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Best DC Universe Animated Films

Did your favorite DC animated feature make the cut?

Now that the first season of The Walking Dead is over, I have a hole left in my soul that needs to be filled. I’ve loved being able to tune in every week and see one of my favorite comics come to life. Now that’s over. So to move on with my life, while also filling the void left by The Walking Dead I’ve shifted my gaze towards the DC Universe animated movies. Some of the most influential DC stories have been given the film treatment so people like me can stop worrying about that little thing called reading. It’s also topical considering the animated version of All-Star Superman just received its release date. So without further ado, below you can find my picks for the five best DC Universe animated films. Enjoy!

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 

Mask of the Phantasm is the granddaddy of the DCU animated feature films. It’s also often regarded as the best Batman movie ever made. Due to the success of the first season of Batman: The Animated Series, Warner Bros. asked the team behind the hit television series to create a full-length animated feature in just a short eight months. This is what we got. That right there shows the creative prowess of the team behind Batman: The Animated Series.

Some of the absolute highlights of Batman: Mask of the Phantasm are when the forward moving plot takes a breather to instead rewind the clock on Bruce’s unique career path. Specifically, Bruce’s failed first attempt at crime-fighting without an iconic persona, as well as the first time Bruce dons the cape and cowl in front of a frightened Alfred stand out as two of the film’s best moments.

When it comes to DC Universe animated films, it does not get much better than this.
== TEASER ==

Justice League: The New Frontier 

I might be a little biased here, as DC: The New Frontier is one of my absolute favorite comic book stories. I’ve bought the issues, the trades and the Absolute edition. And as you can probably guess, I’ve bought the direct-to-DVD film adaptation, renamed Justice League: The New Frontier. Of all the adaptations I’ve picked here, Justice League: The New Frontier stays the truest to the comic book source material. Darwyn Cooke’s original story of the formation of the Justice League of America is just too damn good to mess with . The only things lost in translation are the political undertones of the original graphic novel. It’s not a huge loss, especially considering the filmmakers tip their hats to the issues of civil rights, atomic testing and the red scare, acting as nice easter eggs for fans of the comic.

Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Original Uncut Version) 

You know what still blows my mind: hardcore Batman fans accepting the premise to Batman Beyond. We usually hate sharp-left change to our status quo, yet, somehow Batman Beyond is a concept we all love . But if you do need explanation as to why the Batman Beyond idea is so solid, look no further than Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The film is a perfect example of what makes Batman Beyond fundamentally great: a seamless evolution of the Batman mythos while simultaneously calling back to the continuity of old. Return of the Joker, in its uncut state, is also one of the most violent animated Batman stories you’re likely to find. This comes from the year 2000, when the Batman Beyond cartoon was still aimed at children, and shortly followed the shooting massacre at Columbine. When you break it down, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is an edgy film that paved the way for the current wave of PG-13 rated DC Universe animated features.

Batman: Under the Red Hood 

There’s a pattern forming here; Batman has the best animated movies. But what’s shocking about Batman: Under the Red Hood is that I really don’t like the comic which this film is based upon. I’m not much of a Judd Winick fan. However, for this animated feature Winick re-approached his original story and cut out all the fluff, unnecessary cameos, and comic book-y cliches, leaving us with a stellar examination of life, death, rebirth and vengeance. Black Mask might come off as a caricature of Scarface, and the Joker voice may take some getting use to. It's the final confrontation in Under the Red Hood that delivers the emotional punch needed, making us actually care about Jason Todd’s vigilante mission and his reasons for donning the Red Hood costume. When push comes to shove, this animated movie is actually better than the original comic it’s based off of.

Wonder Woman 

Of all the DCU animated movies left, Wonder Woman reigns supreme. Now don’t take that as a back-handed compliment; it’s just that Wonder Woman isn’t nearly as impressive as the above mentioned films. However, the first-rate voice cast, well-crafted character work, epic plot, and multitude of sexual innuendo jokes make Wonder Woman an enjoyable DC Universe animated film. We can all agree that we’ll all be dead and buried by the time a live-action Wonder Woman film is made. This Wonder Woman animated film is the best we got. Thankfully, the best we got is pretty damn good.

That about does it for my picks for the best DC Universe animated feature films. And even though I only highlighted five total here, in actuality most of these films can be considered pretty solid. So what do YOU think? Did I leave out one of your favorite DCUA films? Let me know my folly in the comments below.
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Posted by KRYPTON

Batman Under The Red Hood was good.  
 
I hear Batman Year One will be coming out next year. So that's got to be cooler.

Posted by Emperor Gonzo Noir

Phantasm is a classic.  Of the mentioned, I wasn't that crazy about New Frontier, even though I love the original material. The rest are all fantastic, but I would have added First Flight or Doomsday.

