While Marvel Studios is dominating the live-action department, DC is rushing to become a level competitor with the box office giants. However if there is one area DC knows how to excel in, it’s with their animation. Kicking off an entire series of animated films with Superman: Doomsday in 2007, it was their shared universe that began with The Flashpoint Paradox in 2013. Since then, they have made countless films through the years but none have shined more than their Justice League movies. Whether they are battling the young Titans, fending off evil unknown supernatural entities, or defending the Earth against Darkseid and the armies of Apokolips, we can always count on the will of the Justice League to defeat the powers of evil. That being said, we will be breaking down and ranking the ten greatest animated Justice League films.
10. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)
The second escapade for the newly formed League, based on the storyline which unfolded in 2012 and 2013 under the same name and written by Geoff Johns. This iteration acts as an origin story for Aquaman into the DC Animated Film Universe, since he was not present in the prior film Justice League: War like he was in the comic book Justice League: Origin. Exploring Arthur Curry as he discovers his lineage, finding out that he is Atlantean and the rightful heir to the throne. Everything comes to together as his half-brother Orm takes one the persona of the Ocean Master to declare war on the surface dwellers, attacking Metropolis. While the plot of the film isn’t very strong, it makes up for it with its amazing voice casting that returns from their prior film. Matt Lanter, most known for his role as Anakin Skywalker in the animated series The Clone Wars, bring Arthur Curry to life. While Sam Witwer brings his own take of Ocean Master after appearing in various media, most notably as Doomsday from the series Smallville.
9. Justice League vs. Teen Titans (2016)
Coming off as an original story, it is also a key part of the DC Animated Movie Universe. After the events of Batman: Bad Blood, Bruce sends Damian with Dick Grayson to introduce him to his old superhero team, the Teen Titans. Now as Nightwing, Grayson has handed the team down to Starfire as she trains the next group of Titans. Meanwhile, the League investigates unknown activity involving mystic forces and possession. It is later discovered the entity is known as Trigon and is set to conquer Earth with the assistance of his daughter, Raven. As Trigon’s forces start to possess more and more members of the League, the Teen Titans must band together to fight against the League and protect their friend. A pivotal story leading up to the finale, Justice League vs. Teen Titans is also an exciting coming of age story for the members of the Titans. Acting as an important arch for Damian Wayne’s story throughout the franchise and a set up for the worthy follow-up Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.
8. Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015)
Set in an alternate universe from the DC Animated Universe established by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini. The stories and origins of this worlds Trinity follows some similarities, but many differences. In this world Dr. Kirk Langstrom has managed to create a serum that doesn’t turn him into a giant bat like we are use too, but instead changes him into a vampire. At the same time, the son of Zod and Lara Lor-Van is placed in a rocket and sent to Earth instead of Kal-El. He is discovered by a Mexican family and raised as Hernan Guerra, later becoming Superman. Finally, the exchange of children was never made between Apokolips and New Genesis but instead an exchange in marriage. As Bekka is offered by New Genesis to wed Orion, the son of Darkseid. Just as Bekka begins to fall in love with Orion, the wedding turns out to be an ambush by New Genesis to kill the leaders of Apokolips. Bekka flees and establishes herself on Earth as Wonder Woman to fight alongside Superman and Batman.
7. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
Based on the winner of the Eisner, Harvey and Shuster Award-winning comic book written and drawn by Darwyn Cooke. One of the definitive stories in the DC Universe, as a representation of the conclusion to the Golden Age of comics and marking the beginning of the Silver Age. The film focuses on many of the great heroes created in the Golden Age such as Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman and the emergence of Silver Age heroes such as Barry Allen as the Flash, Hal Jordan as Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter. When unknown creatures begin to threaten the planet, Earths old and new heroes must band together to put a stop to it. The second film from DC Animated Original Movies, manages to truly capture the essence of the graphic novel in a way no other film on this list does. Staying true to the pages unique art style by Darwyn Cooke and providing an exceptional voice cast that captures the look of the time before the DC Animated Universe, this is an underrated Justice League film that is sure to impress you one way or another.
6. Justice League: War (2014)
Based on the New 52 reboot in 2011 by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee, comes the first step for the connective DC Animated Movie Universe. As each member of the Justice League’s lives begin to intertwine until their eventual formation to defeat an unspeakable threat, comes an action packed ride that gives the live-action film a run for its money. After Green Lantern and Batman come in contact with a parademon, they find a motherbox and attempt to learn its origins. At the same time, Victor Stone experiences an accident with one of the motherboxes that transforms him into the metal hero, Cyborg. Now as the League come together for the first time, they learn of the Dark God Darkseid and his intentions of invading and conquering Earth. While we will always crave to hear the voices of the League from the animated series, the new cast does the characters justice. Stand out performance comes from Jason O’Mara with his first role as Batman and continues his journey through the connective films until the finale. Proving to fans the depth of his performance.
