DC has had a storied history of producing stellar animated content, from acclaimed feature films to masterful interconnected television series. DC animation has not shied away from short films, however, and some of its very finest works have been stories that last under forty minutes long, especially when it comes to their DC Showcase line of films.
Starring a variety of characters from heavy hitters such as Superman to lesser-known heroes of the past such as Kamandi, the DC Showcase line of shorts has produced some excellent content over the years. Letterboxd users certainly have their favorites, however, and have rated so accordingly.
10/10 Constantine: The House Of Mystery (2022) (3.1/5)
The most recent DC Showcase short has proven popular enough with audiences to snag a spot in the top 10. Dealing with the aftermath of the DC Animated Movie Universe’s continuity-ending Justice League Dark: Apokolips War, the short follows the sorcerer John Constantine being punished for his role in resetting the universe after the destruction caused by Darkseid.
Trapped in the titular House of Mystery and repeatedly murdered by demonic versions of his dearest friends in an endless loop, Constantine attempts to find a way to escape his horrifying predicament. Like most of the DCAMU titles featuring Constantine, the film received praise for its characterization of the occult detective and the dark themes represented.
9/10 Sgt. Rock (2019) (3.1/5)
Directed by the legendary Bruce Timm, one of the key figures behind the emotionally-riveting Batman: The Animated Series and the iconic DC Animated Universe that followed it, Sgt. Rock is a period piece following the titular character, a World War 2 U.S. soldier voiced by Karl Urban of The Boys fame.
In the film, Rock leads a unit of monstrous creatures (including a wolf, a vampire, and a Frankenstein-like being) on a mission to capture a Nazi scientist from a secret research base. The film was the Golden Age character’s first adaptation into film, and audiences on Letterboxd enjoyed it for his unpredictable nature and Urban’s portrayal of the titular character.
8/10 Catwoman (2011) (3.2/5)
A continuation of the 2011 animated film Batman: Year One, this short switches the spotlight from Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon over to Selina Kyle as she continues her vendetta against mob bosses. Here, Catwoman goes up against the villain Rough Cut, a crime boss dealing in human trafficking.
While there have been numerous on-screen interpretations of Catwoman over the years, this one was certainly made memorable due to the short’s mature content. Some users on Letterboxd have even gone on to criticize the sexualization of the character in the film, while others have given praise toward its violent and brutal action.
7/10 Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam (2010) (3.2/5)
While the character Black Adam is gearing up for his first solo film with the impending live-action release Black Adam, the character’s biggest appearance in film before that was in one of the first ever DC Showcase shorts.
The short sees Superman, once again voiced by his Justice League and Justice League Unlimited portrayer George Newbern, fighting Black Adam when the latter attempts to kill young Billy Batson, while Billy becomes the hero Captain Marvel after meeting the wizard Shazam. Billy soon teams up with Superman, and the pair partake in a powerful battle against Black Adam. Users commented on the film’s grand action making up for any rushed storytelling.
6/10 Jonah Hex (2010) (3.4/5)
While the heinous reviews the live-action 2010 Jonah Hex film received will certainly be keeping it off a list of the best superhero movies of all time, its animated counterpart released in the same year didn’t suffer from such a lambasting.
Following the titular hunter taking on a murderous madame who has killed his latest bounty, the short received praise for its Western aesthetic. When compared to the live-action film, the short was favorably noted to be much more faithful to the comic interpretation of the character.
5/10 Kamandi: The Last Boy On Earth (2021) (3.4/5)
Starring Cameron Monaghan of Shameless and Star Wars Jedi fame as the titular Kamandi, the DC Showcase short highlights the ’70s comic character as a young boy facing the challenges of a post-apocalyptic world run by highly intelligent animals, including gorillas who worship and await the return of Superman.
The Showcase short, one of the few with connections to other continuity, confirmed to tie into the ongoing Tomorrowverse, was praised for its aesthetic and similarities to the Planet of the Apes franchise.
4/10 Green Arrow (2010) (3.4/5)
Highlighting Oliver Queen forced to protect a young princess from an assassination attempt by the combined forces of the villains Count Vertigo and Merlyn while trying to meet Black Canary at the airport, the DC Showcase short instantly became an audience favorite upon its release.
Much was praise given for its style embodying a comic book and its source-accurate characterization of the Emerald Archer. The short was so popular, there was even consideration of adapting it into a feature-length animated film, though this ultimately did not occur.
3/10 The Spectre (2010) (3.4/5)
The Spectre has not only the honor of starring in the very first DC Showcase Short, having been a featurette on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths home video release, but also the honor of starring in one of the more favorably-reviewed DC SHowcase shorts.
The film follows Jim Corrigan as he transforms into the titular hero to doll out horrific punishment to the perpetrators of a murder that has personal implications to him. Letterboxd users enjoyed the film’s stunning mixture of ’70s aesthetic and intense horror.
2/10 Blue Beetle (2021) (3.5/5)
Animated in the style of superhero cartoons of the 1960s, DC Showcase: Blue Beetle follows the Ted Kord incarnation of the character teaming up with a multitude of Charlton Comics heroes in order to stop the villain Doctor Spectro. Among the supporting heroes were Nightshade and the Question (the latter of whom received special recognition from several users on Letterboxd for his appearance).
The film’s tongue-in-cheek style went hand-in-hand with its retro aesthetic, and fans ate up its campy storytelling and cheesy dialogue.
1/10 Death (2019) (4/5)
While Death has recently delighted audiences in the recently-released Netflix adaptation of The Sandman, garnering enough popularity to move many fans to wish for the character to star in a spin-off, her screen debut in her own self-titled DC Showcase short also received wide acclaim.
Portraying the uniquely sweet and upbeat interpretation of Death and her encounters with a struggling Gotham City artist, the film’s emotional nature and astounding depth drew praise from many Letterboxd users. The film stands as the only DC Showcase short to earn a rating above 4.