Will There Be A Sequel To Army Of The Dead? Here's What We Know

(Welcome to Will There Be a Sequel?, a series where we answer that question and explore what comes next.)

"Army of the Dead" has a prequel, titled "Army of Thieves," on the way, directed by and starring Matthias Schweighöfer, who played the German safe cracker, Dieter, in Zack Snyder's Netflix zombie movie. Snyder himself revealed the release date for "Army of Thieves" in a tweet recently, so we now know that it's locked in for October 29. The film's first trailer teased a Europe-set heist where the U.S. zombie apocalypse was only something glimpsed on television, half a world away. Shay Hatten holds sole screenwriting credit for this particular "Army" movie, based on a story he conceived with Snyder.

That's the prequel, but what about the sequel to "Army of the Dead?" The movie's ending left it wide open for one, but we know that Snyder is busy helming his sci-fi/fantasy epic, "Rebel Moon," next. It's a film that began life as a "Star Wars" pitch before Snyder converted it into his own new world, and it's sure to keep him occupied for a while. That doesn't mean an "Army of the Dead" sequel won't eventually sprint toward Netflix like one of Snyder's fast-running zombies.

It goes without saying that we'll be spoiling the end of "Army of the Dead" here, so if you somehow started reading about the potential sequel without having seen the first movie, look away now.

Previously in Army of the Dead

"Army of the Dead" featured a cast with a few faces you'd likely seen before. The film follows Scott Ward, played by Dave Bautista, leading a team of mercenaries into a zombie-overrun Las Vegas. The movie had some not-so-subtle riffs on the plot of James Cameron's "Aliens," such as dressing the character Chambers (Samantha Win) in the same red bandana as Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) and having her and her YouTuber buddy, Mikey (Raúl Castillo), go out in a similar blaze of glory. The third act, especially, was indebted to "Aliens," inasmuch as it employed the same devices like a countdown, a mission-to-save-the-little-girl, and an airlift to freedom that almost didn't happen because the pilot took off before coming back.

Instead of an Alien Queen hitching a ride on a spaceship, there was a Zombie King named Zeus (Richard Cetrone) playing the unwelcome helicopter passenger. Zeus bit Ward; Ward killed Zeus. Then, Ward's daughter, Kate (Ella Purnell), had to kill him after the helicopter went down in the desert and he turned into a zombie. Zombie tigers are bad enough ... you don't want to mess with Zombie Bautista.

That left Kate as the sole survivor, or so it seemed. The very last scene showed Dieter's reluctant pal, Vanderhoe (Omari Hardwick), climbing out of the sealed casino vault where Dieter had left him. Forget about Indiana Jones nuking the fridge. This movie nuked the vault and put Vanderhoe on a plane to Mexico City, where he soon realized that he, too, had been bitten and was infected.

Will There Be a Sequel?

The short answer is: yes. It's just a matter of when. In July, news broke that Snyder had signed a two-year first-look deal with Netflix. According to THR, an "Army of the Dead" sequel is "on the docket." Snyder is developing it with Hatten, and though it sounds like he will be directing, it doesn't specify whether he'll be co-writing again.

It might be better if he stuck with a "Story by" credit? More on that in a minute. The "Army of the Dead" sequel will come after "Rebel Moon," and that movie won't go into production until 2022, so it's doubtful that Snyder will be marshaling his zombie forces again until 2023 at the earliest. More likely, he'll be delivering his next Netflix zombie payload in 2024 or 2025.

Snyder has talked about Mexico City as a setting — it's no coincidence that Vanderhoe's flying there — and he's said that he and Shatten "know exactly what happens" in the "Army of the Dead" sequel and "it's pretty crazy." Spanish-speaking Alphas, maybe?

When not having love interests explain their motivations aloud right before breaking their neck, "Army of the Dead" also has some crazy zombie-love moments. Another gonzo bit comes when the mercs find skeletons dressed like them outside the vault. Vanderhoe suddenly teases the idea that they're pawns of the devil, caught in a metaphysical loop. This surreal suggestion feeds into Snyder's visual aesthetic, whereby red-eyed zombie faces coalesce in shallow focus like nightmare visions.

Assembling a Better Army

"Army of the Dead" was Snyder's best-received film since his directorial debut, "Dawn of the Dead." Personally, I think he's better at making zombie movies than superhero movies. Still, "Army of the Dead" also had a protracted 148-minute running time, whereas "Dawn of the Dead" was a lean and mean 100 minutes.

This tendency of Snyder's to go long (trust me, as a writer, I can relate) was even more pronounced in his four-hour HBO Max version of "Justice League." That movie was like an amorphous assembly cut that no one ever bothered to edit down, but it pleased fans and even critics, who went easier on it than they did on the 2017 theatrical cut of "Justice League."

Snyder could probably stand to at least split the difference between "Army" and "Dawn" and limit himself to, say, 124 minutes — the length of a normal movie — for his "Army of the Dead" sequel?

As high as he might be riding from his 2021 comeback, I don't necessarily think the best "Army of the Dead" sequel is going to result from Snyder wearing more crew member hats, either. "Dawn of the Dead" had the benefit of a James Gunn script. Snyder often runs into trouble when he ventures into the screenwriting department.

With "Army of the Dead," he also served as his own DP, and his fetish for the Canon "Dream" Lens led to blurry images, with some critics charging that his depth of field was now as shallow as his writing. Outsourcing the screenwriting and cinematography to other professionals might go a long way toward improving Snyder's chances for success with his "Army of the Dead" sequel.