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Franchise / DC Extended Universe

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Bruce Wayne: We have to stand together.
Diana Prince: A hundred years ago, I walked away from mankind, from a century of horrors. Man made a world where standing together is impossible.
Bruce: Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another. But we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.

The DC Extended Universe, or DCEUnote , was a film franchise produced and distributed by Warner Bros., the company that owns the rights to all DC Comics franchises. Starting in 2013 with Man of Steel, it is, for all intents and purposes, DC Comics' and Warner Bros' equivalent to Marvel Comics' and Disney's own cinematic universe. The setting consists of films adapted from various DC characters and storylines in a Shared Universe (though not always with emphasis on this trope).

Early plans for a shared DC movie universe were evident in the 2011 Green Lantern movie, but a fresh start with Man of Steel proved to be a stronger base to branch from critically and financially. Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder were responsible for most of the early development before heavy production shuffles changed the face of the franchise, which is now produced by its own movie division instead of Warner Bros' main movie branch. Geoff Johns and Jon Berg oversaw development of the franchise after Batman v Superman was released in 2016 before being replaced with New Line Cinema executive Walter Hamada in early 2018. Hamada departed in Fall 2022 amidst the Warner Bros. Discovery reshuffling, then was succeeded by James Gunn and Peter Safran. For more on the subject, see the DC Studios page.

Shortly after Gunn and Safran's arrival, it was revealed that a new DC Comics-based multimedia franchise with films at its center, which is called "The DC Universe" (the DCU), was in the making, with the stated priority being to create and maintain consistent portrayals of characters across not just movies and shows, but expanding the franchise into the realm of animation and video games, using the same cast wherever possible. Upcoming projects that are not part of this overarching plan, such as The Batman, Joker and their sequels and spin-off shows, or ongoing projects not part of a shared universe like Teen Titans Go! or Superman & Lois, will be clearly branded as Elseworlds tales. Some cast members from the DCEU are expected to continue playing their characters in the DCU, some may play different characters in the reconfigured setting, and others will be recast. A long-form story arc, divided into two chapters, will cover the first eight to ten years of films, shows, animated series, and video games. "Chapter One: Gods and Monsters" was formally revealed in January 2023, alongside ten new projects that represent a glimpse of what's in store for Chapter One (which he's since said amount to less than half of what they have planned for that leg of the franchise).

Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DCEU was confirmed to exist in DC's live-action Multiverse. The Serving Up Justice comic gives this reality the designation Earth-1, and given the franchise's connection to the Arrowverse which now takes place on Earth-Prime after Crisis, this suggests that the DCEU replaced it as the new Earth-1 in the multiverse.

    open/close all folders 

  • Man of Steel (June 14, 2013) — The origin story of Superman, the last son of the doomed planet Krypton who was sent to Earth and whose biology makes him invincible, practically a god among men, and how he met Lois Lane and decided to protect his adoption world from destruction by his own kind.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (March 25, 2016) — In the aftermath of the destruction caused by the Kryptonian invaders in Metropolis in Man of Steel, Bruce Wayne/Batman grows dangerously wary of Superman despite the latter having saved Earth, and sets out to kill him. Public opinion is also deeply split about the Man of Steel. Meanwhile, the sinister Lex Luthor conspires against both superheroes behind the scene.
  • Suicide Squad (August 5, 2016) — Unscrupulous government official Amanda Waller creates an expendable black ops team, Task Force X ("The Suicide Squad"), by coercing super-criminals (Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, El Diablo, Killer Croc and Slipknot) into it. When evil spirit Enchantress is unleashed by her own fault, Waller sends the team to deal with the threat. Meanwhile, The Joker sets out to rescue Harley.
  • Wonder Woman (June 2, 2017) — Diana of Themyscira, daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, grows up and trains as a warrior on the isle of Themyscira. Upon meeting US pilot and secret agent Steve Trevor, she sets out to kill the god of war Ares on the European battlefields of World War I.
  • Justice League (November 17, 2017) — Following the death of Superman, Bruce Wayne/Batman, with the help of Diana/Wonder Woman, forms a team of metahumans to counter an incoming invasion of Earth by Steppenwolf, one of the New Gods. Joining the team are Arthur Curry/Aquaman, Barry Allen/The Flash, and Victor Stone/Cyborg.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League (March 18, 2021) — The first gathering of the Justice League, revisited by its original director with plenty of footage that was axed from the previously released version. It details each new Justice League member's backstory, restores a number of characters who were cut from the previous version, changes Steppenwolf's design, and considerably expands the scope of the threat of the New Gods upon Earth, revealing Darkseid's involvement.
  • Aquaman (December 21, 2018) — The human-Atlantean hybrid Arthur Curry/Aquaman goes on a quest to find a powerful artifact that will help him to protect both the surface world and the seas from the folly of the King of Atlantis, his own half-brother Orm.
  • SHAZAM! (April 5, 2019) — Troubled teen boy Billy Batson obtains the powers of the wizard Shazam, turning him into an adult superhero whenever he says that name. He must fight against Doctor Sivana, a rejected candidate to the powers of Shazam who's been empowered by evil spirits embodying the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (February 7, 2020) — Harley Quinn gets dumped by the Joker and keeps bumping into a gallery of other women, including young pickpocket Cassandra Cain who stole a diamond containing bank account numbers that mob boss Roman Sionis/Black Mask badly wants back. They will all end up banding together against Sionis.
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (December 25, 2020) — In The '80s, Diana/Wonder Woman finds out that her late lover Steve Trevor has somehow turned up alive, not having aged at all. She must confront devious businessman Maxwell Lord who's impowered himself with a mysterious wish-granting artifact as well as a former friend of hers, Barbara Minerva.
  • The Suicide Squad (August 5, 2021) — Task Force X is reactivated, with a new Denser and Wackier and much expanded roster as well as some members returning from the first film.
  • Black Adam (October 21, 2022) — Teth-Adam, one of the first champions of Shazam, is awakened in the modern day and clashes with the Justice Society of America.
  • SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods (March 17, 2023) — Billy Batson and his adoptive family must do battle with the Daughters of Atlas who are hellbent on reclaiming their father’s godly powers.
  • The Flash (June 16, 2023) — Barry Allen alters the timeline by preventing his mother's death, but must now team up with his alternate self, an alternate Batman, and Supergirl to stop an invasion by General Zod's forces.
  • Blue Beetle (August 18, 2023) — Struggling college grad Jaime Reyes finds himself bonded to alien tech in the form of a scarab, and is thrust into the legacy of the superhero Blue Beetle.
  • Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December 22, 2023) — Aquaman teams up with his brother Orm after Black Manta resurfaces to carry out his revenge, armed with the Black Trident.

