Zack Snyder fans have a lot of Netflix content to look forward to as the Watchmen, 300, and Man of Steel director expands his Army of the Dead universe.
Earlier this year, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead came out on Netflix. It quickly became one of the streamers most-watched originals. It was Snyder’s first return to the zombie genre since his debut feature, Dawn of the Dead in 2004. Interestingly enough, an Easter egg in Army of the Dead actually suggests the film takes place in the same reality as Dawn of the Dead.
Army of the Dead was a ton of fun, if a little silly at times. With great performances — including the last-minute, very welcome inclusion of Tig Notaro — some gnarly zombie effects, and a fun, genre-bending premise, Army felt just fresh enough while delivering familiar goods.
It’s more than a single movie though. Army of the Dead was the first part of a franchise that will include a prequel film and an anime series.
Here’s what we know about Netflix’s Army of the Dead saga so far.
Warning: The following post includes some major plot details from Army of the Dead.
What is Army of the Dead?
Army of the Dead is the first standalone project in the franchise. It’s a feature-length film directed by Zack Snyder and written by Snyder, Shay Hatten, and Joby Harold.
The film follows a group of mercenaries led by Scott (Dave Bautista) as they get together to try to pull off a heist in Las Vegas.
The catch? Vegas is now a quarantine zone following a zombie outbreak. The government keeps the zombie threat at bay in Vegas behind massive walls. And to make things even trickier, the government plans to bomb the whole city to end the zombie threat.
This means Scott has to move fast to assemble his team, get in, steal a whole bunch of cash from a safe, and get out. The safe isn’t guarded, and insurance has already covered the loss, so no one’s watching the money. But those pesky zombies aren’t just going to let them at it without a fight.
What’s next in the Army of the Dead franchise?
If you’ve watched Army of the Dead, you’ll know that it ends with the promise of more zombies. Blowing up Las Vegas didn’t do the trick, and now the zombie infection is loose.
So far, Netflix hasn’t announced any sequels that might explore where the zombie plague might go. But the Army of the Dead franchise does have two projects coming up.
First is Army of Thieves, a prequel film following one of the mercs who infiltrated Vegas in Army of the Dead. A standout of the first film was German safe-cracking expert Ludwig Dieter, played by Matthias Schweighöfer.
It looks like Army of Thieves will be an origin story of sorts for Dieter, set during the early days of the zombie outbreak. A mysterious woman recruits Dieter, a small-town bank teller, to join a crew of Interpol’s most wanted criminals. The crew embarks on a heist spree, pulling off near-impossible thefts across Europe.
Schweighöfer stars and directs Army of Thieves for Netflix, from a script by Shay Hatten. Joining him onscreen is Game of Thrones and F9 star Nathalie Emmanuel.
Besides Army of Thieves, the Army of the Dead franchise will also introduce an anime series. Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas will follow the mercenary crew from the first film during the early days of the zombie outbreak.
Snyder will direct two episodes of Lost Vegas, with Jay Oliva showrunning and directing two other episodes.
Dave Bautista, Ana de la Reguera, Tig Notaro, Omari Hardwick, and Ella Purnell will reprise their roles from Army of the Dead in the anime series.
Are there zombies in Army of Thieves?
A big question that was left open when the Army of the Dead prequel was announced was: will there be zombies?
Dieter wasn’t used to fighting zombies in Army of the Dead, so his central role here is a red flag for anyone hoping for more zombie-slaying fun. A poster revealed last week included the tagline “More safes. Less zombies,” adding a sense that Army of Thieves would jump from the zombie genre more firmly into heist film territory. Or maybe it would ditch the undead altogether.
Now, with a new teaser released at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend, we have more clarity.
With a reference to the “outbreak in America” and news footage of the zombie plague, the film clearly takes place after people have started turning. But as the film takes place in Europe, it looks as though the zombie semi-apocalypse won’t be too much of a factor. It’s part of the broader world the film exists in, but probably not a huge part of the narrative.
It does look as though the fallout of the zombie outbreak is global though. It can serve as cover for a heist, for instance. Presumably while authorities are focused on preventing the spread of zombie-ism, and financial institutions fret over effects on the economy, a team of thieves can get to work more easily.
When are all of these things coming out?
Army of the Dead premiered globally on Netflix on May 21. Netflix has not yet set release dates for Army of Thieves or Lost Vegas, but Army of Thieves is “coming soon,” according to the streamer.
Beyond that, it’s unclear whether the Army of the Dead universe will continue to expand.
Considering The loose ties between Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves, it’s easy to imagine more stories, set vaguely within the same universe.
Cloverfield has spawned two nearly unrecognizable spinoffs that just happen to take place during the events of the original 2008 film. There’s no reason Army of the Dead couldn’t do the same.
More Zack Snyder at Netflix
Outside Army of the Dead, director/producer Zack Snyder is busy at Netflix.
Snyder recently finished a stint as one of the architects of the DC superhero cinematic universe for Warner Bros. At Warner, Snyder directed Man of Steel, Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League.
The latter was plagued by reshoots and eventually finished (and dramatically altered) by director Joss Whedon following the death of Snyder’s daughter. After fan outcry — sometimes devolving into online abuse — Warner green-lit Zack Snyder’s Justice League, which bowed on HBO Max earlier this year, known among fans as “The Snyder Cut.”
Now with DC superheroes (likely) behind him, Snyder and his production company Stone Quarry appears to be pushing full-steam ahead with the streamer. In addition Army of the Dead and its spinoffs, prequels, and potential sequels, he has signed onto an entirely separate project at Netflix: Rebel Moon.
Rebel Moon will see Snyder reteam with Army of the Dead co-screenwriter Shay Hatten. It will tell the story of a young woman tasked with recruiting warriors to help defend her home planet when an evil tyrant invades the peaceful colony at the edge of the galaxy.
Rebel Moon looks to be blending Star Wars with Seven Samurai.
Star Wars took its cues from Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress in 1977. Now Snyder seems to be dipping into the same well with this intergalactic nod to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai in Rebel Moon.
We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if Netflix announces any more projects.