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.
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.
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.
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.
In 1986, Frank Miller wrote and drew the Batman: The Dark Knight Returns mini-series for DC Comics. It was a huge hit, and its portrayal of a darker and more serious Batman has been a heavy influence on both the comics and the many Batman movies ever since. In 2012, we finally got a faithful animated adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns.
Broken up in two parts, the animated movie shows a much older Bruce Wayne who has been retired from his Batman persona for many years. However, Gotham City’s crime is still getting worse, so Bruce puts on the cape and cowl once again. The animation is solid, and there are great voice performances from Peter Weller as Batman, and especially Michael Emerson as the Joker. It makes this two-part film one of the best DC animated movies. It’s also one of the best DC Comics HBO Max properties you can stream.
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.
We end this list of best DC movies on a much lighter note. The 2019 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.
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 season now, and the second season launches on June 25.
You can’t have a list of the best HBO Max DC shows without including 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.