Notable Cancelled projects:

  • Justice League Part II and Part III
  • Batman film note 
  • Deathstroke note 
  • The Trenchnote 
  • New Godsnote 
  • Batgirl note 
  • Wonder Twins note 
  • Third Wonder Woman film note 

    Live Action Television 

    Comic Books 
  • From the World of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: A series of digital prequel comics focusing on, in order: Batman, Lois Lane, Senator Finch, Superman, and Lex Luthor. A sixth digital prequel comic was given as a Wal-Mart exclusive with the purchase of a Doritos "Family Fun Mix" multipack, which added more development to Batman's grudge against Superman and Lex Luthor's conspiracy.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: A four-issue comic series that was released in specially marked boxes of assorted General Mills cereal.
  • Suicide Blonde: A single-issue comic set before the events of Suicide Squad. It was sold for a limited time in select boxes of Splat hair dye.
  • Secret Files of the Suicide Squad: A limited-edition comic released with the Blu-Ray edition of Suicide Squad (2016) that gives more backstory on Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc, Captain Boomerang and Katana.
  • Justice League - Mercedes Benz Presents: Tie-ins digital comics released as part of the promotional campaign associating Mercedes-Benz with the film (two cars appear in it). They feature members of the Justice League doing mundane heroics.
  • Wonder Woman 1984: Museum Mayhem
  • Serving Up Justice: A comic showing Wonder Woman teaming up with a superpowered Alternate Universe Serena Williams.
  • SHAZAM! Thundercrack: A one-shot comic focusing on Billy Batson's further character development.
  • Shazamily Matters: A series of short stories about Billy Batson and his foster siblings going on fantastic adventures.


Tie-in Novels:

  • Man of Steel: The Early Years, by Frank Whitman. A novel in which Clark Kent must use his powers to intervene in a crisis and returns to Smallville to learn more about his origins and the hero he was born to be.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Cross Fire, by Michael Kogge. A novel in which a criminal, the devious Doctor Aesopnote , escapes from Arkham Asylum and uses the moral lessons found in Aesop's Fables as his modus operandi for his crimes. Batman and Superman begin investigating the case at the same time and a young boy is caught in the cross fire.
  • Aquaman: Undertow by Steve Behling.
  • Aquaman: Arthur's Guide to Atlantis by Alexandra West.


  • Man of Steel by Greg Cox
  • Suicide Squad by Marv Wolfman
  • Wonder Woman by Nancy Holder
  • Aquaman: The Junior Novel by Jim McCann
  • SHAZAM!: The Junior Novel by Calliope Glass
  • Wonder Woman 1984: The Junior Novel by Calliope Glass

    Video Games 
  • Android Games:
    • Batman v Superman: Who Will Win
    • Suicide Squad: Special Ops

    Web Series 
  • Etta Candy shorts for the home video release of Wonder Woman
  • The Adventures of Aquaman & Mera, by Funko Pop!

    Music Videos 

Tropes present across the franchise:

