Zachary Edward Snyder
March 1, 1966
Green Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.
|Alma mater||Art Center College of Design|
Zachary Edward Snyder (born March 1, 1966) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer. He made his feature film debut in 2004 with Dawn of the Dead, a remake of the 1978 horror film of the same name. Since then, he has directed or produced a number of comic book and superhero films, including 300 (2007) and Watchmen (2009), as well as the Superman film that started the DC Extended Universe, Man of Steel (2013), and its follow-ups, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017). A director's cut for Justice League was released in 2021. He also directed the computer-animated film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010), the psychological action film Sucker Punch (2011), and the zombie heist film Army of the Dead (2021).
In 2004, he founded the production company The Stone Quarry (formerly known as Cruel and Unusual Films) alongside his wife Deborah Snyder and producing partner Wesley Coller.
Snyder was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and raised in Riverside, Connecticut. His mother, Marsha Manley (née Reeves; d. 2010), was a painter and a photography teacher at Daycroft School, which Snyder later attended. His father, Charles Edward "Ed" Snyder, worked as an executive recruiter. He has an older sister, Audrey, and was raised as a Christian Scientist. He also had a brother, Sam, who died when Snyder was a teenager.
Snyder attended Camp Owatonna in Harrison, Maine, during the summer months as a child. Snyder studied painting a year after high school at Heatherley School of Fine Art in England, although he had already begun filmmaking. Afterward, Snyder attended Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. He graduated with a BFA in film in 1989.
The production notes for Snyder's first film Dawn of the Dead describes Snyder as "a comic book and horror film enthusiast in his youth".
Snyder made his feature film debut with the remake of the horror film Dawn of the Dead (2004), and scored a box office hit with the fantasy war film 300 (2006), adapted from writer-artist Frank Miller's Dark Horse Comics miniseries of the same name. His Warner Bros. film Watchmen was released on March 6, 2009, and grossed $185 million worldwide. His follow-up project/animation debut, Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, was released on September 24, 2010. Snyder produced, co-wrote, and directed Sucker Punch, which was released on March 25, 2011. The film, based on a script written by Snyder and Steve Shibuya, was about a young woman in a mental hospital who fantasizes of escape with her fellow inmates.
He directed 2013's Man of Steel for Warner Bros., a reboot of the Superman franchise and the jumpstart to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) and produced the prequel/sequel to 300, 300: Rise of an Empire (2014).
During Comic Con 2013, Snyder announced that Batman and Superman would share the screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, released in 2016. Snyder directed, Cavill reprised his role as Superman, and Ben Affleck played Batman. Snyder directed Warner Bros.' 2017 Justice League, but he exited during post-production to deal with the death of his daughter, Autumn Snyder. His replacement was Joss Whedon.
On January 29, 2019, Snyder announced that he had signed on to helm Army of the Dead, a zombie heist thriller, for Netflix. Snyder directed and produced the film with his partner and wife, Deborah Snyder, via their newly rebranded production company, The Stone Quarry. His agreement with Netflix has since expanded into several Army of the Dead projects; Army of Thieves, a prequel released in 2021, and Planet of the Dead, a sequel to be created.
On May 20, 2020, Snyder announced that Zack Snyder's Justice League would be released on the streaming service HBO Max in 2021. The film was released on March 18, 2021.
In July 2021, Snyder was officially announced to be developing the film Rebel Moon for Netflix. It will be inspired by Star Wars and the films of Akira Kurosawa. Filming began in April 2022 and will last until November that year, with the project being developed as a two-part film.
As of May 2021, Snyder was working on Horse Latitudes, formerly known as The Last Photograph, a drama about a war photographer in South America. He was also working on an adaptation of the 1943 novel The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, but confirmed he had abandoned it in 2021 due to political reasons. He has also expressed an interest in making a film, in the style of 300, about George Washington.
Snyder will produce Twilight of the Gods, an anime-style web series inspired by Norse mythology for Netflix. Snyder is also developing a King Arthur film, which he said will be a "faithful retelling". It will be set during the American Gold rush era.
