With DC’s Animated Movie Universe at an end, we look back at the storied history of DC animated originals. Warner Bros has built up a sizable library of excellent animated films. Some are adaptations of existing material while others are entirely original.
So let’s jump in feet first and go over the 10 BEST animated DC films!
10. Batman Hush
Adapted from the comic book of the same name, Hush is one of the better adaptations of the comics. Because there have been some truly not great ones, looking at you Killing Joke.
In a few ways, Hush even manages to improve on the source material, Namely with the inclusion of characters like Superman and Poison Ivy, they feel more fleshed out.
Doesn’t hurt that the art style, animation and fluidity of the action sequences feels and looks amazing. Coupled with some solid story telling, good performances and great music. Batman Hush isn’t the best, but it is absolutely one of the most rock solid.
9. Justice League Doom
Before WB had really gotten their footing with making an interconnected universe, they just made one off movies. Enter, Justice League: Doom. One of the first big animated movies that WB made, and it still holds up as one of the better ones.
When Vandal Savage hires a group of a villains to form an anti-Justice League, our heroes try to stop him. But how do you stop someone who’s immortal? The story in Doom is not particularly novel or new. Hell, the animated Justice League series used this story like 4 times in a season.
Where Doom really shines is the absolutely stellar animation style, fight choreography and voice acting. Sure it won’t win any awards for acting, but it’s far better than an animated superhero movie deserves.
8. Superman VS. The Elite
What do you get when you finally push Superman to the breaking point both physically and emotionally? Well, you end up getting one of the DC Animation’s best films to date.
Another one of DC’s one off movies, Superman VS The Elite is a story of vengeance and justice. How far is too far, when does justice no longer feel just and when is violence the answer. Yes, those aren’t particularly new concepts either, but they feel fresh when seen from Superman’s point of view.
Tie in the freaking awesome final fight where Superman just loses his mind, and you have a hell of an entertaining movie.
7. All-Star Superman
When Lex Luthor manages to poison Superman with solar radiation, Superman must decide what is more important: Himself, Luthor’s utopia or the people that he cares about.
In one of WB’s most emotionally stirring animated films, we watch as Superman struggles to come to terms with mortality. A concept that he had never truly reconciled with or cared to really ponder on. Resulting in fantastic emotional set pieces between himself, Luthor and Lois Lane.
This movie is not so much about the fight scene, though there are a couple of those as well. More so this movie is about the concept of what it costs to be a superhero. Do any of us truly believe that being immortal would be a blessing? Or would it strictly be a curse?
6. Superman Doomsday
One of the first examples that you can see WB starting to let the animation teams have more creative freedom. Doomsday is dark, gritty, violent and mature. Full of incredibly iconic moments, and the death of the Man of Steel himself.
While there certainly come animation elements that didn’t age as well, the final fight between Superman and Doomsday is incredible. Eventually this film would be remade in the DCAU called ‘The Death of Superman’ and honestly we really liked it. We know most people hated it, but the animation was so rock solid it was hard to dislike.
But, you can’t beat the original in terms of emotion, epic scale and music.
5. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
A movie that shaped future generations of animated WB movies. Return of the Joker saw an old Batman trying to teach a new Batman in a futuristic dystopia. As the new Batman, Terry McGinnis, tries to learn he uncovers a dark conspiracy.
Batman Beyond was really one of the first examples of WB going full dark and gritty and telling an adult story. And man, that image of a young Tim Drake Joker laughing maniacally will haunt our dreams.
4. Assault on Arkham
Definitely one of the less compelling movies in terms of storytelling, but definitely one of the single best action pieces. Full of terrifically charismatic acting, breakneck pacing, humor and tons upon tons of action.
Set within the Arkham universe that Rocksteady created, Assault on Arkham is a simple story. The Suicide Squad is tasked with recovering an asset from within Arkham in a race against an angry Batman.
If you have played the Rocksteady games, then you know that you’re in for a treat when it comes to fight scenes. Feeling like they came straight from Rocksteady themselves, the fights are brutal, hard hitting and amazing!
3. The Dark Knight Returns
One of comics best stories ever told is also one of the best animated movies made by the studio. Adapted from Frank Miller’s graphic novel of the same name, The Dark Knight Returns is a fantastically gritty story.
Set in the future where Superman is one of the last remaining superheroes and Batman has become an underground criminal. When the world teeters on nuclear war, Batman decides that he has to be the one to change the world. Which inevitably puts him in the sights of both Joker and Superman.
Make no mistake, this is not a film for the little kids. It’s brutal, violent, gory, profane, creepy and politically ironclad. Stuffed to the brim with great acting, incredible animation and relevant storytelling.
Doesn’t hurt that the music is also freaking incredible. In particular, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that the Superman V Batman fight is not the highlight of this movie.
2. Justice League Apokolips War
Yes, DC’s most recent animated film is also one of the best that they have ever made. Insanely violent, gory, mature and dark; Apokolips War is the culmination film of 8 years of in universe movie setups. Seriously, the first 10 minutes of this movie is freaking traumatizing.
Starting back in 2013 with Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox, Apokolips War brings everything together. This is the Endgame of the DCAU, and it is an incredible ride from start to finish.
When the world is on the brink of extinction, and the Justice League is shattered, there is only one hope left. John Constantine, a powerless Superman and a mentally fractured Raven have to save the day. Several times it seems that they won’t pull it off, and they really don’t.
Then, DC pulls the rug out from under you and features it’s most mature and mind bending ending yet. Calling back on viewer’s nostalgia with a heartfelt love letter. Every actor is on top of their game, and I’m not gonna lie; I had to go back and rewatch it to see if I caught everything. It’s a terrific film.
1. Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox
Where the DCAU started is also the strongest film to come from WB’s animation department. When Flash starts experiencing a different reality, he starts trying to piece together the events from the last few years. Trying to determine where everything went wrong and if he can fix it.
Along the way he meets the alternate reality versions of Batman, Superman and Cyborg. As audiences feel like they’re starting to figure it out, DC pulls off a terrific twist. And as the walls close in around Flash, he makes the last minute decision that changes everything.
We won’t spoil the way that this movie ties everything together. Just suffice to say that this movie is a cut above average in every department and is worth your time.
So that’s our list folks! We love the animated DC movies, and the way that WB has done nothing but increase the level of quality. Throughout the years, DC has proven that they might not get the live action bit down. But they sure as hell know how to handle the animated department.
Whether you’re an action junkie, a story fan, an animation fan or just a superhero fan. Warner Bros has something for everyone and we love every bit of it.