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Why Army of the Dead is More Exciting than Zack Snyder’s Justice League

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I’m already wearing a helmet lest you start throwing stones at me… If you know anything about me, it’s that I am known for cramming DC movies references in almost any conversation. I have written 1200 word articles on DCEU movies (especially the ones directed or influenced by Zack Snyder), so this is coming from a total fanboy who was there at every juncture of the “Snyder Cut” movement.So now that it’s finally announced and ready for release, it’s not that I am not grateful for it. But when the Snyder Cut was just a ‘pipe dream’, Snyder announced his project “Army of the Dead” (AoTD) – a spiritual sequel to his 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead” (DoTD). True Snyder fans were excited that their favourite director was at least back and running. But honestly there wasn’t much more to be excited about other than that.

Looking at the bigger picture and a few reveals in recent interviews, AoTD is to me at least, more exciting than Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Here’s top 5 reasons why –

5) DoTD- a universal favourite

Even the most pink haired or film school type critics love DoTD. It was a remake of George Romero’s classic 1978 movie. It was also Zack Snyder’s first feature length film. DoTD (and perhaps “28 Days Later”) created the modern zombie genre as we know it. Replacing the slow zombies of before with fast moving predators.

Everyone appreciates Snyder for being a perfectly exciting thriller director. His other universally appreciated movie is “300”. AoTD with its premise of a heist set in a zombie ridden quarantined Las Vegas is the perfect premise for an exciting action movie that most people expect from him.

4) He’s hungry and he’s coming

AoTD was an idea which Snyder has had since 2008, but it had been in development hell for many years. Snyder’s stand against the brainless horde of studio executives’ interference in his movies (yes… I’m gonna start making zombie genre references now) culminating in the studio driven “Justice League 2017” is legendary.

Meanwhile Snyder, unsure of the fate of his version of “Justice League”, pitched AoTD to Netflix as a ‘palate cleanser’. In a recent interview, Snyder said the pitch meeting was “pretty wild”. He went on to say –

“We were in a meeting at Netflix and I was talking about some of these scripts I was working on. And I mentioned the idea to [Netflix head of original films Scott Stuber] and he was like, ‘That is the movie! Go write that movie and let’s make it.’ I was like, ‘What, do you mean now?’ And he’s like, ‘Go write it tomorrow and we’ll do shoot it in a week.’

Snyder also said “There are no handcuffs on me… No one’s ever let me completely loose”.

If you had thought of Snyder as a daring filmmaker (regardless of whether you like him or not) till now, think what happens when he is ready to make a comeback and completely unchained.

3)One Man Army

Some of the best blockbuster directors working currently started from the horror genre. From Sam Raimi, (even Spielberg’s first movie was “Jaws”) to James Wan, James Gunn and Zack Snyder. Horror is a challenging and exciting genre. Snyder has given us some glimpses of his horror skills in “Sucker Punch” and particularly in the Batman scenes in BvS. No one had explored the scary aspect of Batman before in live action. AoTD will mark his return to full on horror after a long time.

Moreover, horror directors are often pretty innovative and deliver high quality thrills on a moderate budget. Snyder delivered a visually still unparalleled movie like “300” in just 60 million dollars; the budget of AoTD is 90 million. Snyder has not only written the story but is also shooting the film himself for the first time. Netflix recently released a preview of its summer films slate and it had a micro tease of AoTD in it… which looks more polished and visually enticing than most 200 million dollar movies.

2) Digging Deep

Its no secret that a Zack Snyder comic book movie isn’t really about people in costumes punching each other unlike man-child critics believe all comic book movies should be. MoS was an immigrant story, BvS is about power structures, terrorism, divinity etc.

Snyder likes to embed deeper psychological and social themes into his movies. While AoTD on its surface is a ‘balls-to-the-walls’ zombie thriller, still one can definitely count on Snyder to weave something deeper into it. A zombie movie about a pandemic and a quarantine-based robbery is scarily relevant when the world is just recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Snyder also likes having fun easter eggs and references in his movies. Fans are still decoding some of them from BvS and Man of Steel. In one of the recently released AoTD photos, the vault in Las Vegas containing the loot, is also shown to contain Snyder Cut reel canisters in the back. These were meant to be a joke when Snyder himself was unsure if his cut of “Justice League” would ever be announced.

Who knows what else he has in store for us?

1) A whole new universe

Even if Snyder made a scene to scene adaptation of Hamlet, the ravenous hungry army of his detractors would still find a way to criticize it. But the biggest problem Snyder has faced in his years of making comic book adaptations is the amount of comparison it has to face to earlier versions or to rival universes. (MCU, duh!)

However, AoTD is Snyder’s first original project since “Sucker Punch” (2011). Netflix has so much faith in the property that they have green-lit prequels and sequels even before the release. This is a whole new universe that Snyder is creating from ground up and therefore it has no particular expectations to live up to.

Besides, I have always believed Snyder is more than just a comic book director. Like Christopher Nolan, he is too creative a director to be limited to one genre. AoTD is his step into a new direction after almost 7-8 years. The CBM genre is now reaching a saturation point (though I continue to remain a fan), its high time we see Snyder’s creative force unleashed in other genres.  There is a lot that we already know about Zack Snyder’s “Justice League” except the fate of its sequels thanks to the headless chickens at Warner Bros. We know next to nothing about AoTD and what we do know appears to be exciting.

We have seen almost everything in the zombie genre from outright horror to love stories to comedy to sci-fi. It will be great to see Zack Snyder redefine the genre as we know it.

So to paraphrase a line from “Django Unchained”  – “ZSJL has my love but AoTD has my excitement.”

Army of the Dead stars Dave Bautista, Huma Quereshi, Ella Purnell, Theo Rossi, Ana De la Reguera, Tig Notaro and others. 

Set in Las Vegas during a zombie outbreak, a group of mercenaries plan the most daring heist ever.

Writer, blogger comic book and movie geek offering a unique take on story-telling and narrative aspects

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