5. Justice League Dark (2017)
Taking a different approach to these animated films, comes a walk through the mystic and supernatural. When brutal random assault begin to occur by abiding citizens, the Justice League realize they are dealing with forces outside their expertise. Batman decides to recruit the assistance of Zatanna and meets Boston Brand AKA Deadman in the process. They take Batman to the House of Mystery to meet with John Constantine. As they investigate further into this rabbit hole, they join forces with Jason Blood with his demon Etrigan and Swamp Thing to destroy this supernatural threat. Once again Jason O’Mara returns as Batman, with Matt Ryan lending his vocal talents to John Constantine after appearing as the character in the live-action CW series. Receiving an R rating after the success of Batman: The Killing Joke, boosted the positive critical reception the film gained. Managing to tell a much darker and accurate portrayal of this unusual supernatural team and spawning a spin-off with Constantine: City of Demons, as well as a sequel with Justice League Dark: Apokolips War.
4. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
Based on Grant Morrison’s 2000 comic book JLA: Earth 2. Transporting us to a parallel Earth as the Crime Syndicate hunts down the remaining member of the Justice League, Lex Luthor. Luthor manages to get himself to our world to meet our Justice League and convince them to come back with him to his Earth and defeat the Syndicate. The League agrees, and a battle between two of similar super powered groups are going toe-to-toe for the fate of the multiverse. The movie is also based on a scrapped idea that was intended for the DC Animated Universe that would bridge the gap between Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Voice casting choices come as a bit of a surprise with some talented and recognizable actors. Mark Harmon takes on Superman with William Baldwin as Batman and even James Woods as Owlman. However all of these choices work for this film and if DC ever wanted to reassemble this cast, we would not complain.
3. Justice League Dark: Apokolips War (2020)
The concluding chapter to the connected DC Animated Movie Universe, comes one of the grittiest and intense rides in their lineup. After the League discovers apokoliptic stealth drones around Earth, our heroes mount an attack on Darkseid before he attempts to invade Earth once more. When they arrive on Apokolips, they find Darkseid’s army waiting for him and planning an ambush by new and improved parademons. The Justice League is defeated, the Earth is under the control of the Dark God and our heroes either dead or broken. Now with the last heroes left, they make a final play to defeat Darkseid and reclaim the planet. A dark and violent film with heart and emotion, this installment comes off as being one of the best in the franchise. With a massive ensemble cast to choose from, the creators manage to give each character their time to shine and wrap up their arc from the other films in this shared universe. Regardless of its gritty tones though, it still manages to find a sense of humor that is suitable for these characters and the world they inhabit.
2. Justice League: Doom (2012)
Adapted from Mark Waid’s 2000 comic book storyline JLA: Tower of Babel, comes the sequel to 2010’s Crisis on Two Earths. After the Justice League come to bouts with the Royal Flush Gang, the villainous Mirror Master manages to sneak his way into the Batmobile and gaining access to the Batcave. Once inside, he downloads secret files Batman has on each member of the Justice League, files that contain blueprints to inoculate them. Mirror Master returns to Vandal Savage who alters the plans to not just incapacitate them, but kill them with the assistance of his newly formed Legion of Doom. One by one, the villains take on their heroes and begin to eliminate each member of the Justice League. When Bane becomes unsuccessful in defeating Bruce Wayne, Batman manages to save the League and strike a counter attack on the Legion of Doom. However, what makes this film superior and worthy of the second spot on our list, isn’t just the stakes that come with it but the moral dilemma of Batman. While fans are well aware of Batman’s capabilities, no one thought it would go this far. The film questions Batman’s morality and if his actions are justified in the event of a rouge League member. Should Batman have these files? Should the League have been told about them? Could our heroes have made it out of their encounter, if Batman was defeated?
1. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013)
The big bang to the connected DC Animated Movie Universe, comes an adaptation from the 2011 comic book crossover Flashpoint by Geoff Johns and Andy Kubert. When the Flash discovers his ability to go back in time with the help of the speed force, he returns to the day his mother was murdered. When he saves her, a ripple effect is occurred and the world Barry Allen once knew is no more. Instead he is in an alternate reality, one where the Flash never existed. Other changes have been made, including Cyborg being the leader of the Justice League, Kal-El never crashing in Smallville, Bruce Wayne dying in crime alley instead of his parents, all the while Wonder Woman is at war with Aquaman. As the Earth begins a new World War between Themyscira and Atlantis, the Flash must discover a way to change this reality back to normal. With the help of Cyborg and Thomas Wayne as Batman, they will locate the Man of Steel and save the world from annihilation. An incredible adaptation that follows closely to the graphic novel, full of intense battles and a well-crafted voice cast. This film can be enjoyed countless times before it gets to old, because every time you watch it, you find something new about it that you never noticed before.
Honorable Mentions Include: Justice League vs. The Fatal Five and JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time