     General trope examples 

  • The '80s: Several character backstories happened in this decade, particularly Superman's (Krypton exploded in 1980 plus a flashback to his youth in 1989), Batman's (his parents were killed in 1981), and Aquaman's (his childhood is set somewhere in the later part of the era). Wonder Woman's second film takes place in 1984, hence the title Wonder Woman 1984.
  • The '90s: Superman's teenage years happened in this decade. In particular, Jonathan Kent's death happened in 1998. Batman also began his career in the early to middle part of the decade (and it shows).
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Lois Lane, Mercy Graves, Barry Allen and Arthur Curry all have different hair colours to their comic book counterparts.
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: Generally speaking in the comics all the major heroes got started with their superhero career around the same time. In the DCEU Wonder Woman was the first to start, secretly being involved with the events of World War 1. Batman had been operating in Gotham for around 20 years before Superman showed up in Man of Steel. No other superpowered individual is a known figure by the time of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which adapts The Death of Superman but taking place some time before the Justice League is formed, whereas in the comic the League members were special guests and pallbearers. Similarly, the comics Suicide Squad are made up of villains associated with the various heroes and intended as a precaution against the Justice League if need be, while the Suicide Squad film also takes place before the Justice League forms.
  • Age Lift: Normally Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are supposed to be about the same age and start their superhero career not too far apart. In the DCEU when Superman makes his first appearance Batman has had a long career and is a decade older, while Wonder Woman is an immortal thousands of years old and saw action during World War I. Conversely, Flash is even newer to heroics and a young adult by the time he meets the rest, while he is normally also the same age.
  • All Myths Are True: Greek Mythology is established to be true, but also other legends with no connection such as Enchantress and Incubus who were worshipped as gods in Pre-Columbian Latin America, the New Gods of Apokolips that orchestrated an invasion of Earth in ancient times. One might add the demi-god Napi (Chief in Wonder Woman), depending on how genuinely godly he is. Below the deepest depths of the ocean is an ancient sea monster. Plus there's seven demons who embody the Seven Deadly Sins from Christianity.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: Several characters have paralleles with those from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
    • Superman to Iron Man: The first hero to be introduced. Born to a scientist father that he never truly knew, demonstrates incredible talent at a young age, feels that the safety of others is his burden to shoulder and often finds himself a magnet for both supervillains and even other superheroes.
    • Batman to Nick Fury: A Badass Normal veteran clad in black that tries uniting Earth's heroes in preparation for an impending alien invasion.
    • Wonder Woman to Captain America: A Primary-Color Champion with incredible physical strength who fought in a World War, fell in love only to lose said lover and retire from active hero duty until the 21st century just in time for the heroic team-up.
    • Aquaman to Thor: A wild-looking macho man with royal blood and a nefarious brother who inherits a mystical weapon that will enhance his latent power over a specific element.
    • The Flash to Spider-Man: A youthful street hero that gained his powers from a lab accident, wears a makeshift red suit that is eventually upgraded to something more streamlined yet high-tech and encounters alternate versions of himself by tapping into the multiverse.
    • The Suicide Squad to the Guardians of the Galaxy: A ragtag group of criminals who learn to work together to deal with alien forces. Key members include monster men, female assassins, and scruffy goofballs.
    • The Shazam heroes to Doctor Strange: Inheritors of incredible magic powers bestowed by a mystic of indeterminate age. Just like Doctor Strange, Billy Batson wins his first major battle by using his wits, while Freddy Freeman is physically disabled.
    • Steppenwolf to Loki: A horned exile from a race of gods sent to Earth to reclaim immensely powerful cubes. They fight on behalf of a galaxy-conquering warlord (Darkseid and Thanos, themselves equivalents) and serve as the antagonist of the first team-up movie.
  • Alternate Continuity: By way of Continuity Reboot. All previous DC films are considered to exist in a multiverse, with Man of Steel being the debut of this universe.
    • Superman Returns is ignored, and so is the continuity it was set in, that being the Christopher Reeve-led Superman Film Series and the Supergirl spinoff.
    • Tim Burton's Batman is confirmed to exist in an elseworld that Barry Allen will come across in The Flash. Michael Keaton will reprise his role as Batman, implying that the sequels directed by Joel Schumacher (and the ambiguously-connected Catwoman spinoff) may be ignored.
    • The Dark Knight Trilogy, although critically-acclaimed and financially successful, is not a part of this franchise, in part due to the glaring continuity problems that introducing fantastic elements into a largely reality-grounded continuity would create. As such, Batman was recast. Christian Bale refused to play in a Justice League movie and indicated that he preferred seeing a new actor's take on Batman. It's been stated that the creators are assuming the audience is familiar with Batman's previous films and understands that similar adventures have already happened to this Batman, so another Origin Story wasn't necessary in this case. Joker takes place in an alternate continuity as well.
    • Green Lantern was supposed to be the start of this shared film universe, but has since been thrown into Canon Discontinuity by its own financial and critical disappointment.
