Zack Snyder: America’s Most Hated Director

[Editor's Note] If you like what we do, please consider becoming a patron. Thank you.

Become a Patron!

From Zombies To Superheroes, We Look At How Zack Snyder Became Fanboy Public Enemy #1.

Film director Zack Snyder has been working in Hollywood since roughly 2004. Debuting with a remake of ‘Dawn of the Dead‘, the stylistic director has since become one of the most polarizing names. Not since Michael Bay has America collectively torn into a director with such anger. Snyder’s film with the lowest score on Rotten Tomatoes is ‘Sucker Punch‘ at 24%. The next being 2016’s ‘Batman v Superman‘ coming in at 27%. Speaking of, the latest DC film gained so much hate from audiences that there was even a petition to get Snyder fired from future films.

Where did all of this hate come from?

First, we have to start by pointing out what people say in reference to his work. To sum up Zack Snyder as a creator, it would simply be “style over substance”. Reviewers and viewers all say he cares more about the look than the heart of the film. This usually leads to complaints about his lack of character development and the reliance on filmmaking tricks.

“I think I just have a natural operatic aesthetic. I can’t help it.”
-Zack Snyder

Sure, Snyder loves his slow-motion or a saturated color palette but these are trademarks that keep his projects on brand. To claim these quirks takeaway from the heart of the story is an unfair assumption. An aesthetic can be just as important as the drama in filmmaking. The director of 60’s horror film ‘Whatever Happened To Baby Jane‘ claimed he shot the movie in black & white because “color would have made it too pretty. Tragedy should never look pretty”. I feel that way about Zack Snyder films. If you change the visuals of the films, they become far less impactful.

Another major complaint is that Snyder’s film are far too dark, a complaint that was further vocalized when he was given reign over DC’s cinematic universe. After his 2013 Superman movie ‘Man Of Steel‘, there was no going back in the eyes of critics & fans. Hardcore DC Comics fans despised his interpretation of Clark Kent while critics felt the movie lacked the happiness that they expected in a Superman film.

Things would get worse for him with follow-up ‘Batman v Superman‘.

Zack Snyder

Seemingly out to make the most Zack Snyder film possible, he threw all of his filmmaking tricks at the wall. Snap zooms, slow-motion, brash colors, and brutal violence were on display in this ‘Justice League‘ prologue. Let’s not forget that Snyder also set this DC film in a political post-tragedy world. More so than any film before, I believe ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice‘ reflects our times so vividly that it made most viewers uncomfortable. Hell, even Nancy Grace showed up.

Look, I’ll admit ‘BvS‘ has filmmaking problems like some choppy editing and cartoon-ish visual effects but there seems to be a bigger issue rooted deeper than those superficial complaints.

“I’d say the purest experience for the movie is not to have read the book because I think when you’ve read the book you’re just ticking off boxes. I think that after you see the movie, reading the book is a cool thing. I always say the movie’s not meant to replace the book. That’s ridiculous. I’m a huge fan of the book.”
Zack Snyder

Does the above quote spell out exactly why fans dislike Snyder? Is he the anti-fanboy director? I personally applaud a filmmaker who respects source material but allows it to shape a different vision with these established characters. But it seems like any shift of these beloved characters can cause some serious backlash.

And the critics? Are they being paid off by Disney like the Internet loves to joke about or are they just comfortable with the status quo of superheroes movies?

These are questions that are not easily answered but should be asked. Hope he’s not destined for Uwe Boll status for the rest of his career. I think Zack Snyder still has time to redeem himself in the viewer’s eyes with his upcoming 2017 ‘Justice League‘.

Let me know what you think the comments below!

Batman v Superman

EJ Morenohttp://Vimeo.com/EJMoreno
Who is EJ Moreno? Is he a trained physician? No. Is he a former Miss Universe contestant? Possibly. With a bachelors degree in film and a love of pop culture, he brings an alternative view to the world of pop culture journalism. Follow him on Twitter @EJKhryst and check out his film work at Vimeo.com/ejmoreno

8 COMMENTS

  1. It was Warner’s decision to give DCEU this kind of bleak tone and to take as a main principle the rule of “deconstruction of the heroes”. Snyder is only a “Yes Man” here, they’ve offered him that gig to have a lot of stylized action in the movies, but the whole concept and direction of DCEU come from the tother place – from WB’s high office. One can only suspect that they idea was simple – in order to compete with Marvel we have to offer the audience something completely different: dark, grim and unpredictable. Say what you want, but I can apply those adjectives to “Man of Steel” and “BvS” and those movies filled that quota.

  2. So sick of this popular trend to crap on the source material. Sure, when I watched BVS, I knew what Snyder was grave robbing. But I also knew he didn’t get it. And that what he was ripping off was better an more coherent than what his “vision” was. You want to do something new with the character? Fine. But understand the character. Build on that. Don’t just make up things like Batman now brands people and Superman lets people die no problem. That’s not what Batman does. That’s not who Superman is. Articles like this, defending an obviously bad director who can’t piece a movie together to save his life says more about the writer. Instead of trying to justify bad directors, maybe take time to see what’s angering people. Maybe actually learning about what Snyder is ripping off instead of trying to defend what is obviously wrong. If I’m going to a movie based on something, that’s what I want. You don’t see people praising “Catwoman” or films like that that crap on the source material for a directors vision. There’s a reason Marvel films do spectacular and Snyder films don’t.

