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Zack Snyder isn’t everyone’s favorite director and his films aren’t exactly for everyone, but one aspect of his movies that can’t be denied is that few, if any, filmmakers know how to establish tone with a well-crafted opening credits sequence. From his Dawn of the Dead remake in 2004 all the way to his most recent effort, Army of the Dead, Snyder has helped introduce audiences to a world in which they are about to spend a couple of hours, and in remarkable fashion. With songs like “When the Man Comes Around,” “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” and “Viva Las Vegas,” and Snyder’s use of slow-motion, short depth of field, and visceral violence, there’s a lot to take in.
After watching Army of the Dead streaming, we have put together a list of the best Zack Snyder movie opening sequences and ranked them from great to absolutely amazing. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and check out the best opening title sequences from the visionary music video director-turned-filmmaker.
5. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice: Ultimate Edition (2016)
By the time Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Ultimate Edition was released, Zack Snyder had already made a case for having some of the best title sequences in the business, but the opening credits of his 2016 superhero epic features some of his best work yet. Bouncing between the murder and funeral of Thomas and Martha Wayne, the first few minutes of the second entry in the DCEU does two things very effectively: it sets the tone of the three-hour epic that will follow and establishes the emotional and mental state of Bruce Wayne leading into his fight-to-the-death with Superman later on in the movie.
With closeups on both the gunman and his victims that don’t shy away from the violence instead of leaving it up to the audience to fill in the blanks, this intimate scene establishes the tone of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the bleak nature of the film. This scene also effectively shows the downbeat and cynical nature of Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne, who at times is more a villain than a hero in the epic fight.
4. Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
The 2021 release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which clocks in at four hours, starts off with one of the most visually striking and somber opening credit sequences from the visionary director. Similar to how the Dawn of Justice opening credits set up the movie with the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, the director’s cut of Justice League does so with the death of Superman and how his passing has a ripple effect, not only on his allies, but also the entire world and universe. Over the course of nearly nine minutes, the opening title sequence introduces the audience to all the major players before ending with Bruce Wayne beginning his quest to put together the Justice League.
Visually striking and emotional, the Zack Snyder’s Justice League opening sequence takes what the director has learned with his pacing and knack for visual storytelling (all that slow motion) and really turns it up a notch, especially now that he has no leash holding him back. Breathtaking in every regard, this title sequence is without a doubt one of the best in the world of superhero movies.
3. Army Of The Dead (2021)
Zack Snyder’s latest movie Army of the Dead, a return to the zombie genre after 17 years, features not only one of the best opening title sequences of his career, but possibly of all time. Seriously, this five-minute sequence set to Richard Cheese’s (who was also featured in Snyder's directorial debut) rendition of “Viva Las Vegas” could honestly be watched on its own, it’s that good. After a short introduction setting up how Las Vegas became inundated with hundreds of thousands of walking corpses, Snyder pulls out all the stops and goes back to his music video roots for a visually striking, humorous, and violent display of cinema.
From the action being in-sync with the music (including a nod to Elvis Presley) to the emotional thread of the movie’s mercenaries and their respective pasts, to Zack Snyder’s brilliant use of slow motion, you can’t help but get excited to see what comes next. I mean, where else are you going to see a zombie get pulverized while a lounge singer croons in the background?
2. Dawn Of The Dead (2004)
The opening credits in Zack Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake, while the most low-budget and least stylized on this list, remains one of the director’s most effective to date. Following an opening scene that starts off like any standard zombie movie, the film takes a drastic turn a few second into the title sequence when Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” begins to play over images of civil unrest, fearful governments, and zombies attacking people around the world. The way the subject matter of the song (which features numerous Biblical references including from the Book of Revelation) fits perfectly with the end-of-the-world feel of the visuals is astounding and does a tremendous job of setting the tone of the film with very little resources.
And again, the Dawn of the Dead opening title sequence is far from the most visually striking of Zack Snyder’s career and there’s an argument to be made for Army of the Dead being the director’s zombie movie with the better sequence. But it should be noted, for the most part, this was the world’s introduction to Snyder, and what a debut it was.
1. Watchmen (2009)
The 2009 superhero film Watchmen isn’t Zack Snyder’s most successful movie at the box office, but it remains one of his best directorial efforts and a lot of that has to do with the tone of the film and that all starts with the outstanding opening credits sequence. Taking what he learned with the Dawn of the Dead sequence with its musical cues, Snyder uses Bob Dylan’s timeless classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’” in a way that establishes the tone and setting of the film. Much like Alan Moore’s graphic novel on which the film is based, Snyder’s Watchmen deviates from history and takes a revisionist approach to everything from the iconic image of a sailor kissing a nurse following World War II to Richard Nixon being elected to a third term in office.
In addition to the way the Watchmen opening credits welcomes the audience into a world slightly different from our own, the sequence also introduces us to titular group of vigilantes (after showing the demise of the Minutemen) in a way that handles a great deal of the exposition work (much like how Zack Snyder would do with his 2021 cut of Justice League). By hitting all the checkmarks — tone, style, establishing the world — Watchmen does the best job out of any of Snyder’s other credit sequences.
Even though some ranked higher than others, all of Zack Snyder’s opening title sequences are amazing in their own way and withstand the test of time. What’s your favorite of Snyder’s opening credit sequences? Let us know in the poll below, and don’t forget to check out the list of 2021 movie premiere dates while you’re at it.