Before the launch of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, its can easy to forget DC Comics once ruled the big and little screens. Before Robert Downey Jr. proclaimed he was Iron Man in 2008, numerous other actors had already donned Batman’s cowl or Superman’s cape.
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. now offer all your favorite non-Marvel entertainment together in one all-you-can-eat subscription called DC Universe. Yummy.
What is DC Universe and how does it work?
DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television hinted at a new streaming service in April 2017. Managed by Warner Bros. Digital Networks Group, the service would stream a live-action Titans series and Warner Bros. Animation’s Young Justice: Outsiders.
Later DC Entertainment revealed DC Universe granted access to upcoming exclusive live-action content, like Doom Patrol and Swamp Thing. Other goodies included live-action and animated movies and TV shows, a huge library of digital comics, and exclusive access to a members-only shop.
Anxious fans could pre-order the service in July 2018 and participate in a beta the following month. DC Universe opened to the masses on September 14, 2018: Batman Day.
DC Entertainment announced the first expansion to its digital comics library for DC Universe in January. By April, the service boasted over 20,000 comics currently accessible to subscribers. Additional comics appear every week.
DC Universe subscription plans and price
There’s only one plan with two payment methods:
- $74.99 plus tax billed annually
- $7.99 plus tax billed monthly
The annual plan has an overall 20-percent cost savings and promises “benefits and rewards,” though DC doesn’t elaborate. All subscribers have a chance to enter exclusive sweepstakes, like winning VIP passes to an annual Comic Fan Event in San Diego.
Is there a free trial?
You bet. You can sign up for DC Universe and try it out for seven days for free. You can cancel before the trial period ends and you won’t be charged.
What can I access for free after the trial ends?
You need a paid DC Universe account to watch its library of movies and TV shows, and read its comics. However, you can still watch the service’s news show DC Daily. It offers news from across DC Comics from Monday through Friday, and it’s available for anyone. You can also check out the online DC Encyclopedia for free, and read and post on the Community boards.
At launch, DC Universe was available on Android, Android TV, Apple iOS, Apple TV, Roku, and web browsers. The service arrived on Amazon’s Fire TV stick in December 2018 and Xbox One in April. The service only supports two simultaneous streams, but there’s no hard limit on how many devices can access a single account.
DC Universe is currently available only in the United States.
DC Daily (one season, ongoing)
As the name indicates, this is a DC-focused news program. The 200th episode aired June 26 covering DC’s latest comics and graphic novels. It also showcased the evolution of popular DC characters spanning 200 issues. Each episode typically lasts 20 minutes.
Doom Patrol (one season, season two coming soon)
This wacky show follows a group of misfit heroes as they search for their missing mentor, Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton). The team initially includes Robotman (Brendan Fraser), Negative Man (Matt Bomer) , Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby), and Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), with Cyborg (Joivan Wade) joining the search eventually. If you’re in the mood for farting donkeys that open portals into another dimension, Doom Patrol is the show for you.
Harley Quinn (one season, season two coming in April 2020)
DC Comics revealed in 2017 that Joker’s famous ex-girlfriend would get her own animated TV show. Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory) voices the title character in this upcoming animate series. Now out on her own, Harley Quinn joins Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) as they wreak havoc on Gotham City. The show was created by the team behind NBC’s live-action Powerless series.
Stargirl (May 2020)
Actress Brec Bassinger takes the role of Courtney Whitmore/Stargirl in this upcoming series. She’s a high school sophomore juggling friends, family, and education while managing a team of young heroes. Her powers stem from a cosmic staff she “borrowed” from her step-father, a former sidekick.
Swamp Thing (one season, canceled)
This is by far the best original series on DC Universe. It follows Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed), a CDC doctor who’s called home to investigate a deadly virus. She teams up with local scientist Alec Holland (Andy Bean) to investigate the source in a local Louisiana swamp. One thing leads to another and you have a plant-based hero and a very strange romance. Warner Bros. killed Swamp Thing before he had a chance to grow.
Titans (two seasons, season three coming in 2020)
Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) keeps his Robin outfit in a briefcase. He’s no longer Batman’s sidekick. Instead, he’s Detroit Police Department detective moonlighting as a vigilante. A case leads him to Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft), a girl with demonic powers that he must now protect. They’re eventually joined by shape-shifting Gar (Ryan Potter), AKA Beast Boy, and Starfire (Anna Diop). Titans is violent. It’s bloody. It’s not the silly Teen Titans gang you remember from Cartoon Network.
