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Franchise / DC Extended Universe

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Bruce: We have to stand together.
Diana: 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 DCEU note  is a film franchise produced by DC Comics and distributed by Warner Bros., the company that owns the rights to all DC franchises. Starting in 2013 with Man of Steel, it is DC and Warner Bros.'s equivalent to Marvel Comics' and Disney's own Cinematic Universe. The setting consists of films adapted from various DC Comics characters and storylines in a Shared Universe.


Early plans for a shared DC Comics 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 both 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. For more on the subject, see the DC Films page.

The DCU-inspired film Joker is not part of the continuity in a first since 2013, and it looks more and more like the 2021 Batman film of Matt Reeves will not be part of the continuity either.

Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the DCEU is confirmed to exist in DC's live-action multiverse alongside the Arrowverse, the original Reeve/Routh Superman movie series, the 1989-97 Batman film series, and many other works.


You can vote for your favorite film here.

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Released films:

Films in production:

  • The Suicide Squad (August 6, 2021) note 
  • The Batman (October 1, 2021) note 

Films in pre-production:

  • Black Adam (December 22, 2021) note 
  • The Flash (June 3, 2022) note 
  • Shazam sequel (November 4, 2022) note 
  • Aquaman sequel (December 16, 2022) note 

Projects in development or rumored to be in development: note 

  • Wonder Woman threequel note 
  • New Gods note 
  • Batgirl note 
  • Second Shazam sequel note 
  • Green Lantern Corps note 
  • Justice League Dark note 
  • Supergirl note 
  • Superman sequel
  • Spinoff focusing on the Amazons
  • Blackhawk note 
  • Joker & Harley Quinn note 
  • Nightwing note 
  • Gotham City Sirens note 
  • Lobo note 
  • Cyborg
  • Deathstroke
  • Justice League vs Suicide Squad
  • Harley Quinn note 
  • Blue Beetle note 
  • Deadshot
  • Zatanna
  • Plastic Man
  • The Trench note 
  • Green Arrow
  • Black Canary

Cancelled/scrapped projects:

  • Justice League Part 1 note 
  • Justice League Part 2
  • Batman film note 

    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.
  • 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.
    • Joyride: Barry Allen/The Flash and Cyborg have a joyride with Bruce Wayne's Mercedes Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo, stop at a building on fire, save the day and bring the car back to Bruce.
    • Guiding Lights: Diana Prince/Wonder Woman drives a pregnant woman in labor and her family to the hospital in her Mercedes-Benz E-class convertible, with Cyborg informing her on traffic.
    • Fast Food: Barry Allen annoys Bruce with a discussion about bats and food while they are in the AMG Vision and catches oranges falling from a moving truck using his speed.
    • Shifting Gears: Bruce Wayne takes Arthur Curry/Aquaman on a ride in his AMG Vision and the two get into a chase to stop a heist getaway.
    • Pit Stop: Diana and Barry Allen help a man fix his flat tire.
    • Winner Drives: Arthur Curry and Diana team up to stop a heist.


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

    Live-Action Television 

    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:

