Hollywood has given us many classic and acclaimed directors, and many hated duds. However, few directors are as controversial as visionary Zack Snyder. Known for his dour tone, mythic narration, and intense slow-motion, he at the very least created a unique style as a director.

Over the years, the reception to his work has fluxuated from critically acclaimed to instant trash. Of course, many of his films have been called both. Overall, he at least led an interesting cinematic career. Here is a ranking of Zack Snyder’s films from worst to best.

10. Rebel Moon

Landing at the bottom of the list by a huge margin is his latest endeavor, the Rebel Moon duo. Zack Snyder and Netflix had high hopes for this project, with their back-to-back release, merchandise, and many planned spinoffs. However, once the reviews came in, these plans were immediately questioned.

The biggest problem with Rebel Moon is its derivative nature. Immediate parallels can be made to Star Wars and Seven Samurai, two ubiquitous tales. Additionally, despite the grand nature of the saga, the entire four-hour conflict is based around a galactic empire bullying a medieval village for its grain. Overall, Rebel Moon set itself up as yet another failed franchise.

9. Sucker Punch

While it’s always good for directors to go out of their comfort zones and try new ideas, sometimes this isn’t such a great idea. Case and point being Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, one of his few original stories. Sucker Punch tells the story of youth “Babydoll” on her path to escape an insane asylum alongside several other girls in a fantastic quest.

Despite some genuinely cool set pieces and locations, Sucker Punch is ultimately a jumbled mess of a story with hollow characters. Even worse, despite supposedly being a “girl power” film, many derided the film for its downright tone-deaf portrayal of women’s issues and femininity. Overall, Snyder should stick to adapting better writers’ ideas.

8. Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice

One of the biggest stereotypes surrounding the DCEU was that it was pretentious and needlessly grim. The team did little to challenge these assumptions by its second film three years later. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice skips right past the intro for the caped crusader as the two go right to duking it out, regardless of any proper buildup.

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The biggest problem with this film is how loaded it is, trying to rush into the introduction of Darkseid’s forces, Wonder Woman, and cameos from the rest of the future League members. Furthermore, the film was called out for its needlessly philosophical and verbose themes, which many saw as gratuitous and detracting from the core story.

7. Army of the Dead

As Dawn of the Dead was one of Snyder’s most well-remembered films, it makes sense that he’d get a second chance for a film in the saga. Whereas the first was a straightforward zombie apocalypse title, this one adds the unique spin of being a heist film as well. This time, a group of mercenaries must break into a zombie-infested Las Vegas to steal a massive treasure.

While the first film was far more grim in its depiction of the zombie apocalypse, this film was decidedly lighter, especially given its Vegas setting. Furthermore, the film also brings back the social commentary of Romero’s original work by focusing on the themes of greed vs survival.

6. Man of Steel

Man of Steel was the inaugural film of the DCEU, Warner Bros.’s answer to the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe. Superman himself has been adapted to the big screen many times before, so Snyder had stiff competition. Overall, Zack Snyder gave us a flawed but ultimately successful retelling of Clark Kent’s origins and battle against General Zod.

This particular iteration is particularly darker than the previous ones in both themes and aesthetic. As with his previous film Watchmen, the film delves into heavy ideas of what it is to be a superhuman in a world of mortals. Fortunately, in spite of some collateral damage, the film ends on a hopeful note as Clark holds onto his idealism.

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5. 300

300 is a “historical” epic that takes more than a few liberties with the details of Sparta and the Achaemenid Empire. However, that does little to detract from the sheer epicness of this film. The film follows the warrior king Leonidas leading his men against the persians.

Based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, this film gave a hyper-accurate recreation of the comic book art style. The heavy use of slow motion and contrast give the film the sense that it’s an ancient bas relief come to life. At its core, the film also delves into heavy themes of war, leadership, and sacrifice that cement the film as a legendary saga.

4. The Snyder Cut

The original “Josstice League,” released in 2017, was a disaster of both story and production. However, through fans’ support, Snyder released the definite version of the film, The Snyder Cut. Clocking in at over four hours long, The Snyder Cut stood as one of the few highlights of the DCEU in its rocky history.

Snyder builds upon the original groundwork of the film and turns many of the more lackluster elements on their head. Rushed plotpoints become actual events and finally get the payoff fans wanted. Furthermore, there is excellent worldbuilding that helped turn the DCEU into a fleshed-out universe. Even if the DCEU itself ended on a sour note, they gave us some good moments along the way.

3. Dawn of the Dead

As the film that put Snyder on the map, he gave his best for this one. Dawn of the Dead is a remake of George Romero’s legendary take on the zombie genre. Much like John Carpenter’s The Thing, Snyder’s remake takes a horror classic and gives it a new vision. To this day, the film is heralded as one of the best in undead cinema.

While the film may not have the social commentary of Romero’s original work, it gives such some of the most inventive action in the genre. Here, Snyder laid the groundwork for the impactful visual storytelling that would define his later work. Additionally, having the legendary James Gunn as a writer helped add energy to the film.

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2. Watchmen

In today’s era of superhero fatigue, many stories, such as The Boys, deconstruct the genre’s conventions. However, the original superhero deconstruction was Alan Moore’s revolutionary comic Watchmen. The comic thoroughly deconstructed many ideas about heroism and vigilantism that were endemic to the genre.

Unsurprisingly, Snyder’s version captures the magic of the original comic. With Snyder’s signature style, he captures the original thematic weight of Moore’s comic. Alongside The Dark Knight, this film helped cement the era of “darker” superhero films that explored what it meant to be a god among men in a flawed world.

1. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole; Zack Snyder’s Cult Classic

It’s a surprise pick, to be sure, but a welcome one. Swooping into the top of the list is Zack Snyder’s only family-friendly title, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole. Adapting the children’s novel series of the same name, the film tells the story of owl Soren as he is dragged into a battle against the supremacist “Pure Ones” and his quest to become a Guardian.

The film features breathtaking animation, with some genuinely awe-inspiring vistas. Furthermore, the animated cast combines both detailed realism with more than enough expressiveness to carry the weight of the story. Additionally, the film combines a childish sense of wonder with Snyder’s usual epic scope. It’s a film that makes one wish Snyder could have given us more unique classics such as this one.

Most of Zack Snyder’s filmography will be found on MAX.

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