Young Justice Outsiders (three seasons, fourth coming soon)
This is technically the third season of Young Justice. This animated series originally aired on the Cartoon Network for two seasons. It wasn’t renewed for a third due to poor toy sales, which helped funded production. The show follows a group of sidekicks and teenage heroes, including Robin, Kid Flash, and Superboy. The subject of season three focuses on metahuman trafficking.
The live-action movie library is rather thin. You’ll find the first Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve, but the movie library is mostly animated. Here are a few:
- Batman: Bad Blood (2016)
- Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
- Batman Vs. Robin (2015)
- Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
- Justice League Vs. The Fatal Five (2019)
- Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015)
- Reign of the Supermen (2019)
TV show library
DC Universe provides old and new seasons of live-action and animated TV content. Not available are recent shows based in The CW’s Arrowverse. These include Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Black Lightning, and Batwoman. You can catch the full Arrowverse library on Netflix after the conclusion of each season.
Technically, NBC’s Constantine, listed below, is part of the Arrowverse, as the CW uses the same actor for the character, and it bought the rights to the show. It currently also streams on the free CW Seed service.
Here are a few examples of the live-action TV content:
- Adventures of Superman (Syndicated, 1952 – 1958)
- Aquaman TV Pilot (The WB, 2006)
- Birds of Prey (The WB, 2002 – 2003)
- Constantine (NBC, 2014 – 2015)
- Krypton (SyFy, 2018 – ongoing)
- Lois & Clark: The Adventures of Superman (ABC, 1993 – 1997)
- Shazam! (CBS, 1974 – 1976, restored and enhanced)
- The Flash (CBS, 1990 – 1991)
- Wonder Woman (ABC, CBS 1975 – 1979)
- And more!
Here’s a sample list of animated TV shows currently streaming on DC Universe:
- Batman: The Animated Series (FOX, 1992 – 1995)
- Batman Beyond (The WB, 1999 – 2001)
- Justice League (Cartoon Network, 2001 – 2004)
- Green Lantern: The Animated Series (Cartoon Network, 2011 – 2013)
- Super Friends (ABC, 1973 – 1985)
- Teen Titans (Cartoon Network, 2003 – 2006)
- And more!
DC Universe boasts over 20,000 digital comics. To help navigate this massive library, the platform provides three categories: Get to Know, Storylines, and Showcase. As an example of Storylines, Batman: Death of the Family groups all 29 comics together spanning across Batgirl, Catwoman, Suicide Squad, Batman, Teen titans, and more.
Here are a few of the 111 storylines you’ll find on the service:
- The Dark Knight Returns: The Entire Saga
- Infinite Crisis
- Final Crisis
- Superman Red Son
- The New 52: Futures End
- Crisis on Infinite Earths
- Batman: Knightfall
- And more!
The Showcase category doesn’t cover storylines. Instead, it groups comics together within a specific theme. For example, Batman vs. Superman points to the Injustice: Gods Among Us and Injustice 2 comic book series. Twelve other listed comics pit the Kryptonian against Gotham’s masked billionaire in various storylines.
The original content and comic book library make DC Universe a great value
Ultimately, DC Universe provides access to 1,087 comic book series digitally. You can read them from within the DC Universe app – no third-party comic app needed — on your mobile device. You can read these comics on a desktop or laptop using a web browser.
The future of DC Universe
The murky waters of Swamp Thing’s immediate cancellation brought questions about the future of DC Universe. Warner Bros. announced the show’s termination after airing the first season’s first episode. The cancellation followed Warner’s initial decision to reduce the 13-episode season down to 10.
The news shocked the cast and crew, including executive producer James Wan. Rumors pointed to creative differences within the higher ranks. The show’s overall cost was supposedly a factor too, as Warner Bros. built two elaborate swamps and other sets on Stage 10 at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. Even with North Carolina’s tax rebate, Warner supposedly paid more than expected.
Time Warner changed its name to WarnerMedia after its acquisition by AT&T in June 2018. The company plans to launch a new streaming platform called HBO Max to better compete with a similar service by Disney. Swamp Thing’s early termination and cost seemingly backs speculation that executives are reevaluating DC Universe and could merge it into the upcoming service.
A great value for DC’s fanbase
The original content and comic book library make DC Universe a great value. You won’t find Marvel’s The Avengers here. There are no chick flicks. This service is for DC Comics fans only, offering loads of superhero entertainment for a low monthly fee.