How to watch the DC movies in order (chronological and release date)

Orm and Aquaman stand in front of some wreckage in Aquaman 2
Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom wraps up the current incarnation of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)

Want to know how to watch the DC movies in order? You’ve landed in the right place. Since 2013's Man of Steel, the DC Extended Universe (or DCEU for short) has been telling the stories of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and numerous other superheroes from the famous DC stable.

But while the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the gold standard for creating vast, overlapping narratives, the so-called Distinguished Competition has sometimes seemed muddled in comparison. In fact, the two best received DC releases of the last decade – The Batman and Joker – exist in entirely different continuities to the likes of Wonder Woman, Aquaman and The Flash.

Now, as Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (currently in theaters) wraps up the current incarnation of the DCEU – and The Suicide Squad director James Gunn gets set to unleash his new-look DCU continuity (more on that later) – we cut through the confusing chronology to tell you how to watch the existing DC movies in order. We also explain where to watch them – if you're in the US, Max should be your first port of call – and rank each release to identify the best superhero movies in this particular universe  As a famous guy in a cape once said: “Up, up and away!”

How to watch the DC movies in release date order

A screenshot of an official poster for Black Adam

Black Adam marked Dwayne Johnson’s debut as the titular anti-hero. It's currently unclear whether he'll return to the role. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best for: newcomers to the DCEU

Want to know how to watch the DC movies in order by their release dates? You'll need this list to help you out.

You'll start with 2013's Man of Steel, i.e. the first film in the Zack Snyder's run of DCEU movies, and end with the most recent theatrical release, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which debuted in theaters in December 2023. This will be the final release in the current incarnation of the DCEU, before new DC Studios CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran reboot the franchise with Gunn's Superman: Legacy – you can read more about their new-look DCU below.

A couple of things to note before you dive in: firstly, there are two versions of the Justice League movie. One is the theatrical cut (released in 2017), which Joss Whedon helmed after original director Zack Snyder stepped away following the death of his daughter. Zack Snyder's Justice League, meanwhile, is Snyder's four-hour cut, which debuted on (the then) HBO Max in March 2021.

Secondly, we've included Peacemaker, the first DCEU TV series, in the list below. As it's a follow-up to 2021's The Suicide Squad, it's an integral part of this list of the DC movies in order.

Finally, there are some DC movies missing from the below list. We'll explain why we haven't added them in the paragraphs that follow.

Man of Steel was 100% a Superman story, but a carefully deployed Wayne Enterprises logo revealed that Clark Kent lived in the same world as Batman. 

Zack Snyder, who directed Man of Steel, subsequently pitted the two biggest icons of DC Comics against each other in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which bit off more than it could chew by trying to launch a Marvel-style shared universe in one swoop. Wonder Woman had an extended cameo – and there were brief sightings of Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg – but it was a far cry from DC’s answer to The Avengers.

DC also brought its criminal element into the limelight that year in Suicide Squad, before Wonder Woman got the belated chance to headline her own movie in 2017.

Wonder Woman is arguably the most important movie in the history of the DCEU, with its sense of fun and optimism proving that DC could play Marvel at their own game. They also beat Marvel to the crucial milestone of getting a female-led superhero movie on the big screen, with Wonder Woman landing more than 18 months ahead of Captain Marvel. The DCEU was back on track.

Wonder Woman runs through No Man's Land in the 2017 movie.

Wonder Woman's first solo flick arrived in 2017. (Image credit: Warner Bros)

Or so it seemed. The hotly anticipated Justice League brought Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg together to fight the extra-terrestrial threat of Steppenwolf – and misfired. Four years later, Snyder was unexpectedly given the chance to revisit his version of Justice League, and he delivered a longer, more coherent take on the superhero team-up.

Since Justice League's original cinema release, standalone movies have come back to the fore in the DCEU. Aquaman and Shazam! both took the franchise in fun new directions – Aquaman with its spectacular underwater world, and Shazam! with its unashamedly kooky, Big-style wish fulfillment.

Elsewhere, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn finally gave Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn – by some distance the best thing in Suicide Squad – a more worthy vehicle for her talents in early 2020. Wonder Woman then proved herself to be the only high-profile big-screen superhero brave enough to take on Covid-19, as Wonder Woman 1984 belatedly made it into cinemas in December 2020.

