Who says direct-to-video is a bad thing? These DC animated movies certainly beg to differ. Voiced by stellar casts and superbly animated with the best action scenes on TV, these films by Warner Premiere, Warner Bros. Animation, and DC Comics definitely live up to the DC animated universe (DCAU) once spearheaded by the great Bruce Timm. Here’s a complete list of the past and upcoming movies you should absolutely not miss.
What better storyline suits the first of the DC animated movies than The Death of Superman? Superman: Doomsday follows the iconic story of Superman’s demise at the hands of Doomsday, because it’s just as Lex Luthor says in the opening of the film, “Just as day follows night, there comes a time when even gods must die.”
Release Date: September 18, 2007
Cast: Adam Baldwin as Superman, Anne Heche as Lois Lane, James Marsters as Lex Luthor, John DiMaggio as Toyman
If you’re a fan of the old school glory days of Justice League art (back when Superman was in red boyshorts), The New Frontier will not disappoint. Set during the end of World War II, the film details the struggles of the Justice League during the high-tension era of the Cold War as they try to fight off a doomsday cult that threatens the earth.
Release Date: February 26, 2008
Cast: David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan , Miguel Ferrer as John Jones, Neil Patrick Harris as Flash, Lucy Lawless as Wonder Woman, Kyle MacLachlan as Superman, Brooke Shields as Carol Ferris, Jeremy Sisto as Batman
Reminiscent of The Animatrix, Batman: Gotham Knight employs the same Japanese animation style in telling six short stories that further the mythos behind The Bat. The animated film is supposedly set between Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008), and despite the stand-alone stories in Gotham Knight, all six give audiences a breathtaking look into who Batman really is, especially to those around him.
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Cast: Kevin Conroy as Batman, with varying voice actors for the other characters in each segment
George Pérez rebooted the character’s origins during the “Gods and Mortals” arc in 1987, and this Wonder Woman film is loosely based on that story. When army fighter pilot Steve Travor trespasses on Themyscira, events begin to unfold as an evil war god is unleashed unto the world. Now, Diana must take up the responsibility to prevent the destruction of the entire human race.
Release Date: March 3, 2009
Cast: Keri Russell as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Steve Trevor, Alfred Molina as Ares, Rosario Dawson as Artemis
First Flight focuses on Hal Jordan’s first mission as a new member of the Green Lantern Corps, along with the story of Sinestro’s fall and discovery of the yellow ring and power battery.
Release Date: July 28, 2009
Cast: Christopher Meloni as Green Lantern, Victor Garber as Sinestro, Tricia Helfer as Boodikka, Michael Madsen as Kilowog
Lex Luthor as President of the United States? Despite Lex’s band of government-employed superheroes, Superman and Batman know better than to place their trust in Clark’s arch-enemy, while at the same time trying to prevent a meteorite from hitting the earth.
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Cast: Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, Xander Berkeley as Captain Atom
What does the League do when a good version of Lex Luthor appears from another earth and asks for their help? In Crisis on Two Earths, our heroes must face their counterparts when an evil Justice League from another world becomes a threat to the safety of innocents around the world.
Release Date: February 23, 2010
Cast: William Baldwin as Batman, Mark Harmon as Superman, Chris Noth as Lex Luthor, Gina Torres as Superwoman, James Woods as Owlman, Brian Bloom as Ultraman
When a mysterious vigilante named Red Hood starts popping up in Gotham, it’s up to Batman to investigate. Unfortunately, he only succeeds in opening up old wounds that he thought he’d already forgotten long ago.
Release Date: July 27, 2010
Cast: Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jensen Ackles as Red Hood, John DiMaggio as Joker, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing, Jason Isaacs as Ra’s al Ghul
After Superman/Batman: Public Enemies comes the continuing story of Supergirl as Darkseid tries to recruit her to become one of the Female Furies on Apokolips.
Release Date: September 28, 2010
Cast: Tim Daly as as Superman, Kevin Conroy as Batman, Summer Glau as Supergirl, Andre Braugher as Darkseid, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman
Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely wrote the comicbook of the same name in the early 2000s, and this animated adaptation presents a dying Superman who’s struggling with his mortality while Lex Luthor has plans of his own.
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Cast: James Denton as Superman, Christina Hendricks as Lois Lane, Anthony LaPaglia as Lex Luthor
Similar to one of the previous DC animated movies titled Batman: Gotham Knight, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights follows different origin stories of various members of the Green Lantern Corps, which includes Kilowog, Abin Sur, Laira, and even Mogo.
Release Date: June 8, 2011
Cast: Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Elisabeth Moss as Arisia Rrab, Jason Isaacs as Sinestro, Kelly Hu as Laira
Based on the comicbook arc of the same name from 1987, Batman: Year One shows the beginnings of Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon as they try to save Gotham in their own ways—and no, they don’t always see eye-to-eye.
