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How to watch DC movies in order: All DCEU Movies

Every possible way to watch the DCEU in order
Black Adam
Warner Bros Pictures

One of the largest film franchises of all time is also one of the most confusing. The DC Extended Universe (also known as the DCEU) has become a complicated web in recent years, thanks to the release of the extended and retooled Zack Snyder’s Justice League, a mixture of theatrical and streaming-only releases, and the upcoming introduction of the concept of the DC Multiverse.

Never fear, we can help you chart your way through the fog. If you want to watch the films in release order or in chronological order, or if you just want to know which films are connected – we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to watch every DC movie in order.

What’s Up with Zack Snyder’s Justice League?

Zack Snyder's Justice League monochromatic HBO movie poster, Superman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Batman, and Cyborg are standing in a staggered row

One of the biggest complicating elements in the DCEU watch order is the existence of Zack Snyder’s Justice League (AKA the infamous 'Snyder Cut.') Director Zack Snyder was reported well into post-production on Justice League when he stepped down from the film due to challenges in his personal life and disagreements with Warner Bros. about the film’s final cut. Directing duties were taken over by Joss Whedon, who reshot and rewrote much of the film. The final cut of Justice League was poorly received by both audiences and fans, and Snyder fans long demanded that Warner Bros. release Snyder’s original vision for the film.

Warner Bros. eventually answered those calls, after a fashion, bringing the cast back to shoot additional material for a four-hour film released on HBO Max. Zack Snyder’s Justice League retains the general framework of the theatrical film, but features expanded backstories, redesigned visuals, and a darker tone that is more in line with Snyder’s previous DC films.

When you decided what order to watch the films in, unless you are determined to watch the films in their original release order, Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League can be considered interchangeable, as their main narratives take place in the same time period. DC and Warner Bros. have stated that they consider the theatrical cut to be the most canon, but director Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman) contradicted that, saying she and other DC directors consider Snyder’s vision to be canonical.

With that in mind, here’s how you can watch the DCEU films in order.

How to Watch the DC Movies in Release Order

The simplest way to watch the DCEU films is in their release order. The main thing to keep an eye out for is that some films and shows released by DC don’t exist in the same canon, as DC’s current development strategy includes stand-alone projects that are unrelated to their ongoing film franchise. With that in mind, here’s the DCEU films in the order of their release.

  1. Man of Steel (2013)
  2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
  3. Suicide Squad (2016)
  4. Wonder Woman (2017)
  5. Justice League (2017)
  6. Aquaman (2018)
  7. Shazam! (2019)
  8. Birds of Prey (2020)
  9. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020)
  10. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
  11. The Suicide Squad (2021)
  12. Peacemaker, season one (2022)
  13. Black Adam (2022)
HBO Max The Peacemaker poster, John Cena as The Peacemaker is in the middle and surrounded by the rest of the cast

Up next for the DCEU are Shazam! Fury of the Gods (currently scheduled for theatrical release March 17, 2023), he Flash (currently scheduled for theatrical release on June 23, 2023), Blue Beetle (currently scheduled for theatrical release on August 18, 2023), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (currently scheduled for theatrical release on December 25, 2023).

There's several additional DC films, shows, and second season of DCEU shows (in the case of Peacemaker) on the horizon, but no word has come down as to when they will debut.

How to Watch the DC Movies in Chronological Order

Thanks to post-credits scenes, flashbacks ,and time jumps within the films, there’s no perfect way to watch the DCEU films in chronological order. With that in mind, we’ve broken down how to follow along chronologically with notes about certain scenes and moments that make the order complicated.

  1. Wonder Woman
  2. Wonder Woman 1984
  3. Man of Steel
  4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  5. Suicide Squad
  6. Justice League / Zack Snyder’s Justice League
  7. Aquaman
  8. Shazam!
  9. Birds of Prey
  10. The Suicide Squad
  11. Peacemaker, season one
  12. Black Adam (2022)

Although this list puts the primary story of each film in chronological order, some of the movies have scenes and flashbacks that take place at different points in the timeline.