    • Arrowverse and DC Universe shows have been confirmed to be in a separate continuity to the films by DC's Geoff Johns. However, since Johns used the term "multiverse" to describe the TV shows and the films, it was speculated that they might eventually cross over, which came to pass with Crisis on Infinite Earths: Hour Four.
    • Ditto for Gotham, Krypton and Pennyworth, which are also set in their own separate continuities. Titans (2018) and Doom Patrol (2019) are also confirmed to be elseworlds, due to the prescence of Robin in the former and the complete recharacterization of Cyborg in the latter.
    • The Batman was originally set in the DCEU but when Ben Affleck departed from directing duties, he was replaced by Matt Reeves. Reeves opted to set the film in a separate universe, one that would function as the Earth-2 of the DCEU.
  • Art Evolution: Subtle changes are made to the costumes and overall visual design of the movies. Some of the changes seem due to the reactions to the muted colors of the cornerstone movie Man of Steel, but it's mostly due to allowing the filmmakers more creative flexibility. Suicide Squad utilizes some neon colors to reflect Joker and Harley Quinn. Wonder Woman leaned towards some really striking blues and reds for Wonder Woman's outfit.
  • Bedlam House: As shown briefly in Suicide Squad and Zack Snyder's Justice League, true to form, Arkham Asylum is a gothic mansion with darkened halls. As a sure sign of how much of a shithole it is, in the Ultimate Edition of Batman V Superman, Luthor goes from having a smug look on his face for having pulled off an Insanity Defense against criminal trials over his atrocities to "Oh, Crap!" once Batman reveals he's arranged for Luthor to be sent there.
  • Breather Episode: The films that feature Harley Quinn are more comedic in nature and aren't typically produced with the intent of being required viewing for future installments.
  • Celebrity Paradox: Has it own page.
  • Central Theme: Family bonds.
    • Man of Steel has Clark's relationship with his foster parents who raised him and his biological father who couldn't. By the film's conclusion, he's made peace with his departed homeworld and shows greater appreciation for his adoptive family, with later movies showing his plans to marry Lois Lane.
    • Batman v Superman has Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne both suffering some emotional scarring over memories of their parents, with Lex hating his father and Bruce lamenting that he couldn't save his parents. Batman also seems to have developed a trigger regarding his Mother's name, as it was the last thing his father said before they both died in front of him as a child. Batman's animosity towards Superman evaporates once the latter begs him to rescue his own mother, realizing he was no different than the man who killed his own parents.
    • Suicide Squad has Deadshot trying to be a good father in spite of his amoral actions, Katana quietly mourning her husband's death, El Diablo wracked with guilt over accidentally killing his family and the villainous siblings Enchantress and Incubus working together. Harley Quinn even harbours a fantasy of settling down to live a normal life with the Joker and have children. And the Squad itself begin to see themselves as a surrogate family.
    • Wonder Woman has Diana's mother and aunt debating over whether or not she should join in the fight against Ares or be protected. Diana also finds out that Ares is her half-brother, who considers sparing her life if she doesn't oppose him.
    • Both versions of Justice League have the titular team forming a surrogate family. Barry and Victor both have issues with their fathers as well as dealing with the deaths of their mothers, Arthur resents his own mother for leaving him as a child. In the theatrical cut Steppenwolf refers to the Mother Boxes in a literal term, while the Snyder Cut mentions him having dishonoured his family and forced into exile.
    • Aquaman has Arthur reconnecting with his Atlantean heritage, confronting his half-brother and reuniting with his long-lost mother.
    • SHAZAM! has Billy Batson searching for his biological mother, adapting to his new foster home and realising that his biological mother just wasn't able/willing to raise him as well as his new foster parents can. Dr Sivana meanwhile had to deal with a father and brother who treated him like dirt, which drove him to become a bitter misanthrope obsessed with gaining power.
    • Birds of Prey: Dinah Lance quietly resents the police force for letting her mother die. Helena Bertinelli became a vigilante to avenge the death of her family. Cassandra Cain comes from a dysfunctional family and finds a surrogate sister in Harley Quinn. Roman Sionis resents his parents and orders an entire family to be brutally murdered before each other's eyes.
    • Wonder Woman 84: Maxwell Lord had an abusive father that he's dedicated his life to breaking away from. He's divorced, but spends as much time with his son Alistair as he can and is scared to death by the thought that his son may see him the way he saw his own dad. His Heel–Face Turn ultimately comes in the form of Diana pointing out that his reckless abuse of the Dreamstone's power has lead to a nuclear strike on his son's location.
  • Continuity Overlap:
    • The DCEU is an unnamed universe in the Arrowverse continuity, as evidenced when Ezra Miller's Barry Allen makes a suprise cameo during the Crisis on Infinite Earths (2019) crossover event.
    • It is currently ambiguous if any of the film projects based on the Vertigo imprint will also take place in the setting, although the long-gestating Justice League Dark makes this a possibility.
    • Characters like Harley Quinn and Blue Beetle, which the Arrowverse shows had major plans for, had to be scrapped and well-liked characters like Katana and Deadshot had to be written out of the shows. Curiously, this does not extend to Flash, as both versions of the character (Grant Gustin and Ezra Miller) are Barry Allen in different universes.
