DCAU Films tend to take many creative liberties when it comes to the source material. But history has been witness to the success of DCAU Films when they actually do everything by the book.
The Death Of Superman
Superman: Doomsday tried to do it years ago. It failed spectacularly. The Death Of Superman was the DCAU’s second attempt at giving us an animated movie based on the story arc of the same name. It was visceral and unnerving to watch Superman come to terms with his fate and fight this unstoppable killing machine to the end. As the Justice League looks helplessly to Superman for hope, Kal-El knows he is the only one with the power to do what’s right. In the end, he pays the ultimate price.
The Flashpoint Paradox is perhaps the greatest of DCAU films ever made. It was an animated adaptation of the comic book arc of the same name that has since become a cult-classic. The Flashpoint timeline has been done over and over again in movies, TV Shows, and DCAU Films. But the one movie that managed to capture the gritty and bleak essence of being a survivor of the Flashpoint timeline was this movie. Sure there were some changes but they were not enough to change the core integrity of the comic book arc.
Reign Of The Superman
While it was not the greatest comic book animated movie ever made, Reign of the Superman did have its moments. It accurately portrayed four different Supermen trying to take Kal-El’s place as the new Man of Steel. Some changes were made to the source material but in the end, they complimented the story arc. Cyborg Superman’s origins were changed as well as a few other minor details. But fans loved the movie for staying true to the source material as much as possible during its runtime. The few deviations it did have are forgivable because it mostly conserved the overall comic book plotline it drew heavily from.
The Dark Knight Returns Part 1
Now here is a movie for the ages. DCAU films may come and go. But The Dark Knight Returns shall forever remain evergreen. The Dark Knight Returns comic book arc was turned into a two part movie franchise. DCAU Films tend to not do that. And the sequel suffered a bit because DC got a bit too greedy. And that is why we have only Part 1 of The Dark Knight Returns on this list. An old Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement because his city needs the Batman to return. Bruce may be old but the Bat never gives up on a fight. We see him take on the mutants with style and win in the most badass fashion possible.
Justice League: War
DCAU Films have a tendency to only go for mainstream arcs. But back in those days, creating a Justice League movie that also serves as a unique origin story was a concept unheard of. Justice League: War was based on Geoff Johns’ legendary New 52 Justice League run. The Justice League come together, joining forces for the very first time to fight a common threat that is aiming at destroying the world. In more ways than one, Justice League: War was better than even the live action Justice League movie we got from Joss Whedon in 2017.
Batman: Year One
An adaptation of Frank Miller‘s iconic comic book storyline of the same name, Batman: Year One was destined for greatness. It was a retelling of the story of how Bruce Wayne’s formative years as the Dark Knight were in Gotham City. Still too green as a vigilante, Bruce learns from his many errors and mistakes to become the Batman he is legendarily known as today. Batman: Year One remains one of the best Batman movies and the best animated superhero origin story to ever grace the screens.