Posted by Eyz

I'm a big fan of the DCU animated movies, more so than the actual live action movies (which always end up...so mainstream that some details end up annoying me..)
 
Anyway, my fav probably is Wonder Woman!
Finally some good WW adaptation that truly give some respect to the character!
Unlike those new live tv show or rumoured movies that either will never get made or degrade the character like the movie Catwoman or Elektra...
 
And I can't wait for the All-Star Superman next year!!

Posted by Baron_Emo

That's great! I agree on all listed, except New Frontier. It didn't catch me as much as the others. 

Posted by torchbearer_d
@Emperor Gonzo Noir said:
"Phantasm is a classic.  Of the mentioned, I wasn't that crazy about New Frontier, even though I love the original material. The rest are all fantastic, but I would have added First Flight or Doomsday. "

Completely agree with Gonzo, though I place Crisis on Two Earths above GL: FF and S: DD, but I still love them both.
Posted by Mr. Kamikaze

I hated New Frontier, for all the big names involved in that movie it turned out to be pretty lousy. Crisis on Two Earths was better, ya know...with the exception of William Balwdin as Batman....so hate that guy. 
 
Batman: Under the Rood Hood was also pretty awesome.

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@torchbearer_d said:
" @Emperor Gonzo Noir said:
"Phantasm is a classic.  Of the mentioned, I wasn't that crazy about New Frontier, even though I love the original material. The rest are all fantastic, but I would have added First Flight or Doomsday. "
Completely agree with Gonzo, though I place Crisis on Two Earths above GL: FF and S: DD, but I still love them both. "
I concur.
Posted by Nightwing23

I love all of the mentioned titles except wonder woman because I haven't seen it haha
Posted by ComicMan24

I liked all of them.

Posted by Bandito

I loved New Frontier.  Not nearly as good as the source material, of course, but for a seventy minute animated feature, it was incredible.  I agree with everything else on the list except for the Batman Beyond movie which I never saw.

Posted by HeroSupreme

I would rank the movies from absolute worst to best as follows:
 
Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Batman: Gotham Knight
Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo  
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
Batman vs Dracula 
Superman Batman: Apocalypse  
Superman Batman: Public Enemies 
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero 
Justice League: The New Frontier 
Superman: Doomsday  
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm 
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker  
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths
Wonder Woman 
Green Lantern: First Flight
Batman: Under the Red Hood 

Posted by Jake Fury

Loved New Frontier and Under The Red Hood. I haven't seen the others.
Posted by longbowhunter

The five above really are the cream of the crop! I proudly own them all. Wonder Woman was so good. Its a shame there isnt a sequel in the works. It was my favorite up until Under The Red Hood came along.
Posted by MintBerryCrunch

Batman Mask of the Phantasm was the absolute best!

Posted by thecheckeredman

MASK OF THE PHANTASM is easily the best of them all. 
 
I would say that WONDER WOMAN would have to be the runner up.  I really dug this flick.  It wasn't perfect, but I felt it did the character and her origin justice.  
 
RETURN OF THE JOKER was pretty nifty, if not mostly for the "flashback" sequence IMHO.
 
I'm a huge fan of the NEW FRONTIER comic, but the film was very disappointing.  RED HOOD just looks terrible.  I see it available to stream on Netflix and I still can't force myself to watch it.

Posted by Sydpart2

typo, the word need in the first line of the article requires an s

Posted by Brickabrack

I learned something here; Batman rules.
Posted by Soldier zero

I've not watched all the DC Animated movies but so I've seen some pretty impressive stuff.
 
Mask of the Phantasm was and still is very impressive and I agree that it's probably the best Batman movie so far.
 
Return of the Joker was strange, being basicly a great piece of work but ridden with some questionable handling of the character (like the hint of Bruce and Barbara dating for a while).
 
For me Crisis on Two Earths played heavily on the nostalgia factor, I'm such a fan of JLU that seeing the proposed movie being done already sold me.
 
Wonder Woman was really good and I'm glad they were able to make something like that with the character.
 
First Flight wasn't bad, but somehow it felt incomplete, I really hope that they'll do a Second Flight someday.
 
New Frontier has a great story, some great scene and ideas, but compressing everything in less than two hours somewhat ruined the effect.
 
Doomsday wasn't bad, but for some reason didn't work with me.
 
SubZero was great, but it was so closely bound to the events of the TV serie that almost didn't work as a stand alone product.
 
Mystery of the Batwoman was actually more of a story-arc compressed in a movie.
 
The rest I haven't watched them or I really don't care to comment.

Posted by NXH

Under The Red Hood hands down!

