Justice League is on the horizon. Because of this, I feel like we need to talk about how underrated Zack Snyder is as a director and how I feel he is the best working comic book movie director.
When Zack Snyder’s 2005 cult classic, 300 , first premiered, it was heavily discussed as something new to the genre. By the end of its run it had earned over $456 Million at the world-wide box office with a budget of only $65 Million. This visually stunning epic of had captivated audiences and thus Snyder made his name in Hollywood. Snyder is a one-of-a-kind visual filmmaker. His attention to visual detail is what makes his films so iconic and discussed. Audiences had never seen anything like 300 and Snyder was finally on the map.
On June 23rd, 2006, Warner Bros. announced that Zack Snyder would direct a live action adaptation of the Alan Moore’s graphic novel, Watchmen. Watchmen debuted in theaters in March of 2009. While the Watchmen graphic novel made waves in the comic book industry among writers, artists and fans, it wasn’t well-known to the general audience at the time. The challenge to bring Watchmen to the screen didn’t stop Zack from taking it on. Snyder crafted this incredible movie that was simply ahead of it’s time. Zack Snyder’s Watchmen brings the comic pages brought to life in a vibrant way. The film isn’t simply panel by panel recreation of the novel and Zack exercises his creative freedom which improved the end the story in my opinion. Watchmen has earned a cult following in the film community as one of the greatest Comic Book movie adaptations of all time, earning the praise of many other comic book directors like Scott Derrickson.
After Watchmen, Zack took a break from comic book films for a couple of years and directed the 2010’s animated feature, Legend Of The Guardians: The Owls Of Ga’Hoole and 2011’s alternate reality fantasy, Sucker Punch.
On Oct. 4th, 2010, it was accounted that Zack Snyder would direct a Superman reboot, Man Of Steel alongside Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Man Of Steel, much like it’s Batman counterpart, The Dark Knight Trilogy, aimed for a more realistic and grounded tone with a story that carried a larger message,
Man Of Steel accomplished in portraying themes and character emotions that many other comic book films lacked. We follow a Kal-El, trying to find his place in the universe. Personally speaking, Superman had never captured me before. He has always seemed larger than life in a sense that I couldn’t connect with him. He was never interesting to me because he was so indestructible. When i first watched the trailers for Man Of Steel, i was very intrigued at the thought of Superman being something other than the perfect. After i watched Man Of Steel for the first time i felt like connected to Superman, something I never felt before.
This branched not just with the character of Superman but also Lois Lane. Zack Snyder was also able to make Lois Lane more than she ever was before. Not only did Lois need Superman but Superman needed Lois even more. That aspect of their relationship was touched upon more in Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Man Of Steel is pushes boundaries of character exploration in blockbuster films. Clark is trying to find his way in the world and is never really quite sure where to fit in. He is treated as an outcast and bullied, but still prioritizes doing the right thing and helping people. Man Of Steel resonates with me deeply.
In 2016, the film Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice was released. I had been looking forward to this film ever since it was announced. I didn’t think there was an actual chance it could be a better film than its predecessor. I was wrong. Zack Snyder and Chris Terrio crafted an intense political story which essentially boils down to the Ultimate Immigrant Story in our society. Zack Snyder stepped up his game like never before. Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice has the media essentially as it’s own character. Much like our current society, the media can affect everything and everyone. Because of this, I feel it is the most accurate depiction of our world today
Batman v Superman deconstructs both characters in a way that was divisive with audiences. While some viewers wanted to see the classic versions of both characters in their prime, Zack Snyder instead made that “classic” version an ideal to strive towards and helps develop these heroes to get there. Much like it’s predecessor, Lois Lane is the heart of the film. She proactively advances the plot more than any other character in the film. Zack made it clear that Lois is as much of a hero as Superman or Batman and. I think that’s extremely powerful.
Throughout Batman v Superman, Clark is trying to figure out how he can be the hero the world needs. By the end of the film, after his lobe for humanity, even with much of it hating him, leads him t sacrifice himself to save the world. Zack Snyder has made me care, even cry, over Superman, a character I never identified with. Zack Snyder pointed out his imperfections and showed that if anything, he is more human than most of us. The most important thing that these movies capture is an ideal for Hope. Zack Snyder was able to shift the character of Superman into the most relevant and relatable version yet.
Visually, Snyder is unmatched by any director working today, which that alone is a huge achievement. The Knightmare sequence, shows how much Snyder cares for these movies on an artistic level. From the way Batman is filmed and choreographed, the way Superman is filmed in his most iconic moments is all attributed to Zack’s attention to detail.
With Justice League coming out on November 17th, I think it’s important to be able to look at the diversity of the cast. Minorities are discriminated against in Hollywood and its very rare to see people of color used in roles that were originally written as caucasian. When you look at most Superhero team up films they are usually predominately white main stars, but with the cast that Zack has assembled with Justice League, they are taking steps in the right direction with three out of the six members being people of color.
With an immersive vision in storytelling, technical accomplishments and the ability to deconstruct our heroes and build them up as their most relatable versions, Zack Snyder is the greatest working comic book director working today. He continues, time and time again to bring important and thought-provoking themes and elements to his films that makes myself and many others resonate deeply for years.
Linked below are two articles that are mentioned in the above piece.
The first is by one of our Lead Writers, Donnia, about the importance of Lois Lane, and the other by our EIC, Sheraz, about Superman’s Ultimate Immigrant Story.