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, with a seven-day free trial, 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.
Aquaman never really got the respect he deserved for a long time, even among many DC Comics fans. That all changed when Jason Momoa was cast as the water-breathing human and heir to the throne of Atlantis. He’s a powerful figure who looks like he would be at home riding a Harley as much as he would be riding a shark. Aquaman needs to become the hero he needs to be. Ocean Master, played by Patrick Wilson, wants to not only lead Atlantis but invade the surface world as well. This 2018 movie also gets some help via some great visual effects depicting the undersea kingdom.
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 Dark Knight
Director Christopher Nolan finally delivered a truly faithful Batman movie adaptation in 2005 with Batman Begins (also on HBO Max). However, he outdid himself with the 2008 sequel. This serious look at Batman also brought up issues of privacy, terrorism, and more to an audience that was still being affected by the events of 9/11. However, its the portrayal of The Joker by the late Heath Ledger that makes this movie memorable. His characterization of the Clown Prince of Crime as a total anarchist remains as the best live-action version of this character.
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.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Yes, this is a controversial choice for our Best DC Comics movie list on HBO Max. We are not huge fans of Jesse Eisenberg’s version of Lex Luthor. However, this 2016 movie directed by Zack Snyder still has a lot to like about it. It has some great performances by Ben Affleck as Batman and Jeremy Irons as Alfred. It also has some impressive action sequences, and it’s the debut of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman.
This movie will get you ready for the “Snyder Cut” of Justice League, coming exclusively to HBO Max in 2021. (Yes, the theatrical version of Justice League is also one of the DC Comics HBO Max properties you can stream, but we would not recommend that to anyone).
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.
This 2019 DC movie is an adaptation of the character formerly known as “Captain Marvel” (it will take too long to explain). Teenager Billy Batson is an orphan who suddenly encounters the wizard Shazam. He gives Billy a way to instantly transform into an older and far more powerful superhero version of himself. What kid wouldn’t want that power?
Things get more complicated as another man with the same power wants to take Billy out. Zachary Levi is perfectly cast as the superhero Shazam and Asher Angel is also great as his younger alter ego. 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’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.
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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