Zack Snyder has a plan.
Always at the height of his Justice League A director, released on HBO Max earlier this year after a massive fan-led move, Snyder is already laser-focused on his next cinematic universe.
Released in May, Army of the dead launched the Snyderverse 2.0 while taking inspiration from iconic genre films and, surprisingly, classic opera.
With Army of thieves, a prequel to the film, which released on Netflix this Friday, it becomes clear that Snyder – a maximalist filmmaker who arguably has more in common with the great German composer Richard Wagner than any of his contemporaries in Hollywood – is building his Gesamtkunstwerk (or “total artwork”, in English).
Aiming to synthesize elements of music, drama, poetry, dance and visual art into the ultimate form of performance, the Gesamtkunstwerk was popularized by Wagner, who believed that opera was the perfect setting to stage such a creation. The Wagner who came closest to implementing this vision was Der Ring des Nibelungen, a cycle of four operas inspired by Norse mythology.
Like Wagner, Snyder has historically drawn inspiration from Norse mythology, but he draws more openly from the composer himself. Snyder is developing a mythological animated series titled twilight of the gods, and the “four safes” the amateur thief by Matthias Schweighöfer must crack in his new Army prequel are all directly inspired by the Ring Cycle.
While Wagner sought to unite all aspects of theater through opera, Snyder has a more film-centric goal: to integrate every possible cinematic genre into his new zombie-infested universe.
“Our brand is the deconstruction of tropes and pop culture,” Snyder said. Reverse.
With Army of thievesSnyder handed over the reins of directing to Schweighöfer, who also starred, but the architect of the franchise still wrote the screenplay alongside Shay Hatten. Bouncing between a simple heist thriller, a foreign language drama and a romantic comedy, Army of thieves covers the whole gamut of genres with unusual zeal, as expected.
“When Shay and I were writing the script for this movie, I was like, ‘Look, we deconstructed the zombie heist, and we have to do it again,'” Snyder said. “It’s our thing.”
In an interview, Snyder spoke with Reverse on his influences, his future projects such as the original sci-fi epic Rebellious moon, and the fate of a fan favorite Army of the dead character. He also revealed the title of his planned zombie sequel. Spoiler alert: this is Planet of the dead.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Reverse: Army of thieves is strongly based on the cycle of the rings and Norse mythology. What inspires you about these stories?
Zack Snyder: Well there is a ton that inspires me in the world. When we were writing Army of the dead, we had made this deep dive into Norse mythology. At the time, I was actually developing my Norse Mythology animated series for Netflix, which I’m working on right now. My friend Adam Forman is a huge Ring Cycle fanatic. We just talked about it; there was a time when we said to ourselves, “We should do our own ringing cycle.” [in a] Norse mythology film.
One thing led to another, then we were talking about the Gotterdammerung and it ended with the idea that twilight of the gods was a metaphor at the time for this kind of zombie apocalypse.
“There are more Wagnerian endings to come for everyone.”
The characters, literally, were in their own Ragnarok. It is these potential divine characters in this Army universe, and they do not realize that it is they who are destroying themselves. And so and like the Army the universe is moving forward, all of this is playing out even more. If we did another Army of the dead, you would see that there are more Wagnerian endings to come for everyone.
Basically, Ragnarok is on his way. It was so much fun that when we went to make this movie it was obvious to me that [this] would be the thing we would focus on: this Hans Wagner character who was obsessed with Richard Wagner whom he named his vaults after the different chapters of the Ring Cycle.
At this point, do you consider the Snyderverse to be the DC movie or this Army the universe you are developing now?
I hope all that is Snyderverseian is [whatever] we do as original IP. The DC Universe is something close to my heart that I have spent a lot of time developing and reflecting on, so I love it. But where I am right now is with the Rebel moon everything and the Army of the dead of all that. They consume a lot of our creative output. Hopefully everything we do that is original and cool falls into this category.
Are there any updates on Rebel moon?
We’re just hooking up. It’s so huge and so crazy but really exciting, and I’m super excited as we get closer to sharing the art and the casting, because it’s all starting to fall into place.
What did you think about The batman trailer?
I really loved it The batman trailer. i think matt [Reeves] does a great job with. It’s totally in my alley when it comes to tone and I feel so awesome, super happy. Super good.
Is there a way to see the in-between story of Dieter between the end of the first three heists in Army of thieves and the beginning of that of Army of the dead?
Obviously, he used his money to open a locksmith wherever he is – Barstow or San Bernandino. I don’t know if he made a ton other than [accrue] a clientele. He certainly has great confidence in his ability to [install] locks on their back porches.
“Was he killed by Zeus or not?” “
But the real adventure would be to see what happened to him when that safe door closed. Was he killed by Zeus or not? What happened? We don’t see him die in front of the camera, and there is still time. I won’t tell you what’s going on in Army of the Dead 2 – a.k.a The planet of the dead – but let’s just say there’s a chance Dieter will survive. And there is a chance that the contact with death would have made him want to find an imprisoned Gwendoline.
What was it like to convey the Army of the dead the universe to another director?
Our original idea for these films was that we were going to make these little spinoff films in different markets, different foreign language films. They were all supposed to be in German. And these little movies were all gonna fuel Army of the dead.
Then this film, I don’t mean to say that it has become gigantic, but it has reached the necessary scale. We just started doing more in English. It was therefore logical, from the start, that Matthias be in charge. I really enjoyed watching it.
One thing I liked about this movie was how meta it was. In my review I called it the scream 2 heist films. Where do you draw the line between parodying and reinforcing tropes?
What I always say is: have fun, but not make fun. It is a very special thing. I think there are a lot of filmmakers who can make a [satirical] film without inherently liking the genre they send. But if you don’t like him inherently, you can mess him up, because you satirize him and laugh at him like you want better than him. It’s not our tone at all.
“We both know we love Nicolas Cage.”
Our tone is that we love these aspects, so we want to highlight the things we love. We want the public [involved] in our love affair with her. We say, “Look, we all know you love it too – you, the audience and us. We both know we love Nicolas Cage. We’re going to put our arms around you audience members and we’re all going to hug each other. This is how we approach it.
Army of thieves arrives on Netflix on October 29.