    • Snyder isn’t saying “look how much awesomer i’m making them”, if he were saying that the movie would probably have more “fun” in it and “not take itself so seriously”. he’s actively trying to break them. he knows why you like them so much, and he’s trying to rip your security blankets from your hands. a movie where you’re, from the start, basically forcing heroes to fight eachother would have to be “fuck superheroes movie ” or the “take superheroes to court movie”so actually you don’t fucking understand snyder and you don’t know what he’s thinking. you’re not fucking smarter than the guy making the next generation of nolanesque DC movies.

  3. I think that people are still far too hung up on the nostalgia of the Christopher Reeves Superman movies and the Christopher Nolan “Dark Knight” trilogy. After all, it’s only been 4 years since the last of Nolan’s Batman movies, and yet we have to see the death of Bruce’s parents AGAIN?! In detail?! I understand that as a standalone movie, that death scene in BvS was kind of necessary (the whole “Martha” thing), but it did set up a dark tone from the beginning. I just think that people aren’t used to seeing “Batman” that way.

    I think that Snyder’s flaw is that he assumed two things

    1. Viewers would be familiar with the comic books
    2. Viewers would bother to think a little more deeply about the world these heroes live in, and how it affects their psychology, especially Batman’s.

    Look, understand that Batfleck, as we are first introduced to him, has been at this for 20 years. It’s already confirmed that in this series (so far), the Joker has killed Robin (or one of them…if they’re following the comics), and most likely Harvey Dent has become Two-Face, etc etc, Batman’s tragedies go on and on. The world has just been introduced to a superhero (Superman) whose heroic battle against one of his fellow species has just destroyed half a city. People are scared, and so is Batman. He has just come to know of a non-human who is literally indestructible without the help of a substance that can’t be found on Earth.

    Batman is quite literally a one-man army against some of the most resourceful, determined, deadly, and brutal criminals in comic book history. He is a one-man army barely holding Gotham together against a helpless and distrusting (and in many cases, untrustworthy) police force. And he has lost so much in his war against crime. And now, Batman sees Superman, an indestructible God who cannot be taken down by anything Batman can do naturally. Why wouldn’t he allow himself to be influenced by the natural fear of people who find out Superman?

    Come on people. Do you honestly think everything would be hunky dory, if not only we were introduced to someone who is basically a walking god, but was also introduced to us because of an (understandable) disagreement between he and fellow members of his species which destroys one of America’s largest cities?

    • They whole you have to think deeper into his world to get it is cop-out bull. BVS is horrible, there is no defense. I can pick the entire movie apart in no time. The absurd Martha scene. The Lois Lane being nothing but a plot device to push the lack of plot along. The casting, nothing in it is good. The absolute cherry on top of how bad this movie was, Batman telling Superman, “I thought she was with you.” Either an attempt of Snyder to throw in one joke in his EMO Fanboy fantasy, or he seriously forgot that Bruce and Diana had already shared significant scene time together. He can’t even say he didn’t recognize the Wonder Woman outfit cause he saw the WW1 picture.

      • Lois Lane being a plot device that’s constantly imperiled IS the point(although she’s not a plot device, the movie uses her to reveal already known information(also a point) and she does everything she does out of bullshit-reporter guilt, it’s character driven and it reveals her character). the absurdity of the martha scene IS the point. when people say think deeply, they don’t necessarily mean try harder to see the movie the way that you want to see it, or the way you think a conventionally good movie should play out, they mean reconsider what you think the movie’s trying to do. take a few steps back, THEN a few steps forward. cause batman v superman ISN’T a conventionally good naturalistic film, it’s ironic and absurdist as fuck.

  4. The whole critics being paid off by Disney thing is absurd, Snyder was hated long before BvS. I used to really like his films, his Dawn of the dead remake was excellent as was 300. In 300 he found a film that worked perfectly with his style. Suckerpunch was an interesting attempt even if it did miss the mark.Watchmen I really liked, again it suited his style. Man of steel was an odd choice for him if you ask me, but it wasn’t too bad despite some mis-steps. I hoped that things would improve for BvS but in my opinion he made the worst film of his career and it deserves the critical mauling it got. The film should have at least been an enjoyable action film, but with the people involved I expected more than that. To be honest the failing is that it tries too hard to do too much. The cast were generally good the film looked the part, aside from some crappy cgi in places but it failed to have heart or character. A similar issue that Suckerpunch had now that I think about it. I hope things get better for the DCCU as there is potential there and to be honest it can only get better from here on.

    • “tries too hard to do too much”. if you mean it’s dense as fuck with subtext, it is. if you mean that four main characters, visually contrasting vistas, and experimental editing somehow made the film inherently bad, they didn’t. superman and batman don’t feel one-dimensional because they didn’t give either of them enough screen time, they both have like 30 or so minutes of screen time. they feel one-dimensional because all of their character development is visual. superman only has 21 lines in the movie or some shit: this isn’t a mistake, it’s another biblical reference. you have to actually think about the movie to understand why characters do what they do, this ambiguity is deliberate as the movie is afterall about media spin and the existential confusion that it creates. and if you walk into the movie thinking “superman’s above shit like psychological defense mechanisms and slowly losing his fucking mind as a result of being gaslit by the entire human race” you’re priming yourself to never be able to see how stuff fits together the way that it does.

Comments are closed.