  • Continuity Reboot: For all DC Comics properties that have been put on film previously. This includes Superman after Superman Returns, Batman after The Dark Knight Trilogy and Green Lantern, who will get another a streaming series over a decade after the movie he appeared in failed at the box office. There are talks about a potential new Supergirl movie as well. The franchise itself would undergo a reboot with The Flash (2023), leading to characters like Superman and Batman gaining new actors and backstories as part of the rechristened DC Universe franchise.
  • Crapsack World: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman gain a lot of angst mileage over these superhero characters existing in a world that is not ready to accept superheroes with open arms, and instead shows a lot of Humans Are Bastards as they do a lot of infighting and express paranoia at people like Superman who genuinely want to do good. Wonder Woman learned this a long time ago, which is explored in her own movie. Suicide Squad also highlighted the criminal underbelly. All that said, the paradigm slowly shifts as the world becomes accustomed to superheroes, as shown in Aquaman.
  • Crisis Crossover: Justice League is the first to feature a major crossover. Suicide Squad features a crossover between some villains of the franchises and a couple not necessarily tied to specific characters.
  • Darker and Edgier: The early films are along the lines of "more serious and more grounded" than previous media featuring these characters.
    • Man of Steel ups the dramatic factor of the Origin Story significantly in order to provide a Decon-Recon Switch with the character later on.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice ends up splitting the difference. There was a lot more overt humor in the story compared to Man of Steel, but at the same goes to extremely dark places. The ending is extremely bittersweet, with the hint that something bad is on the horizon, but at the same time there are specks of hope, optimism and even redemption, and Justice League will build on these a great deal.
    • Suicide Squad is the third movie in the DCEU and doesn't focus on any of the major heroes, instead on outright villains and Anti Villains selected for a Suicide Mission by a shady government organization. The original comic itself is very dark, easily in the R-rated Mature Audience range.
    • James Wan utilized a quote from H. P. Lovecraft quote right to describe his take on Aquaman, right after he was announced as a director. That being said, the movie was still Lighter and Softer in tone and color palette.
    • SHAZAM! averts this, as it very much went the Lighter and Softer route (though it still doesn't shy away from scary or angsty moments).
    • Several of the films have received a Restricted Rating, in stark contrast with previous mainstream DCU film adaptations and with the always Parents Strongly Cautioned Rating MCU.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman both deconstruct how superheroes, especially Superman, are portrayed in previous films. Whereas previous Superman films showed him going up against non-powered foes and having flawless victories, Man of Steel shows how disastrous it would be if Superman's enemies could challenge him. In Batman v Superman, we see the political instability that develops in a Physical God's presence and the kind of fear that would develop, regardless of his intentions, even among Badass Normals. Superheroes also... disagree on the appropriate methods to crime fighting. With all that said, it is still shown that we need superheroes to take on supervillains and that the heroes are willing to learn from their mistakes and work with each other and ordinary people.
    • By the time Aquaman and SHAZAM! happen, superheroes have become pop-culture icons and the DC world has begun to resemble its comic-book basis a little more.
  • Diesel Punk: While the films use generally modern technology, there is some elements of this in Batman's design scheme in particular. The Batmobile looks welded together and has manual switches while his grappling gun has a wooden handle.
  • Event Title: Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice is about the introduction of the future Justice League members, while Wonder Woman 1984 is set during the eponymous year.
  • Genre Shift:
    • The films directed by Zack Snyder leaned more towards the apocalyptic and gritty corners of the superhero genre.
    • Aquaman is more of a Genre Throwback to adventure movies of old and fantasy.
    • Shazam! aims at more comedy.
    • The Suicide Squad is described as a "70s war film".
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The "Knightmare" sequence in Batman v Superman features Parademons and the Omega sigil — signs of Darkseid's presence in the DCEU. As per the trope, it points to a grand villain on the horizon that has little to do with the immediate Evil Plan.
    • The Joker is one to the Harley Quinn films. He gets caught in a helicopter crash and still manages to outlive the super-powered Big Bad in Suicide Squad. In Birds of Prey he doesn't get directly involved, but Harley Quinn does suffer from his actions and Roman Sionis is all but stated to be afraid of him.
    • Wonder Woman 84 has the Duke of Deception, who created the Dreamstone that empowers the two main antagonists. Diana's fearful description of him implies that if he did get involved in the main plot, she might not be able to stop him.
  • Green Aesop:
    • Man of Steel reveals that the Kryptonians exhausted their planet's natural resources to its detriment. Zod plans on doing the same to Earth, not caring about the countless deaths that will come from it.
    • In Wonder Woman, Ares tells Diana that he decided to turn on humanity after witnessing the destruction they inflicted on nature.
    • Subverted in Justice League. Bruce tries to get on Arthur Curry's good side by talking about the rising sea levels. Since Arthur can live on both land and sea, he doesn't care.
    • In Aquaman, King Orm wants to declare war on humanity because they have destroyed the seas with pollution, whaling and the like. As a first warning, he dumps shipwrecks and mountains of trash on beaches around the world.
    • In Wonder Woman 84 the consequences of over-consumption are shown to be disastrous, both environmentally and economically.

