27 DC Animated Movies That Are Brilliant And Better Than Real Life Movies

Take a look back at the best of the best!

Akshita Lalchandani

Dec 30, 2020|10 min read


For as long as we could remember growing up as kids, DC Comics has dominated the animated landscape. The much loved DC Animated Universe began with Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, and with time it has grown into a movie franchise. 

DC Comics started making animated films in the year 2007. It was Warner Premier and Warner Brothers Animation who came together to make exceptional animated movies based on DC Comics characters.  They started their line of animated feature films based on some of their beloved comic series and original stories by incredible writers.

1) Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

While the animation and voice acting maybe a notch below, the movie Batman: Under the Red Hood tells the most compelling and heart-wrenching Batman story. Till date, it is DC Comics most enjoyable animated film from start to finish. 

In the movie, Batman struggles to try and rehabilitate his ex-partner. He also deals with the guilt associated with letting Robin descend into madness.  For fans of Batman and fans of DC, Under the Red Hood delivers a magnificent story. It will make you feel the grief and anger of the characters on a visceral level. This is a MUST WATCH.

2) Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm (1993)

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm was DC’s first attempt at a full-length, animated feature film, and it was an absolute home-run. Considered by many to be DC’s greatest animated venture, Mask of the Phantasm is worthy of all the praise. It tells an amazing Batman story, unlike any before and after it. 

Centred around a case of mistaken identity, romance, and classic Batman action, this film is a blast from start to finish. While as action-packed as they come, Phantasm focuses more on the storytelling than spectacle. Thus, it is very well aligned with the widely successful and award-winning Batman: The Animated Series.

3) Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)

The screen adaptation of the Flashpoint storyline, Flashpoint Paradox does a tremendous job of telling the story of Barry Allen, aka Flash. The movie also shows his efforts to reset the timeline after causing untold damage by going back in time to save his mother. 

As the story progresses, Barry tries to navigate his way through a different universe and the conflicts burdening the new world he's found himself in. Needless to mention, it is one of the best DC Animated movies to date.

4) Justice League: Doom (2012)

Next on our list of DC Animated movies is Justice League: Doom. A condensed screen adaptation of the highly-regarded Tower of Babel storyline, Doom sees our heroes fall one by one. The devastation is caused due to precise and personal attacks of villainous Legion of Doom, attacks that were originally mapped out as contingency plans by Batman himself.

5) Wonder Woman (2009)

Wonder Woman is yet another masterpiece among all the DC Animated movies. The precise and engaging storytelling of not just Wonder Woman’s origins, but the events before and after her becoming the warrior princess, makes the movie remarkable.

Wonder Woman is known for its masterful telling of what can be an enigmatic origin. The epic tale incorporates nearly all of Wonder Woman’s greatest supporting characters, like Ares, Artemis, Hippolyta, and of course, love interest Steve Trevor. In the movie, the villainous Cheetah even makes a cameo at one point.

As we follow Princess Diana’s journey to becoming Wonder Woman and venturing into the world of man, we see her develop from a skilled but naive woman into the layered and wise hero Wonder Woman.

6) Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker (2000)

There are actually two versions of the movie Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker, a rated and unrated version. Both are great in their own regard, however, the unrated version with added violence and intense dialogues take the DC Animated movie to a whole new level.

Without a doubt, Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker is one of the most emotional DC Animated movies. It includes their live-action ventures and continues the large overarching story of Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. 

The Batman animated movie shows the everlasting struggle between the Bat-Family and the Joker, by showing not just flashbacks but finding an interesting way to bring the Joker back into the fold, long after his supposed death.

7) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 (2012)

The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1 is a gem hiding in the DC Animated movies treasure. The electric opening to this two-part adaptation of Frank Miller's classic miniseries, The Dark Knight Returns: Part 1, sets the stage for great action. 

The movie introduces an older, grizzled Dark Knight, who is forced to come out of retirement to defeat a new and dangerous enemy, the Mutants. In his struggle to recapture the brutal physicality of Batman and adopt a new Robin, Carrie Kelly, Bruce shows us why he is the only man worthy of the cowl. 

As the movie reaches the climax, Batman defeats the living hell out of gangsters and Mutants alike. Therefore, he once again establishes 'Batman' as the symbol he once was.

