While Zack Snyder‘s zombie heist film "Army of the Dead" starts out with a playfully gruesome opening scene that feels like a recap of a prequel that doesn’t actually exist (yet), the tone by the end of the movie has deviated significantly. After the dust, blood, and guts have settled, practically nothing has turned out the way that the main characters or viewers expected, and a lot of what happens next is left to the imagination of the audience.
Granted, for many of the characters, there is no "next," since they were either killed by zombies, blown up in a nuclear blast, or both. Yet a couple fates are left a bit more open-ended, prompting questions about what’s to become of the lucky few who made it out of the ruins of Las Vegas alive. Audiences may also be left wishing for some more clarity around some of the film’s more confusing plot points, some of which seem to be intentionally raised only to later be disregarded. From origin stories to future possibilities, here are some of the biggest unanswered questions in "Army of the Dead."
Where did Zeus come from?
Like most zombie movies, "Army of the Dead" isn’t tremendously concerned with explaining the science behind its undead outbreak. All we know is that Zeus (Richard Cetrone), the Zombie King, was being transported in some sort of military convoy, escaped when one of the vehicles got into an accident outside Las Vegas, and promptly began wreaking havoc on Sin City. Yet how exactly he wound up on that military transport in the first place is never addressed.
Before the accident that kicks off the horrible events in the movie, two of the soldiers are speculating about what they’re transporting, revealing that Zeus’ very existence must be highly classified. The last thing they consider before everything goes south is that the U.S. military has gotten its hands on an alien, which doesn’t seem quite so far-fetched to them when they realize that what they actually have is a zombie. It raises the question of whether the movie means to hint that maybe Zeus’ origin is extraterrestrial — maybe not little green men (zombies are, after all, human first), but maybe some sort of alien virus, similar to the premise of the sci-fi classic "The Andromeda Strain." The truth is anyone’s guess, since the movie doesn’t seem interested in giving us clues.
Where was the army caravan headed?
Similar to how we don’t know where Zeus came from, who he was before he became a zombie, or what caused his transformation in the first place, we also don’t know anything about the military’s plans for him. We don’t even know what the convoy’s destination was; the only clue we have is that its route took them by Las Vegas.
What we do know is that none of the people riding in the caravan had any idea about what sort of cargo they were transporting, since the only person who realizes the danger the soldiers are in after Zeus’ cage breaks open is the dispatcher at the other end of the radio. It seems odd that zero zombie experts (if such a thing exists) would have accompanied such precious cargo, making us wonder what was really going on here. Especially if the military was developing zombies as a weapon, it feels strange that they wouldn’t send someone who knew exactly how dangerous Zeus was. So what was the purpose of moving him? Where was he going? What was awaiting him at his destination? And why didn’t anyone tasked with moving him seem to know about him?
How did the zombie outbreak stay so contained?
The visual of an army of the undead filling the streets of the City that Never Sleeps (or dies, apparently) while a wall of shipping containers is constructed around them, penning them in, is definitely striking, but we have some questions about how this all actually worked. Not only would it take a huge quantity of shipping containers — even if the perimeter wall was only built to contain the Las Vegas Strip, you’re talking about 3,712 containers covering a perimeter of 24 miles, according to news coverage at the beginning of the film. We know that the military and civilian fighters working to secure the perimeter were doing their best to keep the zombies concentrated inside, but it feels unlikely that at least a few wouldn’t have gotten out, spreading the outbreak past the Vegas walls.
Additionally, since "Army of the Dead" shows that animals can become infected with the zombie virus, it seems highly improbable that no animals would have gotten out. Surely a bird or a rat or some other small creature would’ve had no trouble getting through or around the container wall, which could’ve quickly resulted in a wildfire-like spread. And that’s not even considering the fact that the containers weren’t exactly impenetrable, considering how easily the Coyote, Lilly (Nora Arnezeder) was able to pass through them. It stands to reason that the intelligent Zombie King and his army of smart Alphas should’ve been able to figure out how to escape.
Why didn’t Tanaka give Ward instructions on how to get into the vault?
As heist movies go, "Army of the Dead" is fairly straightforward in its plan, considering Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and his team are hired by the owner of the casino to break into his own vault and retrieve the money inside. The complications don’t come in the form of security guards who need to be fooled or elaborate security systems that need to be bypassed, but rather the swarms of undead that stand between the team and their objective. Yet once they get to the safe, it falls on Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) to break into it, because for some reason, Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) never gave them the combination.
At first glance, it doesn’t seem odd that a heist movie would have a safe-cracking scene, but it feels out of place in this one. After all, it was Tanaka’s safe in the first place, so it seems reasonable he would’ve known how to get into it. Even if you buy Martin’s (Garret Dillahunt) explanation that Tanaka never actually cared about the money and was setting the mission up to fail, why wouldn’t Ward have asked for the combination? You’d think that Tanaka would’ve at least given him a fake one. That it doesn’t seem to occur to anyone on the team that there should have been a much easier way to get into that safe — even if it proved to not work — seems a little bizarre.
