The DC Cinematic Universe 101

The DC Cinematic Universe 101

Much like the Marvel world, there are literally a thousand different strings to pull when trying to discuss these characters and whose connected to who. Though to keep it simple(ish) I'm going to focus on the DC cinematic universe. This is very much a companion post to yesterdays article on: The Marvel Cinematic Universe 101.

The great thing about writing about the DC cinematic universe is that Warner Brothers is the main studio we're going to be talking about here. We don't have the sordid history of selling off character rights like we do with Marvel.

Justice League

Major Alliances in the DC Universe 

Much like the Marvel supergroups, the membership of these teams and alliances fluctuates depending on different story arcs. 

Some examples of common heroes and villains that fit under each banner:

The Justice League 

  • Batman
  • Superman 
  • Green Lantern 
  • Wonder Woman 
  • The Martian Manhunter
  • Cyborg 
  • Aquaman 
  • Flash
  • The Arrow

Suicide Squad 

The Suicide Squad is generally made up of dangerous super-villains who carry out black-ops missions on behalf of a secret government agency (ARGUS). Some of super-villains included in the suicide squad are: 

  • Joker
  • Harley Quinn 
  • Deadshot
  • El Diablo
  • Killer Croc 
  • Enchantress 
  • Katana 


Some typical villains you will come across in the DC cinematic universe include: 

  • Lex Luthor 
  • The Joker 
  • The Penguin 
  • The Riddler
  • Mr Freeze 
  • Cat Woman (Sometimes an anti-hero)
  • Scarecrow

Pre the DC cinematic Universe 

DC has been bringing superheroes to the big screen for a very long. Though before we jump into the current cinematic universe it's worth mentioning what existed before they decided to connect it all together like Marvel are currently doing.

Superman - Christopher Reeve 

Though the Superman movies weren't produced by Warner Brothers, it didn't feel right not to include them in a pre-DC cinematic universe discussion.

  • Superman | 1978 
  • Superman II  | 1980
  • Superman III | 1983
  • Superman IV | 1987 
Superman - Christopher Reeve

Batman - Keaton, Kilmer & Clooney

Though the actor that played Batman changed in these movies, they're all taking part in the same universe. Though the first and second movies are probably the best of the four, which stars Michael Keaton as Batman. After that the movies go down quite a theatrical path, almost like the 1966 Batman television show. 

  • Batman | 1989
  • Batman Returns | 1992 
  • Batman Forever | 1995 
  • Batman & Robin | 1997 
Batman - Michael Keaton

Batman - Christian Bale

Considered by many, myself included, the best Batman to date, Christopher Nolan (Director) brought a darker and grittier Gotham city to the big screens. This Batman story was intentionally told over three movies:

  • Batman Begins | 2005 
  • The Dark Knight | 2008 
  • The Dark Knight Rises | 2012 
Batman - Christian Bale

Stand alone movies 

There are also a couple of stand alone films, though if you've managed to make it this far in life without seeing them, you're probably doing something right.

The standalone movies include:

  • Catwoman | 2004 
  • Superman Returns | 2006 
  • The Green Lantern | 2012 

These were all basically flops at the box office and didn't lead to any sequels.

The Green Lantern - Movie

The DC cinematic Universe 

As you can see, Warner Brothers and DC have been working together for a long time producing superhero movies. Though they've largely been short runs of 1 - 3 movies or completely stand alone films. Marvel on the other hand decided to play the long game. The started building an entire connected universe back in 2008 and they haven't looked back. 

So queue 2013, DC want's what Marvel has. Big movies, big budgets - and dare I say it, an eco-system that can be leveraged for years to come. So DC is approximately five years behind what Marvel is trying to do, they're trying to quickly position all the chess pieces before we (the public) decide we need a break from superheroes - so things are moving at pace (which anyone that's seen Dawn of Justice will note).

So far we have:

  • Man of Steel | 2013 
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice | 2016

Then, over the next four years we'll be getting: 

  • Suicide Squad | 2016 
  • Justice League: Gods Among Us Part 1 | 2017
  • Wonder Woman | 2017
  • Aquaman | 2018
  • Flash | 2018
  • Justice League: Gods Among Us Part 2 | 2019
  • Shazam | 2019
  • Green Lantern | 2020
  • Cyborg | 2020

Plus we have two standalone movies with yet to be named release dates: 

  • Batman - Ben Affleck is on record as to produce and star! Should be a great. If you want to see a fantastic example of Ben Affleck's talent as a director / star you should check out the movie: The Town.
  • Superman

So much like the Marvel (Disney) movies, all of these characters exist in the same DC universe. Meaning that Superman knows who the Joker is and vice versa. Though just to confirm, Batman wouldn't know who Iron-Man is. Different universes, different production companies.

One thing to also note when thinking about the cinematic universe is they're generally un-connected to the television world. So though we have The Arrow, The Flash and Super-girl with there own TV shows, they're unconnected to the big screen versions. And the Flash movie that's coming out is completely different to The Flash tv show. This is whats commonly refereed to in comic book land as different versions of Earth.

Suicide Squad


So that's the DC cinematic universe in a nutshell. I haven't included any of the animated films in this series, though perhaps that's something for a future post. Though again, they're unconnected to what's going on here so you can quite easily watch them as standalone movies. 

DC has taken quite a different journey from Marvel. And though Marvel are doing it better on paper and at the box office DC has some interesting movies in development, though they are a little late to the game in setting up a connected universe the average movie goer can just jump in on and enjoy.

Though Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn't fair well at the theatres and with critics I think the Suicide Squad might be the glimmer of hope that DC fans are looking for, lets hope that (A) it is that glimmer, and (B) the rest of the DC movie plan exceeds our expectations.

Though I guess if it doesn't you can always... RE-BOOT.

One final note - If you like Batman and have always wanted to check out comics - I highly recommend the New 52 Batman. The story arc has just recently finished and it's literally 52 comics of some of the best Batman I have ever read. It's the ideal starting point for a new comic book reader to jump in.

Batman - New 52 #1

I've really enjoyed pulling these Marvel and DC articles together after a reader request. If you've got something you would like me to cover be sure to drop me a message or leave a comment below. Until next time.

Follow me on Twitter for regular updates of when new content is posted @daniel_whiting

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