Here are all the Zack Snyder Easter eggs we found lurking in Army of the Dead. Releasing to some considerable fanfare, Army of the Dead had been trapped in development hell for some time, but with no more room in cinema’s fiery depths, must finally walk the Earth. Or Netflix. Snyder’s premise tips several truckloads of zombies into the iconic resort town of Las Vegas (courtesy of Area 51) and lets carnage unleash. Some time later, when the world has returned to relative normality and Vegas is a quarantine zone, Dave Bautista’s Scott is hired to put together a team, reenter the desolate gambling paradise, and recover the millions left in a vault beneath Bly Casino.
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To say the heist doesn’t go to plan would be quite the understatement, but the massive stacks of untraceable cash aren’t the only treasure waiting behind Vegas’ encircling wall. Army of the Dead is rammed with all manner of fascinating Easter eggs, including homages to zombie flicks of the past, and a “Where’s Waldo” game with paratrooper corpses scattered across the dusty strip. Army of the Dead is also a treat for Zack Snyder fans, and contains a number of subtle (and, indeed, not-so-subtle) callbacks to the director’s previous works.
This is par for the course with Snyder. In Zack Snyder’s Justice League, for example, the manner of Silas Stone’s death is deliberately shot to mirror Doctor Manhattan’s transformation in Watchmen. However, the visually frantic backdrop of Las Vegas is far more conducive to slipping Easter eggs into the mix, and Snyder takes full advantage with a wide range of fun nods. Which ones did you notice?
Virtually every zombie story begins with proverbial excrement hitting the fan, and Army of the Dead is no different. The opening minutes reveal how Zeus escaped his military transport (thanks to a couple of a randy newlyweds), and promptly set about decimating the soldiers obliviously serving as his escort. Commanding this convoy is a character played by Michael Cassidy, who previously appeared in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice as Jimmy Olsen. The DCEU version of this long-suffering Superman favorite proved to be a CIA agent undercover as a Daily Planet journalist, and was quickly executed for his troubles. Cassidy’s Army of the Dead character is among the last of the troops to get caught by the rampaging Zeus, but gets turned into an Alpha nonetheless. The actor is rapidly becoming the Sean Bean of Zack Snyder movies.
Richard Cheese Returns
Lounging against the machine since the 1990s, Richard Cheese (probably not his real name) has forged a career out of turning alternative and rock classics into chilled-out swing numbers you could drink a cheap martini to. Greatest hits include covers of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” Guns N’ Roses’ “Welcome To The Jungle” and Kelis’ “Milkshake.” Cheese’s biggest hit, however, is undoubtedly his laid back take on Disturbed’s “Down With The Sickness,” which rose to prominence on the soundtrack of Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake. Cheese and his band also appeared (albeit less prominently) in Batman V Superman covering Cole Porter.
Richard Cheese lends his dulcet tones and dick jokes to Army of the Dead‘s opening sequence, singing Elvis Presley’s “Viva Las Vegas” on top of chaotic flashbacks depicting the early days of the outbreak. The setup closely mirrors how Cheese’s “Down With The Sickness” was used in Snyder’s last zombie effort, recreating the ironic joviality against violent imagery.
Joining Cheese at the microphone for “Viva Las Vegas” is Allison Crowe – somewhat of a Zack Snyder Easter egg in her own right. A Canadian singer and songwriter who first made waves in the early 2000s, Crowe’s extensive history with Zack Snyder movies stretches back to Watchmen, which was initially intended to include her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” After her DC setback, Allison Crowe returned for a cameo in Man of Steel, playing acoustic guitar and singing behind a brooding Henry Cavill when Clark confronts an aggressive bar patron and gets a drink poured over his head. Zack Snyder turned to Allison Crowe again for the Snyder cut, revisiting her interpretation of “Hallelujah.”
A Zack Snyder Cameo
According to Snyder himself, Army of the Dead‘s quality control picked up on a shot where the director, camera in hand, is visible on-screen. Zack refused to divulge exactly where his accidental cameo takes place, but did confirm that the shot was kept as an Easter egg. We think this is Snyder here, hiding while the attentions of many might’ve been averted.
