In 2013, the controversial ‘Man of Steel’ laid the foundation for the DC Extended Universe

Now a franchise of five films with the addition of "Justice League" this week, the DC Extended Universe launched in 2013 with "Man of Steel." Written by the Dark Knight Trilogy's David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan and directed by "Watchmen's" Zack Snyder, "Man of Steel" attempts to balance everything we love about Superman with a fresh examination of his character and place in the world. Every subsequent DCEU film – despite having a variety of writers and directors -- has followed that formula, to varying degrees of success. Here are three things that have become trademarks of the saga, for better or worse:

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Six dumb things and six cool things about ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" (2106) is the epitome of a movie where the end result is less than the sum of its parts. The three-hour Ultimate Edition, when watched at home in about six sittings, is better than the theatrical edition, but it still has problems at its core. It also has some cool stuff – when separated from the movie's overall context. In advance of this weekend's "Justice League," here are six cool things and six dumb things about last year's DC Extended Universe blockbuster:

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‘Suicide Squad’ will someday be thought of as an OK movie

For the sake of getting up to date on the DC Extended Universe, I watched "Suicide Squad" (2016), which is now available on HBO. It's the most maligned of the four DCEU movies, rating a 6.2 on IMDB, compared to 6.6 for "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," 7.1 for "Man of Steel" and 7.6 for "Wonder Woman." It has some major problems, but I actually connected with the characters faster than I did with Supes or Bats in their DCEU debuts, and I wouldn't mind following this bunch into sequels so I can get to know them better.

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Gal Gadot, explorations of war make ‘Wonder Woman’ a winner

"Wonder Woman" -- now available via Redbox and streaming -- poses the question: What would happen if a superhero was dropped into the middle of a human war? The easy answer is we'd get lots of cool action scenes. In the film's centerpiece spectacle amid the Great War, the Allies and the Germans are entrenched, with 200 yards of no-man's-land between them. The Germans have taken civilians as slave labor. Diana (Gal Gadot) wants to rescue them, but it's tactically impossible – except for the wild-card factor of her superpowers.

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Batman and Superman could’ve avoided fighting if they had just talked it out

"Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," the second entry in the DC Universe film saga that started with 2013's "Man of Steel," is more engaging than its rather boring predecessor, due largely to the novelty factor of seeing these two icons – plus Wonder Woman – in the same movie. As with "Man of Steel" -- like this film, directed by Zack Snyder -- there's a jarring disconnect between the computer-generated fight scenes and scenes of characters talking to each other, and it feels like the former category dominates the film. (Spoilers follow.)

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