This Army of the Dead article contains spoilers.
Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead packed a punch on Netflix the weekend of its release. By the following Monday, the Justice League director’s zombie heist epic was well on its way to becoming one of the streaming service’s top 10 most watched movies of all time. What does that mean? That there’s a good chance we’ll be getting a sequel in due time.
A sequel announcement won’t come as much of a surprise to those fans who’ve been following along, though. After all, Army of the Dead was always meant to be the opening salvo for a new zombie cinematic universe for the streamer, including two prequel projects already in the works — an anime series called Lost Vegas and the movie Army of Thieves, which follows master safecracker Ludwig Dieter before he joined Scott Ward’s team.
Then there’s Army of the Dead‘s cliffhanger ending, something a potential Army of the Dead 2 would need to address in some way. And there are a few other questions left unanswered, too. For example, what the hell was up with that robot zombie?!
Here are all of the loose plot threads a sequel will need to tie up:
Are Aliens the Cause of the Zombie Virus?
It’s only ever really mentioned in the opening scene of the movie, as the soldiers transport Zeus to a secret military facility, but it bears discussion: is whatever Zeus has been infected with of alien origin? Is Zeus himself an alien? We never really learn the origin of the zombie virus but the fact that one of the soldiers mentions that Zeus came from Area 51 does seem significant.
Could humans vs. zombies vs. aliens be the ultimate end game of Snyder’s Dead universe? It remains to be seen, but the director is hardly the first filmmaker to subtly connect his zombie virus to outer space — a brief newscast in George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead speculates that radiation coming off of a Venus space probe might have been responsible for the movie’s undead nightmare. Plan 9 from Outer Space involves alien invaders bringing the dead back to life to eat the humans. Robert Kirkman’s original pitch for The Walking Dead involved a big twist involving aliens, too. Is Snyder nodding to the zombie classics that have come before? Is it really aliens?
We just don’t know. (But it’s probably aliens.)
Where Did the Robot Zombies Come From?
Sorry, I meant humans vs. zombies vs. aliens vs. robot zombies. Alphas aren’t the only “undead” creatures introduced in Army of the Dead. There’s also a robot zombie that appears in one shot of the movie which has become the subject of heavy speculation among the director’s fans.
The robot cameo is a blink-and-you’ll-miss it moment. As Scott and what remains of his squad of thieves fight their way out of the casino at the end of the movie, they shoot a zombie in the face, revealing what looks like its metallic skull and a mechanical eye. The body also seems to short circuit as it falls to the floor, with a blue flash that also resembles the blue-ish insides that gush out of the alphas when they’re killed.
So what’s going on here? Snyder has confirmed there are indeed robots camouflaged as zombies in this movie, but won’t say what for or how they got there.
Snyder did suggest some possibilities in a Q&A about the film (via Comic Book): “If you pay close attention, there’s a number of zombies that are clearly not zombies. You see normal zombies and then you see some robot zombies. Are they monitors that the government has placed among the zombies to monitor them? Are they technology from the other world? What’s happening there?”
Sounds like he’s definitely saving this one for Army of the Dead 2 (or one of the prequels).
What’s Going to Happen to Mexico City?
This is the most obvious plot point for a potential sequel. At the end of Army of the Dead, we watched an infected Vanderohe making his final descent into Mexico City. He was unknowingly bitten while fighting Zeus in the vault room, and unless he ends his own life, he’ll soon be transformed into a new alpha.
You can guess what will likely happen next: Vanderohe turns once the plane lands and begins munching his way through the Mexican capital, which contains about 7 million more people than Las Vegas. That’s a much bigger zombie army than the original, and a much more difficult city to wall up than the Vegas strip. Yeah, humanity is in trouble if things turn out the way we all expect.
But could Snyder have some other twist in store for Vanderohe? According to the director, he has the story for Army of the Dead 2 all mapped out, including what’s going to happen in Mexico: “What we have planned is too crazy. Once we knew Vanderohe was bit, and he’s going to Mexico City, I was like, ‘You know what’s gonna happen?’ And then I just went on a tear. And by the time it ended, Shay [Hatten, co-writer] was like, ‘OK.’”
Will There Be a New Zombie King and Zombie Queen?
One of the most fascinating parts of Army of the Dead was Snyder’s vision for an advanced race of alpha zombies that could not only communicate with one another and strategize but also procreate. Indeed, we learn that Zeus, the zombie king of Las Vegas, is expecting a baby with his zombie queen, the incredibly creepy undead Vegas performer who welcomes Scott’s group as they enter the quarantine zone. Together, they’re the zombie first family of the city.
While the movie doesn’t explore how exactly the alphas choose their leaders, it’s clear that they have a hierarchy. Perhaps it’s as simple as patient zero taking command of his undead army. That would mean that Vanderohe could become the zombie king of Mexico, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. Maybe the king needs to prove himself the true alpha of the undead in order to become leader. Either way, it’d be interested to see Army of the Dead 2 explore all that a bit more.
Why Does the Government Need a Zombie Army?
We learn in the big third act twist that Scott’s casino heist is just a way for sleazy rich guy Bly Tanaka to attain his real prize: the alpha DNA he hopes to sell to the U.S. military. But what does the Secretary of Defense want with the zombie queen’s head? Well, his plan is to use it to create the ultimate weapon of mass destruction, a zombie army he can unleash on America’s enemies.
As insane as it sounds, the plan seems clear cut enough, but there’s an underlying question: what threat to the U.S. is so big that the military needs to spark another outbreak of the zombie virus and risk infecting the entire world? Snyder implies in his movie that the current U.S. president of this universe is no genius — he wants to blow up Las Vegas simply because he thinks it’d be cool — so it’s possible that it’s the government’s ignorance and hubris that’s behind the plan to weaponize the zombie virus.
But could the U.S. military be trying to create its own zombie army to fight an even bigger threat looming in the shadows of the movie? Is it the aliens? Or does the military think it can create an anti-zombie zombie task force for the next time there’s a Las Vegas-level disaster?
Are Scott and His Team Stuck in a Time Loop?
Okay, I think I’ve got it right this time: the endgame of the Army of the Dead universe might actually be humans vs. zombies vs. aliens. vs. time itself. You’ve likely read about this theory by now — Scott and his team are actually stuck in a time loop, doomed to repeat their failed Las Vegas heist until they finally complete their mission.
There’s some very compelling evidence that this is indeed what’s happening, such as the corpses waiting for the group when they reach the vault room, decomposing skeletons wearing outfits and gear almost identical to those worn by Scott, Vanderohe, Dieter, Maria, and other members of the team. Have they been here before? How many times before? Other evidence suggests that the movie takes place during the fourth time loop, meaning the team has tried and failed three times before.
When asked by The Film Junkee about the time loop theory, Snyder revealed that there was other evidence sprinkled throughout the movie that fans might be right, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of another group of corpses sitting at a casino table as Scott and his team make their escape (it happens at about 1:53:26).
“I will also say that… there’s a chance – and I’m not saying this is 100% true, and in some ways it’s not – but the group at the table, I mean, it’s pretty subtle, but that’s them also at the table as well as… they get farther every time … possibly… Is this the time they made it all the way to the money?”
That almost sounds like he’s sort of confirming the theory while also leaving it up to interpretation. For now, this is another question to be answered in the sequel.
In the meantime, Army of the Dead is streaming now on Netflix.