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt
@Brickabrack said:
" I learned something here; Batman rules. "
You only just learned that now?! :P
Posted by CrimsonInuTears

Crisis on Two Earths an Red Hood are pretty mcuh tied for first in my book, but BB Return of Joker is DEFFINATLY a close second. Everything else just kinda falls behind~ ^_^
Posted by Sammo21

I was so disappointed in the Green Lantern movie.  Sinestro being the bad guy immediately, no power battery to recharge....so disappointing.  

Posted by ccrosby

I actually concur with Mr. Norris's list pretty solidly-   
 
Mask of the phantasm will always have that special place in my heart and after watching it again recently it still holds up extremely well.   
 
New Frontier is absolutely amazing, that series was calling for a movie based on it and boy did DC animation deliver.  
 
 Batman Beyond was one of my favorite 'else-worlds batman stories' (if you could call it that) and even with the liberties taken with the characters, Return of the Joker was full of surprises twists and turns (poor tim drake!).    
 
Under the Red Hood was fantastic, that movie literally stayed on my mind for weeks after watching it (even though I wasn't really behind the attitude of the Joker in this one, the rest of it made up for it).  
 
 And Wonder Woman is the best hands-down single character DC animated film yet,  very underrated by people who haven't seen it and what a ride. 
 
Solid list, very solid.

Posted by Mumbles

seen them all, and all are sub par....animated comic movies always flop

Posted by The Hottness

 Under The Red Hood get this one!
Posted by Theodore

Return of the Joker is awesome.

Posted by Chris2KLee

Mask of the Phantasm is probably the only one I can watch again. Wonder Woman was pretty great though, should've just used that script for a live action film.

Posted by Roninidas

Wonder Woman is my absolute favorite to date.  The recent Supergirl starring movie Superman/ Batman:  Apocalypse was good.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

My Favorite right now is superman/batman Apocolypse 

Posted by JonesDeini

All of these are GREAT picks!!! One thing I'd add is Batman: Gotham Knight

Posted by Tainted-Cell

Hmmmmmm
Honestly, with the exception of the opening scene, I really didn't like the Wonder Woman movie. It was missing energy and felt too isolated, without much purpose. It felt like an introduction to different versions of characters from her mythos that we care little about, but nothing full-blown.
 
I loved New Frontier, although the comic is easily better in every way imaginable. It was already there for me to begin with, considering its focus on J'onn, probably my favorite of the DC universe. The only thing that got me there was the voice acting, and the overuse of the score. 
 
Crisis on Two Earths was easily the worst experience for me. There is no feeling. You can't relate to any of the villains, or the existing "heroes" of the parallel Earth, and even though I love the Martian Manhunter, his depiction with Rose was downright terrible. Bad voice-acting too. I didn't get my hopes too high for it, however, as I've grown to despise all of the Crisis stories.
 
First Flight tried to throw too much together in such a small movie that it didn't have room to breathe, to develop. Hal becomes "the Greatest Green Lantern ever" because he was in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion, not because he's smart, talented, or possesses an indomitable will. I loved the voice-acting, but like Wonder Woman, it was an introduction to different (lesser) versions of characters to draw non-fans in.
 
Under the Red Hood was surprisingly good for me. I thought the comics were terrible, but the movie gave it all purpose when all the essential points were united. I didn't like DiMaggio's Joker (and it wasn't because he's no Mark Hamil) mostly because every scene with him tries to be menacing, but only leaves you waiting for the punchline (which never shows). What brings the movie down, however, is the Black Mask, who is just annoyingly loud and stupid. 
 
I really like the Superman/Batman movies. Public Enemies was short-sighted, but still fun enough to overlook all of that. Apocalypse, aka, Supergirl, pushed away one of the title characters, revealing its' shortsightedness, but the action and voice-acting was enough to make it enjoyable. 
 
Then there's the shorts. I liked them all. Even though Shazam! takes me back to the introductory reimagining of First Flight/Wonder Woman, but it has spirit true to the characters. The Spectre utilized a couple of elements from stories during Michael Fleisher's short run and presented it like a Dirty Harry movie, and even though I'm not a fan of the character, I thought it was a great presentation. Green Arrow was pretty spectacular, true to form in every way. Jonah Hex, while slow to pick up, was pretty boss. That's a DVD I'm happy to own.

Posted by ateygheyev

GOTHAM KNIGHT ranks up there as well, if not numero uno!

Posted by kungnima

Under the hood & Mask of the Phantsm are both great!
I like Subzero too though.

