The new HBO Max streaming service is promoting itself, in part, by claiming it has a large number of DC Comics movies and shows available to binge-watch. While that’s certainly true, it’s currently leaving out a number of major DC movies and shows. HBO Max plans to add these films and TV series to its library over the next year.
Read: Best movies on HBO Max
In the meantime, let’s look at the best DC movies and shows that are currently available on the service. You can sign up for HBO Max at the link below, or you might be able to get the service for free.
Best DC movies on HBO Max:
Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best DC Comics movies on HBO Max regularly as new ones are released on the streaming service.
Is there any better introduction to DC movies than this classic 1978 film? We don’t think so. It’s nearly a perfect movie, from telling the Man of Steel’s origins on the planet Krypton to the town of Smallville, to Clark Kent’s introduction to Metropolis, and Superman’s first appearance. Christopher Reeve was the only choice to play this role, and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor remains the best live-action interpretation of the biggest Superman villain. Oh, and John Williams’ score can’t be beaten. It may be the best of the DC movies and shows on HBO Max.
Before this 2017 DC Comics movie was released, many fans wondered if a female-led superhero movie would work. In the end, they didn’t need to worry. Director Patty Jenkins made us love this Amazon warrior by making her something of a fish out of water. After her home island of Themyscira gets briefly invaded by Germans during WWI, Diana, played perfectly by Gal Gadot, thinks she is the only one that can stop this world war. She’s strong, idealistic, and powerful in this movie as she makes her way into the real world. She also discovers that her mission is a bit more complicated than she thought. This is definitely one of the best DC Comics movies on HBO Max.
The 1989 live-action Batman movie took many people by surprise, especially those who were only familiar with the 1966 campy TV version. This movie, directed by Tim Burton, was a bit closer to the darker and more mature comic book version of the Caped Crusader. Michael Keaton is excellent as Bruce Wayne and Batman, and Jack Nicholson provides one of his best performances ever as The Joker. The movie is still a bit campy, and its attempt to link Batman’s origin with The Joker is a bit forced. However, it remains an entertaining movie with some great art direction and visuals.
The 2009 theatrical movie adaptation of the classic superhero mini-series is actually very faithful to the original material. Director Zack Snyder made the decision to stick with most of the words from Alan Moore, and kept most of artist Dave Gibbons’s designs, even replicating panels of the comic itself. The final result really feels, for the most part, like the mini-series came out of the page and onto the screen (although the film does make one change to the comic book’s ending). This tale of an alternate 1985, where superheroes are real, is helped by great performances, especially Jeffrey Dean Morgan as the violent Comedian, and Jackie Earl Haley as the psychotic Rorshach.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League
After directing Watchmen, Zack Snyder started his epic trilogy of films that would jump-start the DCEU (DC Extended Universe). He started with his Superman solo movie, Man of Steel, in 2013, and followed it with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, which introduced the rest of the superheroes he wanted to bring to live-action (mostly in cameos). He also is credited with directing Justice League in 2017. However, after a family tragedy, Snyder pulled out of the post-production process for that movie. Avengers writer-director Joss Whedon was brought in to finish the movie, and he ended up rewriting and directing a majority of the film. The final result, while it still credited Snyder as director, was mostly from Whedon’s words and direction.
The movie was both a critical and box office disappointment, and fans of Snyder started a campaign to get Warner Bros. to release the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League. Their efforts were rewarded in 2020, when Snyder announced that HBO Max would indeed release a new version of the movie, supervised by him. The result is a huge four-hour epic, with mostly never-before-scene footage, along with new visual effects, and a newly filmed ending. Believe it or not, this four-hour movie doesn’t feel like one when you watch it, and it’s definitely one of the best DC Comics movies on HBO Max.
There’s something about Batman’s greatest enemy that brings out the best in the actors that portray the Clown Prince of Crime. In the case of this 2019 movie, it brought out the best in Joaquin Phoenix in this origin story for the character. His performance as the mentally ill Arthur Fleck gives the audience an understanding of why this sad person would turn into a murderous criminal. There’s no Batman in this movie, but Joker still has something to say about how we treat people with mental health issues. It’s definitely one of the best DC movies on HBO Max.
The Dark Knight
This 2008 DC movie is perhaps the best Batman solo movie ever made. It’s the middle film in the Batman trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan, and the action feels grounded in reality, or as much as a story of a man dressed like a bat can be real. It also features a stand-out performance by Heath Ledger as the Joker, who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. It’s one of the best DC Comics HBO Max properties you can watch.
Birds of Prey: Harley Quinn
One of the best things about the generally disappointing first Suicide Squad movie was Margot Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn. The crazy girlfriend of The Joker returns as the lead character of this 2020 movie. Harley is still crazy, but now the Joker has dumped her as this movie begins, and she’s not happy. However, she soon gets involved with a new crime boss in Gotham City: Black Mask, played by Ewan McGregor. Ultimately, she teams up with a group of female crimefighters and criminals to take down Black Mask. If this movie sounds a tad confusing, that’s because it is. However, Robbie’s performance manages to make up for some deficits in the script, and there are some excellent action sequences.
Best HBO Max DC Shows:
Editor’s note: We will update this list of the best DC Comics shows on HBO Max regularly as new ones are released.
Perhaps the best of the DC Universe live action shows, Doom Patrol is now among the library of HBO Max DC shows. The comic book version of this group of superpowered misfits was first released by DC in the 1960s. However, the TV show is based largely on the comic written by Grant Morrison in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The show offers a mix of original Doom Patrol characters, including Robotman (a man who has his brain put in a robot body) and new characters. That includes Crazy Jane, played in the show by Diane Guerrero, who has 64 different personalities, each with its own super-power.
It’s hard to describe Doom Patrol in a few sentences. Let’s just say the show is a mix of absurdism and super hero action. You know things are weird when the first season includes a character named Danny the Street, an intelligent urban street. You can watch the first two seasons now, and a third season is due in 2021 on HBO Max.
This is yet another show that’s transferring from the DC Universe service. Titans is based loosely on the more recent incarnation of the Teen Titans team of teenaged superheroes. However, many fans might be upset that the Titan’s leader, Robin, says a very . . . crude word about his former partner Batman in the series’ premiere episode. If you can get over that, you will likely enjoy this look at this rather dark superhero team. You can look for appearances by the 1990’s version of Superboy, and even by Bruce Wayne. You can watch the first two seasons now, and a third season is due in 2021 on HBO Max.
You can’t have a list of the best HBO Max DC shows without including the TV version of Watchmen. Many people thought it was folly to do a sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s seminal superhero epic. Yet, not only did showrunner and head writer Damon Lindelof manage to pull that off, but he also made an intelligent show that put the spotlight on the continuing racial tensions in the US. All of that is inside this sequel that shows the after-effects of the final moments of the original comic (which you should read if you haven’t already). It’s an excellent show, and hopefully one day we will get a second season.
Yes, Harley Quinn appears in this animated series, but it’s not for kids. Indeed, even some older folks might be surprised by the mature, but extremely funny, characters and storylines. Harley, voiced by Kaley Cuoco, has decided to leave her boyfriend, the Joker. She’s striking out on her own and dealing not just with Batman, but with a host of other superheroes and villains as well. You can watch the first two seasons now, and a third season is due in 2021 on HBO Max.
These are the best DC movies and shows on HBO Max at the moment. We’ll add more options to the list once they hit the streaming service.
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