Pro: He can handle 'difficult' properties
Zack Snyder has been announced as the person to direct Christopher Nolan and David Goyer's Superman reboot. He emerged as the victor from one of the most varied shortlists of recent times (Darren Aronofsky, Matt Reeves, Tony Scott and Duncan Jones were all rumoured).
You can bet that that the word Watchmen was scribbled, underlined and highlighted on Nolan and Goyer's notepad. Adapting Alan Moore's masterpiece was no mean feat; Terry Gilliam and Paul Greengrass were among the directors who had previously failed in their attempts to bring the comic to the big screen.
Snyder delivered an extremely faithful adaptation of the source material, and created an effective alternate reality for the troubled superheroes. No-one quite knows what Nolan has planned for Kal-El, but Snyder has proved he can handle iconic characters in a grittily stylised environment.
Con: Not all of his comic adaptations are so good
For everyone who pulls out the Watchmen card in Snyder's favour, there's going to be someone slamming down the 300 trump with a smirk.
Yes, it made muchos bucks at the box office, despite being one of those films that seemingly no-one will admit to liking. 300 had Snyder at his most unrestrainedly adolescent: the characters had as much depth as shadow puppets, greasy abs abounded in a relentlessly homoerotic flurry, and casual racism snuck in amidst the endless, stylish-but-weightless battle scenes. And don't get us started on the slow-mo.
And we're praying that Snyder's involvement doesn't mean that Gerard Butler's name is going to be touted for Clark Kent.
Pro: He's great with action and FX
If you've seen the trailer for Sucker Punch you'll know that Snyder has a pretty limitless imagination when it comes to large-scale smackdowns, and he's an authority on integrating CGI into live-action movies.
One of the things that was arguably lacking in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns was any kind of epic battle for Clark Kent's alter-ego. With the rumour mill claiming that General Zod is going to be The Man of Steel 's antagonist, we can just imagine Snyder dreaming up some suitably grandstanding face-offs.
If the Sucker Punch fight sequences are anything to go by, Snyder could well make Supes cool again.
Con: Is he concerned with style over substance?
Perhaps the key criticism to be levelled at Zach Snyder is that his movies often favour style over substance.
Even 300 actually looked good. It just struggled with little elements such as plot and characterisation. Watchmen looked awesome on the big screen, but most critics seemed to think that Snyder should have done a bit more adapting, rather than opting for an admittedly-beautiful straight rendering.
One of the enduring strengths of Nolan's Batmovies is his ability, and willingness, to really get under the skin of the Caped Crusader. We know Snyder can make Superman look awesome, but will The Man of Steel have any depth?
Pro: He's not too close to the project
Zack Snyder has spoken candidly about his relationship with Superman. He told Entertainment Weekly: "I've followed Superman over the years. I wouldn't say I was a huge fan but I've kept an eye on the character in the pop culture, and as the pop culture has regarded him, for the past 10 years, especially."
Snyder is clearly not besotted with the character, which could position him as the right director to take a new look at the revered icon. He'll be entering the project as a filmmaker rather than a fanboy, and could use his unclouded judgment and filmmaking know-how to make decisions in the best interests of the movie (and the audience).
As he won't be carrying his own preconceptions, he should hopefully be open to Nolan and Goyer's apparently groundbreaking take on Krypton's favourite son.
Con: He's not too close to the project
Could Snyder's distance from the subject matter actually be detrimental to The Man of Steel ?
Singer's unfairly-maligned Superman Returns didn't exactly relaunch the franchise in the way that Warner Bros were hoping it would, but Singer's all-out affection for the character made for a movie that spoke to your inner nostalgia, bringing a sweet reminder of the days when you marvelled in wide-eyed wonder at the vastness of the cinema screen.
Maybe a character like Superman, who uses his godlike superpowers for good deeds, needs the old-school movie magic approach. It'll be interesting to learn exactly what the team have in store when more details of the new approach filter through.
Pro: He is a versatile filmmaker
Zack Snyder has risen to a number of challenges in the space of a relatively short (so far) career.
With Dawn of the Dead , he turned a beloved property into one of the only well-received horror remakes of the decade. He tackled the 'greatest comic ever' and has gone on to conjure up an action-fantasy of his own creation in Sucker Punch .
Between those two recent projects, Snyder has somehow found time to direct family-friendly owl animation Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole .
Seemingly unpeturbed by changes in tone, Superman shouldn't give Snyder any reason to lose sleep. Besides, if he can combine the gritty world of Watchmen , the stunning action sequences of Sucker Punch , and the wholesome adventuring of Guardians , he could really be on to something.
Con: Is Superman enough of a challenge?
Snyder clearly likes a bit of variety in his projects.
Over the last six years he has ticked off: horror remake; revisionist swords and sandals epic; alternate reality (not-so-super)hero tale; fantastical barnyard-bird adventure; and reality-bending, kick-ass actioner. Is Superman going to be the change of pace he needs? Will the task of putting the iconic character into 'a modern context' be enough to get the creative juices going?
There's a risk of directorial boredom if Snyder is going to be asked to produce a thinly-veiled Watchmen redo. Hopefully Nolan's got something far more tantalising lined up.
