• Shah Shahid

Is Army Of Thieves A Worthy Addition To Army Of The Dead Cinematic Universe?

After all his issues with establishing the DC Cinematic Universe, Zack Snyder is at it again, this time at Netflix. Snyder’s Army Of The Dead was a Netflix original that was a huge success over at the streamer. But even before its release, Snyder already planned a cinematic universe featuring a spin-off prequel, and an anime series. Not to mention how the movie itself ends, which also potentially sets up a sequel. The first entry into this new universe, is the prequel Army Of Thieves, now on Netflix. It’s a pretty enjoyable heist film, with generous helpings of unexpected comedy.

Army Of Thieves varies a lot in tone and content from Army Of The Dead. And while ample connections are setting it up in the same universe as the full-on zombie movie, is it enough to warrant a cinematic universe? Let’s find out!

Please note: This article will contain spoilers for both Army Of The Dead and Army Of Thieves.

How The Beginning Of Army Of Thieves Connects To The Beginning Of Army Of The Dead

Matthias Schweighofer in Army Of Thieves | Image: Netflix
Matthias Schweighofer in Army Of Thieves | Image: Netflix

Army Of Thieves is all about Ludwig Dieter (Mathias Schweighofer), the safecracking German comic relief from Army Of The Dead. The events of this film lead directly into how Dieter ended up in America from Europe, and why he was so all-in to join the zombie killing team of casino robbers in that film. When Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) recruit Dieter, he seemed all too excited to join. The ‘why’, is finally answered in Army Of Thieves.

Army Of Thieves begins with an engaging narration by Ludwig, providing exposition about a great safe maker who made four legendary safes. Ludwig dreams of cracking those safes, and this movie is his adventures as embarks on cracking three of them. While the fourth and final one, the hardest, is the hook used to bring Ludwig into the fold in Army Of The Dead. That connection finally explains why Ludwig was so readily excited to put his life on the line during a zombie apocalypse.

Hiroyuki Sanada's Bly Tanaka Is The Nick Fury Of This World?

And speaking of safes, the owner of the safes is also another connection to the Army Of The Dead. During the conventional run-down of the planned heist, Gwendoline (Nathalie Emmanuel) mentions how the owner of all four safes is Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada). It’s the same character who hires Scott and his crew in Army Of The Dead to steal the money from his own casino in Las Vegas. And how Ludwig even gets to Vegas is an even more emotional connection, and kind of sweet.

The Love Story Of Army Of Thieves Is Wonderful, While Also Tragic

The heist team in Army Of Thieves | Image: Netflix
The heist team in Army Of Thieves | Image: Netflix

One of the hooks of Army Of Thieves is how Ludwig is an aspiring safe cracker living an unfulfilled and boring life. So when the beautiful Gwendoline recruits him for a heist, it’s a way out for him. But, he also seemingly falls in love with her, sharing her passion for the quest of cracking these legendary safes. Ludwig going to Las Vegas is actually Gwendoline’s plan. So when she makes a deal with the cops to give herself up to save him at the end, Ludwig decides to honour her memory by following through with her goals.

His demeanour in that first scene of Army Of The Dead is also much different than the meek and unsure Ludwig we meet during the entirety of Army Of Thieves. How Gwendoline touched and transformed him is a testament to his feelings for her. Especially considering the end result of what it meant to follow her dreams and end up in Las Vegas.

Ludwig’s Dreams In Army Of Thieves Foreshadows His End In Army Of The Dead

The tie-in to the universe that Army Of Thieves is set in, is the zombie outbreak happening in America during its story. We get that exposition through news reports on TV since most of the story takes place in Europe. However, in the second act, Ludwig begins to have dreams about getting attacked and killed by zombies. One of them even includes his death by zombies, after he cracks the final safe.

Sadly, that’s exactly how his demise comes in Army Of The Dead. Right after he achieves his life goal of cracking all four safes, Ludwig dies in a zombie attack. It’s also sad because Korina (Ruby O. Fee) in Army Of Thieves even says to Ludwig that his dreams may be foreshadowing his death. Which was an awkward meta moment in the movie.

Does Army Of Thieves Warrant A Cinematic Universe?

After all is said and done, Army Of Thieves is a fun and slick heist film that works on many levels. Mathias Schoweighofer is perfect as a comic hero who finds himself in complicated situations. But the movie also has a lot of heart and emotions, as it explores how passion, love and loss can shape someone’s future. And unfortunately, even lead them down a path to an inevitable end. Given the foreshadowing and how the culmination of Ludwig’s journey in Army Of Thieves leads him to Army Of The Dead, it’s a great way to connect the dots into a new kind of cinematic universe.

While it’s not the Marvel Cinematic Universe model of storytelling, it’s interesting enough to be a fun addition to the world. I’m excited to see where these new stories go and how they continue this new zombie world.

Army Of Thieves is now on Netflix.