World War Z Writer Talks 'History Repeating Itself' With Coronavirus And His Work

Brad Pitt in World War Z

Last week, author Max Brooks teamed up with his father, comedy icon Mel Brooks, for a PSA promoting the importance of social distancing in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the younger Brooks isn’t a doctor, he does have some experience when it comes to plagues, as his book World War Z, which was later adapted into a movie starring Brad Pitt, was a collection of accounts delivered from a world where an infection led to a zombie outbreak, and war unfolded between humanity and the undead.

Now with the coronavirus hitting the world hard, World War Z, like other virus-related stories, has received some renewed attention. That said, Max Brooks doesn’t see himself as having predicted this latest pandemic through World War Z, but simply as something that was inevitably going to happen. As the author put it:

What’s happening today is not so much a matter of prediction, as just history repeating itself. I did not set out to predict anything when I wrote World War Z. I was just drawing on history. My research of past plagues dictated how my fictional zombie virus would spread. Unfortunately, as a student of history, I’ve learned that it does tend to repeat, so here we are again.

From the Black Death and the Spanish flu to the SARS epidemic of the early 2000s, humanity has dealt with so many plagues over the centuries, so it was easy enough for Max Brooks to apply that history to a zombie apocalypse tale. Published in 2006, World War Z, which was a follow-up to Brooks’ 2003 book, The Zombie Survival Guide, was met with a lot of positive reception, and joins the ranks of stories from the likes of George Romero, Robert Kirkman and many more speculating on how Earth would be changed if zombies suddenly started roaming about.

Max Brooks also mentioned in his interview with SyFy Wire that he’s “saddened” there’s so many parallels between World War Z and modern pandemics, noting that George Romero came up with the formula for the “modern zombie story” as an allegory for how such pandemics can be preventable. Alas, where the coronavirus outbreak is concerned, it’s hard to say when its spread will start slowing down and things go back to normal.

Seven years after World War Z hit bookstores, the World War Z movie arrived in theaters, with Quantum of Solace’s Marc Forster sitting in the director’s chair. While the cinematic adaptation took a lot of creative liberties with the source material and there were some production setbacks, it ended up making around $540 million worldwide. A World War Z third-person shooter video game was also released last year that takes place in the film’s universe.

For years, there were plans to make a World War Z sequel, and David Fincher was finally confirmed to direct in the summer of 2017. However, by early 2019, World War Z 2 was cancelled following several months of preproduction, with China’s ban on zombie-related content reportedly factoring into the project being scrapped. However, there’s still interest in reviving the sequel down the line.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for more updates on how the coronavirus is impacted the film and TV industries, and look through our guide of all the movies that have been delayed by this pandemic.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.