Pro: He has a knack for casting
One of Watchmen 's indubitable successes was in its casting.
Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Jackie Earle Haley were perfect as Nite Owl, The Comedian and Rorschach respectively, and Malin Ackerman and Matthew Goode defied the 'too young' cries to turn in unexpectedly decent approximations of their comic book counterparts.
Dawn of the Dead attracted indie brainbox Sarah Polley, and Snyder tapped a pre-fame Michael Fassbender for 300 . Legends of the Guardians has a sparklingly starry voice-cast.
The casting for The Man of Steel will be the biggest rumour magnet of the next few months. With Jon Hamm appearing in Sucker Punch , expect him to be the butt of a great deal of speculation. Will Snyder get one of his badass Sucker Punch lovelies back as a non-wimpy Lois Lane? It's almost a shame that Fassbender is playing the young Magneto in X-Men: First Class as he'd have made an awesome Zod.
Con: Can he do character?
While he's a proven quantity when it comes to cool, can Snyder deliver when it comes to character?
Dawn struggled under the weight of too many characters; 300 confused manliness with shouting. Watchmen contained some top performances, and indeed, some 'cool' characters, but none of them were sympathetic. Perhaps a positive sign is that the most convincing character was blue Übermensch Dr Manhattan. Perhaps Snyder will find some humanity in DC's other all-powerful super being?
Sucker Punch and Legends of the Guardians will also act as interesting experiments to see if Snyder has made any developments at all in terms of character investment.
Critics are bound to have their "THIS! IS! KRYPTON!" gags lined up so Snyder best be careful.
Pro: He has a great relationship with Warner Bros
Zack Snyder's close working relationship with Warner Bros means that he'll be able to get cracking on Superman the moment Sucker Punch is in the can.
He's obviously been trusted in the past, as they allowed him to deliver a defiantly 'adult' cut of Watchmen , the 'hard R' that any successful adap of the property needed to be.
In fact, golden boys Snyder and Nolan could very well have Warner Bros eating out of the palm of their hands.
Con: Watchmen didn't hit as big as expected
Watchmen opened to reasonable critical praise, and Snyder's faithful translation of Alan Moore's comic seemed to have the fanboy worked up into a frenzy.
Then the box office numbers came in. It wasn't a disaster, taking $55m in the first weekend, and reaching $185m worldwide by the end of its run. But those weren't the numbers that the suits needed, especially considering the budget was supposedly substantially far north of $100m.
Compare that with Superman Returns 'disappointing' worldwide figures of $391m. Warner Bros need this reboot to be a mega-hit, are they going to be willing to take any risks with the material? Will Snyder's creative clout still have weight? Let's see how Guardians and Sucker Punch perform…
Pro: Superman needs simplifying
Superman is not an inherently dark character, everything fibre of his being screams golden age.
With Snyder's keen visual sense and eye for style, perhaps we will finally see Supes distilled down to what he does best: flying, fighting enormous adversaries, and generally helping to avert large-scale disaster. Snyder certainly knows how to please the Saturday night multiplex crowds.
The Superman origin story has been done well several times. What we need know is an out-and-out adventure, showcasing what Superman can do. If anyone can take the icon and turn in a movie that's downright fun, surely it's Snyder.
Con: Superman needs to be classical
Many people take umbrage with the fact that Superman is practically indestructible. He's faster than a speeding bullet, he can lift aeroplanes with ease, and he does it all with a self-satisfied grin. But that's what he does. That's how he has endured over the years.
Batman was always the cool one; Nolan simply knew how to tap his potential in a real world scenario. Does Superman need a Spielberg or an Eastwood to do his classical sensibilities justice?
With Snyder there's the distinct risk of everything being too, well, cool … Here's hoping John Williams' brass and percussion isn't usurped by some unholy nu-metal.
Pro: Nolan has faith
When all else fails, remember this: Christopher Nolan is the 'godfather' of this project. So good, they had to give him a title much cooler than 'exec producer'.
He has delivered the two greatest superhero movies of the last decade (and, you could pretty well argue, ever). He takes his time. He knocks out amazing cinematic treats in-between. If this modern master trusts Snyder to helm his fresh take on Superman, who are we to argue.
Snyder's going to be sticking to a template laid down by the Batman team, who'll hopefully be looking over his shoulder to put him in line should he start to drift off course.
Con: Was he the best of the bunch?
If only we hadn't seen Nolan's shortlist.
Sure, Snyder's no less than solid, and he has the credentials to easily rank him 'a safe pair of hands'. And let's be thankful that Tony Scott is nowhere near Kal-El.
But imagine what Aronofsky could have done with The Man of Steel ? He's a director who churns out challenging and visually-stunning movies again and again, and he'd surely be game after formerly coming so close to helming a Batmovie.
Or Duncan Jones? The Moon man did wonderful things with a tiny budget, he clearly has respect for old-school traditions, and he could be amazing given a bigger field to play on (and it'd be great to see 'the godfather' supporting the little guy).
Or even Matt Reeves? Cloverfield proved he could root epic sci-fi firmly in reality, and with Let Me In he sensitively handled the characters from a revered source material.
When you daydream about these possibilities, Snyder's appointment loses a bit of its lustre...