Zack Snyder has often been divisive when it comes to properly adapting iconic comic book characters to the screen. However, when he gets them right, they are nothing short of spectacular. In honor of Zack Snyder’s Justice League finally being released on HBO Max, here are the five best characters to appear in a DC movie directed by Zack Snyder. Characters like Wonder Woman and Aquaman will not be included in this list, as they only became phenomenal characters in the DCEU thanks to Patty Jenkins and James Wan.
5. General Zod (Man of Steel): I am well aware that Man of Steel is a movie that is filled to the brim with problems and in my opinion one that barely understands the character of Superman at all. However, unlike Superman (Henry Cavill) who I feel suffered due to Snyder’s storytelling, I think General Zod (Michael Shannon) was made even better as a character in certain aspects. While Shannon is a bit too over the top for my liking and he does not come close to reaching the quality of Terence Stamp as the iconic villain, Zod’s sympathetic motivation in the movie is what makes the character so great. Unlike many versions of Zod, who portray him as an evil megalomaniac, Snyder’s version has him want to destroy Earth in order to create a new planet Krypton. Zod’s relationship with Superman is also fantastic, as the former serves as a dark mirror to the hero. While Shannon’s performance could be a lot better, the writing for Zod is fantastic and he is easily one of the best characters to appear in a DC movie directed by Snyder.
4. Alfred Pennyworth (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Zack Snyder’s Justice League): This might confuse a few people, but I honestly think this version of Alfred Pennyworth (Jeremy Irons) is one of the best interpretations of Batman’s faithful butler that I have ever seen in a film. A huge factor into this is Jeremy Irons’ performance, who delivers every line with a massive amount of snark and charisma. While he may not be the most important character, Snyder wisely portrays Alfred as the voice of reason in both films that he appears in, being the only person with any kind of common sense in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as he calls out Bruce (Ben Affleck) on his ruthless crusade and how it is tearing himself apart and getting people hurt. While Irons is easily one of the best actors in the DCEU, Alfred is also one of the most consistently written characters in the entire franchise, never once seeming different from his normal comic book counterpart. Unlike Batman, Superman, Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) and several other characters, Snyder got Alfred absolutely right, which makes it all the more heartbreaking that we will probably never see Irons portray the character again following Affleck’s decision to leave the role of Batman.
3. Eddie Blake/The Comedian (Watchmen): Of all the movies that have been directed by Zack Snyder, Watchmen still continues to be one of his most divisive films to this day. It is not hard to see why. Many iconic and important things from the book are left out in the 2009 film and a lot of Snyder’s fingerprints are all over the movie like the constant slow motion shots and inappropriate use of music at times. However, I personally love the film and think that it is Snyder’s best movie as of 2021. One of the best characters to appear in Watchmen was Eddie Blake/The Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). A vigilante and extreme nihilist, the Comedian is possibly one of the most corrupt and amoral characters to ever appear in a comic book movie. Even characters like Homelander would blush at how much of an awful human being this man was. However, that is what makes the Comedian so intriguing. He is shown to do so many horrible things in Watchmen and rarely does he ever show remorse for his actions. Unlike some villains and anti-heroes who believe what they are doing is right, the Comedian is fully aware that he is a monster and could not care less. That does not mean he is a super villain though. Instead of trying to take over the world or become wealthy, Blake just likes doing what he wants and relishes in the fact that he can get away with it due to being a government sanctioned vigilante. Morgan, who was originally going to turn down the role when he thought that his death in the opening would be his only scene, gives the Comedian a sarcastic personality with an edge of humanity and absolutely makes his character come to life from the original graphic novel. Snyder also helps showcase the brilliance of the Comedian as a character by having scenes that present him doing horrible things while also showing scenes of his humane side such as when he breaks down in tears after finding out about Adrain Veidt’s (Matthew Goode) plan to kill millions of people. While the character might be called the Comedian, Snyder’s version of Blake is anything but a joke.
2. Victor Stone/Cyborg (Zack Snyder’s Justice League): I have to admit. When Cyborg (Ray Fisher) was announced to be one of the main characters in the 2017 Justice League movie over members like Green Lantern or Martian Manhunter, I was very disappointed. I never hated the character of Cyborg, but I never liked him as a member of the Justice League. I always felt that he worked better on his own or as a member of the Teen Titans. When the Justice League movie was released in 2017, I wasn’t won over. I found Fisher’s performance to be bland and the character to be overall pointless. This was not helped by the fact that Doom Patrol did a far better version of Cyborg with Joivan Wade as the character. However, after I saw Zack Snyder’s Justice League, I was absolutely blown away. This is one of the best characters that I have honestly ever seen in a DC movie. While I still prefer Doom Patrol’s version of Cyborg, especially in regards to the rocky relationship with his father Silas Stone (Phil Morris), this interpretation of the hero is still incredible. Fisher gets much more time to shine as you really connect with Victor and understand what he is going through. The sequence in which he discovers how his powers work along with the benefits and dangers to them is easily my favorite part of the movie. While Joivan Wade gives a very arrogant and youthful feel to his version of Cyborg in Doom Patrol, Fisher is a more stoic and humble version who only wants to be left alone and not deal with his abilities. I also enjoy Victor’s relationship with his father (Joe Morton) in the movie, as Silas continues to try and reach out to his son and Victor can never truly open up to him until Silas is tragically killed and it is too late to do so. I never thought I would enjoy Fisher as Cyborg, let alone find him to be the most compelling member of the Justice League, but I am so glad that I was proven wrong when I said that he would never work in the film. While I still do not like the way Snyder handles Superman and Batman, this version of Cyborg has made me appreciate the character even more.
1. Walter Kovacs/Rorschach (Watchmen): While some might disagree, I honestly think that the Watchmen film version of Rorschach is one of the greatest fictional characters to ever appear in a comic book movie, alongside the likes of Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Rorschach’s main role in Watchmen is to discover who murdered the Comedian and also showcase the dangers of vigilantes with black and white morals. Alan Moore has even said that Rorschach is not a character that you’re supposed to like, as while he may claim that he is doing the right thing, it becomes rather obvious that he is a complete lunatic. What I love about Rorschach is that while he is absolutely not someone who you should root for, it is almost impossible to hate him in my opinion. I also appreciate the fact that Snyder tones down some of Rorschach’s more extreme and hateful qualities, but still doesn’t completely make him a good person. One thing that Snyder explores more in the film compared to the original source material is his friendship with Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson), an addition that was heavily criticized by fans, but I personally love, as it makes the character much more human. Jackie Earle Haley portrays Rorschach with absolute comic book accuracy as there is almost nothing that makes me think I am just watching an actor portray Moore’s iconic anti-hero. While he is definitely not the most likable character, he is easily the most compelling protagonist to appear in a Zack Snyder movie and remains as Snyder’s best portrayal of a DC character on the silver screen.