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Zack Snyder Movies Ranked Worst To Best

Regardless of how you might feel about his movies, Zack Snyder is inarguably a visually distinctive director — one can often identify his work just by looking at a single frame. With an uncanny ability to recreate the source material he's pulling from onscreen, Snyder has established himself as one of the most unique comic book and graphic novel adaptation filmmakers working.

Taste is subjective, of course, and sometimes Snyder's hyper-stylized visuals can turn people off, but let's not forget we're watching films about superhumans and zombies. It's time to be realistic about the unrealistic aspects of a Snyder film. Critics are likely to be harsher on the director, while fans tend to give him a little more slack most of the time — especially when it comes to his work within the DCEU.

Ranking any director's movies isn't easy, and opinions vary from one fan to the next. In order to do this with Snyder's body of work, which currently stands at eight films, we've listed them from worst to best using their Rotten Tomatoes scores. Whether you're already a fan or you're just looking to get acquainted with Zack Snyder's movies, here's where you'll want to start — and which releases you might want to avoid.

Sucker Punch

Sucker Punch follows a young woman placed in a mental institution by her stepfather, and how she copes with being in said institution. Babydoll, played by Emily Browning, slips in and out of different realities just to get by, with each odder than the next.

It wasn't just critics who were disappointed with the film — ordinary viewers were as well, as evidenced by its negative Rotten Tomatoes audience score. Sucker Punch was the first film Synder directed with an original concept, and it looks like he learned his lesson to never do that again. Critics had many issues with the film, including its over-sexualized female characters and convoluted mess of a plot.

Veteran film critic Richard Roeper summed up the feelings of many of his peers, calling it "an indecipherable, hypocritical mess that proves you can fill a movie with scantily-clad women with big guns and it can still bore one to tears."

Sucker Punch has often been unfavorably compared to Christopher Nolan's Inception, which arrived in theaters a year prior — they're both sci-fi thrillers that tell stories involving realities within realities. Unfortunately, while Inception went on to become a huge hit that left a lasting impression, Sucker Punch ranks as some of Snyder's least satisfying work.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was the first superhero team-up for the DCEU, but it hardly matched the success of the biggest comics crossover at that point, the MCU's first Avengers movie from 2012. 

In addition to bringing back Man of Steel star Henry Cavill as Superman, Dawn of Justice introduced Ben Affleck as Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, and Gal Gadot as Diana Prince, a.k.a. Wonder Woman. On paper, it was an answer to DC fans' prayers, and seemed poised to be one of 2016's biggest films. Unfortunately, the movie just didn't live up to its hype — it was absolutely dragged by critics who were put off by its scattered story, among other things. "To call it ridden with plot holes would be a disservice to plot holes. These are plot caverns," wrote Kristy Puchko of CBR.

What are some of these holes, you ask? Well, how about this: Why can Superman always be there to save Lois in a matter of seconds, but not his mother? How did Lex Luthor know how to create Doomsday? Why did Superman call his mother by her name when battling it out with Batman? You get the point — and if you've seen Dawn of Justice, you could probably add half a dozen of your own.

In addition to the plot issues, those who reviewed the film agreed that the movie was oversaturated and stuffed with 45 minutes of unnecessary extra content. The film still did decently at the box office, bringing in over $873 million worldwide, although moviegoers appreciated it more than critics.

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole

Based on the Guardians of Ga'Hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky, 2010's Legends of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole marks Zack Snyder's first — and last, to date — stab directing at an animated feature. When it came to the voice cast, he got himself off to a pretty solid start: Helen Mirren, Geoffrey Rush, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, and Sam Neill all lent their voices to the film, which was praised for the work of its cast in addition to its stunning visuals.

"The animation itself is startlingly beautiful, as is the ancient owl world it imagines. The battles are complex and, in true Snyder tradition, heavy on the action," wrote Betsy Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times.

While many critics agreed that The Owls of Ga'Hoole is easy on the eyes, they still had some issues with the film — chiefly that the story was a little too dark and unsettling for the children at whom it seemed intended to entertain. As Anna Smith of Metro put it, "With jeopardy at almost every turn, this is certainly no movie for toddlers."

Man of Steel

Zack Snyder's first foray into what would become the DCEU came with 2013's Man of Steel, which also debuted Henry Cavill as Superman. It marked the long-awaited return of the Superman franchise after a long layoff, but absence didn't make critics' hearts too much fonder — they were divided on the film, and their issues were many. Some argued that Cavill's portrayal of the classic character lacked emotional depth, while others said the Clark Kent and Lois Lane love story was dull and unconvincing.