  • Humans Are Flawed: An important theme throughout the movies is that humanity is capable of doing horrendous things while being just as able to rise above committing such horrors because of traits such as love and hope.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played with. Humans in this universe are portrayed as more realistically than most superhero movies, meaning their flaws are more pronounced, to the point where Superman questions himself helping them, Batman losing faith in humanity, and Wonder Woman leaving them for a century. However, there are plenty of humans who are good-hearted, and in the end, the heroes will always be there for them, regardless of humanity's mistakes.
  • In Medias Res: Batman v Superman showed characters like Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman already active as heroes in one form or another, albeit secretly, while flashbacks, prequels and/or solo movies like Wonder Woman and Aquaman inform the details. Familiar villains like the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Captain Boomerang, and others are not only well-established, but have already been defeated and incarcerated.
  • Insignificant Little Blue Planet:
    • With the exception of Batman, most of humanity is portrayed as mundane bystanders compared to the aliens, metahumans and supernatural beings that appear in each film. If a human character gains some advanced technology or resource that puts them on par with a member of the Justice League, odds are it was not of this world.
    • Earth itself is portrayed as far more fantastic than it is in reality, albeit in ways that normal people wouldn't be able to exploit. The Amazons have been hiding on an invisible island for thousands of years, Darkseid and Steppenwolf discover the Anti-Life Equation is integrated into the planet's surface and the seven kingdoms of Atlantis are shown to be abundant in both magic and science beyond human understanding.
  • Lighter and Softer: The first two movies, Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, were unusually more serious compared to most movies in the genre. The other movies in the franchise vary from this due to having different creative teams. Suicide Squad has a lot of more vibrant and humorous personalities, Wonder Woman and Aquaman feel more optimistic and earnest, and SHAZAM! is the most kid-friendly film of the bunch. Justice League, meanwhile, went through a ludicrous invokedTroubled Production that heavily reworked it to be much lighter and softer than the originally intended version which, as it turned out (as Zack Snyder's Justice League), has much more levity than Batman v. Superman while being more serious and solemn than the 2017 version.
  • Loves My Alter Ego: Averted. In this continuity Lois Lane, being an Intrepid Reporter, discovered Clark and his origins before he even became Superman and is a Secret-Keeper from the start (in fact, this is treated as a core reason why they fall in love). This radically alters tradition, and instead Lois is shown being self-conscious about why Clark would love her.
  • The Magic Goes Away: Happened during the events of Wonder Woman. Once Diana killed the last of the Olympians, the fantastic seemed to have disappeared from public consciousness and the existence of metahumans was kept under wraps by people like Amanda Waller, with only a brief reprisal in 1984. After Superman's death, a power vacuum was created, galvanizing the likes of Enchantress, the New Gods and the Justice League.
  • Meta Casting:
    • Jesse Eisenberg is probably most famous as Insufferable Genius Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, along with a few similar "smartest guy in the room" roles. Snyder had said that Eisenberg was originally looked at to play Jimmy Olsen, but his analytical, detached mannerisms in a personal meeting was the inspiration to cast him as Luthor.
    • Jason Momoa is a far cry from the traditional Aquaman appearance, but his strong physical presence playing Proud Warrior Race Guy characters along with his Polynesian background makes the casting choice seem surprisingly natural.
    • As an Israeli national Gal Gadot served two years in the Israeli military, with a focus in personal training. Not many actresses have that kind of warrior background.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black:
    • Superman's reds, blues, and yellows are present, but darker in a similar vein to his Golden Age appearance (they get brighter with each film however), and his suit doesn't include red trunks. Then he dons a black and silvery suit in Zack Snyder's Justice League.
    • Batman is an aversion, as he wears a grey bodysuit as opposed to the usual black armor from previous films.
    • Wonder Woman's outfit in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is technically red, blue and gold, but so faded the colors are barely visible. This is amplified by Snyder's use of Color Wash which made it look largely brown. Her outfit in Wonder Woman is much brighter, as she's more idealistic in her youth and her outfit is physically less worn down, and also because it was by a different director.
    • Aquaman averts this by the end of his standalone film, wearing ancient Atlantean armour that's noticeably more colorful than what he originally started out with in Justice League.
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
    • The Turkish Airline ad for Gotham City shows plenty of buildings with a double-spire design, making them look like Batman looming over the city, a common sight on most Batman comic-book covers.
    • Diana's interest in classical art is a nod to her made-from-clay origins.
  • Not Quite Flight: Gal Gadot has said that Wonder Woman can "jump really high and practically fly." Depending on how high she jumps and currents of the wind, she can glide with enough finesse that she essentialy is flying.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted, unsurprisingly, as this franchise has numerous characters.
    • Batman and Superman both having mothers named "Martha" became a plot point. Batman and Aquaman both having fathers named "Thomas" has gone unmentioned.
    • Jimmy Olsen and Commissioner Jim Gordon.
    • Senator June Finch and Dr. June Moone.
    • Victor Stone, Victor Vasquez, and Victor Zsasz.
    • Literally with Steve Trevor and Steve the enchanted pen.
  • The Present Day: The main parts of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, Suicide Squad, Justice League, Aquaman and Shazam! as well as the start of Wonder Woman roughly take place around the year these movies were made. Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 meanwhile take place mainly in the past (World War I and The '80s).
  • Protagonist Title: Most of the films are named after their respective protagonists', specifically Man of Steel (Superman's Red Baron), Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Shazam! (also the word he has to pronounce to turn into a superhero) and Wonder Woman 1984.
  • Race Lift: Done in part for Ability over Appearance and to appeal to a wider audience.
    • In the comics, Perry White is, well, white. Starting with Man of Steel, he's played by black actor Laurence Fishburne.
    • In the comics, Aquaman is Caucasian. In these movies, he's played by Jason Momoa, a person of Pacific Islander and Native American descent (with Caucasian heritage on his mother's side).
    • Mercy Graves, a white woman in the comics and Superman: The Animated Series, is played by Japanese actress Tao Okamoto. As of the New 52, this change is now canon with Mercy being Asian-American.
    • Deadshot, a white guy in the comics, is played by Will Smith. The original Ratcatcher was white in the comics but is played by Polynesian Taika Waititi.
    • Dr. Poison was Japanese in the comic, since she hails back to Wonder Woman's early World War Two adventures. Since the Wonder Woman film is instead set in World War One, she is played by Spaniard actress Elena Anaya.
    • Iris West is a semi-example. She was originally a Caucasian, but was depicted as an African-American in The Flash (2014), making the casting of Kiersey Clemons not as jarring to some.
    • Black Canary is played by the bi-racial Jurnee Smollett.
    • Hawkman is fair-skinned in the comics, but he's played by Aldis Hodge in Black Adam. Ditto his teammate Cyclone.
    • Supergirl and Batgirl were both white in the comics, but will be played by actresses with Central American heritage.
  • Reconstruction: The DCEU started off with a very dim view of humanity and how the real world would respond to someone like Superman. Over time it's shown that his innate goodness did manage to get through to some people, especially Batman, and as greater threats arrive both the general public is more open to superheroes and upcoming heroes have someone to emulate.
  • Retcon: Most of Justice League retcons large sections of Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, such as Superman's characterization, the set-up and Foreshadowing for later events (namely the Knightmare), and even stuff pertaining to Cyborg's origins.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League aims at undoing said retcons, although whether or not the film will have follow-ups is not known yet.
    • Wonder Woman 1984 retcons her decision to spend the next century out of the spotlight is shown to not be as cut and dry as was first implied, as she does perform heroic deeds but goes to such lengths to protect her identity that she's considered an urban legend rather than becoming the pop icon that Superman did. As the Cold War was persisting at the same time, it shows that she's only avoiding global disasters rather than completely abandoning humanity.
  • Rewatch Bonus: General Calvin Swanwick's scenes take on an extra layer of significance once it's revealed he's the Martian Manhunter. Martian Manhunter has psychological breakdowns when exposed to fire, seen when Swanwick noticeably loses his cool after Superman crashes a surveillance drone and his reluctance to use nuclear weapons against even Doomsday. When Zod announces to the world that there's an alien disguised as an Earthling among them, Swanwick has a BSOD. Additionally, it shouldn't be that difficult for the military to find Superman's secret identity and exploit it, but under Swanwick they're conspicuously incompetent, which is exactly what an alien in hiding would hope for.

