This Thursday, the DC Extended Universe is getting another shot at greatness with the release of the highly-anticipated Snyder Cut of Justice League. It’s been a long road to get here, with several pitstops along the way — but if early reports are anything to go by, the Snyder Cut might just be the film DC fans have been waiting for.
If you’re keen to know what all the fuss is about, there’s several films you’ll want to catch up on to get the whole DC story. Like the more high-profile Marvel superhero films, Justice League is the culmination of nearly a decade of world-building. That means you’ll need to watch a few films to keep up with all the action.
Here’s what you should check out before Zack Snyder’s Justice League launches on March 18.
Man of Steel (2013)
Man of Steel is where the modern DC Extended Universe began. While some disliked the dark tone of the film (and the head-snapping finale), it’s hard to deny it’s a beautifully-shot and acted film. Henry Cavill is great as Clark and Superman, and Amy Adams’ Lois Lane is a delight.
If you want to know more about Superman as a character without all the lore and backstory he was saddled with in later films, start at Man of Steel. It’s not a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination, but it does great things with its characters and sets up the rest of the DC films wonderfully.
Wonder Woman (2017)
Wonder Woman is 7/8ths of a fantastic film, by which I mean it’s great until the final act. But beyond the movie’s devolution into a dank CGI slugfest, the rest of it is excellent. If you’ve ever wanted to see a woman plowing her way through battalions of World War I troops singlehandedly, this is the movie for you. It’s Captain America: The First Avenger with a whole lot more confidence and super-powered shenanigans.
The action sequences in Wonder Woman are also shot beautifully, and Gadot makes a strong Diana Prince.
Really, this movie should’ve come out prior to Batman v Superman so audiences could’ve been introduced to the character in a more organic way — but in any case, it’s essential viewing in the lead up to Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
While Man of Steel was a relatively simple film about alien invaders in a small town, Batman v Superman decided to ‘go big or go home’. The entire film is an overlong, cluttered mess and it does a disservice to both Batman and Superman — but it’s not totally unsalvageable.
It gave us a strong Wonder Woman (her strongest appearance in the DCEU so far), it led us to the formation of the Justice League and it gave us a surprisingly strong turn from Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne.
Batman v Superman is not a good film, but it’s definitely enjoyable. Maybe that’s enough to keep you invested.
Aquaman is a very pretty film, and it gives a lot of essential backstory for Arthur Curry. If you’ve only seen the character in Justice League you might assume he’s just a wisecracker with a big trident, but Aquaman is where a lot of his character development takes place.
Even when the plot is muddy, Aquaman is a fun ride. It’ll take you through the deep seas and giant underwater battles, and it’ll even throw in a few weirdly-timed dick jokes on the side. Something for the whole family!
But hey, the film also features Willem Dafoe as a funny little fish man and a drumming octopus, and what’s better than that?
Arrow (TV Series), Season 8, Episode 8 (2020)
While the Arrowverse has mostly been kept separate from the mainline DC film universe, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths TV crossover event Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen appeared in an episode of Arrow. While it’s a super short cameo, it’s a very fun moment and tells you more about the character than the entirety of the original Justice League.
The entire Infinite Earths crossover is big, dumb fun if you’re looking for a lighter alternative to Justice League.
BONUS: Justice League (2017)
Never forget your roots.
While the joint Whedon-Snyder Justice League cut of 2017 is widely regarded as a major flop, it’s still essential viewing ahead of the launch of the Snyder Cut. While there will be some overlap with this cut and the new version of the film, it’s good to know how exactly the film has changed — and why the investment in a new cut was worth it.
There’s a good film hiding in the bones of the original Justice League, you just have to search to find it. The movie’s a little silly at times and the plot is a shambling mess, but it still makes for fun watching.
If you want to know more about how the Snyder Cut came about, watch this film.
ALTERNATE OPTION: Birds of Prey (2020)
If you’re not too fussed about the ins-and-outs of the DCEU and you just want a fun, over-the-top superhero flick without all the grim and gritty drama, watch Birds of Prey.
Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn is a bundle of joy and she’s joined by a cast of incredible women in this action-revenge flick. It’s colourful, fun and great entertainment.
It also comes baggage-free so even if you have only a passing knowledge of DC Comics, you can still watch this film and fall in love.
You don’t need to watch every film in the DC Extended Universe to sit down and enjoy Zack Snyder‘s Justice League. Here’s what you can skip in the lead-up, and what’s still worth watching:
- Suicide Squad (2016) — Don’t Watch
- Shazam! (2019) — Watch
- Birds of Prey (2020) — Watch
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) — Don’t Watch
Outside of brief cameos, none of these films have an impact on Justice League. In the case of Wonder Woman 1984, it’s set after the team-up and has minimal links to the events of the film.
If you choose, you can also go in blind. Each character in the film is iconic enough that you’ll likely have some understanding of who they are even if you don’t know their entire story.
The choice is in your hands.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League launches on Binge in Australia on March 18.