The DC Extended Universe of movies had a tougher start than the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the fact remains that there is a timeline of events that occur throughout the course of a series of DC Comics movies released over the previous seven years.
Man of Steel, the Christopher Nolan-produced, Zack Snyder-directed gritty reimagining of Superman that was supposed to start off an interlinked series of films, was the first to hit theaters. Snyder’s intention was to build towards a two-part Justice League event, but due to a variety of events, this exact concept did not come to fruition.
DC Comics Movies in Chronological Order
So, if you’re wondering how to watch DC movies in chronological order, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of how to watch all of the DC movies in chronological order, followed by how to watch them in release order. For the purposes of this list, we’re only counting films that are part of the “DC Extended Universe,” which means they were created to be explicitly linked through events and characters. So Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Tim Burton’s Batman, and Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern aren’t on this list since their universes don’t intersect with the universes of these Snyder-led films.
Diana, Princess of the Amazons
The events of Wonder Woman occur several years before the events of the previous DC films. The video jumps back to Zeus’ creation of the Amazon women warriors, who all live on the enchanted island of Themyscira. The majority of the plot takes place in 1918 when US pilot Captain Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) discovers Themyscira by accident while serving in World War I. Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) pursues Steve to London, where she makes history as a member of the Allied soldiers during World War I. The film is bookended with “present-day” scenes set after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Adam the Black
While the majority of Black Adam takes place chronologically after the events of The Suicide Squad, the film begins 5,000 years ago in Kahndaq, where King Ahn-Kot is attempting to produce the demonic Crown of Sabbac. In this scene, we see a young slave boy revolt and the origins of the mythology known as Teth-Adam. Despite the fact that the majority of the film is set in the year 2022, the beginnings of the antihero known as Black Adam begin thousands of years before the majority of the events in the DCEU.
1984’s Wonder Woman
With the exception of a prologue set during Diana Prince’s upbringing, the sequel Wonder Woman 1984 is set primarily in 1984. However, don’t expect many DCEU tie-ins, as the Patty Jenkins-directed sequel stands on its own.
Man of Steel
Man of Steel is the film that started it all, and it largely takes place in the present-day (circa 2013) – although the film opens with a prologue that shows the destruction of Kal-home El’s planet Krypton, and we then see scenes of Clark Kent as a child and teenager growing up in Kansas before we get to “present day” where he’s somewhere in his twenties – so about 20 years after the destruction of Krypton.
Dawn of Justice (Batman vs. Superman)
In terms of chronology, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is a bit of a mixed bag. There are flashbacks to Bruce Wayne’s childhood in 1981, when his parents were murdered, flashbacks to illustrate the finale of Man of Steel from Bruce Wayne’s point of view, and flashforwards to a desolated Earth overrun by villain Darkseid (the “Knightmare” scenes). However, the majority of the tale takes place some 18 months after the events of Man of Steel, with Ben Affleck’s Batman having become exceedingly hardened and nursing a vengeance toward Superman.
The Suicide Squad
Suicide Squad takes place around a year after the events of Batman v Superman, as Superman’s death is mentioned in the film, and we even get a cameo of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne meeting with Amanda Waller (Viola Davis), who has now taken on a greater leadership role among the superheroes.
The Justice League
The majority of Justice League takes place about two years after the events of Batman v Superman and one year after Suicide Squad, but there is also a large flashback sequence to thousands of years ago when the villainous Steppenwolf attempted to take over Earth and was foiled by an alliance of Amazons, Atlanteans, humans, and Olympian Gods.
Justice League, directed by Zack Snyder
Although non-canon, Zack Snyder’s four-hour epic Justice League is a more full and engaging version of the theatrical cut of Justice League. It also fits into the timeline perfectly.
The standalone Aquaman film is set several months after the events of Justice League and follows Jason Momoa’s titular hero as he protects his own realm. However, there are flashbacks that portray Aquaman’s Genesis tale from 1985.
The majority of the standalone film Shazam! takes place over the 2018 holiday season, although the film begins with a flashback to 1974 to establish the origin story of the main villain Thaddeus Sivana (Mark Strong).
This standalone Harley Quinn film is set four years after the events of Suicide Squad. Following Batman v Superman and Justice League, the DCEU became increasingly disjointed, to the point where Birds of Prey makes only a few nods to Harley Quinn’s activities in Suicide Squad.
The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn, takes set an unspecified amount of time after the events of the first Suicide Squad film, and presumably after the events of Birds of Prey, but the film seems entirely unconcerned with DC interconnectedness.