  • 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.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Mercy Graves had brown hair in Superman: The Animated Series where she first appeared and blond hair in the comics. She is played by Tao Okamoto, who has black hair, in Batman v Superman.
  • 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 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. Plus there's seven demons who embody the Seven Deadly Sins from Christianity.
  • Alternate Continuity: By way of Continuity Reboot.
    • Superman Returns is ignored, and so is the continuity it was set in, that of the Christopher Reeve movies.
    • 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 and yet another Origin Story wasn't necessary in this case.
    • 2011's 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.
    • Joker takes place in an alternate continuity as well.
  • 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 flagship 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, 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.
  • Big Bad:
    • Man of Steel: General Zod.
    • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Lex Luthor, who is being secretly manipulated by Darkseid.
    • Suicide Squad: Enchantress.
    • Wonder Woman: Ares, who at first is thought to be masquerading as General Luddendorff, but is later revealed to be Sir Patrick Morgan
    • Justice League: Steppenwolf, who is working for the Greater-Scope Villain, Darkseid.
    • Aquaman: Orm (the Ocean Master).
    • SHAZAM!: Doctor Sivana and the Seven Deadly Sins.
    • Birds of Prey: Black Mask.
  • 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.
    • 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's animosity towards Superman evaporates once the latter begs him to rescue his own mother, realizing he was about to become the same as 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 as a surrogate family.
    • Wonder Woman has Diana' 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.
    • Justice League has the titular team forming a surrogate family. Barry and Victor both have issues with their fathers, Arthur resents his mother for leaving him as a child and Steppenwolf refers to the Mother Boxes in a literal term.
    • Aquaman has Arthur trying to reconnect 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.
  • 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 Justice League Dark project in development makes this more likely.
  • 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.
  • 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 shot at a standalone film nearly a decade after the first movie he appeared in failed at the box office. There are talks about a potential new Supergirl movie as well.
  • 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.
  • 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 willing to learn from their mistakes and work with each other and ordinary people.
  • Deconstruction: Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice take apart a number of tried and true comic book tropes, creating a wholly unique comic book movie world. In some instances it tries to reconstruct them, but often just pursues their own direction.
    • Clark Kenting: In Man Of Steel Clark is shown taking on a number of different personas altogether, switching different styles of clothing and different levels of beard growth. Lois manages to find out who he is by tracking him through his previous jobs and good deeds, taking his actual appearance out of the equation. In Batman v Superman, Lex Luthor was also able to determine his identity, presumably through similar investigation and rationale. He was also able to identify Bruce Wayne as Batman, implying that these secret identities are not as ironclad as they normally are in the comics.
    • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Neither Batman or Superman espouse such a philosophy directly, but the emotional implications are explored. At the end of Man of Steel Superman is forced to kill Zod and he is devastated for having to do so. During Batman v Superman Batman had become more callous and hardline on criminals, branding some of the worst with a bat symbol, and lethally neutralizing immediate threats. This is treated as a bad thing, evidence that he had crossed the Despair Event Horizon and at the end of the movie admits he needs to do better. Overall both films are saying that personally taking a life is a thing to treat seriously, but just because you have taken a life doesn't mean you've crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
    • The heroes that appear also get various aspects of their character deconstructed:
      • Superman: The appearance of an alien Physical God is not met with hope and awe everywhere. Superman has to face a great deal of paranoia and skepticism, especially in light of unprovoked hostilities from his native race. Distrust of a figure with such power eventually leads to drastic action that threatens more than just the targeted threat.
      • Batman: Batman is seen to be burned out and cynical as a result of waging his one man war on crime for years with nothing truly changing as a result and losing his sidekick to the Joker. Having no meaningful victories and taking personal losses for years on end mean his morals have frayed to the point that he willingly takes actions that he knows will result in death for those he targets, being one step away from full blown murder and it only takes what he sees as his paranoia being validated to cross that line.
      • Superman's appearance add to all of this, since the trauma of witnessing the Kryptonian invasion (for which he also holds Superman responsible) first hand, and his feelings of complete and utter impotence as he could only watch while people were killed left and right when gods duked it out without a care, makes him realize just how little all of his actions and morals mean when people like Superman could just obliterate the world in a snap if they wished to.
      • Wonder Woman: Diana goes to man's world to try and save humanity during one of their darkest conflicts but her experiences cause her to turn away from them, believing that mankind has to resolve it's own troubles.
      • Aquaman: He's usually written as an outsider that doesn't quite fit in on the surface and isn't always welcomed in Atlantis but tries to look after it out of a sense of duty. Here he's a lot more hostile towards Atlantis, returning the hatred he's shown in equal measure. He wants nothing to do with the Atlanteans because they killed his mother out of xenophobia for her time on the surface. He can't really fit in on the surface so he spends his time looking out for others that wouldn't be helped otherwise and outright refuses to go to Atlantis for the prior stated reasons. He only gets involved with the affairs of his mother's home when Atlantis begins attacking the surface at the order of his brother, who pretty much hates Arthur merely for existing and blames him for their mother's death.
      • Shazam: The Wizard's search for a champion with a pure heart. When Billy meets him he outright admits he isn't what the Wizard is searching for and it's shown that such a person simply can not exist because Humans Are Flawed. The Wizard looked for literal ages and kept passing over possible champions because they didn't meet his standards, keeping his search going for far longer than it truly needed do. Not only that but his actions towards one possible choice are directly possible for creating a new villain obsessed with claiming the power to cope with the very flaws that denied them being granted it. Billy only receives the power because the Wizard is literally on his final breath and the power will be needed soon, leaving it almost entirely luck that someone virtuous enough to serve as a champion could act as one.
    • Crapsack World:
      • Clark feels alone and isolated because the world is not fully ready to accept someone like him. He still becomes Superman, doing good deeds, but his existence makes him a controversial figure and it's an uphill battle to prove he's not a malevolent invader.
      • Batman has had to deal with 20 years of going nowhere in his mission to rid Gotham of crime, rendering him ultra-cynical and among those who don't trust Superman.
      • Wonder Woman saw the brutality of World War I and learned that she can't just fight her way through all of humanity's problems.
      • The Suicide Squad strongly implies that they are just as much victims of the world they live in, but even they can show signs of heroics when the need arrives.
  • 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: For instance, 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, and Shazam! aims at more comedy.
  • 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.
  • Green Aesop:
    • Man of Steel revealed that 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.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Superman and Aquaman in particular have redheaded Love Interests.
  • 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 as 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. After Superman's death, a power vacuum was created, galvanising 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.
    • 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."
  • 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.
    • 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-Bell.
    • Rat-Catcher is a white man in the comics but will be played by a woman of Portuguese descent in The Suicide Squad.
  • Reality Ensues: Unlike other adaptions, Batman has little involvement in fighting the likes of Doomsday or Steppenwolf as a single punch from one of these Superman-level beings could spell the end for him.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: The films tend to be on the Idealistic end of the spectrum. Humanity is presented as flawed but well-intentioned and capable of exceptional good, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
    • 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.
  • World Building: 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 the past centuries. 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 catalcysmic 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.

"Darkness. The truest darkness, is not the absence of light. It is the conviction that the light will never return. But the light always returns. To show us things familiar. Home, family and things entirely new or long overlooked. It shows us new possibilities and challenges us to pursue them. This time, the light shone on the heroes, coming out of the shadows to tell us we won't be alone again. Our darkness was deep and seemed to swallow all hope, but these heroes were here the whole time. To remind us that hope is real. That you can see it. All you have to do is look… up in the sky."
Lois Lane

Alternative Title(s): DC Cinematic Universe


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