Posted by lastdrag0n89
@thecheckeredman: 
You should REALLYYYY give it a chance. Its the best DCAU movie there is. zits absolutely freaking amazing
Posted by erik_norris
@thecheckeredman said:
"RED HOOD just looks terrible.  I see it available to stream on Netflix and I still can't force myself to watch it. "
I'm telling ya, give it a shot. I was hesitant to watch it as well because I really disliked the comic. This movie is tops though, I promise. It seems like a lot of people here also concur.
Posted by EisforExtinction

I agree that Mask of the Phantasm is the greatest Batman movie.

Posted by Lvenger

My favourite DC Animated films are in no particular order:
 
Batman: Mask of The Phantasm
Batman Beyond: The Return of The Joker
Superman/Batman: Public Enemies
Superman/Batman: Apocalypse
Ultimate Avengers
Green Lantern First Flight

Posted by The Mighty Monarch

Mask of the Phantasm is an absolute masterpiece, and pretty much goes without saying to be the best. 
 
Return of the Joker is also completely amazing. Seeing Tim Drake after he shoots the Joker, crying and being forced to laugh at the same time as he collapses to the ground is such an eternally haunting scene. 
 
I'm not a huge fan of New Frontier, but I can see how it's good. 
 
The only place I can really disagree is Wonder Woman. I seem to be in the minority here but I don't think Wonder Woman was all that great. It wasn't bad by any means, but there were a lot of pacing issues, it didn't exactly flow right in many parts. Plus, there's the glaring plot hole about the invisible jet. All of the amazons seem baffled by the real jet, yet nobody questions their invisible jet. Even what's his face hardly seems to be concerned with it. And this could've been fixed with maybe 2-3 lines of dialogue! 
 
After Mask of the Phantasm and Return of the Joker, I'd have to say my favorite was Crisis on Two Earths. The characterization of Owlman was awesome, and the fight scenes were mind blowing.

Posted by Duo_forbidden

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm is incredible. It felt more darker than watching the animated series at the time. I mean seeing someone that resemble a Reaper was pretty scary for me when I was young. And then it turned out to be a woman?! O_o
 

Posted by Fantasgasmic

Oh jeez, that's a hard question. Why couldn't you ask something easier like picking a favorite child. 
I hate to cop out, but Tie between ALL of them has got to be my answer.

Posted by Jordanstine

Batman Gotham Knights - new take on Batman behind the visions of some of Japan's best animators.
 
Justice League: Two Earths
- reading my posts, you can tell I am not a huge fan of mutliverses, but I really enjoyed this animated film.
Posted by DarkSyde79

Top 5 DC animated movies (in no particular order): 
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm    
Batman: Under the Read Hood
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (Uncut)  
Green Lantern: First Flight
Wonder Woman 
 
Honorable Mentions goes to...  DC Showcase: Green Arrow and DC Showcase: Superman/Shazam!: Return of  Black Adam. 

Edited by Harlekin

 Saw somebody put them in order from worst to best so I will to.
 
Superman: Brainiac Attacks
Superman Batman: Apocalypse
Superman Batman: Public Enemies
Batman vs Dracula
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman
Superman: Doomsday
Green Lantern: First Flight
Justice League: The New Frontier
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero
Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo 
Batman: Under the Red Hood
Wonder Woman 
Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths 
Superman/Shazam: The Return of Black Adam  
Batman: Gotham Knight            
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker   
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm     

Posted by thveej

agree with the selection..... I would also give honarable mention to  Crisis on Two Earths, it was dope.
 
For me the best movie is either mask of phantasm or under the red hood. I havn't watched phantasm in ages, should probably do so it blew me away the first time  I watched it.
 

Posted by Dark_Phoenix00x

I've got to agree with your list of choices. The best stuff that DC has put out. 
 
I wouldnt have agreed with you about Wonder Woman after the first time I watched it, but after a second watch, I found it much more enjoyable. I really liked all the woman-empowering stuff going on, even as a guy I find that stuff good to have in a movie. 
 
My only complaint with Red Hood was Joker's look and voice. Came across as too much as a thug to me.

Posted by JCJQLB

I love all of them specially Crisis on 2 earths

Posted by BoOMbOoMpOw

Here are my fave animated DC movies . And by the way DC is MUCH better than Marvel in making animated movies . 
1. Wonder Woman 
2. Batman under the red hood 
3. Superman Batman Apocalypse
4. Green Lantern

Posted by Gambit1024

Totally agree with that list. Funny, because a lot of people I've talked to said that they didn't like New Frontier :(

Posted by The Sadhu

I hope they make Kingdom Come into a animated feature!
Posted by Noctis

My top 5 DC animated movies are:
Wonder Woman
Batman Under The Red Hood
Superman/Batman: Supergirl
Justice League Crisis On Two Earths
Batman Gotham Knight

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