'Army of the Dead' Looks Fun But Was Originally Repulsive
Zack Snyder fans are celebrating (presumably in desaturated slow-motion) not just the upcoming release of his Justice League cut (and accompanying box full of confusing food items) but also his new zombie casino-heist movie, Army of the Dead starring Dave Bautista and a bunch of other people who are definitely not Chris D'Elia. The trailer for the new Netflix project hit the internet today, revealing what Snyder's vision of an apocalyptic Las Vegas looks like -- and apparently, it involves zombie Elvis and the ghost of Liberace.
Army of the Dead has been in development for more than a decade, and thankfully it turns out that they've scrapped one of the most disturbing elements of the story. According to the film's original director, Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. (Snyder was just going to produce) in an earlier iteration of the script, "male zombies rape human females ... And they have human hybrid zombie offsprings [sic]." Which is ... not great, guys.
Thankfully, in the intervening years, Snyder seemingly realized that rape was not a thing the zombie genre was lacking, and the script has been "completely redone" to excise that particular element. While we're glad that the filmmakers made the change, it does remind us of one of Snyder's most troubling motifs; he has a recurring fixation on sexual assault. It surfaces in 300 and Watchmen, and though the latter is obviously pulled straight from the comic, Snyder shoots the moment as if it were a gratuitous action sequence. Even the Watchmen TV show subtly criticized the interpretation of this scene; the show routinely poked fun at the Snyder adaptation with their show-within-a-show American Hero Story, which has all the slo-mo, testosterone-soaked violence of the 2009 movie.
Later Watchmen's in-universe blog blasted a similar scene from the series, calling it "extreme and fetishistic." The problem is, for so long, Snyder has proudly regarded depictions of sexual assault as some kind of merit badge of cinematic edginess. This was made very clear when Snyder bragged that his interpretation of Batman was so "dark" that his hypothetical version of Batman Begins would have featured Bruce Wayne being "raped in prison." Which would have been a weird addition to a movie that had an action figure line. At least the changes to Army of the Dead hint that the director, a literal 54-year-old man, is maturing. Which is great because, again, zombie Elvis.
Top Image: Netflix