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

Justice League Snyder Cut
(Image credit: DC/Warner Bros.)

The DCEU is over and the DCU - helmed by James Gunn and Peter Safran - is about to begin in 2025.

Until then, we're guiding you through how to watch the DCEU movies in order, from Man of Steel right through to The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

We'll also offer up a DCEU chronological watch order for those who want to spice up their DC marathons. There's also a look at how non-canon DC films and Elseworlds films fit in, such as Zack Snyder's Justice League, Joker, and The Batman. For the MCU side of things, we also have a guide on how to watch the Marvel movies in order.

How to watch DC movies in order – release order

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Best for: Newcomers to DC

While the likes of Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy and Constantine don’t count as part of a cinematic universe and should be treated as standalone entities, almost everything from Man of Steel onwards is in the same DC Extended Universe (DCEU). However, there are some oddities when attempting to watch the DC movies in order.

For simplicity’s sake, we’re sticking to everything released under the DC banner, though Joker and The Batman are completely standalone stories in their own universe away from the DCEU (more on that below). 

As for the Snyder Cut, we recommend watching the 2017 theatrical Justice League release for 'canon' purposes, but Zack Snyder's 2021 version for a different and more definitive take on some of your favorite characters – plus, it's a superior movie, even if it is four hours long. Best of all, the already-released DC movies mentioned below can, for the most part, be watched right now on Max

In terms of current releases, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom is the latest DC movie, with a new cinematic universe under the stewardship of James Gunn and Peter Safran (the DCU) set to begin in 2025 with Superman: Legacy. But that's not something we need to worry about right now.

Here’s how to watch DC movies in release order, discounting the movies that haven’t yet been released. We'll get deeper in to the thorny issue of the DCU in just a bit.

How to watch DC movies in order – chronological order

(Image credit: Warner Bros)
  • Wonder Woman (main story) (1914-18)
  • Wonder Woman 1984
  • Man of Steel
  • The Flash (alternate timeline scenes)
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Wonder Woman (modern-day scenes)
  • Suicide Squad
  • Justice League (theatrical)
  • Aquaman
  • Shazam!
  • Birds of Prey
  • The Suicide Squad
  • Black Adam
  • Shazam! Fury of the Gods
  • The Flash
  • Blue Beetle
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Best for: Those who are rewatching the DCEU.

The chronological order of DC movies begins with Wonder Woman; it's mostly easy and pales in comparison to the monstrous Marvel timeline. Still, some (such as Aquaman, Shazam!, and Birds of Prey) are quite hard to pin down into the correct timeframe. Atlantis doesn’t exactly have underwater calendars in every scene.

Even if the years aren’t nailed down beyond Wonder Woman’s entries, there is an agreed-upon chronological order thanks to some Easter eggs (such as a "Superman is back!" poster in Shazam! and Harley Quinn’s Birds of Prey break-up with Joker) that keeps things relatively simple... until The Flash. 

Yep, the Scarlet Speedster is in danger of blowing up the entire DC watch order. It technically takes place after the events of Justice League but, without going into spoilers, can also be watched concurrently with Man of Steel. But it also exists on a completely separate timeline. Our advice? Leave it until the end, but in the knowledge that some of its scenes come during Superman's solo adventure on a completely different, parallel timeline.

If you want to get even more granular, you can queue up certain scenes to watch in chronological order – but it could get messy.

Some of Justice League, for example, clearly overlaps with Aquaman. Suicide Squad also features some pre-Man of Steel flashbacks to Bruce Wayne's early crusading in Gotham. But, by and large, it helps to keep things streamlined and to use the list above, with only Wonder Woman’s "modern day" scenes being crucial to the chronological order of the DCEU in terms of plot.

How does James Gunn's DCU affect the DC watch order?

James Gunn and Superman

(Image credit: Rodin Eckenroth / Stringer / Getty /DC)

Right now, it doesn't. But that's going to change in 2025. DCU Chapter One is the first step in a new rebooted cinematic universe, which makes everything from Man of Steel to The Flash (largely) redundant in terms of the new grand story it's trying to tell. 

While that's a bridge we cross when we get to it, the Aquaman sequel is officially the final DCEU movie. 

James Gunn, for his part, has said on Threads that, moving forward, his DCU works will be 'canon.' Nothing in the DCEU, seemingly, will matter as part of this cinematic universe.

"Nothing is canon until Creature Commandos [in 2024] – a sort of aperitif to the DCU – & then a deeper dive into the universe with Superman: Legacy after that," Gunn wrote. "It’s a very human drive to want to understand everything all the time, but I think its okay to be confused on what’s happening in the DCU since no one has seen anything from the DCU yet."

From then on, that collection of movies from 2013 to 2023 listed above (not including 'Elseworlds' movies like The Batman that exist outside of that main canon) will be in part of an older cinematic universe that is being left behind. Everything going forward from Superman: Legacy and Creature Commando onwards will be part of the new DCU, though some character and story elements could still transfer over like Blue Beetle. It's... confusing. 

TL;DR: the DCU is going to be completely new and not related to the previous DCEU. They may have some similarities, but it's all going to be very different and a fresh cinematic universe from hereon in. You can start fresh here if you're planning a DCU marathon.

For more on all 10 currently confirmed projects, check out our guide to DCU Chapter One.

How does the Snyder Cut affect the DC watch order?

Justice is Gray

(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC/HBO Max)

For now, Zack Snyder's Justice League is still not considered canon. For many fans, however, ZSJL is the culmination of a trilogy that started in Man of Steel and continued through Batman v Superman. The director then had plans for Justice League 2, as well as a third movie that would have seen Superman's son become the new Batman

Those movies will not come to pass, but you can still enjoy Snyder's trilogy: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and Zack Snyder's Justice League.

Are The Batman and Joker connected to the DCEU?

The Batman

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

When it comes to Robert Pattinson's The Batman and Joaquin Phoenix's Joker, there's no correct watch order (at least, not until the sequels and spin-offs come out). The two movies are also not connected in any way – in fact, The Batman introduces its own version of the Clown Prince of Crime.

Both The Batman and Joker can be watched at your own leisure and do not need to be part of your DCEU watch. 

However, if you really want to get every DC movie under your belt, there's no harm watching these amid your release order watch through, but don't expect Phoenix to pop up and fight the Justice League anytime soon. Both movies fall under the Elseworlds banner of the new DCU, meaning they all take place in different universes away from the main action.

Keep on top of the spandex-wearing crimefighters with our guide to new superhero movies. Then jump into our movie release dates calendar to tick off what else you want to see this year.

Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.

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