I've been a movie enthusiast my whole life and been writing movie reviews for over 14 years.
With the release of the long-awaited the Zack Snyder’s Justice League (that’s a long title- liked it better when it was just titled The Snyder Cut) sometime in 2021 on HBO Max, this list of Zack Snyder’s movies is a primer before you digest all four episodes of one of the most anticipated movie, um, streaming, events since the last big comic book movie to premiere.
I have to ask…
Does anyone really think that The Snyder Cut (that’s what I’m calling it because it’s shorter and doesn’t feel so pompous) is really going to be better than the Snyder/Joss Whedon mashup that made such a whimper in theaters back in the fall of 2017? Like most of you reading this, I’ll watch it, but considering all the unnecessary hype, I’m guessing I’ll feel the same level of indifference I feel towards most of the DCEU. Why? Because I have Man of Steel and Batman V Superman to compare it to.
Anyway, here’s Snyder’s previous movies just before The Snyder Cut is released. After reviewing the movies in his filmography after committing myself to making this list, I feel about this list how I feel about most Zack Snyder movies: I just want to get it over with because I have better things to do/watch.
1) Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Simply based on his first movie, you would have expected Zack Snyder to be in the upper echelon of directors instead of “the guy that does those mediocre comic book movies.” If you haven’t seen it in a while, Snyder’s remake of the George Romero classic is still one of the best horror movies of the new century and remarkably holds up on repeated viewings. Almost everything about it is perfect, from Sarah Polley’s excellent final-ish Girl, to Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn’s airtight screenplay, to that smile/gasp inducing ending, Dawn of the Dead remains a great movie that genuinely scares. You’ll never deliver a baby in a mall again. RIP malls. Hoping Snyder’s new Netflix movie Army of the Dead brings back some of that Dawn of the Dead shine.
2) Watchmen (2009)
Snyder’s imperfect masterpiece remains on the top shelf of comic book movies. It predates the saturation of the market by Marvel and even Snyder’s future DC offerings. Makes you wonder why more comic movies aren’t rated R? Oh yeah, money. A better-than-it-has-the-right-to-be adaptation of the classic graphic novel, Watchmen puts stakes and gravitas that most movies of its genre can’t even touch. While most of my issues with the movie involve some of the casting (Malin Akerman’s Silk Spectre and Patrick Wilson’s Nite Owl are the most egregious weak links) they’re easily forgiven considering the scope and technical brilliance of the film. Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach elicits a smile from me every time I see him onscreen. Like most of the characters in Watchmen, he truly could carry his own movie. You can’t say that for a good portion of the DC, MC, or any other EU.
3) Man of Steel (2013)
The one that started the current version of the DCEU is the one that showed the most promise. Deservedly epic in scope, Man of Steel provided a compelling enough Superman origin story that you forgave how much you’ve seen it all before. I didn’t really mind the senseless CGI destruction of Metropolis in the climax because I never took it too seriously in the first place. I had more of a problem with Michael Shannon’s toothless, yelling General Zod. After Man of Steel you had hope that DC would provide a compelling, more serious alternate to Marvel. That hope died an hour into Batman V Superman.
4) Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
A marked improvement over the theatrical mixtape that was 2017’s Justice League. I guess that’s what happens when you get seventy millions dollars and a four hour running time. The Snyder Cut has a better villain presence and better character development. Of course, you’d expect that with a (say it with me) a four hour running time. Was the online vitriol ultimately worth it? Not really, but at least you get to spend a sixth of a day watching slow motion.
5) 300 (2007)
300 brought us Gerard Butler as a leading man. Yeah. It’s not that Gerard Butler is a bad actor, it’s just that a disproportionate amount of his movies since getting leading man status are truly dreadful. Rewind and you’ll find that I’m right. Sorry.
Anyway, 300 is an R-rated live-action cartoon in which every line is yelled and all the fight scenes could be set to showtunes considering how overly-choreographed they are. The least subtle homoerotic vibe I’ve ever seen in a mainstream movie, which I suppose can be taken as progress. It’s facilely entertaining but will never be anything you remember with anything other than a shrug. Even Michael Fassbender forgets he’s in this.
6) Justice League (2017)
The super-duper hero team up movie, DC’s answer to The Avengers was met with a resounding ‘Meh’. If you could bottle indifference, it could be found in theaters across the country when this opened Thanksgiving weekend. Its highest praise is that at least it’s better than Batman V Superman. The bar was never set that high. I feel bad for Amy Adams and Jeremy Irons, two iconic actors reduced to nothing parts. I feel bad for Henry Cavill’s face. I feel bad that this followed the DC high of Wonder Woman. I feel bad for who or whatever the villain was supposed to be in this movie because I certainly don’t remember. I’m sure I could look it up but since DC didn’t care, I certainly don’t.
But at least it’s better than Batman V Superman.
7) Batman V Superman Dawn of Justice
Speaking of Batman V Superman, never has mediocrity been so loud and bombastic. This should have been a slam dunk, but upon repeated viewings it works better as a comedy. From Superman doing absolutely nothing of any consequence to the horrible miscasting of Jesse Eisenberg as Lex Luthor, you can view Batman V Superman as just a series of missteps. It’s only the well-executed action sequences that make this movie palatable. Ben Affleck is a better Batman than this movie deserves.
BVS will live on in infamy as the “Martha” scene is one of the most unintentionally funny scenes of the 2000s.
8) Legend of Guardians: The Owls of Ga’ Hoole (2010)
This owl-centric film has some beautifully rendered animation as the owls feel lifelike and textured in every frame. The story, however, is pretty generic, bordering on forgettable. I get this was marketed for a younger audience, so the cliché-a-minute storyline is easier to digest. But if you’re over the age of 15, you should probably stary the Ga’ Hell away from this movie.
9) Sucker Punch (2011)
Snyder’s grrrrllll power fantasy action mixtape has some decently shot battle scenes with CGI villains. It’s everything that has nothing to do with action, namely the plot and characters where this movie crashes with a loud thud. You roll your eyes at some of the fortune cookie wisdom being thrown out by the fistful. You’re glad that Oscar Isaac movie on to bigger and better roles (well, not Star Wars) after doing whatever he was doing in this. You’re grateful you only saw this once but wished the movie were half as exciting as the trailer. In 2011, we were all sucker punched in thinking this would be good.
Before only the biggest DC fans actually take the time to see Zack Snyder’s Justice League, you might want to rewatch some of Zack Snyder’s better (read: two) movies. You may have forgotten the movies on the bottom of half of this list and after reading them you remember why.