisticuffs here.
18. Superman: Doomsday
The first release of the DC animated movie line makes an impact right away. The creative brass in charge decided to go with the epic, Death & Return Of Superman story from the early 90’s. The movie does it’s own thing to an extent. It provides much more story instead of focusing on a drawn out final confrontation with Doomsday. So much so, that I wish the actual battle between Superman and Doomsday was longer. Lex Luthor is the real antagonist in this version, so you might say that the title is deceiving. Yes and no. You can tell that when they made this movie they were going for a slightly different audience. Perhaps a more mature one. The violence and blood are slightly amped up and the themes feel a bit headier. It’s a solid first release to lineup of successful movies.
17. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Another tale based on Jeph Loeb’s run on Superman/Batman. It featured a myriad of cameos from various parts of the DC universe. A true fanboy’s dream. It also turned out to be the first reunion that actors, Kevin Conroy & Tim Daly had. Both actors had previously co-starred in a fantastic 3 part episode of Superman: The Animated Series. The plot here is simplistic enough but it’s just so much fun. The movie begins by letting us know that Lex Luthor is now the current the President of the United States. That intro alone should be hooky enough to grab your attention. Superman and Batman are eventually framed by President Luthor for a crime they did not commit and are then forced to become fugitives on the run. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor spares no expense to have the heroes behind bars or dead. The dynamic on hand between Batman and Superman is what makes these two characters work so well together.The script understands what makes both characters so similar and different. It’s a great to see them go at it alone together. It’s so fitting that Batman is the only one who believes Superman and is on his side. Check it out and have fun.
16. J.L.A: War
The New 52’s flagship story was also the first to be adapted to the small screen. Geoff Johns and Jim Lee set off to make a rebooted Justice League story that’s eerily similar to Marvel’s big screen Avengers movie, although DC’s version was completed and released months before the Avengers hit the screens. Justice League: War manages to catch most of the spirit of the comics story and yet not quite match the quality. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is still a ton of fun. A lot of Marvel-like banter is on full display here. It respects itself but it doesn’t take itself too seriously either. That can seem like a foreign thing for some, considering DC’s dark and serious cinematic tone of late. If you found Batman vs Superman too dark, this movie will turn out to be a welcome change for you. Is it perfect? No, but it is fun.
15. All Star Superman
All Star Superman is one of the most beloved Superman stories to hit comic shelves in the last 15 years, meaning expectations were high for the animated movie adaptation. Add the fact that Grant Morrison wrote it and you’ll understand how difficult it was to do it justice completely. As a movie, general fans may become confused and weirded out by this installment. It’s out there. Sometimes, WAY out there, so it’s not for everyone. It is, however, that delightful weirdness that makes it all the more compelling to watch if you can get what the story is really trying to say. This is basically one writer’s love letter to a character he loves, and you definitely feel that in the movie. Believe it or not, the movie actually tries to simplify things more than the comic does. Nevertheless, it’s very well acted and written. The visuals are fantastic. The intro scene alone is noteworthy for this. It’s got all the elements of what can make a good Superman story without ever turning into conventional one.
Stay tuned for part 2!!