Vanderohe’s Omega Symbol
Omari Hardwick’s Vanderohe is the philosophical saw-wielder every team venturing into zombie infested territory needs. Vanderohe is clearly a big fan of body art, and when he digs his favorite weapon out of the desert, Army of the Dead briefly shows an Omega symbol on the left of the character’s torso. Snyder’s nod to Omega feels like a reference to Darkseid, who wields the Omega Sanction in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. Originally intended as the overarching big bad of the DCEU, Darkseid became one of the most significant cuts made by the controversial 2017 Justice League theatrical cut, and his absence would represent the Snyder cut’s importance to the DCEU story as a whole. Even now, that continues to be so, with Snyder’s Darkseid arc still incomplete.
While any use of the Omega symbol in a Zack Snyder film will conjure images of the DCEU Knightmare, this Easter egg takes on a deeper meaning after watching Army of the Dead. Just as Zeus, the zombie Alpha, is the first of the infected, Vanderohe, the apparent Omega, is the last.
The Larry Fong Magic Show
As Scott’s ill-fated crew take their first tentative steps into Las Vegas thanks to their “trade” with the zombie queen, the camera focuses very deliberately on a huge poster while the team head inside. The advertisement reads “the 7 of Clubs Room presents the magical return of Larry Fong” along with the simple review quote, “Larry is Magic.” The Easter egg is obvious enough that even viewers with no knowledge of Larry Fong will clock the poster’s significance, but others will know that Larry Fong served as Zack Snyder’s director of photography for 300, Watchmen, Sucker Punch and Batman V Superman. Although Fong has worked on numerous other major TV shows and blockbusters, it’s the association with Snyder by which he remains most widely recognized.
But this Easter egg is far more than a mere name. Firstly, the guy on the poster is actually Larry Fong, and second, Fong is genuinely a magician – and a rather good one at that, by all accounts. Although DOP duties are performed by Snyder himself on Army of the Dead, but the poster is a lovely tribute to his long-time partner in crime.
The Locked-Up Snyder Cut
Filming for Army of the Dead took place largely throughout the latter half of 2019, at which time the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut campaign was in full swing. Fan support was growing, and big name actors were increasingly throwing their weight behind the cause. Alas, the Snyder cut’s release still looked highly unlikely, with no movement from Warner Bros. whatsoever until the following year’s HBO Max confirmation. In context of the Snyder cut’s mythic reputation, the temptation to include it in Bly Casino’s impenetrable vault must’ve been too tempting to resist.
When Las Vengeance receive their mission briefing from Bly, Army of the Dead diverts into something of a dream sequence, which imagines a perfectly successful heist. When the team opens the vault in this sequence, the Snyder cut canisters can be glimpsed on a rack to the left, standing apart from the stacks of cash. Interestingly, when the actual safe is cracked later in the film, there’s only money to be found. This Easter egg would’ve set the Snyder cut campaign ablaze… had everyone not already watched it two months ago.
Following the demise of the zombie queen and her unborn child, Zeus rallies his troops to wage war against the Las Vengeance team. Suiting up, he dons a dark cape with subtle flecks of red and a black mask that covers his head and eyes, but leaves the mouth exposed. The getup could certainly be interpreted as a casual nod toward Snyder’s Batman V Superman, with each element representing one half of the titular duo. The red embellishments of Zeus’ cape pay homage to Superman, while the black mask is a primitive take on Batman’s cowl.
Things are going badly in Army of the Dead‘s third act. Not only has Scott lost virtually all of his team, but Kate has gone walkabouts hunting for the vanished Geeta. Any hopes of escaping Vegas with a fortune have now been replaced by straight-up survival. Following an intense battle against Zeus’ forces, Scott watches Cruz and Guzman both succumb to the undead, but is able to bundle into an elevator with The Coyote and escape. Exhausted and grieving, both characters are suffering – which makes the use of Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?” as elevator music all the more hilariously inappropriate.
It’s a solid gag, but one that may spark a sense of déjà vu for fans of Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead. In the director’s 2004 zombie movie, the mall-bound protagonist group flee from Snyder’s notoriously speedy zombies, managing to narrowly reach the safety of an open elevator. As the doors close and the gang catch their breach, an instrumental edition of Air Supply’s “I’m All Out Of Love” plays over the speakers. Michael Kelly’s character even chimes in with “I love this song,” which was apparently improvised by the actor. Although there’s no acknowledgement from the surviving pair in Army of the Dead, the scene is still a close beat-for-beat match.
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