Since 2007 there have been 10 full length releases from Bruce Timm's DC Universe Animated Original Movie line at Warner Bros. animation. (I'm discounting the Showcase short compilation, even though it included an original 22 minute short.) Originally meant to be animated adaptations of specific classic DC Comics stories, the subject matter of the films was expanded to included some original storylines (arguably loose adaptations) as well.
While they all have, for the most, part been crafted with the level of animation and storytelling that you come to expect from Bruce Timm and his team, I thought that ten releases was a good time to see how they stacked up against one another.
10. Green Lantern: First Flight (2009)
The only truly disappointing film in the series should have been a no-brainer: it's Hal Jordan's origin story! Perfect! Only not so much. Hal got the ring and… suddenly just was Green Lantern. On his first mission into space, Hal seemed to have no questions, no learning curve, and no problem suddenly dealing with a passel of aliens. All the fun of the super hero origin story was glossed right over.
9. Batman: Gotham Knight (2008)
The anthology that was supposed to take place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight is like most anthologies: some of it is good and some of it is not so good.
8. Superman: Doomsday (2007)
The first film out of the gate (and still the top seller, by far) did a solid job of compressing the wide-ranging Superman vs. Doomsday fight to the death into one short, tight story. I still remember the shock of seeing a preview at WonderCon 2007 that showed blood pouring out of Superman's mouth after getting socked by Doomsday.
7. Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009)
Cheers: Original actors Tim Daly and Kevin Conroy reprising Superman and Batman. Jeers: The animation style that emulated Ed McGuinness (who drew the story that this was based on) at times made everyone look almost comically muscled.
6. Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010)
Misleadingly titled (it should have been called Superman/Batman: Supergirl), but tons of fun. Supergirl comes to Earth for the first time all hell breaks loose when Superman, Wonder Woman, and Darkseid all struggle with each other to exert their influence of the Girl of Steel. Also, in a wonderful change of pace, Batman ends up as the comic relief.
5. All-Star Superman (2011)
Never was I more nervous for one of these films. A 70 minute adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's modern day classic? Somehow Bruce Timm and company pulled off a really solid stream-lined version of the story that exemplified why Superman is so cool.
4. Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010)
Originally meant to bridge the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons (this one explains why the Justice League got a whole lot bigger), this story of the Justice League entering the multiverse to fight their evil doppelgangers, The Crime Syndicate, features a thought-provoking existential crisis and one of the best villains in all of these films: Owlman.
3. Wonder Woman (2009)
One of the most ass-kicking-ist animated action adventure films in years is the one that stars the princess. A near-perfect blend of action, character development, humor, and drama. Plus: Nathan Fillion!
2. Batman: Under The Red Hood (2010)
Wow! Ultra-violent and full of pathos, the story of Jason Todd's return to life includes so many shocking and memorable moments I can scarcely list them all. I never in my life thought I'd see an animated adaptation of The Joker "killing" Jason Todd but there it is in the pre-credit sequence. The emotional impact of the final scene left my jaw hanging open.
1. Justice League: The New Frontier (2008)
A sentimental favorite to be sure. New Frontier is one of my all-time favorite comic book stories and this was a near flawless adaptation. It certainly helps that the animation style perfectly suits Darwyn Cooke's art, who came up in Bruce Timm's production unit. I still get chills every time President Kennedy's speech plays over the end of the film.