Rarely has there been such a divisive filmmaker as Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice director Zack Snyder. The man at the helm of the upcoming Justice League movie has often been praised for his fan service yet has rarely struck critical acclaim, with many considering him the sort of filmmaker who prefers style over substance. Having initially made his name in advertising and music videos, Snyder has embraced the fantasy, thriller, horror and animation genres across his 7 feature filmography, and it’s those seven pictures that we shall be ranking from worst to best in this edition of Ranked. As always, you can join in the conversation by leaving a comment at the bottom of this article, commenting on our official Facebook page, or tweeting us!
From worst to best…
7. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (2010)
Zack Snyder’s foray into animation wasn’t all that successful. The critics all but dismissed the picture’s sensational animation and audiences were about as uninterested as they possibly could be, despite the piece being adapted from a hugely successful series of fantasy books and having the backing of Warner Bros. It’s not that this film was necessarily bad, it’s more that Zack Snyder’s name isn’t so grandly associated with this product as the rest on this list, nor is it at all memorable. Number 7 via the process of elimination: The Owls of Ga’Hoole.
6. Sucker Punch (2011)
Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch was filled with all sorts of issues during its production, including rumours that the studio demanded the picture be reduced to a bland PG-13 rating despite the director’s success in the R rated marketplace, and the demand that the plot had on violent visuals and adult themes. This led many, including lead cast member Emily Browning, to speak out against the film and openly criticise the decision that she felt took something away from Snyder’s original vision. Despite this, Sucker Punch was mildly successful at the box office and oozed the visual trademarks Snyder has made himself famous for, all the while centring the story around a group of women who straight-up kicked ass, but it wasn’t enough to shake off the stench of its convoluted plot and apparently difficult to decipher thematic explorations.
5. Man Of Steel (2013)
Man Of Steel wasn’t Snyder’s first attempt at making a DC Comics movie adaptation but in many ways it was his least successful. The ideas were promising and some of the visuals were standouts of the genre, but the film really didn’t live up to the billing in many ways including its overly long run-time (a criticism levelled at a lot of the director’s work). Although it was a success at the box office, negative word of mouth and a number of reviews that criticised the product for seemingly everything but its “Snyder moments”, made for a less fruitful financial return than DC expected and did little to kick-off the DC Extended Universe in the manner the studio had hoped for. Coming out of Man of Steel, it seemed audiences had become distracted by the movie’s insistence on other-worldly damage to its host city Metropolis and had engaged only briefly with the actual content of the piece, which could be judged as being reductive and too simplistic (even for a superhero movie).
4. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Dawn of Justice was probably the most divisive of Snyder’s collection of hugely divisive pictures, with many an audience member being dismayed at the nonsensical editing of the action scenes and the rather limited explorations of many of the picture’s secondary characters and themes. However, Snyder did successfully oversee the rebirth of the Batman character in a post-Dark-Knight landscape with great effect and managed to present the caped crusader as a viable opponent to the almost overly powerful Superman character. The director also successfully inserted a number of fan-servicing Easter eggs that gifted the movie a sense of rewatchability and made for an interest in his more adult-themed cut of the movie that was released on DVD/Blu-Ray. Though it was far from a success in the eyes of audiences and critics, Batman v Superman was the first time the key figures in the Justice League had been featured in a film together, something that tipped the movie beyond that of its predecessor Man of Steel and into the number 4 spot in this list.
3. Dawn of the Dead (2004)
After circulating as a music video and advertisement director (including the Budweiser chariot superbowl ad), Snyder got his first big movie break on the horror remake Dawn of the Dead (2004). It was an over-the-top zombie fest (before Zombies came back in fashion) and was successful both critically and financially for its fresh and visually appealing take on the story. Though it acted as the catalyst of what was to come of Snyder’s career, Dawn of the Dead didn’t have the stylistic signature of Snyder’s other work courtesy of its smaller budget, but it definitely made for an interesting modern horror movie. Taking the bronze medal is Dawn of the Dead.
2. Watchmen (2009)
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen (2009) was a divisive DC Comics adaptation that you either loved or hated; it was like Marmite. Still, there’s no denying that Snyder went to incredible lengths to ensure that as much of the detail included in the graphic novel was available in his film. Furthermore, he helped to create probably the best opening montage in the history of comic book movies. Despite controversy over the alternative ending the filmmaker offered to the novel, Watchmen is undeniably visually stunning movie that is strong in its thematic messages and presentation, plus the ‘alternative’ soundtrack’s illustration of the Watchmen’s alternative universe is a lot of fun. Marmite or not, Watchmen was a showcase of all that Snyder has to offer as a filmmaker and was undoubtedly one of his better overall pieces.
1. 300 (2006)
Zack Snyder directed something in 2006 that we had never seen before and thus created an overnight success with his relatively small budget stylistic piece telling the mythical tale of three hundred Spartans overcoming the Persian empire. It made Snyder a household name and spring-boarded the director into the mainstream, undoubtedly landing him many of the central Warner Bros roles that have since followed. 300 was over-the-top, flashy and incredibly violent, while remaining tightly knit and a breath of fresh air to the genre. It was undoubtedly the best movie of Snyder’s career and therefore the number one movie on this list.