Zack Snyder is one of the most simultaneously celebrated and reviled filmmakers working today. His action-packed blockbusters like 300 and Man of Steel are beloved as much for their visual distinctiveness as they are reviled by many critics for the perception that they’re often gratuitously violent and shallow. The newly released trailer for his upcoming Netflix movie Rebel Moon, meanwhile, feels like as good an opportunity as any to look back over his film catalog to see which titles currently stand as Snyder’s best movies — mostly as an interesting exercise, in honor of the director best known for his comic book adaptations and his unique creative vision.
Below, we’ve ranked all of Snyder’s many action-adventure and superhero-oriented films according to the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, a score that reflects the percentage of positive critics’ reviews for each film. See if you agree with how this list shakes out and with which ones critics think are Snyder’s best movies:
Tomatometer score: 22%
Summary: In this action fantasy, a young woman named Babydoll retreats to a make-believe world in her mind. She also leads four other young women in a fight for real freedom in a desperate bid to escape their awful fate.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Tomatometer score: 29%
Summary: 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice marked the first pairing on the big screen for the characters of Batman (played here by Ben Affleck) and Superman (Henry Cavill). From the official synopsis: “Fearing the actions of a god-like superhero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’s most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.”
Tomatometer score: 39%
Summary: Snyder’s 2017 superhero action-adventure film with fantastic visual effects was packed with DC Comics’ most iconic heroes, who team up here at the behest of Bruce Wayne to counter a terrifying threat. But even with the epic team-up of heroes including Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg, and The Flash, there’s a question about whether they may already be too late to save the planet from destruction.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
Tomatometer score: 52%
Summary: A rare family movie from Snyder and based on the Guardians of Ga’Hoole book series by Kathryn Lasky, this film (with a stacked voice cast that includes Helen Mirren and Geoffrey Rush) is about a young barn owl who discovers an evil plan to seize the owl kingdom. So he goes off in search of the protectors of the realm — The Guardians.
Man of Steel
Tomatometer score: 56%
Summary: The classic story that everybody no doubt knows by heart at this point. A young boy discovers he has extraordinary powers and that he came from beyond the stars. Growing up, he learns that he was sent here for a purpose — to become the hero Superman and a beacon of hope, while also saving the world from annihilation.
Tomatometer score: 61%
Summary: This gory retelling of the ancient battle of Thermopylae is based on the graphic novel from Sin City creator Frank Miller. From the film’s official synopsis: “King Xerxes of Persia amasses an army of hundreds of thousands, drawn from Asia and Africa, to invade and conquer the tiny, divided nation of Greece in 481 B.C.
“But when the advancing Persian forces enter the treacherous mountain pass of Thermopylae, they encounter Spartan King Leonidas and his royal guard of soldiers numbering just 300. According to legend, their valor and sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite against the Persian foe, planting the seeds of democracy and ushering in the Golden Age of Greece.” (Ignore the sequels, by the way; they’re not as good as the original.)
Tomatometer score: 65%
Summary: Based on the DC Comics series, this 2008 film is set in an alternate version of the United States, where superheroes are part of everyday life — and the so-called Doomsday Clock that tracks the tension between the USA and the Soviet Union is ticking closer to “midnight.”
Army of the Dead
Tomatometer score: 67%
Summary: From the official synopsis of this Netflix original, “Army of the Dead takes place following a zombie outbreak that has left Las Vegas in ruins and walled off from the rest of the world.
“When Scott Ward, a displaced Vegas local, former zombie war hero who’s flipping burgers on the outskirts of the town he now calls home, is approached by casino boss Bly Tanaka, it’s with the ultimate proposition: Break into the zombie-infested quarantine zone to retrieve $200 million sitting in a vault beneath the strip before the city is nuked by the government in 32 hours.”
Army of Thieves
Tomatometer score: 68%
Summary: For my money, Snyder’s Army of Thieves is unquestionably one of his best movies, serving as both a prequel to his Army of the Dead as well as a heist movie that can stand on its own merit. It’s escapist, tons of fun, doesn’t take itself seriously, and lets Matthias Schweighöfer shine as leading man who’s both a genius hacker and a nervous, awkward romantic lead. Tons of fun.
Dawn of the Dead
Tomatometer score: 76%
Summary: In 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, Sarah Polley plays a young woman named Ana whose husband is attacked by a neighbor-turned-zombie. A horde of the walking dead has overtaken her entire neighborhood, leading Ana to join a policeman and a small group of survivors at a local mall to try and survive an onslaught from the living dead.