8) The Dark Knight Returns: Part 2 (2013)

The second half of the animated version of Frank Miller’s masterpiece adds more to what we know about Batman. It focuses on the newly reinvigorated Batman, who has much more challenges to face.

Batman has to go up against his arch-nemesis, the Joker, and take on DC’s most powerful hero, Superman. The rebirth of the Clown Prince of Crime, Batman’s final encounter with his most hated enemy, and the battle between the two titans of DC make for some of the best cinema that DC and WB have ever made. You would not wish this DC Animated movie to end.

9) Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths (2010)

Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths is a wonderful DC Animated movie. It not only gives us a faithful interpretation of the infamous Crime Syndicate but also gives us a JLA who are well-established and coordinated. While none of the major voice actors associated with the DC/WB animated universe lent their talents here, the movie is awesome. 

You would not refrain from agreeing that the film is still a great entry into DC's animated library of films. The DC animated movie also stands above some others thanks to its PG-13 rating and darker overtones.

10) Batman/Superman: Public Enemies (2009)

Kevin Conroy and Tim Daly return again in the DC animated movie, Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. The movie kicks off with a major twist as Lex Luthor is elected the President of the United States. This was posing a big danger and superheroes had to find a way out of this. 

As anticipated, one of the first acts of Lex Luthor as the President was to pass a law that allowed the government to employ superheroes to work for the government under his leadership. As the story progresses, Batman and Superman are also bound by this law. 

Batman's and Superman's mistrust for Lex Luthor puts them on everyone’s radar as rebels against the United States and everything suddenly comes at stake. Watch this movie to know the real struggle that goes behind maintaining your reputation and name. 

11) Teen Titans: The Judas Contract (2017)

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is the next movie on our list of DC Animated movies. This one is an adaptation and updating of the classic 1983 comics storyline by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The Titans (Robin, Blue Beetle, Raven, et al) are betrayed by one of their own to the villainous mercenary Deathstroke (the great Miguel Ferrer in what was to be his last role).

12) Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014)

Not really a Batman animated movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham takes place in the continuity of the Arkham Asylum computer games. It is actually a suicide squad movie and a far better one than the live-action version we got a few years back. You would thoroughly enjoy watching this DC animated movie.

13) Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (2018)

If you can’t enjoy Batman fighting Jack the Ripper, you can’t enjoy life. This DC animated movie is a screen adaptation of the Elseworlds graphic novel by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola (Hellboy). The movie shows Batman (Bruce Greenwood) emerging in 19th century Gotham City, where a recently immigrated serial killer is slaughtering prostitutes by the bushel. You would see what Batman goes through to establish peace in the city.

14) All-Star Superman (2011)

The late Dwayne McDuffie adapts the first rate-limited series by writer Grant Morrison and artist Frank Quitely, giving us a Superman story that reminds us why he’s the World’s Greatest Superhero. After his cells are supercharged by solar radiation, Superman (Jamie Denton) is dying. As he takes stock of his life, we essentially get a tour of the Superman “universe” as envisioned by Morrison, packed with weird and wild flights of imagination, mind-blowing sci-fi concepts, high ideals, and warm humanity.

15) Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)

Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds was, well, dreadful, made all the more so knowing that it was presaged by this note-perfect animated origin story. Test pilot Hal Jordan (Christopher Meloni) is recruited to the ranks of the titular intergalactic space cops in time to contend with traitor Sinestro (Victor Garber). The DC animated movie takes you to a truly epic, universe-spanning sci-fi that displays all the scope and imagination the live version lacked.

16) Justice League: The New Frontier (2009)

This is another Green Lantern (David Boreanaz) origin of sorts—the difference being it’s set in the early ‘60s, when the Silver Age superhero renaissance was kicking off and puts its characters in that historical and cultural context.

17) Batman: Year One

There are a plethora of Batman-led animated films, to the point that it almost becomes obnoxious. But it makes sense — the Caped Crusader is still the DC Universe’s most popular character and the one guaranteed to sell the most Blu-rays. Not to mention, those movies are just that good. But Batman: Year One stands apart from the rest in that it’s just an okay Batman movie, but it’s a damn good Jim Gordon movie. Based on the Frank Miller story of the same name, Batman: Year One follows a young Bruce Wayne’s origin story, as he takes on the mantle of Batman and ascends to become a powerful symbol against crime.

18) Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)

Superman/Batman: Apocalypse is yet another classic movie for fans of DC and superheroes. In the movie, Batman discovers a mysterious teen-aged girl with super-human powers and a connection to Superman. The events take a dangerous turn when the girl comes to the attention of Darkseid, the evil overlord of Apokolips.

19) Superman Vs The Elite (2012)

Superman learns that there is a new superhero team around, The Elite, with whom he needs to fight. They quickly prove themselves a team of extraordinary power, giving Superman a confident practical realisation. As their popularity grows, Superman finds that they are outshining him with uncontrolled methods.

As the movie progresses, their methods grow more ruthless and the public appears to approve of their sneering dismissal of the moral values. However, as Lois Lane digs into the truth of the Elite, the secrets discovered combine with the team's escalating arrogance to create a menace, lead to their own doom. They were determined to destroy Superman for their own power but fate had something else in store for them.

20) Batman Vs Robin (2015)

In the movie, Batman Vs Robin, Damian Wayne is having a hard time coping with his father's no-killing rule. Meanwhile, Gotham is going through trouble with threats, such as the insane toymaker and the secretive Court of Owls.

21) Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)

Another spectacular movie in our list of DC movies is  Justice League: Gods and Monsters. The movie shows the boycott of DC's Trinity - Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman when they are being framed for something they never did. The three of them are held responsible for the murder of a prominent scientist and the government decides to take them out.

22) Justice League Dark (2017)

Justice League Dark is an amazing DC animated movie, in which the superheroes come together to fight the evil. All the supernatural heroes stand against supernatural villains and their unity helps them succeed. This team of supernatural beings includes John Constantine, Zatanna and Jason Blood also known as the demon Etrigan.

23) Justice League Vs Teen Titans (2016)

Robin is sent to work with the Teen Titans after his volatile behaviour botches up a Justice League mission. The Titans have to step up to face Trigon, the one who possesses the League and threatens to conquer the world.

24) Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (2011)

The movie Green Lantern: Emerald Knights introduce us to the Green Lantern Corps, whose home planet is going to face a battle with an ancient enemy. The story becomes interesting as Hal Jordan prepares the new recruit Arisia for the coming conflict by relating stories of the first Green Lantern and several of Hal's comrades. What happens in the battle is history!

25) Batman: Bad Blood (2016)

Batman: Bad Blood movie opens with strange news, the missing of Bruce Wayne and Alfred covering for him. In the meanwhile, Nightwing and Robin are patrolling the Gotham City in his place to check if everything is in place. And a new player, Batwoman, investigates Batman's disappearance. All in all, a sequence of events makes this batman animated movie a great watch.

26) Superman: Unbound (2013)

Superman: Unbound introduces us to the unpredictable Supergirl, who is associated with the terrorist captors. They take Lois Lane with them after she offers herself as a hostage and put her into an aerial confrontation until Superman arrives to save the day. 

Knowing Superman's civilian identity, Lois Lane attempts to get Clark Kent to make their relationship public but their argument is halted by a Daily Planet staff meeting. They learn about being altered to a meteor, which is nothing but a robot. 

With help from the fear-filled Supergirl, Superman learns the robot is actually a drone. The meteor or robot or drone is controlled by a being named Brainiac, a cyborg who was originally a Coluan scientist with extensive cybernetic and genetic enhancements.

27) Batman and Harley Quinn (2017)

Batman and Harley Quinn is a movie about a strange combination. The story progresses as Batman and Nightwing are forced to team with the Joker's sometimes-girlfriend Harley Quinn. This is necessary in order to stop a global threat brought about by Poison Ivy and Jason Woodrue, the Floronic Man. Coming together, the challenges they face is quite interesting.

In the hopes that this list pleases the fans of DC Animated Films, I also hope it inspires others to dive into these films. I always tell people newly interested in comic lore but don’t want to take the time to read the comics to go towards the cartoons, the next best thing.

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Akshita Lalchandani

A science student pursuing biotechnology, whose love for writing has earned her sleepless nights. Driven by passion, she derives unmatched contentment with her writings.



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