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Cast: Ben McKenzie as Batman, Bryan Cranston as Lieutenant James Gordon, Eliza Dushku as Catwoman
In this tribute to Dwayne McDuffie (who wrote the film and died shortly after due to complications from open heart surgery), the Legion of Doom take center stage as each member strikes at their corresponding nemeses from the Justice League, while Vandal Savage plots to wipe out the entire human race and start civilization anew.
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Cast: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Tim Daly as Superman, Susan Eisenberg as Wonder Woman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern, Michael Rosenbaum as The Flash
Most viewers might wonder why this storyline, of all the arcs in the comics, was chosen to be one of the DC animated movies to be released after the classic Timmverse. Based on “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & the American Way?,” Superman vs. The Elite “tackles themes that go way beyond a typical superhero story,” says Joe Kelly. “Politics, the price of power and America’s place as a force in the world are all viewed through the lens of the DC Universe. Even if fans aren’t paying close attention to these issues, they’re all over the media. You can’t escape them. So with the state of affairs being what it is, I can’t think of a better time to see Superman confront these themes.” And that is exactly what the film is all about.
Release Date: June 12, 2012
Cast: George Newbern as Superman, Pauley Perrette as Lois Lane, Robin Atkin Downes as Manchester Black, Catero Colbert as Coldcast, Melissa Disney as Menagerie, Andrew Kishino as The Hat, Dee Bradley Baker as Atomic Skull, Ogie Banks as Terrence Baxter
Arguably the most anticipated of all the DC animated movies to date, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (separated into two parts) is the film adaptation of the masterpiece by Frank Miller. Forever revolutionizing the Caped Crusader, this story chronicles Batman’s retirement days and how, upon his return, the evils of Gotham City resurface with him. Before you go and watch Batman v. Superman next month, you should watch this first—or better yet, read the actual comicbook!
Release Date: September 25, 2012 (Part 1)
January 29, 2013 (Part 2)
Cast: Peter Weller as Batman, Ariel Winter as Robin, David Selby as Commissioner James Gordon, Wade Williams as Harvey Dent / Two-Face, Michael Emerson as Joker, Mark Valley as Superman
An adaptation of the “Superman: Brainiac” story arc in the comics by Geoff Johns, Superman: Unbound follows the adventures of Superman and Supergirl as they try to stop Brainiac and an ominous fireball from destroying the world.
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Cast: Matt Bomer as Superman, Stana Katic as Lois Lane, John Noble as Brainiac, Molly Quinn as Supergirl
After thwarting a criminal attempt by the Rogues, the Flash encounters Professor Eobard “Zoom” Thawne (a.k.a. the Reverse-Flash) who taunts him over his mother’s death. When Barry wakes up the next day, he finds that his whole world has changed—the Justice League no longer exists, and his powers are gone. He then enlists the help of Batman (who is Thomas Wayne) to reverse whatever Zoom did to alter the timeline before it’s too late.
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Cast: Justin Chambers as The Flash, C. Thomas Howell as Professor Eobard “Zoom” Thawne, Michael B. Jordan as Cyborg, Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne, Sam Daly as Superman, Dana Delany as Lois Lane, Cary Elwes as Aquaman, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern
During the 2011 DC Universe reboot, Geoff Johns and Jim Lee reinvented the beginnings of the League in “Justice League: Origin”. With Justice League: War as the first adaptation in the DC animated movies that opens up a new shared continuity, the film revisits how the members of the League meet and how they team up for the very first time against a greater threat—Darkseid.
Release Date: January 21, 2014
Cast: Alan Tudyk as Superman, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Michelle Monaghan as Wonder Woman, Justin Kirk as Green Lantern, Christopher Gorham as Flash, Shemar Moore as Cyborg
More than anything, the movie is a look into the personal struggles of Damian Wayne as he copes with being a ruthless assassin and the son of a superhero at the same time. As an adaptation of Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert’s “Batman and Son” arc, it further complicates the relationship between Talia and Batman while throwing Deathstroke into the mix.
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Cast: Jason O’Mara as Batman, Stuart Allan as Robin, Morena Baccarin as Talia al Ghul
What’s unique about this movie is that it’s set in the universe of the Arkham video games, with the main focus on the Suicide Squad. On a mission from Amanda Waller, Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and the rest of the merry band of criminals-turned-government-lackeys try to recover a thumbdrive from The Riddler but end up getting involved in something bigger than themselves. It’s the perfect intro for anyone who’s hyped to see the Suicide Squad movie coming out later this year.
