Top 10 DC Movies You Didn't Know Exist

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Top 10 DC Movies You Didn't Know Exist

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: David Foster
Looking for more DC movie content? Enjoy this list and thank us later! For this list, we'll be looking at lesser-known times DC characters appeared in movie format before the DCEU came about with the release of 2013's “Man of Steel.” Our countdown includes “Superman Returns”, “Swamp Thing”, “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm”, and more!
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Top 10 Pre DCEU Movies You Didnt Know Existed


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Pre-DCEU Movies You Didn’t Know Existed.

For this list, we’ll be looking at lesser-known times DC characters appeared in movie format before the DCEU came about with the release of 2013’s “Man of Steel.”

Are our picks up, up and away? Or are they holy hogwash? Sound off in the comments.

#10: “Superman Returns” (2006)


Didn’t know existed? Probably not. But forgot about? Probably yeah. A quasi-continuation of Richard Donner’s first two Superman movies - and simultaneously discounting anything related to “3” and “4” - 2006’s “Superman Returns” picks up following Kal-El’s five-year stint off-world. The Brandon Routh-led movie was somewhat hit-and-miss in terms of intentions for the Man of Steel, and plans for sequels were shelved. That said, whilst most people felt the story was lacking, praise fell on the actors and the performances. Although a top-down change for Superman followed, Routh returned to play the character on the small screen in the Arrowverse “Crisis on Infinite Earths” storyline.



#9: “The Flash” (1990)


Though you’d be forgiven for wondering just why John Wesley Shipp’s Scarlet Speedster has an entry in a list about movies when he played the ‘90s TV incarnation, it’s actually quite simple. The pilot episode of the original “Flash” TV series was actually released as a full-length film. Yep, Warner Bros. decided that the pilot should be released as a direct-to-video feature, and generate interest in their new property. Filmed with a budget of $6 million, which was quite substantial for a TV movie at the time, the series established the character of Barry Allen into the mainstream. Like Brandon Routh’s Superman, Shipp would return to play the Flash nearly three decades later on the CW.



#8: “Steel” (1997)


The movie adaptation of John Henry Irons – the hero known as Steel – looked like a winner on paper, with the 7'1” Shaquille O'Neal set to play the titular role. The result, however, was far from a slam dunk. With most of the cinema-going audience having little clue who Steel even is, the movie did little to help establish him, and strayed further still from the source material. The movie is cheesy and even die-hard fans couldn’t connect to the character. With no mention of comic book ally Superman in sight, the movie bombed at the box office and a live-action Steel wouldn’t again be seen on screen for almost a quarter of a century.

#7: “Supergirl” (1984)


The late 1970s and early ‘80s were a good time for our resident Kryptonians. With three movies based on Superman already released, Warner Bros. decided to play safe and branch out into related stories. Although she was initially included in an early treatment for 1983’s “Superman III” - instead as a love interest for the Man of Steel, and not his cousin (ew) - Supergirl was deliberately reserved for her own film to be released the following year. Sadly, the movie fared even worse than Supes’ second sequel, currently holding a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Lackluster storytelling, lame villains and uninteresting action all contributed to poor reviews. However, Helen Slater’s portrayal of Kara Zor-El was generally praised.

#6: “Batman” (1966)


“Holy camp-fest, Batman!” How could we possibly forget the 1966 cinema release of what’s come to be known as “Batman: The Movie,” the first full-length feature for the not-so dark Dark Knight! Released between Seasons 1 and 2 of the TV show from which it’s derived, the movie was the first big screen outing for the Dynamic Duo in almost two decades. But unlike the previous installments, which were Columbia serials, this one stayed true to the characters (as they were written at the time, that is) and is still revered today for its deadpan, tongue-in-cheek humor, and its fun and upbeat style. It also spawned two animated sequels, released nearly half a century later, with Adam West and Burt Ward reprising their roles as Batman and Robin.

#5: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut” (2006)


A director’s cut before the days of Zack Snyder? Who’d have thunk it! Richard Donner, director of the first “Superman” movie had already shot 75% of the sequel before tensions and disagreements with producer Pierre Spengler led to his departure. Whilst director Richard Lester would complete the production, his director credit also required extensive reshoots, which Lex Luthor actor Gene Hackman would not return for. For years, and despite the theatrical release’s success, fans wondered just what the original intention for the Man of Steel was, petitioning Warner Bros. Prior to the release of “Superman Returns” they got their answer, when Richard Donner returned to complete his take on the sequel, answering many unusual narrative decisions and restoring the world he had built.

#4: “Swamp Thing” (1982)


This entry and its relative success may surprise you, as 1982’s “Swamp Thing” is indeed a DC Comics movie adaptation. As director Wes Craven was much more renowned for horror, his choice to helm this blockbuster certainly raised eyebrows. Yet his dip into the Hollywood action scene was well received by critics and fans upon the release of this cult classic. Exciting, funny and with a good amount of heart, “Swamp Thing” went on to garner several spin-offs and sequels, thus receiving a new lease of life.. Sadly, Craven didn’t return for the direct sequel, and “The Return of Swamp Thing” is considered to be a subpar follow-up.

#3: “Gen¹³” (1998)


For decades, Warner Bros. has been the studio synonymous with DC Comic movies. For feature film adaptations of DC-owned properties, no other studio can touch it. Sadly, Jim Lee’s “Gen¹³,” a story about teenagers discovering they’ve been given superpowers, was a casualty of him selling the publisher WildStorm to DC. Disney was simultaneously making the movie adaptation, and assuming the now-DC property would fall under competitor Warner Bros’ slate, they pulled the feature from U.S. release. “Gen¹³” was still released internationally, so fans didn’t completely miss out on this true-to-source and unique style of animated feature.

#2: “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” (1993)


Like its 1966 predecessor, “Batman: Mask of the Phantasm” was released between the first and second seasons of the show from which it’s based. But to say that the movie is a TV show tie-in would be a gross understatement. Still considered by fans to be the Dark Knight’s finest animated outing, as well as one of his theatrical best, the full-length feature was released in cinemas on Christmas Day 1993. It was a critical success, even outranking the previous year’s “Batman Returns” in some pundits’ eyes, but it didn't make a profit for Warner Bros. until years after its release. A pity, since it could’ve opened the door to a bevy of animated theatrical outings for the Caped Crusader for years to come.



#1: “Superman and the Mole Men” (1951)


The first DC Comics theatrical release was a soft pilot for the “Adventures of Superman” TV series, which also starred George Reeves as the Man of Steel. Shot in just under two weeks, the movie is in black and white, a standard at the time, and introduces Clark Kent and his Daily Planet regulars into the mainstream. “Superman and the Mole Men,” like “Batman: The Movie” wasn’t the first time the Kryptonian hero appeared on the big screen, as he too comes off the back of earlier serials which starred Kirk Alyn in the blue suit, and were released in parts just a few years previously.
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