Following Rebel Moon, Snyder will return to direct Planet of the Dead, a sequel to Army of the Dead. He also signed a first-look deal with Netflix.
Snyder often uses slow motion, particularly the technique of speed ramping, in and out of the fight scenes in his films, differing from other directors who make multiple cuts and close-ups during a fight. A minute-long shot from 300 shows King Leonidas slaughtering his enemies, the camera zooming in and out to emphasize each kill and move Leonidas makes. By combining these two techniques, he reduces the need for excessive cutaways and keeps the viewer oriented during fight scenes.
Snyder said "There are other superhero movies where they joke about how basically no one's getting hurt. That's not us. What is that message? That it's okay that there's this massive destruction with zero consequence for anyone? That's what Watchmen was about in a lot of ways too. There was a scene, that scene where Dan and Laurie get mugged. They beat up the criminals. I was like the first guy, I want to show his arm get broken. I want a compound fracture. I don't want it to be clean. I want you to go, 'Oh my God, I guess you're right. If you just beat up a guy in an alley he's not going to just be lying on the ground. It's going to be messy'."
Having directed numerous films based on graphic novels and comic books including 300, Watchmen, and his films in the DC Extended Universe, Snyder puts a big emphasis on using storyboards to assist in visualizing his shots in the films, taking inspiration from actual panels from the source material. He also intentionally chooses color palettes that, as StudioBinder describes, create "not-quite-real worlds filled with zombies, superheroes, and warriors."
The Netflix production Army of the Dead was a special project for Snyder as he served as his own cinematographer, as well as this being his first film shot digitally.
Snyder has been described as one of the most polarizing directors of modern cinema. David Ehrlich of IndieWire wrote that Snyder's "name alone is enough to launch a thousand angry tweets, and the most passionate writing about his work is exclusively found in the comment sections of websites like this one. Snyder's critics really seem to hate him, and Snyder's fans really seem to hate his critics ... Is Snyder a master or a hack? A misunderstood myth-maker, or a meathead with a movie camera?"
Snyder lives in Pasadena, California with his second wife, producer Deborah Johnson. The couple first met in 1996, began dating in 2002, and married on September 25, 2004, at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in Manhattan, New York. He was previously married to Denise Weber.
Snyder has eight children: two biological children and two adopted daughters with Weber, two biological sons from a relationship with Kirsten Elin, and two adopted children with Deborah. On March 12, 2017, the suicide of his daughter Autumn prompted Snyder to withdraw from post-production work on Justice League in May 2017 to be with his family, which resulted in Joss Whedon completing the film in his place.
Following his daughter's suicide, Snyder became involved in philanthropic activities directed towards suicide prevention and mental health awareness. Snyder promoted this effort on social media by selling clothing and merchandise related to the Snyder Cut; in May 2021, it was revealed that this effort had raised more than $750,000 in charitable donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
In another effort to help with suicide prevention, Snyder included a billboard for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention with the message "You are not alone" in a scene in Zack Snyder's Justice League. The film features other tributes to his late daughter.
Snyder directed 2 PSAs for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in 2018.
In 2021, Snyder partnered with Save the Children, a global child rights organization, to build a 100-bed temporary hospital facility in Delhi to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
Although his films have been accused of having right-wing messages, politically, Snyder is a Democrat. He endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. In a 2021 interview with The Guardian, he stated:
I vote Democrat! I’m a true lover of individual rights. I’ve always been a super-strong advocate of women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose, and I’ve always been surrounded by powerful women. And, of course, I’m a huge advocate for the rights of all ethnicities and every walk of life. I would say I’m a pretty liberal guy. I want to make sure everyone’s heard and everyone feels included. I don’t have a rightwing political agenda. People see what they want to see. For me, that was not certainly the point.