Zack Snyder's Justice League characters in a black and white shot

Zack Snyder’s Justice League came to HBO Max (now rebranded as Max) in March 2021. (Image credit: Warner Bros)

Suicide Squad sequel/reboot The Suicide Squad (written and directed by Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, who's since taken on a role overseeing DC Studios) arrived in August 2021. A few months later, spin-off TV show Peacemaker focussed on the titular antihero, with John Cena reprising his role from The Suicide Squad. Both proved rather more appealing than the original 2016 supervillain team-up.

They've since been joined in the DC line-up by Dwayne Johnson’s superhero (okay, super-anti-hero) debut in Black Adam, the recent Shazam! sequel (read our Shazam! Fury of the Gods review to find out what we thought), a first solo outing for the Scarlet Speedster in The Flash, and Blue Beetle, a mostly self-contained story about a college student who gains superpowers when he gets hold of a magical scarab. The most recent (and final) release in the DCEU continuity was Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which swam into theaters in December 2023.

And no, we haven't forgotten about 2022’s Caped Crusader reboot (read our full review of The Batman to find out why we loved it) and the Martin Scorsese-esque Joker. We've left them out because they exist in their own continuity away from the main DCEU timeline.

How to watch the DC movies in chronological order

Superman screams out as he kills General Zod in Man of Steel

Calm down, Supes, we'll tell you how to watch them in chronological order. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

Best for: viewers looking for a new way to stream the DC movies

Interested in watching the DC movies based on how they fit into the franchise chronology? This part of our guide explains how to do so. Below, we've outlined the best way to stream them in terms of their position in the DC timeline. So, you'll see Wonder Woman's first solo film at the top of the list – it's largely set in World War I – with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom at the end. That's because the most recent movie in the franchise occurs in the present day of the DCEU.

Admittedly, most DC films are set in the modern era, and even Wonder Woman features some framing scenes set in the present . In that sense, there isn't much difference between watching them in chronological or release date order. This method spices things up, though. So, if you're looking for a new way to enjoy every DCEU movie so far, this is the order for you.

  • Wonder Woman
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • Man of Steel
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Suicide Squad
  • Wonder Woman (present-day framing scenes)
  • Birds of Prey: and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  • Justice League / Zack Snyder's Justice League
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam!
  • The Suicide Squad
  • Peacemaker (TV show)
  • Black Adam
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods
  • The Flash
  • Blue Beetle
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Predominantly set during World War I – with some sequences taking place centuries in the past – Wonder Woman is where the earliest bits of the saga’s action take place. Diana Prince also headlines the second installment in DCEU chronology, returning around seven decades after events of the first movie – looking like she hasn’t aged a day – in Wonder Woman 1984.

Next up is Man of Steel, whose wholesale destruction of Metropolis sets the scene for Bruce Wayne's vengeful quest to take down Krypton's most famous son in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. From here, things get fuzzier – though Supes’ death in Batman v Superman is a useful reference point.

In the present-day bookends of Wonder Woman, Diana receives a photo of her old World War I unit from Bruce Wayne – someone she met for the first time in Dawn of Justice. Wayne also crops up at the end of Suicide Squad, meeting with Amanda Waller to discuss recruiting metahumans like Flash and Aquaman to help keep a Superman-less world safe. It's clear, then, that Wonder Woman's present day scenes and the events of Suicide Squad slot somewhere between Dawn of Justice and Justice League in the DCEU chronology.

In the loose context of the DCEU's extremely malleable continuity it’s Joss Whedon's version of Justice League that’s considered canon, even though some elements of Snyder’s movie have survived into future installments of the franchise. For example, Kiersey Clemons reprises her Snyder Cut role as Iris West in The Flash, even though she never appears on screen in Whedon's version of  Justice League.

Aquaman appears in his classic comic-book suit in his 2018 solo movie

Aquaman takes place somewhere around 2018 on the DC timeline. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Aquaman is set at some point after Justice League, because Mera (played by Amber Heard) references the events of the earlier film. The first Shazam! follows Aquaman, too, as Billy Batson and best friend Freddy Freeman are aware of the events of the underwater movie.

It's less obvious how the Suicide Squad movies and various spin-offs fit in. Birds of Prey could take place at any point following the original Suicide Squad, because – while we know that the Joker rescued Harley Quinn from the US government when her assignment with Task Force X was done – the exact timeframe is unclear.

Whether Birds of Prey takes place before or after Justice League is unclear, but we know The Suicide Squad takes place in the wake of Ms Quinn’s misadventures in Birds of Prey. The Peacemaker TV show is clearly set several months after the events of The Suicide Squad, as the small-screen spin-off references the titular Christopher Smith/Peacemaker recovering from injuries sustained on his mission to Corto Maltese.

Jamie Reyes creates a new weapon using the scarab suit in Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle is effectively a standalone movie but appears to take place at the end of the DCEU continuity. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)

The Suicide Squad offshoot of the DCEU timeline is surprisingly helpful in placing Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods in the chronology. Cameos for Emilia Harcourt (a US government agent played by Jennifer Holland and introduced in Peacemaker) in both movies places them after Peacemaker. Superman's surprise appearance in Black Adam also confirms the Dwayne Johnson-starring film takes place after the man of steel's resurrection in Justice League

The Flash is seemingly set in the present day, after Black Adam and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. That said, the movie's journeys into multiverse territory – notably an alternative timeline where Michael Keaton's Batman (from the two Tim Burton movies) is the dominant Caped Crusader – do make its place in the chronology a little harder to define. 

Blue Beetle and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom effectively exist as standalones, with minimal references to other characters and events within the DCEU. It's safe to assume, however, that they're the final movies in the chronology – especially as Aquaman 2 states that several years have passed since the first movie. Long enough, in fact, for Arthur Curry to spend some time on the Atlantean throne and have a son. 

As for Joker and The Batman, they exist outside the shared continuity of the DC movies, and will continue to do so in the upcoming new era of the DC Universe led by new joint-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran – more on that below...

Future DC movies and TV shows

Superman smiles as he looks behind him in a cover image for Superman: Legacy

Up, up and away! The Man of Steel will launch the new-look DCU on the big screen in Superman: Legacy(Image credit: DC Comics)

Following the release of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in December 2022, DC's screen output is set to go through some major changes. James Gunn and Peter Safran were appointed as co-heads of DC Studios in October 2022 and, in January 2023, Gunn announced the films and TV shows that'll kick-off the duo's revised cinematic universe. This first phase of releases will be known as DCU Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.

Movie sequels to Joker and The BatmanJoker: Folie à Deux and The Batman Part II – are also on the way in 2024 and 2025, respectively. Like their predecessors, they'll exist in separate continuities to the main DC Universe, and will be branded as "DC Elseworlds" projects – a knowing wink to the DC Comics imprint of the same name.

The Caped Crusader is also getting two TV spin-offs on Max: the first is a Penguin TV series, which focusses on The Batman incarnation of legendary Bat-villain Oswald Cobblepot, as played by Colin Farrell; the other is Arkham, a horror-tinged offering set in Gotham's famous asylum. (It now seems that Arkham will exist in a different universe to The Batman, as Gunn has revealed on Threads that, "Matt [Reeves, director of The Batman] is producing Arkham as a DCU series.")

Colin Farrell as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin in The Batman

Colin Farrell's Oswald Cobblepot will headline his own spin-off TV show, The Penguin. (Image credit: Warner Bros. Studios)

You can find a quick summary of what's in store in the new-look DCU below:

DCU movies

  • Superman: Legacy – Gunn’s very own man of steel movie, slated for release in July 2025.
  • The Authority – based on Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s comic about superheroes who use extreme methods to keep the universe safe from harm.
  • The Brave and the Bold – a big-screen take on Grant Morrison’s classic comic-book run, in which the Caped Crusader teams up with the Damian Wayne incarnation of Robin.
  • Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow – Superman’s cousin is "much more hard-core and not the Supergirl we’re used to," promises Gunn.
  • Swamp Thing – the Gods and Monsters chapter emphasizes the monstrous side of its title with a journey into horror movie territory.

