By Stephen Aspeling18 January 2024
DC superhero movies on Showmax: ranked
If you’ve been holding out for a hero, it may be time to supersize your wish to super-hero. A fortress to Superman, Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Arrow, Hal Jordan, Cyborg and Shazam to name a few, DC is a powerhouse of untapped potential.
Having unleashed an iconic wave of comic book superheroes over the last century, the power of imagination and wish fulfilment is at the heart of the wellspring that is the DC universe. If you believe in the power of altruism and the purity of heart on a never-ending quest for peace and justice… you’ll find much to admire in this ranked list of DC superhero movies now on Showmax.
1. Wonder Woman
One of DC’s biggest hits is without a doubt Wonder Woman. An all-rounder when it comes to action, adventure and rip-roaring entertainment, it’s driven by the perfectly cast Gal Gadot with dazzling visuals and inspired direction from Patty Jenkins. Impassioned, funny and wild as horses, Wonder Woman is a goosebump-inducing superhero blockbuster that culminates in moments of pure on-screen magic.
As Wonder Woman leaves paradise to emerge from the trenches of world war, she becomes a force of such rare beauty and mesmerising power, it’s hard not to root for the Amazonian on her quest for justice. Tucked under her wing is the effervescent Chris Pine, a lost pilot whose good looks and unlimited charm also served as a secret weapon in Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves. Together their chemistry is unstoppable, winning hearts and kicking asses as Wonder Woman realises her full range of superpowers.
2. The Batman
Robert Pattinson is as tall, dark and brooding as you get. He could’ve been the frontman for an emo rock band or Ken if Tim Burton had directed Barbie, but is just as adept as a cult figure and shadowy actor. This enigmatic edge makes him a first-class choice for Bruce Wayne and The Bat Man. He’s in good hands, surrounded by an ensemble of underdogs in Paul Dano, Zoë Kravitz, John Turturro, Peter Sarsgaard, Jeffrey Wright and Andy Serkis.
Having resurrected Planet of the Apes, Matt Reeves knows a thing or two about immersing audiences in dark, gritty and otherworldly worlds. Taking us into a grimy, dank world not unlike David Fincher’s Seven, the connection is made stronger by a swirling detective story as Batman helps police trace a hellbent serial killer with a nefarious political agenda. An epic film of dark majesty, The Batman serves as a refreshing return to Gotham City, unearthing some of the manic energy that powered Joker.
3. Black Adam
Superman, Shazam, Black Adam… there’s something so noble about an altruistic, idealistic and compassionate superhero on a quest for peace. Being near-invincible has its benefits when it comes to taking a bullet, rescuing a school bus or saving the world, making Superman a cornerstone to DC’s superhero empire. While Black Adam is evenly yoked when it comes to flight, speed and strength, the former supervillain derives his powers from one of Superman’s weaknesses… magic.
Getting a real-life superhero to star as Black Adam was a no-brainer. An inspired casting decision, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson channels his natural-born charisma into the role, adding a dark comedy edge with a comic book physique to match the ancient superhuman. Having literally played The Scorpion King, the action-packed fun, eye-popping visual effects and overall commitment to popcorn entertainment echo the best of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns.
While Christopher Reeve’s iconic portrayal stands the test of time, Superman has always been a tricky live-action adaptation. As picture perfect as Henry Cavill is as Supe, there hasn’t been a definitive picture this side of the millennium. A noble effort, Superman Returns is a nostalgic love letter to the beloved character with Brandon Routh donning the cape as Metropolis struggles in the aftermath of his exile. Dedicated to hope and love, Routh’s vulnerable take on Clark Kent and Superman flies in the face of Kevin Spacey’s over-the-top take on megalomaniac Lex Luthor.
Directed by Bryan Singer of X-Men fame, this is an emotional story aiming for but falling short of spectacular and soulful. While ultimately centred on an alien who discovers dormant superpowers, there’s an evocative power to this deeply human tale, aided by a soaring soundtrack interpolating a classic score from John Williams. Restrained by clunky action, a campy villain and overloaded visual effects, Superman Returns is laden with unrealised potential.
5. Shazam! Fury of the Gods (from 22 January 2024)
Shazam! stars the charming and seemingly effortless Zachary Levi as the magical and goofy Superman alter-ego. Following the events of Shazam! the sequel finds a fuller Shazam family on the cusp of a new fun-filled fantasy action adventure. Levi steps into the lightning bolt role of Shazam to lead his superhero family in a battle against Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu as campy “Shakespearean” villains, Kalypso and Hespera.
While action-packed, funny and full of heart as you’d expect, the sequel attempts to conjure the magic of its predecessor. More family-friendly in its aspirations and make up, sibling squabbles and zingers result in epic superhero comedy, tapping into some heartfelt moments around family, impostor syndrome and growing pains. While the emotional pull isn’t as strong as the original, Shazam! Fury of the Gods remains a thrilling and visually stunning superhero flick of Olympian proportions.
Before Ryan Reynolds became the face (or mask) that is Deadpool, he was Hal Jordan – better known as Green Lantern. A natural born superhero, this playful sci-fi action adventure finds the charming Reynolds playing to his strengths, supported by a stellar line-up in Tim Robbins, Mark Strong, Peter Sarsgaard and Blake Lively. Moving away from the seething gravitas of The Dark Knight, Green Lantern adopts the tongue-in-cheek fun of Iron Man, Thor and even The Mask.
A part of the intergalactic police force that is Green Lantern Corps, the origin story follows a reckless test pilot who receives an alien ring with otherworldly superpowers only to realise his true calling. Heavily reliant on CGI, it’s curious to learn Green Lantern is directed by Martin Campbell, whose credits include Casino Royale and The Legend of Zorro. While the superhero epic captures some green screen moments worthy of Akira, it also runs into some green jelly too!
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