|2004||Dawn of the Dead||Yes||No||No||No|
|2007||300||Yes||Yes||No||No||Co-screenwriter with Kurt Johnstad and Michael B. Gordon|
|2010||Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole||Yes||No||No||No|
|2011||Sucker Punch||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Co-screenwriter with Steve Shibuya|
|2013||Man of Steel||Yes||No||No||No|
|2014||300: Rise of an Empire||No||Yes||Yes||No||Co-screenwriter with Kurt Johnstad|
|2016||Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice||Yes||No||No||No|
|2017||Wonder Woman||No||Story||Yes||No||Story co-written with Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs|
|Justice League||Yes[N 1]||Story||No||No||Story co-written with Chris Terrio|
|2020||Wonder Woman 1984||No||No||Yes||No|
|2021||Zack Snyder's Justice League[N 2]||Yes||Story||No||No||Story co-written with Chris Terrio and Will Beall|
|Army of the Dead||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-screenwriter with Shay Hatten and Joby Harold|
|Army of Thieves||No||Story||Yes||No||Story co-written with Shay Hatten|
|TBA||Rebel Moon||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Co-screenwriter with Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad|
Story co-written with Kurt Johnstad
|2016||Suicide Squad||Also directed the Flash cameo scene|
|2021||The Suicide Squad|
|2023||Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom|
|2004||The Lost Tape: Andy's Terrifying Last Days Revealed||Yes||No||No|
|2009||Tales of the Black Freighter||No||Executive||Yes||Direct-to-video|
|Under the Hood||No||Executive||No|
|2013||Superman 75th Anniversary||Yes||No||Story||Story co-written with Bruce Timm|
|2017||Snow Steam Iron||Yes||Yes||Yes||Also cinematographer|
|1989||Lizzy Borden||"Love Is a Crime"|
|1992||Peter Murphy||"You're So Close"|
|Soul Asylum||"Somebody to Shove"|
|Alexander O'Neal||"In the Middle"|
|Paul Westerberg||"World Class Fad"|
|1994||ZZ Top||"World of Swirl"|
|Dionne Farris||"I Know"|
|1995||Rod Stewart||"Leave Virginia Alone"|
|2009||My Chemical Romance||"Desolation Row"|
|2022||Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas||Yes||No||Yes||In production|
|TBA||Twilight of the Gods||Yes||Yes||Yes||In production|
Snyder's body of work has earned him a number of awards, including two Clio Awards and a Gold Lion Award for his Jeep "Frisbee" commercial. He also won the Society of British Advertisers Award for Humor for his controversial EB Beer commercial "General's Party".
|2004||Cannes Film Festival||Golden Camera||Dawn of the Dead||Nominated|
|2007||Golden Schmoes Award||Best Director of the Year||300||Nominated|
|Hollywood Film Award||Hollywood Movie of the Year||Won|
|2008||Saturn Award||Best Director||Won|
Shared with Michael B. Gordon & Kurt Johnstad
|2009||ShoWest Award||Director of the Year||Watchmen||Won|
|2010||Saturn Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|SFX Award||Best Director||Nominated|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association Award||Best Animated Feature Film||Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole||Nominated|
|2013||Hollywood Film Award||Hollywood Movie of the Year||Man of Steel||Nominated|
|2014||Jupiter Award||Best International Film||Nominated|
|2017||Golden Raspberry Award||Worst Director||Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice||Nominated|
|Jupiter Award||Best International Film||Nominated|
|Dragon Awards||Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie
Shared with Patty Jenkins, Allan Heinberg & Jason Fuchs
|Satellite Awards||Best Adapted Screenplay
Shared with Allan Heinberg & Jason Fuchs
|2018||American Film Institute||Top Ten Films of the Year
Shared with Charles Roven, Richard Suckle & Deborah Snyder
|Producers Guild of America Awards||Best Theatrical Motion Picture
Shared with Charles Roven, Richard Suckle & Deborah Snyder
|Hugo Awards||Best Dramatic Presentation - Long Form
Shared with Patty Jenkins (director), Allan Heinberg (screenplay/story) and Jason Fuchs (story)
|2021||Hollywood Critics Association||Valiant Award||Himself||Won|
|Dragon Awards||Best Science Fiction or Fantasy Movie||Zack Snyder's Justice League||Nominated|
|2022||Academy Awards||Oscars Cheer Moment||"The Flash enters the speed force" – Zack Snyder's Justice League||Won|
|Oscars Fan Favorite||Army of the Dead||Won|
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