Most reviews of the movie made sure to note that it was a decent, albeit deeply flawed, effort — a classic case of a film that might have been great with a few important changes. "There's plenty to like in Snyder's hectic, rowdy film," wrote Christopher Orr of The Atlantic. "But by the time we reach the bludgeoning excesses of the last half-hour it's hard to shake the sense that this was an opportunity at least partially missed."

Whether or not critics loved it, Man of Steel gave Cavill an opportunity to leave an impression. Fans have compared his casting to that of Chris Evans as Captain America and Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, believing Cavill was born to play Superman.

300

Zack Snyder's second directing credit came with 2006's 300, an adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel of the same name. A fantasized telling of the Battle of Thermopylae, 300 is a visual masterpiece — and that goes beyond Gerard Butler's abs.

Critics were generally kind to 300, with many praising Snyder's eye for a dazzling scene and Butler's performance as King Leonidas. Some, on the other hand — like Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times — thought the adaptation was just a macho action movie with no layers. As he put it, "300 has one-dimensional caricatures who talk like professional wrestlers plugging their next feud."

The movie wasn't taken too seriously, which is appropriate, since 300 was never intended to be an accurate retelling of history. Some critics got this, and accepted 300 for what it was. Paul Arendt of the BBC, for example, argued that "taken on its own terms — as Greek myth meets Looney Tunes — it's kind of a masterpiece."

The movie made a killing in the worldwide box office, bringing in over $456 million worldwide according to Box Office Mojoand in many ways set the tone for the type of hyper-stylized spectacle Snyder would gravitate toward in the years to come.

Watchmen

Zack Snyder's 2009 Watchmen adaptation, based on the classic DC Comics limited series from the '80s, boasts a stellar cast that includes Billy Crudup, Malin Akerman, Matthew Goode, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Jackie Earle Haley. As fans of the source material were already aware, the story follows a retired group of superheroes who reemerge after one of their own is murdered.

Another visual masterpiece from Snyder, Watchmen prompted praise from critics impressed by the director's ability to capture the striking aesthetic of the Watchmen comics and bring it to the screen. "When given a great story and told that his job is to simply adapt it, Snyder more than rises to the occasion," Matthew Rozsa of Salon wrote after the movie's premiere. 

"Watchmen deserves credit for staying true to the characters, plot (up to a point), and look of the original material while still generating his own kind of energy, even though that energy sometimes feels misapplied and overcranked," added Keith Phipps of the A.V. Club.

Although there was plenty of praise for Watchmen, it wasn't universal. As would be the case more than once in Snyder's career, while critics respected his faithfulness to the source material on a visual level, many felt he was unable to capture the essence of the story. As Kaleem Aftab wrote for The National, "The failure of this very faithful adaptation highlights the fact that to capture the spirit of a comic book, a film must do more than bring a collection of still frames to life."

Dawn of the Dead

Zack Snyder got off to a fast start with his directorial debut, 2004's Dawn of the Dead — a remake of the classic 1978 George A. Romero film of the same name about a group of survivors trying to outlast a zombie apocalypse.

On Rotten Tomatoes, Dawn of the Dead is the first Certified Fresh entry in Snyder's filmography, an honor not normally afforded your average zombie horror movie. Remaking a much-loved classic is also a risk, especially when it's the director's first time behind the camera for a feature-length film. Snyder pulled it off, but — as would be the case so often later in his career — even critics who found favor with the film also found flaws.

"This one has more pyrotechnical gore, better acting, slicker direction but very few moments when it is scary at all," Derek Malcolm of The Guardian wrote, while Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle called it "silly, witty and good-natured, not scary so much as icky, and not horrifying or horrible but consistently amusing."

Zack Snyder's Justice League

It took a long time and a whole bunch of fan outcry to make it happen, but according to critics, Zack Snyder's Justice League was a triumph was worth the wait. The overall consensus is that Snyder's Justice League is everything the theatrical cut of Justice League is not — perhaps the only case of a film markedly improving after having its runtime expanded to four hours. The difference here, according to the majority of reviews, is that even if the end result is still a little messy, the added room gives Snyder a chance to truly bring his vision to life.

Robbie Collin of The Telegraph summed this up, writing, "In a genre increasingly hidebound by formula, it stands as a monument to exceptionalism that itself feels exceptional."

Of course, any four-hour superhero film is going to be a target for some critics, and Zack Snyder's Justice League is no exception. Although the majority called it a marked improvement over the original, plenty of reviews focused on the flaws. Hannah Woodhead of Little White Lies spoke for many of her peers when she proclaimed the film "overlong" and "miserable," adding that it "signifies nothing other than the potential of fandom to influence top-level creative decision-making."

All in all, this is a movie Snyder made for the fans as much as he made it for himself — and on both fronts, it the consensus is that it delivers.