Say what you want about DC live-action, but animated movies have always been its cornerstone. The best way to bring all characters from page to screen. The studio is known for having a shared animated universe much like the MCU is today. The only difference is DC’s was mostly in the past. However, that doesn’t mean top quality never came from these movies and that’s what we’re looking at.
Let’s take a look at some of the best DC animated movies that bring the best out of their comic source material.
Batman: Under The Red Hood
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot of Batman movies on this list. “Under The Red Hood” explores one of the best stories of the franchise and holds steady from its predecessors.
It’s about a mysterious mercenary that’s “cleaning up Gotham”. With very little evidence to work with, Batman sets out to meet this entity himself. Discovering the true identity to be Jason Todd, the former Robin murdered at the hands of The Joker. Todd has a revenge tour planned for the clown prince and will stop at nothing. He challenges Bruce to face the truth about the past and plans to set things straight, no matter how bad the method.
From the great voice performances to the action set pieces that tell a story in their own right, this is the best of the best.
Batman: Assault On Arkham
Okay in my defense, this is a Suicide Squad movie with Batman in the title. Although not connected to the main animated universe, it’s a great character-driven entry DC fans enjoy. Featuring favorites like Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, King Shark, Killer Frost, Black Spider, and KGBeast. That’s just Amanda Waller’s roster, the movie has Batman in the title for a reason………
Batman’s role consists of stopping a mad bomb planted by The Joker, while also having to deal with Waller’s Suicide Squad in the process. The squad, however, has to retrieve something for their boss. How the two plots come together I won’t spoil but it’s a fun movie with lots of treats for fans.
If you want to know more, Blurgit’s got you covered. You can check out our breakdown of the movie here.
Justice League: The New Frontier
An animated adaptation of the widely successful comic line written by Darwyn Cook. DC wasted no time and made one a few years after its 2004 run. It’s one of the best movies they’ve done with the main roster. If you like Justice League’s animated series, you’ll like this one. It’s a culmination that brings DC’s character’s together that is much needed in a shared universe.
In the 1950s, a new generation of superheroes must join forces with the community’s active veterans and a hostile US government to fight a menace to Earth.DC
Batman: The Long Halloween Part 1 and 2
Although It just released, it didn’t disappoint. The two-part adaptation had the mystic, noir, and thriller type aspect adored from the comic. A murder mystery like no other, even Batman had trouble solving this case.
Beginning with a series of murders all leaving the same trail. The GCPD have their hands full with this killer who uses certain dates for crimes, giving him the name “Holiday”. As the suspect only targets his victims on holidays, Batman and co must think of all possible connections. Featuring The Joker, Harvey Dent, Poison Ivy, and more, the mystery only gets better the more it unfolds. It’s also a prime example that even Batman can get the wrong guy, only making the story better.
Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker
Now this movie is NOT for the kids, instead, it’s for the ones who grew up with the characters from Batman: The Animated Series. As time went on, so did their evolution. Mark Hamill returns as the clown prince but this time he’s darker. As I said, it’s an evolution of some sort.
This time around, he’s found a way to return in someone else’s body, Tim Drake’s. There’s no more funny tricks or laughing gas, it’s just pure violence and a new outlook on his evil ways. As for Terry, he faces his biggest challenge as Batman and gets a glimpse of Bruce’s younger days dawning the cape. For Bruce, he must come to terms with what happened in the past.
Most of these entries are Batman stories for a good reason. Return of The Joker is one of the must-watch DC animated movies, especially if you like connectivity.
Batman: Mask of The Phantasm
Alright, I’ve saved the best for last. Nothing may ever come close to this masterpiece. A lower-budget film brought to the big screen due to the success of Batman: The Animated Series. The animation was crisp, the soundtrack was perfect and the story was heartbreaking. Plus there’s The Joker, where Mark Hamill officially cements his stamp on the character. Everything you could want from a Batman movie, animated no less.
As far as timelines go, it connects season one of the animated series while also tieing Bruce’s origin as the caped crusader. Including a jaw-dropping take on where The Joker came from. During those early days, Bruce met the love of his life Andrea Beaumont and they even planned to wed. However, she suddenly leaves with not much explanation. Leaving Bruce with the only person he ever truly needs, Batman. It’s another one of those times audiences question if there ever will be a day where Bruce won’t be Batman.
Jumping to the present day, we find a masked entity framing Batman for its crimes. Although one thing sticks out, Batman doesn’t kill. Connecting the past with Andrea and adding Joker, mixes for one of the best adaptations in our time. Seriously, if you haven’t seen this you should put it at the top of your list.
Honourable DC Animated Movies Mentions
I’m sure there are many others that could’ve made this list ranging from the Justice League movies to Suicide Squad spinoffs. I’m just focusing on the more intimate stories that bring out the best in all categories: Plot, Character Development, Pace, etc…
Usually, those consist of Batman stories. When more people are involved in a story, it can lead to some not getting time to develop as much as others. That’s why I only included mostly Batman. They truly bring out the best of DCs storytelling and sheds light on how good animation can be. Thank you for reading.