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Cast: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Neal McDonough as Deadshot, Hynden Walch as Harley Quinn, Matthew Gray Gubler as Riddler, Troy Baker as Joker
Loosely based on The New 52’s “Throne of Atlantis” by Geoff Johns, this film is a sequel to Justice League: War back in 2014. Half-Atlantean Arthur Curry begins as a drunkard and ends as a prince, but the road to royalty is never easy. With the help of the Justice League, he saves the world from disaster, rediscovers his heritage, and claims his throne as Aquaman.
Release Date: January 13, 2015
Cast: Matt Lanter as Aquaman, Sumalee Montano as Mera, Sam Witwer as Ocean Master, Sirena Irwin as Queen Atlanna, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Christopher Gorham as Flash, Nathan Fillion as Green Lantern
Based on the Batman: The Court of Owls story arc from the comics (by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and Jonathan Glapion), Batman vs. Robin is a sequel to Son of Batman from 2014. The story focuses on Bruce and Damian’s struggle as father and son, and when the mysterious Talon confronts Robin, our heroes soon discover that there’s more to Gotham’s high society than they know.
Release Date: April 7, 2015
Cast: Jason O’Mara as Batman, Stuart Allan as Robin, Troy Baker as Court of Owls Lieutenant, Sean Maher as Nightwing, Kevin Conroy as Thomas Wayne
An alternate universe finds the Justice League as a brutal organization that enforces order on the planet by any means necessary. Superman is the son of General Zod, Wonder Woman is a member of the Apokolips royal family, while Batman is a vampire. Isn’t the idea of Bats feeding on criminals enough to get you interested in this film?
Release Date: July 21, 2015
Cast: Benjamin Bratt as Superman, Michael C. Hall as Batman, Tamara Taylor as Wonder Woman, Jason Isaacs as Lex Luthor / Metron
As a sequel to Batman vs. Robin released in 2015, Batman: Bad Blood begins with The Dark Knight missing and Gotham unprotected. Forced to continue what Bruce started, Nightwing and Robin, with the help of a few more members of the family, rise up to the challenge of defending the city while looking for Batman himself.
Release Date: January 20, 2016
Cast: Jason O’Mara as Batman, Yvonne Strahovski as Batwoman, Stuart Allan as Robin, Sean Maher as Nightwing, Morena Baccarin as Talia al Ghul
Robin screws up a Justice League mission, and a disappointed Batman sends him to work with the Teen Titans. But when Trigon possesses the League, there’s nowhere else to turn—it’s up to the Titans to step up their game and save the world.
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Cast: Jon Bernthal as Trigon, Taissa Farmiga as Raven, Jason O’Mara as Batman, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Kari Wahlgren as Starfire
Mark Hamill is back to voice the Clown Prince of Crime! There’s no stopping The Joker as he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and attempts to drive Batman into madness, proving once and for all that he and The Dark Knight are one and the same. The animated film based on the comic of the same title will supposedly feature a 15-minute prologue and added storylines to lengthen the short comicbook into a whole film.
Release Date: July 23, 2016 on VOD, and August 2nd on Blu-ray.
Cast: Kevin Conroy as Batman, Mark Hamill as Joker
Batman and hard-drinking spell-caster John Constantine are putting together a team of magic-sensitive individuals to combat mystically generated threats the Justice League can’t handle, fathom, or bury in the sun. Like swarms of flying, chattering teeth for example.
Release Date: Digital HD January 24, 2017 and Blu-Ray/DVD on February 7, 2017.
Cast: Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Matt Ryan as John Constantine, Camilla Luddington as Zatanna, Jason O’Mara as Bruce Wayne/Batman, Alfred Molina as Destiny, and Jerry O’Connell as Superman.
Based on the classic comic book story of the same name, “The Judas Contract” introduces the earth-moving, arguably heroic Terra, and one hell of a revenge plot enacted by vindictive Titans’ baddie, Deathstroke.
Release Date: Digital HD April 4th, 2017 and Blu-Ray/DVD on April 18th, 2017.
Cast: Christina Ricci as Tara Markov/Terra, Taissa Farmiga as Rachel Roth/Raven, Miguel Ferrer as Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Kevin Smith as himself, Meg Foster as Mother Mayhem, Jake T. Austin as Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle, Gregg Henry as Sebastion Blood/Brother Blood, Kari Wahlgren as Koriand’r/Starfire, Maria Canals-Barrera as Bianca Reyes, Sean Maher as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, David Zayas as Alberto Reyes, Crispin Freeman as Roy Haprer/Speedy, Brandon Soo Hoo as Garfield Logan/Beast Boy, Stuart Allan as Damien Wayne/Robin, and Jason Spisak as Wally West/Kid Flash.
Which films are your favorites, and which ones are you looking forward to the most? Do you have a favorite KAPOW scene that still gives you nerd-gasms when fondly remembered? Sound off in the comments below!