This year is shaping up to be one of the most notable years in the career of Zack Snyder with two major, long-awaited projects finally seeing the light of day. Just to get it out of the way, Zack Snyder’s Justice League will come out on HBO Max on March 18, 2021 with his Netflix original zombie heist film Army of the Dead, which has been working on for a long, long, long time, coming out on the streaming two months later. And while there is an abundance of information available about the recut of the 2017 DCEU crossover event, Snyder’s return to the world of the undead seems to be floating under the radar. Hopefully not for long though.

So, what is happening with Army of the Dead, and what is it actually about? Well, below we hope to answer those two questions and more about one of the most anticipated zombie movies since Zack Snyder made his directorial debut with his version of Dawn of the Dead (written by James Gunn) back in the spring of 2004. Here is what you can expect from the director's return to the genre that started it all.

The escape scene from Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Army Of The Dead Is Set To Be Released May 21, 2021

There was a lot of buzz surrounding the release of Army of the Dead, specifically with its release date. The exact date remained a mystery for some time until February 2021, when it was revealed that Snyder's second 2021 release would drop on Netflix May 21, a little more more than 17 years after his Dawn of the Dead remake landed in theaters and set his career into motion.

The cast of Army of the Dead

Army Of The Dead Follows A Group Of Mercenaries Attempting A Heist In A Zombie-Infested Las Vegas

By the sounds of things, Army of the Dead is going to be one hell of a ride. Seriously, listen to this description of the plot: the movie follows a group of heavily-armed mercenaries who decided to plan a casino heist in Las Vegas which has been closed off to the rest of the world after the city of sin is turned into the city of the dead after a plague is released at the Area 51 military base.

Want to get even more excited about Army of the Dead and its insane description? Take a look at what director Zack Snyder told EW in January 2021:

It is a full-blown, balls-to-the-wall zombie heist movie, so it’s genre-on-genre in a great way. So you expect pure zombie mayhem, and you get that, 100 percent. But also you get these really amazing characters on a fantastic journey. It’s going to surprise people that there’s a lot of warmth and real emotion with these great characters.

Going off what Zack Snyder said, it looks like Army of the Dead will be equal parts zombie-thriller and emotional character-driven drama.

Dave Bautista in Army of the Dead

Dave Bautista Leads Army Of The Dead’s All-Star Cast

Dave Bautista has become one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood over the course of the past decade and so it should come as no surprise that he will be leading the pack of mercenaries planning a job that will either end with some stuffed pockets for the crew or end up joining the ranks of the dead if it’s a failure. And Bautista must be excited and optimistic about Army of the Dead considering how he turned down a chance to work with James Gunn on The Suicide Squad to take on the role of Scott Ward.

Joining the wrestler-turned-actor in Army of the Dead will be Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Garret Dillahunt, Hiroyuki Sanada, Omari Hardwick, Tig Notaro, and Theo Rossi, to just name off a small portion of the insanely deep cast.

Zombies running in Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Army Of The Dead Was Largely Shot In 2019

Back in the summer of 2019, a time when the world looked a lot less like the opening shot of a zombie movie, Zack Snyder, Dave Bautista, and the rest of the cast and crew were hard at work on the set of Army of the Dead. Snyder, who co-wrote and directed the upcoming zombies in Las Vegas movie, also served as the film’s cinematographer, as seen in his August 2019 tweet from a burned out car surrounded by skeletons. Production on Army of the Dead was largely completed throughout the summer of 2019, but Snyder and company would have to return a year later for a round of reshoots.

Chris D’Elia on You

Zack Snyder Had To Conduct Reshoots To Replace One Of Army Of The Dead’s Former Stars

In August 2020, it was revealed that Chris D’Elia, who was set to have one of the leading roles in Army of the Dead, was being booted from the project following accusations of sexual misconduct that were brought against the Undateable and You star earlier that summer. Zack Snyder was quick to find a replacement, Tig Notaro, who filmed her scenes in a quick round of reshoots that involved the comedian shooting scenes opposite an acting partner and then having those shots digitally blended in with the rest of the on-screen action.

Zombies in Land of the Dead

Expect ‘Romero-Style’ Zombies In Army Of The Dead

In 2004’s Dawn of the Dead, Zack Snyder took a new approach to the physicality of his undead masses and gave his zombies the speed and stamina of Olympic runners in place of the lumbering ghouls from zombie movies of the past. This time around, however, it looks like Snyder will be going old school with a zombie more akin to something you would see in one of George A. Romero’s classic Night of the Living Dead, but with a twist.

During the January 2020 conversation with EW that was mentioned earlier, Zack Snyder was reluctant to share too many details about his zombies but did say there would be a mixture of “the normal shamblers” but also “another level of zombie,” whatever that means.

Gerard Butler in

Zack Snyder Has Been Planning Army Of The Dead Since 2007

To best illustrate just how much time has passed since Zack Snyder first started working on Army of the Dead back in 2007, here are all the movies he’s directed since then: Watchmen, Legend of the Guardian: The Owls of Ga’Hoole, Sucker Punch, Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and Justice League. CinemaBlend first reported on the upcoming zombie movie back in March 2007, which happened to be not long after the release of 300 (Snyder’s second movie).

Now, this isn’t to say that Zack Snyder has been working on Army of the Dead all hours of the day since he first teased the project 13 years ago, but he has been putting in some work at one point in 2011 but then the project seemed to be dead the following year, which happened to be around the time he was neck-deep into Man of Steel. Nearly 12 years after he started work on Army of the Dead, Snyder officially returned to the project in early 2019.

Dave Bautista in Blade Runner 2049

There Is Already A Prequel Film And Anime Series In The Works

Those who were wanting more from the Army of the Dead universe even though the movie has yet to drop on Netflix will be glad to hear that the streaming service has already greenlit a prequel film and spinoff anime series both to be released in the near future.

The two new titles were revealed in a September 2020 Deadline report which stated that the prequel series would follow Matthias Schewighöfer’s (who is also set to direct) character Ludwig Dieter leading up to the events of the upcoming movie. The anime series will be going with the title Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas and will serve as an origin story for Dave Bautista’s Scott Ward. Shay Hatten (who co-wrote Army of the Dead) will be penning both the prequel movie and anime series, which will feature Zack Snyder and Jay Oliva each directing two episodes.

That about catches up with everything we know about Army of the Dead. If you want to know what else is coming out on Netflix in 2021 check out CinemaBlend's Netflix original series and Netflix original movie release guides for all the latest from the popular streaming service's plans for this year.

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