  • Schrödinger's Canon: Zack Snyder doesn't consider the films that he didn't direct in the setting to be part of his own personal canon (which includes Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder's Justice League, plus whatever else he planned afterwards). That being said, he has always let directors who came after him have full creative freedom and supported them.
  • Signature Move:
    • When up against powerful opponents Superman is typically outmatched in fighting skill, but he has expert control of his flying and will often just slam into them at Mach 3.
    • Batman uses his grappling gun when fighting.
    • Wonder Woman can produce crowd clearing shockwaves when she slams her bracers together.
    • The Flash performs combat-related actions just by lightly touching something with his fingertips.
    • The Shazam family all specialise in particular abilities. Billy and Mary are well-rounded, Freddy is flight-based, Darla is a speedster, Pedro is raw muscle and Eugene is electro-kinetic.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The films tend to be on the Idealistic end of the spectrum, albeit an idealism that's put to the test in every film. Humanity is presented as flawed but well-intentioned and capable of exceptional good regardless of their impurities. Even some villains are not without sympathy and are capable of great heroism or valor and the films have taken an approach of having characters suffer terrible events but maintain a sense of optimism.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Both franchises reimagine superheroes in a post-9/11 modern day world and they're owned by major film studios (Disney/Warner Bros). However, the MCU is headed by a centralized production studio where every film is ready for development and they bring in a director to work out the vision of the studio which has resulted in fairly consistent quality control, tone and a running story spanning between all the films. The DCEU on the other hand initially set itself up as placing the Justice League movies at the center of the franchise and emphasizing individual directors' freedom so long as they provide the foundation for the Justice League Crisis Crossover. In fact, rather than starting with a bunch of origin stories and progressing to the crossover like the MCU did, Justice League provided introductions to a lot of heroes who will eventually get their solo film
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Surprisingly averted with Batman, who has been known to appear prominently in most DC adaptations (often at the expense of other characters). He's only confirmed to appear in four movies so far (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Justice League and his standalone film), where he mostly serves as a Deuteragonist and a part of an ensemble of heroes respectively. This may be part of an effort to try and phase out the public's over-familiarity with the Nolan movies before truly establishing anything standalone with the character. A solo movie with the character is planned for an unspecified time. He does have a cameo in Suicide Squad, although it's justified by him giving greater context to the Joker, Harley Quinn, Deadshot and Amanda Waller. There's also the fact that when teaming up with other heroes to take on superpowered threats, he often has to stay near the sidelines while the others get to show off.
  • Starfish Aliens: Mr Mind, Starro and the butterflies. They're usually reserved for light-hearted stories, yet they still manage to be quite unnerving.
  • Team Title: Suicide Squad, Justice League and Birds of Prey are straight examples.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: On a meta level, these movies have been helpful to both the actors and characters.
    • Henry Cavill was infamous from getting snubbed on getting major roles from various studios in favor of other actors. That all changed when Zack Snyder hired him to play Superman.
    • Wonder Woman finally gets to appear in a live-action film after years of the movie project going nowhere, especially considering that Warner Bros. executives were on the fence about letting her have a movie, leading to the now infamous tweet from Brett White about how DC didn't want to do Wonder Woman because it was too confusing, while Marvel was working on Guardians of the Galaxy, which has a raccoon using machine guns. Taken even further once it was confirmed that she would be getting a standalone film before Marvel could release a female-led movie (Captain Marvel).
      • Gal Gadot herself was on the receiving end of this. Hollywood offered her meager opportunities after her role in The Fast and the Furious series and she considered giving up on acting. She went on to publicly thank Zack Snyder for casting her as Wonder Woman.
    • The story goes that Ben Affleck was vying to be Batman during the period between Batman & Robin and Batman Begins, but because of the Development Hell he took on Daredevil as the closest thing. His career tanking from Gigli didn't help, either. Even after rebuilding his career by being both actor and director, he admitted to being surprised when he was approached to be Batman because he was getting older and couldn't play a 20-something or 30-something Batman, and was delighted to learn they were going in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns direction.
  • Truer to the Text: Compared to earlier live action versions of DC heroes, and accounting for the idiosyncratic changes made by Zack Snyder and the scriptwriters:
    • The DCEU's take on Superman across three films (Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Justice League) is someone who openly chooses his identity as Clark Kent and an Earthling, over Kal-El and his Kryptonian heritage. This is true to the Post-Crisis Superman following John Byrne's The Man of Steel. All Superman films before, from Richard Donner's to Bryan Singer's focuses heavily on his Kryptonian heritage reflecting the Silver Age instead. In Man of Steel, Superman was torn between Jonathan Kent and Jor-El but in Batman v Superman he considers Jonathan Kent his true father, seeing him in a dream sequence in a moment of inspiration. When he resurrects, Superman views both fathers as equals.
    • The DCEU is the first cinematic Batman who actually has the fighting style of his comics counterpart, and the famous warehouse action scene in Batman V Superman is the first that represents how exactly he is able to be a Badass Normal. Likewise the gray and black ensemble that Batman wears is identical to the comics, whereas previous films tended to go for Movie Superheroes Wear Black.
