Since it kicked off in 2013, the DC Extended Universe has been on the march towards uniting the league. And finally, the heroes of DC will combine forces in Zack Snyder’s Justice League when it hits theaters on November 17. But before that, they go back in time for Wonder Woman, and as the movies continue, the continuity of the DCEU may get a little muddy.
Unlike Marvel, the DCEU is a bit easier to discern when and where events take place. And with fewer properties to consider — i.e. there’s no Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Netflix-verse equivalent to the DCEU — it’s much easier to keep track of it all. So, for those curious about when the heck Superman and Batman do stuff, here’s a guide to the chronological order of the world’s greatest superheroes.
1. Wonder Woman (2017)
Although Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman employs a flashback framing device (as revealed in the trailers), the majority of Diana Prince’s (Gal Gadot) origin story is set during World War I. An Amazonian warrior from the remote Mediterranean island Themyscira, Diana’s metahuman DNA makes her age much more slowly than normal humans. This allows her to basically look the same, even after almost a hundred years, and why Bruce Wayne got all weird about her in Batman v Superman.
2. Unseen: Bruce Wayne’s Transformation Into Batman, the Life and Death of the Batman Family
As we learn in Batman v Superman, Bruce Wayne had a 20-year career as Gotham City’s Dark Knight before the arrival of Superman in Man of Steel.
In the Batcave, a Robin costume with graffiti (“HA HA JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN”) hangs as a reminder of Bruce’s (Ben Affleck) losses. Comic experts know that the Robin outfit must belong to Jason Todd, the second protege of Batman, who was killed by the Joker (in Batman: A Death in the Family) but later returned as the dark vigilante Red Hood. There’s no sign of Red Hood’s existence in the DCEU, except for one line Bruce says to Jeremy Irons’s Alfred: “Twenty years in Gotham, Alfred. How many good guys are left? How many stayed that way?”
Still, if the DCEU is following this trajectory of the Batman Family, then Dick Grayson — the original Robin — must now be Nightwing, who is presumably operating in either New York or his special domain: the crime-ridden, working-class slum city of Blüdhaven. A Nightwing movie is coming, as is Batgirl from Joss Whedon, though it’s unknown what kind of shape either movie will take.
3. Man of Steel (2013)
Fast forward a little under a hundred years after Wonder Woman, and 30-something Clark Kent (Henry Cavill) from Kansas reveals himself to the world as Superman. In the Big Bang for the DCEU, Zack Snyder’s Superman origin had a lot of heavy lifting to do to set up a new cinematic universe. The final fight with Zod (Michael Shannon) in Metropolis is enough to start a war with someone who is far more dangerous, and also happens to have a taste for black…
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
The opening of Batman v Superman takes place right at the end of Man of Steel, but the rest of the movie happens eighteen months later. With the arrival of “the Superman,” the world is grappling with a whole lot: the arrival of a god, their dependency on the kindness of a stranger, their place in the universe, and their newfound insignificance as a species.
In comes billionaire Bruce Wayne, the Batman. Fearing Superman’s unchecked power, and vengeful after the destruction of Metropolis, Batman challenges Superman to a no-holds-barred match that ends in a draw because both men have severe mommy issues.
5. Suicide Squad (2016)
Not long after Superman’s sacrifice to kill Doomsday in Batman v Superman, Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) forms Task Force X in Suicide Squad. Hoping to ensure that the next Superman isn’t a free agent and instead operates under government supervision, Amanda Waller recruits the most dangerous criminals, including a few with super powers of their own, to serve as government agents in exchange for reduced sentences.
The origins of each character are messy and vague — the world fears Superman but doesn’t bat an eye at a murderous human crocodile — but the squad’s very necessary. Their first mission: save the world by stopping the Enchantress (Cara Delevingne).
6. Justice League (2017)
With Superman dead and a danger that outclasses the Suicide Squad, Batman and Wonder Woman join forces and assemble a new alliance of gods: The Flash (Ezra Miller), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) form the Justice League to stop Steppenwolf and his army of Parademons from taking over Earth.