Wonder Woman has a frame narrative that features the titular character in the present day, looking at a photograph and reminiscing about her past, from her childhood up to her time fighting in World War I; those present-day scenes take place after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. By contrast, although Wonder Woman 1984 takes place nearly 70 years after the events of the first film, it opens with a scene of Diana’s childhood which likely takes place sometime around the beginning of Wonder Woman.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice also opens with a flashback, showing a scene of Bruce Wayne at his parents’ funeral that would take place before the events of Man of Steel. It then shows a scene of Bruce Wayne witnessing the battle between Superman and General Zod at the end of the events of Man of Steel.

Both Justice League and Zack Snyder’s Justice League feature scenes that take place thousands of years in the past, featuring a battle between the forces of Apokolips and an alliance of Olympians, Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and a Green Lantern.

Aquaman opens with a scene showing the meeting of the title character’s parents in 1985, which would take place after the events of Wonder Woman 1984. Shazam! also opens with a scene set in the past, with the villainous Dr. Sivana in 1974, which takes place prior to Wonder Woman 1984.

Birds of Prey features a flashback sequence with Harley Quinn and the Joker in a nightclub that takes place sometime during their relationship. Although the exact date of the scene is unclear, it probably takes place before the events of Suicide Squad.

Black Adam hops begins in the early days of humanity in its opening scenes, before settling into the modern-day for the majority of the runtime.

Finally, although Peacemaker largely takes place in the present day, it features flashbacks to Peacemaker’s childhood that would take place prior to the events of Man of Steel.

Shazam! movie poster, Zachary Levi as Shazam blowing a pink bubblegum bubble, typing on his phone while leaning against the side of the poster

How to Watch the DC Movies by franchise

The DCEU doesn’t have one large narrative arc in the same way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe does. Instead, DC has two prominent storylines and a single standalone series within the universe (with more standalone projects on the way). If you wanted to watch through one set of directly connected films before moving on to the next, here’s how you should do it.

Justice League

  1. Man of Steel
  2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  3. Wonder Woman
  4. Justice League / Zack Snyder’s Justice League
  5. Aquaman
  6. Wonder Woman 1984

Alternately, you could watch Wonder Woman 1984 directly after Wonder Woman, as both films are prequels set before the events of the rest of the series. Upcoming releases in this section are Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, as well as The Flash,.

Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad

  1. Suicide Squad
  2. Birds of Prey
  3. The Suicide Squad
  4. Peacemaker, season one

Should they materialize, a sequel to The Suicide Squad and future seasons of Peacemaker would belong on this list.

Shazam!

  1. Shazam!
  2. Black Adam (2022)

Although this section of the DCEU currently only has two released films, it will get a big boost at the end of this year with the release of the sequel Shazam! Fury of the Gods in early 2023.

B

What About the Other Batman Films?

The Batman 2022 movie poster, Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne in the lower center and as Batman above. The Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman are in front of Batman.

Warner Bros. and DC’s plans for the franchise have another complicating factor on the horizon, as the upcoming film The Flash is set to introduce the concept of the multiverse into the DCEU with a plot based on the comic storyline Flashpoint. While the DCEU’s previous Batman, played by Ben Affleck, is set to appear in the film, The Flash will also feature a blast from the past with Michael Keaton reprising his role as the Caped Crusader from Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992).

Keaton’s character is confirmed to hail from an alternate universe in The Flash. The addition of the multiverse brings into question what DC films that are currently unrelated to the DCEU might later become canon as alternate universes. Currently, this year’s Robert Pattinson-starring The Batman is not considered canon, although Warner Bros. has recently announced that a sequel is in the works with Pattinson and director Matt Reeves returning.

If you’re looking to prepare for Keaton’s impending appearance in The Flash, all you’ll need to watch is Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992). The events of the other two films in that series (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, which did not feature Keaton) will be ignored in the upcoming film.

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About the Author
Reid Carter avatar

Reid Carter

Contributing writer

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