  • Ultimate Universe: In many ways, the DCEU is closer to Ultimate Marvel than the MCU is:
    • It's more or less an integrated Continuity Reboot Shared Universe which in some instances is Darker and Edgier than earlier film and comics versions. Its three main superheroes (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) are shown to kill enemies (steamrolling Thou Shalt Not Kill) and their superhero activities unleash much collateral damage and sociopolitical turmoil.
    • Like the Ultimate Marvel, the early DCEU heavily emphasizes the role of the Military-Industrial Complex, with Superman's arrival on Earth treated as First Contact and Superman interacting entirely with the US Military whereas earlier Superman stories much like superhero movies before, had the hero's first interactions be with civilian institutions and civilian society.
    • The early movies also focus heavily on The War on Terror for its imagery and context (around the same time the Ultimate series first hit the stands) with the Metropolis battle between Zod and Superman drawing on 9/11 for imagery (especially the dust that covers civilians on ground), while Batman paraphrases VP Dick Cheney's 1% Doctrine to justify going against Superman.
    • Wonder Woman's origin in her film is reminiscent of Ultimate Thor in that her stories about the Greek Gods are initially treated with bemusement by her human allies and she is identified as the last of the demigods of antiquity with the classic pantheon killed off by Ares, who is here identified as her half-brother, similar to Ultimate Thor and Ultimate Loki, the latter of whom wiped out the Norse pantheon in Ragnarok.
  • The Unmasqued World: The events of Man Of Steel completely and utterly obliterated the Masquerade with the Battle of Metropolis; as such, more super-powered individuals and vigilantes are making their presence more known as a result.
  • Urban Legend: What presumably applied to most superpowered characters who were active before Man Of Steel - particularly Wonder Woman and Aquaman, given that the Masquerade was apparently in effect. In Justice League, Cyborg finds out Batman is not just an Urban Legend.
  • Used Future: While not set in the future, everything in the films has an extremely well worn look to it. Wonder Woman and Batman's outfits shown signs of wear and tear, the Batmobile shows signs of patch-work repair jobs. The locations are filled with graffiti and the paint is peeling off. Contrast this with Wonder Woman, which is set in the 1910s and has a more pristine aesthetic, ditto with Atlantis in Aquaman.
  • Worldbuilding: While Man of Steel almost exclusively focused on developing Superman as a character with his classic pool of supporting characters and occasional nods to other characters through Easter Eggs, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad both came with loads of new characters and Mythology Gags that they border on Continuity Porn for readers of the comics, all to set up Justice League and other standalone movies. Suicide Squad is noticeably different to Man of Steel in that it trades the realistic tone for a surrealist one and Wonder Woman, Aquaman and SHAZAM revealed that the supernatural has always been present, it's just been lying dormant for centuries or even millennia. The name "Superman" has also gone from sounding out-of-place to entering casual conversation, indicating that the zeitgeist is shifting in response to the rise of superhumans.
  • The World Is Always Doomed: Of course, given what is an adaptation of, and how superhero movie franchises usually go:
    • Man of Steel: Zod wants to terraform Earth into Krypton.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: While Lex Luthor's goal was mostly to kill Superman, unleashing Doomsday would've eventually caused the end of the world, had it not been killed.
    • Suicide Squad: Enchantress wants to transform the Earth into what it was before she and her brother were sealed.
    • Wonder Woman: While Ares seemed to be in no hurry and his plan is a slow burn, he wanted to eventually cause the extinction of humanity.
    • Justice League: Steppenwolf once tried to conquer the Earth with a full-blown invasion of Apokoliptian and failed. He comes back with the intent of performing Hostile Terraforming with the Unity, the union of three Mother Boxes.
    • Aquaman: Orm/Ocean Master wants to "bring the wrath of the Seven Seas" upon the human world — using the trident of King Atlan to cause cataclysmic tsunamis and destroy humanity with his army of followers.
    • SHAZAM!: Dr. Sivana becomes a champion for the Seven Deadly Sins. He spends much of the movie trying to get Shazam's powers, and if he succeeded, presumably would have used those powers combined with those of the Sins to kill millions of people like the previous Champion and the Sins once did.
    • Wonder Woman 1984: Maxwell Lord assimilates the Dreamstone and uses its power to grant wishes to anyone he can manipulate, which leads to entire civilizations coming undone as everybody wishes ill will on each other or to have more than they need.
    • Zack Snyder's Justice League implies that the world will inevitably face an Armageddon brought on by Darkseid, with a corrupted Superman acting as his enforcer. What's especially bleak is that the heroic actions of Batman and the rest of the Justice League actually seem to be making this reality even more likely.

"Everything breaks, Victor. Everything changes. The world is hurt, broken, unexchageable. The world's not fixed in the past, only the future. The not yet. The now. The now is you. Now, now is your time, Victor. To rise. Do this, be this, the man I never was, the hero that you are. Take your place among the brave ones. The ones that were, that are, that have yet to be. It's time you stand, fight... discover... heal, love, win. The time is now."
Silas Stone


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): DC Cinematic Universe


Harley Quinn's Sandwich

In "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" it takes loses something truly precious to her - her breakfast sandwich - for Harley Quinn to realize just how much of a target there is on her back following her break-up with Joker.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / LostFoodGrievance

Media sources: