The DC Extended Universe of films had a tougher start than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the truth remains that there is a timeline of events that takes place over the course of a series of DC Comics films released over the last seven years. Man of Steel, the Christopher Nolan-produced, Zack Snyder-directed gritty reimagining of Superman that was supposed to start off an interlinked series of films, was the first to hit theatres.
The plan was to build up to a two-part Justice League event, led by Snyder, but due to a variety of issues, that vision never materialized. Even Nevertheless, there is a chronological order to the DC movies, at least during a stretch of about five movies. Crossovers and cameos abound as events from one film are referenced and expanded upon in others.
So, if you’re wondering how to watch the DC films in chronological order, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of how to watch all of the DC movies in chronological order, as well as how to watch them in order of release, below. For the purposes of this list, only films that are part of the “DC Extended Universe” — that is, films that are explicitly linked through events and characters – are included. So Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern aren’t on this list since their universes don’t intersect with the universes of these Snyder-led films.
In Chronological Order of Events, Below Are the Dc Films
By a large margin, the events of Wonder Woman predate the events of all other DC films. The film rushes back in time to depict Zeus’ creation of the Amazon women warriors, who all live on Themyscira’s secret island. The majority of the plot takes place in 1918 when US pilot Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) is fighting in World War I and unexpectedly comes upon Themyscira. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) pursues Steve to London, where she makes history as a member of the Allied soldiers during World War I. “Present-day” scenes that take place after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are sandwiched between the two halves of the film.
Wonder Woman Was Released in 1984
With the exception of a prologue set during Diana Prince’s upbringing, the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 is set primarily in 1984. However, don’t expect many DCEU tie-ins, as the Patty Jenkins-directed sequel stands mostly on its own.
Man of Steel
Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder, is the film that started it all, and it largely takes place in the present day (circa 2013) – though the film opens with a prologue showing the destruction of Kal-home El’s planet Krypton, and we then see scenes of Clark Kent as a child and teenager growing up in Kansas before we get to “present day,” where he’s somewhere in his twenties – so about 20 years after Krypton’s destruction.
Dawn of Justice Is the Sequel to Batman v Superman
In terms of chronology, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a bit of a mixed bag. There are flashbacks to Bruce Wayne’s childhood in 1981 when his parents were killed, flashbacks to depict Bruce Wayne’s perspective on the ending of Man of Steel and flashforwards to a desolated Earth overrun by villain Darkseid (those “Knightmare” scenes). However, the majority of the tale takes place around 18 months after the events of Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck’s Batman has become exceedingly hardened and nursing a vendetta towards Superman.
Suicide Squad is a group of people who have committed suicide
Suicide Squad takes place a year after the events of Batman v Superman, as the death of Superman is mentioned in the film, and we even get a cameo of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne meeting with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who has taken on a stronger leadership role among the superheroes. However, there are flashbacks showing Batman pursuing the Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) prior to Man of Steel.
The Justice League is a Group of Superheroes
The majority of Justice League takes place two years after Batman v Superman and one year after Suicide Squad, but we also get a large flashback sequence to thousands of years ago, when the villainous Steppenwolf attempted to take over Earth and was foiled by an alliance of Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and Olympian Gods.
Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder, Is a Superhero Team Created by Zack Snyder
The four-hour epic Zack Snyder’s Justice League is a more full and fascinating version of the theatrical cut of Justice League while being non-canon. It also fits perfectly into the timeline.
The standalone Aquaman film follows Jason Momoa’s titular hero as he defends his own country some months after the events of the Justice League. However, there are flashbacks from 1985 that show Aquaman’s genesis tale.
The majority of the standalone film Shazam! takes place over the 2018 holiday season, although it begins with a flashback to 1974 to explore the origin story of the main villain Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
The events of the suicide squad take place four years after the events of this solo Harley Quinn film. Following batman v superman and justice league, the dceu became increasingly disjointed, with only a few nods to Harley Quinn’s actions in the suicide squad in birds of prey.
A Suicide Squad Is a Group of People Who Commit Suicide
The suicide squad, directed by James Gunn, takes place an unknown amount of time after the events of the first suicide squad film, and presumably after the events of birds of prey, but the film is unconcerned with dc interconnectedness. What we do know is that Harley Quinn is back in jail (thus her participation in task force x’s newest mission), and Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) is a seasoned veteran of these “suicide squad” missions.
Matt reeves’ batman takes place in the second year of batman’s vigilante career and is set apart from the regular dceu films. Robert Pattinson takes over as the batman, and matt reeves construct a darker, more atmospheric Gotham for the film, containing traditional Batman rogues’ gallery figures like the Riddler, Penguin, and Catwoman, as well as allies like Alfred and Jim Gordon. If the picture sells well, Batman sequels and spinoffs are expected.
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