Army of the Dead’s burning questions answered

Netflix’s zombie heist film, ‘Army of the Dead’ has finally seen the light of day and director Zack Snyder has spared no efforts in making sure that his film is a gory and highly engrossing experience for the audience.

The narrative deals with a group of mercenaries, led by Scott Wald (Dave Bautista), who are hired by a billionaire, Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) to break into the vault of his casino and steal $200 million.

This seemingly straightforward plan has but one caveat — the casino is located in the sealed off city of Las Vegas which is infested with hordes of zombies and the whole mission is extremely high risk – high reward.  

Once the group enters the abandoned city, their plans, evidently so, don’t take long to go downhill as hidden agendas come to the forefront, compromising everyone’s safety as well as the money.

If you have doubts about certain aspects after watching the film, we have all the answers right here.

What is Army of the Dead based on?

‘Army of the Dead’ is an original idea that Zack Snyder had after he directed the 2004 remake of another zombie flick — ‘Dawn of the Dead’. It is not based on any previously existing material, and it is also not connected, in any way, shape, or form, to the 2004 film as well.

Who is the zombie king Zeus?

Although it is never explained in detail how the first zombie came to be, there are hints of his origins in the conversation that the convoy driver has with his colleague.

The film opens with the army transporting a mysterious payload from the US Air Force’s infamous and secretive research base in Nevada known as Area 51.

Even though the military personnel overseeing the transportation have no idea what’s in it, the driver assumes that it might be an alien owing to it being moved from the aforementioned secret facility.

Once the convoy meets with an accident, Zeus runs free and turns his handlers into the first horde of killers that starts to infect Vegas. Furthermore, whether his origins are extraterrestrial or the result of some crazy government experiment (this one seeming more probable), will be fully revealed in the upcoming ‘Army of the Dead’ prequel film and animated series.

How do the zombies function?

Apart from the common zombies (also known as shamblers) that just bite, kill, and eat, there is another class of these killers that is much more superior and lethal.

Known as the alphas, these zombies are created when Zeus personally bites a human being. They are faster, skilled in combat, have superhuman strength, and have the ability to exist in a hierarchal group, thus, defying all typical zombie tropes.

However, Zeus’ bite is the only way to create alphas as all other bites except his create mindless shamblers.

How did a tiger appear in the city of the undead?

When the mercenaries enter Vegas, their first encounter with the undead is in the form of a white tiger. As cool as it looks, it makes one think — How in the world did a group of undead cannibals obtain a wild cat?

Well, the answer is in a little dialogue exchange that occurs post the encounter in which the group’s guide, Lily (Nora Arnezeder), explains that the tiger, known as Valentine, belonged to Siegfried & Roy, and guards the borders of the zombie territory.

This is cool little detail and a nod to the famous German-American magicians and entertainers, Siegfried & Roy, who worked with white lions and tigers in their show at the Mirage Resort and Casino.

How did the outbreak stay contained within Vegas?

As the infection spreads in Vegas, the city is sealed off by creating a wall of huge ship containers around it and a lot of people with gun wielding and killing abilities help contain the outbreak while that wall is put in place, using cranes.

As we go deeper into the plot, it is revealed that the containment also may have a lot to do with Zeus’ plan which is to form his own civilisation of alphas to rule over, with this desolate version of Vegas as his kingdom.

The alphas allow safe passage to humans in exchange for a human sacrifice within their area and that human is then turned by Zeus. This points to his intention of not killing unnecessarily. Furthermore, he is extremely protective of his mate, known as the Bride, who is pregnant with a zombie child — this also backs his agenda of creating a monarchy.

What did Tanaka really want?

When Tanaka approaches Ward, it is safe to assume that he wants the money in the vault and is willing to provide a decent portion of it to the team who retrieves it. This intention seems to be a misdirection when his right-hand man, Martin, joins the crew.

The gang also chances upon similar blueprints in Vegas as the ones they have, making them doubtful of Tanaka as he never mentioned sending others before them for the same mission.

Martin denies knowledge of this but his dodgy behaviour is enough to surmise that Tanaka harbours a hidden agenda which he’s ordered his lackey to fulfill. When Chambers (Samantha Win) suspects him, he purposely misdirects her, causing her death.

It is then revealed that he has paid Lily to help him capture an alpha for a vile of its blood, so that Tanaka, who is working with the government, can crack the code of artificially creating these killers. He ends up capturing the Bride, and bags her whole head instead, for his boss.

This also triggers Zeus who retrieves his child from the Bride’s belly and orders his legion to go after the group.

Who all made it out alive?

Once they reach the safe and Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) focuses on opening it, the group watches the news and realises that the nuclear bombing of Vegas, to eradicate the zombies, has been moved up by one day. This gives them a little over an hour to escape with the money.

However, the alphas are quick to corner them and the final bout for freedom sees almost all of them die. Ward’s daughter, Kate (Ella Purnell), takes this opportunity and rushes to look for her friend, Geeta (Huma Qureshi), who had failed to return after an escapade into the city for money.

Everyone except Ward, Kate, Geeta, and the helicopter pilot, Peters (Tig Notaro), perish while facing the zombies. As the remaining four board the helicopter, Zeus jumps in for a final showdown and ends up biting Ward. Peters too gets injured in the tussle but manages to fly over city limits as it gets nuked.

Before they crash, Ward succeeds in splitting Zeus’ head open with a point blank shot. Kate manages to survive the crash and sees her dad on the verge of turning into an alpha. They have a heartfelt conversation before Ward transforms and gets shot to death by his daughter.

How did Vanderohe escape the nuclear explosion?

While it seems like Kate is the only survivor, Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), comes out of an underground bunker after Vegas’s nuking and escapes with a few bags of money.

His survival can be credited to Dieter pushing him into the vault as the alphas attacked. It is likely that when the violence died down, he escaped from the vault with the money and hid in the safest place he could find till it was feasible for him to leave and start his life anew.

Will there be a sequel?

It may seem that with the zombies being eradicated and Zeus getting killed, ‘Army of the Dead’ has no scope of going further. However, the narrative strongly hints at a sequel with Vanderohe’s fate.

He uses his newly obtained money to rent a private plane and flies to Mexico City. During his flight, he almost passes out, seemingly from exhaustion, and goes to the lavatory to splash some water on his face.

Unfortunately for him, he notices a zombie bite on his arm and realises he is transforming. As the captain announces their arrival, Vanderohe laughs at his misfortune and the carnage he is about to unleash.

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