What was Martin thinking?
It turns out that the heist was simply a ruse to get Martin into the city so he could capture an alpha zombie (or at least its head) and bring it back for Tanaka to make more zombies, creating his own weapons of mass destruction. He tells a stunned Lilly that Tanaka never cared about the money, and that the zombie head is worth far more than the cash in the safe. Before he’s ripped to shreds by a zombie tiger, he declares his intention to kill their helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro) and escape.
Except … that plan doesn’t make any sense. Even if the zombie head was worth more than the money in the vault, $150 million is still $150 million, and Tanaka likely didn’t become a billionaire by turning down opportunities to make quick and easy (for him) cash. Even if you discount the importance of the money, it’s still a zombie-infested city, where the odds of anyone making it out in one piece are slim to none. Wouldn’t Martin’s chances of getting out alive have been drastically improved with a whole team to cover him? Sabotaging them and leaving them to die while still deep in zombie territory just seems like a great way to make sure no one gets what they want.
Why was Zeus keeping Geeta and her friends alive?
Midway through "Army of the Dead," when Kate (Ella Purnell) laments that her friend Geeta (Huma Qureshi), whom Kate entered the city to save, is likely dead, Lilly tells her a story about another guy she once helped sneak into the city who got separated from the group and was left for dead, only to stumble back out three days later, still alive. He said that the Zombie King, Zeus, had kept him and a couple other people imprisoned, and returned to take them one at a time. If he hadn’t escaped, he would’ve been next. Later, we see this is exactly what happened to Geeta, and even see one of her friends get dragged out of the room where they’re being kept.
What we never learn is what the purpose of this prolonged sort of psychological torture is. If Zeus is turning his prisoners into more alpha zombies, why wait? Why not turn them all at once? And if that’s not what he’s doing, what’s going on in zombie headquarters? Do zombies need to eat fresh meat in order to keep from desiccating like the "shamblers" scattered around the outskirts of the town? Is Zeus plucking captives out of that room for dinner like lobsters from a tank? Or is there something else going on? We never see what Zeus is doing with those people, although it’s safe to say that it’s nothing good.
What was the plan to carry out all that money?
For a few brief moments in "Army of the Dead," when Ward and his team believe that they’ve gotten past the hard part of their mission, we get a glimpse of the inside of the safe, which contains piles of neatly bound cash. To put it mildly, there’s a lot. The characters look relieved, but audience members have to be wondering, how are eight people planning on carrying that out?
Doing some quick math, taking into account that all U.S. bills weigh about one gram and we can see that these are stacks of $100 bills, $1 million would be 10,000 bills, which is 10 kilograms or about 22 pounds. The team has $200 million to move, which comes out to 4,400 pounds of cash. Even if each of the duffle bags they were carrying held $2 million, or 44 pounds, it would’ve taken 100 duffle bags to move $200 million. The most we ever saw one person holding was three bags. If the whole team had managed to get to the chopper safely, each carrying three bags, they’d only have moved $48 million. Was the plan to make four or five trips? And even if they got it all out, 4,400 pounds is likely too much extra weight for that helicopter to manage. Maybe this was why Martin tried to leave the whole team behind, but the fact that no one else ever attempted to do that math seems pretty short-sighted.
Did Geeta survive the helicopter crash?
Unlike the rest of Ward’s team, Kate doesn’t brave the zombie-infested streets of Las Vegas for money. Rather, she’s there for her friend Geeta, a single mom who sneaked into the city to break open a slot machine and collect enough money to buy freedom for herself and her kids. When Geeta doesn’t come out of the city with Lilly, Kate takes it upon herself to join her dad’s team and track her down. Against all odds, she’s successful, and unlike most of the other members of Ward’s team, the two friends actually make it onto the escape helicopter intact.
However, an enraged Zeus also manages to jump onto the helicopter, and the ensuing fight ends with a catastrophic crash in the Nevada desert, just outside the nuclear blast zone. Kate is thrown from the wreckage and is miraculously okay, but when she goes to examine the remains of the helicopter, the only body she finds — at least that we see — is Peters, who was killed. Ward is injured a few yards away, and the zombie king was blown to smithereens right before the crash, but we never see Geeta again. Did she make it out to reunite with her kids? Did she die in the crash? Was Kate’s entire journey all for nothing? "Army of the Dead" leaves us to wonder.
How did Vanderohe survive so long?
Just when we thought Ward’s entire team had been killed in the disastrous heist, "Army of the Dead" reveals that there was in fact a single survivor — Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), the saw-toting philosopher whom we last saw locked into the safe by a heroic Dieter. Either Dieter didn’t lock the safe or there was some sort of failsafe on the inside, because somehow, Vanderohe is able to emerge safely after the nuclear blast destroys the city, with several duffel bags full of cash in tow. He walks out of the city until he finds an abandoned house with a car, and then drives to the nearest airport, where he charters a plane to fly to Mexico.
Unfortunately, while on board, Vanderohe begins feeling ill, and we realize that he’s been sporting a zombie bite this whole time. The film ends before we can see what happens next, but that raises some questions about how the zombie infection works. When other characters in the film are bitten, the transformation into a zombie takes place mere minutes later. Yet Vanderohe is able to travel for hours, if not days, before he begins to feel the effects. Earlier in the film, characters briefly talk about early symptoms of a zombie infection, which implies some people don’t turn right away, but we never learn more about why some are able to hold off the transformation, or how long a person can be infected without realizing it.
Did Vanderohe infect Mexico City?
Until the very end, "Army of the Dead" doesn’t feel like it leaves much room for a sequel, with Ward’s entire team dead and the zombies in Las Vegas destroyed in a nuclear blast. When Vanderohe emerges from the rubble of the city, it feels briefly as if at least one character in the film is going to get some semblance of a happy ending. However, those hopes are quickly dashed when Vanderohe realizes en route to Mexico City that he’s been bitten and will soon transform into a zombie.
So what does he do about it? Given how quickly his symptoms appear to be progressing, he doesn’t seem to have much time to consider his options. Does he kill himself in the bathroom to prevent the virus from spreading? Does he inform the flight crew and ask them to restrain him? Does he transform too quickly and kill everyone on board? Does the plane manage to land, introducing the virus to a new metropolitan population, or does it crash, and if so, who survives? As someone with a background in philosophy, Vanderohe definitely has quite the ethical conundrum in front of him.
How did a zombie get pregnant?
In a scene that feels as though it should’ve been game-changing, yet doesn’t appear to really go anywhere afterward, "Army of the Dead" reveals toward the end that Zeus’ queen zombie (Athena Perample) was actually pregnant with a zombie baby. In a grisly scene after Zeus has retrieved the queen’s headless body from where Martin discarded her in the street, he digs into her abdomen with his bare hands and retrieves a tiny blue fetus, causing Zeus great distress.
Earlier, the film shows a scene of Zeus tenderly listening to the queen’s stomach, implying that he could hear the baby inside, and begging the question of how exactly zombies procreate. After all, it seems as though an undead body shouldn’t be able to create new life. Was the queen already pregnant when she was turned into a zombie, and the baby somehow survived? Was Zeus the father, or was it someone else? If the baby was conceived after the queen became a zombie, is it possible for other zombies to also conceive, or was that only possible with Zeus?
Did anyone else survive Las Vegas?
The answer to this question feels like it should be obvious — after all, a nuclear bomb was dropped on the city — yet the finality of the military’s Las Vegas solution is called into question in the film’s final moments, when Vanderohe is revealed to have survived (sort of). If one casino safe was enough to safely ride out the nuclear strike, it doesn’t seem completely out of the question that others could have sought similar shelter.
Granted, casino safes aren’t like closets that anyone can simply open up and climb inside, but it feels plausible that other safes could have been open when the zombie outbreak started and were never properly closed, or that terrified casino employees might have sought refuge in those safes, turned into zombies while inside, and could still be in there. There could even be unknown camps of survivors hiding out in the vaults. So while a nuclear blast doesn’t exactly seem all that survivable, we wouldn’t rule out that a few people, zombies, or both might have found a loophole.
What happened to Kate?
It seems safe to say that pretty much everyone in "Army of the Dead" would’ve been better off if they’d passed on their ambitious mission. Although Kate survives the film and even manages to come out of it with some money thanks to her dad, she’s definitely worse for wear. After all, the only reason she goes into the city in the first place is to save her friend, and the end of the film doesn’t give any indication that she’s successful. And although it’s good that she’s finally able to make amends with her dad, it comes at the cost of her ultimately having to put a bullet in his head when he starts to turn into a zombie.
The last we see of Kate, she’s sobbing in the desert as she kneels by her father’s body and a military helicopter flies overhead. Chances are that she’ll probably be taken to a quarantine camp. However, while her dad gave her enough money to buy her way out of the camps, along with Geeta’s kids, there’s no telling where she’ll go after that, especially if Geeta is dead. Will Kate become the guardian of Geeta’s kids? And what will she do once she’s bought their freedom?
What happened to all the people in the quarantine camps?
Although Kate ends the movie with enough cash to buy her and Geeta’s kids their freedom from the quarantine camps, there are plenty of other people in those camps who won’t have that sort of money. While we don’t know a lot about the quarantine camps, what little we do know makes it clear that their inhabitants aren’t free to come and go as they please, and that they’re used as a place to punish and get rid of people who the government sees as a threat.
In anticipation of the nuclear bomb that was about to be dropped on Las Vegas, we know that the camps were being evacuated, but all that does is change their location, not their circumstances. "Army of the Dead" doesn’t seem to imply that there’s much of a long-term plan for the inhabitants of the camps, especially if they don’t have a good way to make money. It makes it seem as though the former inhabitants of Las Vegas are simply doomed to live in the camps indefinitely, which doesn’t feel like a very optimistic ending. If "Army of the Dead" ever gets a sequel, here’s hoping the camps are finally shut down and their inhabitants released.