Army of the Dead Is Zack Snyder's Full Vision, in More Ways Than One

Zack Snyder, Dave Bautista, and a whole bunch of dead people.
Zack Snyder, Dave Bautista, and a whole bunch of dead people.
Photo: Netflix

No need for hashtags this time. When Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead is released by Netflix on May 21, it will be his “Snyder Cut” and SnyderVerse, all rolled into one. “This is the movie,” Snyder said during a virtual press event Tuesday. “There are no other cuts of the movie. I didn’t have to fight [Netflix]. It was the opposite...This is the director’s cut, if you will, of Army of the Dead. You’re going to get to see it first. You don’t have to see a bastardized version. You just get to see the awesome version first.”

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Snyder said that, and a whole lot more, during a virtual Q&A to celebrate the first full trailer for his upcoming zombie apocalypse heist action movie. The filmmaker was hugely enthusiastic about the film because he says it’s given him an opportunity to have a universe he, himself, can control. (A not so veiled reference to the complex situation with Justice League.)

“I really wanted to make a movie that, the universe is sort of an IP that I kind of could be the extreme authority on,” Snyder said. “And therefore allow the audience just to be on a ride that is purely by design.”

“I just really enjoy this tone as well, where you’re having fun but never making fun,” the director continued. “Where you’ve got the audience constantly on the edge of where the reality of the movie is cinematic reality, but a reality that you try and reinforce. Like you set them deeper and deeper into a world that you sort of created and you start bringing the walls in and the rules in. And I find that really fun.”

Matthias Schweighöfer and Dave Bautista.
Matthias Schweighöfer and Dave Bautista.
Photo: Netflix

As you can tell, Snyder absolutely has intention and vision with Army of the Dead and that vision is already being executed. In addition to this main film, which tells the story of a group of soldiers who rob a Las Vegas casino in the middle of a bunch of evolved zombies, Snyder said they just finished production on a live-action prequel and an animated prequel is coming as well.

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“We just wrapped up on Army of Thieves, which is the movie we shot [and] Matthias [Schweighöfer] directed,” he said. “[Matthias’ character in Army of the Dead] is the safecracker and we see his backstory, how he fell in love with and got obsessed with cracking safes and why the safe in the movie is significant to him, which it is.”

“Then we have an animated prequel also, which tells the story of where the zombies came from and what their deal is,” Snyder continued. “And it goes to Area 51 and does a whole bunch of psychedelic craziness, which is cool also. And let’s just say it scales in a way that’s unexpected as far as like, where the zombies come from.”

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Let’s face it though. While Snyder certainly is the man with the plan when it comes to Army of the Dead and its burgeoning universe, after the latest trailer, he’s not necessarily the star. That honor would go to the zombie tiger whose name is Valentine.

The zombie tiger, Valentine.
The zombie tiger, Valentine.
Screenshot: YouTube/Netflix
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“We really like the idea of the tiger, I really thought it was cool,” Snyder said. “He’s a bit of a MacGuffin. He tends to show up and kind of change things a little bit...He’s slightly sympathetic in a weird way, too. Like there’s moments when he yawns or looks around and you’re like ‘Awww. A tiger.’ And then he reveals the other side of his face that’s ripped off. And you’re like, ‘Oh. Right. He’s a zombie.’”

This brings things back to the beginning for Snyder; don’t forget, his first film was 2004's Dawn of the Dead-one of io9's 8 Horror Remakes That Don’t Actually Suck—which helped usher in a new era of zombie popularity. It truly seems like Army of the Dead is a combination of Snyder’s undead past and universe-building future.

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The film hits select theaters on May 14 and will begin streaming on Netflix May 21.

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Entertainment Reporter for io9/Gizmodo. Formerly of Premiere, EW, Us Weekly, and Slashfilm. AP Award-Winning Film Critic and CCA member. Loves Star Wars, posters, Legos, and often all three at once.

DISCUSSION

I recently started following the DCCinematic thread on reddit. Woah... I didn’t realize how weird some of these Snyder fans are. They have cult-like attachment to him. It’s baffling since he’s just an average director that sometimes makes OK movies and sometimes not OK movies. There’s nothing even truly edgy, new, or interesting enough to make a cult figure out of. He’s like a normal dude. If you’re going to join a cult, find one that at least has some benefits (eg. comfort, sex, cool uniform, etc.). It’s just odd is all.