Robert Pattinson's Dark Knight investigates the Riddler's lair in The Batman.

Robert Pattinson's version of Batman exists outside the main DC movie continuity. (Image credit: Jonathan Olley/Warner Bros.)

DCU TV shows

  • Creature Commandos – an animated series written by Gunn. The voice cast will include Frank Grillo (the MCU's Crossbones), Maria Bakalova (the voice of Cosmo the Spacedog in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 3), Obi-Wan Kenobi's Indira Varma, and James Gunn's brother (and regular collaborator) Sean Gunn.
  • Waller – a follow-up to Peacemaker that will air on Max.
  • Peacemaker – Gunn says he'll make a second season of The Suicide Squad spin-off when he's finished on Superman: Legacy.
  • Lanterns – the Green Lantern Corps come to the small screen, in a show that’s "very much in the vein of True Detective," according to Gunn.
  • Paradise Lost – a Game of Thrones-style Max drama set on Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s original home.
  • Booster Gold – a TV show about a guy from the future who uses his advanced tech to convince the world he’s a superhero.
  • Arkham – a horror-themed series set in Gotham's infamous psychiatric hospital.

Elseworlds projects

  • Joker: Folie à Deux – Joaquin Phoenix returns to the role that won him an Oscar, with Lady Gaga as Harley Quinn. The movie's due for release in 2024.
  • The Batman Part II – Robert Pattinson returns as the Caped Crusader in writer/director Matt Reeves' follow up to The Batman. Expect to see the film in 2025.
  • The Penguin – one of Batman's most legendary villains gets his own show, with Colin Farrell reprising his role from The Batman.

The DCEU movies ranked: from best to worst

Bloodsport, Ratcatcher 2, Polka-Dot Man and Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad

Where does The Suicide Squad rank among its DC brethren? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Looking for a guide on the best and worst DC movies? We've ranked every DCEU project based on their IMDb scores. That way, you know which ones are worth your time if you're only looking to stream a few of them.

(For comparison, The Batman scores 7.8, while Joker picks up 8.4, meaning it's more popular than all the movies in the main DC continuity.)

Where to stream the DC movies and TV shows

Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods is now available on Max in the US. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

If you want to watch the DC movies in order from the US, every release up to Blue Beetle is available to stream on Max. Many of the films are also available on Netflix.

For viewers in UK and Australia, you'll have to look around several of the best streaming services to work your way through all of the films. 

Below we've outlined where you can watch all 17 DCEU movies to date – though whether you view them in order is entirely up to you.

  • Man of Steel – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); Netflix, BINGE, Foxtel Now (Aus)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); Netflix, BINGE, Paramount Plus (Aus)
  • Suicide Squad – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); Netflix, BINGE (Aus)
  • Wonder Woman – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); BINGE, Foxtel Now, Stan, Paramount Plus (Aus)
  • Justice League – Max, Netflix (US); Netflix (UK); BINGE, Foxtel Now (Aus)
  • Aquaman – Max, Netflix (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); Netflix, Foxtel Now, Paramount Plus, Stan (Aus)
  • Shazam! – Max, Netflix (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); Netflix, BINGE, Foxtel Now, Paramount Plus, Stan (Aus)
  • Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – Max, Netflix (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); BINGE, Foxtel Now, Paramount Plus (Aus)
  • Wonder Woman 1984 – Max, Netflix (US); Netflix (UK); BINGE (Aus)
  • Zack Snyder's Justice League – Max (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); BINGE, Foxtel Now (Aus)
  • The Suicide Squad – Max, Netflix (US); Netflix (UK); Foxtel Now (Aus)
  • Peacemaker – Max (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); BINGE, Foxtel Now (Aus)
  • Black Adam – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); Netflix, BINGE (Aus)
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods – Max, Netflix (US); Sky Go, Now (UK); Netflix, BINGE (Aus)
  • The Flash – Max, Prime Video (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (Aus)
  • Blue Beetle – Max (US); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (UK); available to rent/buy on Apple TV, Google Play, Amazon and more (Aus)
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom – currently screening in theaters

For more DC movies coverage, find out which ones made it onto our best Max movies list. Alternatively, see if Peacemaker has joined our best Max shows guide.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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