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Small Details You Missed In The New Army Of The Dead Trailer

It's time to get out your plastic visors and lucky charms, because Zack Snyder is taking viewers to sunny Las Vegas. The first full-length trailer for the Justice League director's hotly anticipated zombie heist movie Army of the Dead just dropped in all its indulgent glory. Vegas is known as a city of excess, and it looks like Snyder is bringing more than a little of that aesthetic to his upcoming Netflix original film.

The new trailer both sets up the basic plot of Army of the Dead — a group of mercenaries are hired to pull off a $200 million casino heist in the middle of a zombie apocalypse — and gives viewers a tease of all the things that will make Snyder's latest take on the classic genre unique. When it comes to those details, the trailer lays down a full house. From clues about the distinct zombie variations that permeate Snyder's world to the particulars of the squad of human characters on hand to battle them, there's a lot of information to be gleaned from the preview.

If you're worried that you may have overlooked some Easter eggs, references, or anything else, don't worry — we've got you covered. Here are all the small details you might have missed in the Army of the Dead trailer.

The cast of Army of the Dead features a late-stage addition

Much like he did with Justice League, Zack Snyder has assembled an all-star cast for Army of the Dead. The trailer gives us a good look at each member of the mercenary team who will try to make it out of Las Vegas alive with millions of dollars. The group includes the likes of Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Ella Purnell (Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children), Ana de la Reguera (Cowboys & Aliens), Omari Hardwick (Sorry to Bother You), Theo Rossi (Luke Cage), and Matthias Schweighöfer (Valkyrie), to name just a few.

One of the most intriguing members of the cast was also a late addition. Comedian Tig Notaro (Star Trek: Discovery) was cast to replace Chris D'Elia after accusations of sexual harassment against underage girls came against him. Entertainment Weekly details how all of Notaro's scenes had to be shot digitally since the movie was already completed by the time the accusations came to light. The outlet further explains how the comedian shot her scenes against a green screen, which is slightly noticeable within the trailer if you watch carefully.

Notaro appears in only a handful of shots, but a couple of those feature her by herself. She's also in the scene in which the mercenaries break into the casino vault, and Notaro's character Marianne Peters is in the back of the group, where one could surmise she's been digitally added. It remains to be seen how large her role will be, but as long as she brings her signature brand of sardonic humor, we're just happy to see such a talented comedian make an appearance.

The trailer's world-building and character-establishing details

The full-length Army of the Dead trailer drops various morsels of information about the state of the world amid a zombie outbreak. The opening few seconds introduce the audience to Dave Bautista's Scott Ward, an ex-war hero who's now working in a diner, while a news report plays in the background. The reporter briefly explains that the entire city of Las Vegas has been walled off to contain the undead. Clearly, the authorities managed to assess the situation and get a handle on it relatively quickly to block Las Vegas off with a number of shipping containers so the zombies can't escape.

Casino boss Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) recruits Bautista's Ward for a big mission: head into the zombie-infested city to retrieve $200 million out of the vault sitting right underneath hordes of the undead. This reveals that the world hasn't descended into total chaos, as money still holds value. The catch is that Scott only has 32 hours to retrieve the money the U.S. government blasts Las Vegas away for good, teased through shots of military members firing their guns in quick succession. Place your bets on some zombies getting loose by the end of the film for that oh-so-important sequel bait.

During a press conference for the trailer's premiere, at which Looper was present, Zack Snyder explained that Bautista's character is a dad and a badass. But he's also attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell). And although Ward is the leader of the team heading into Vegas to recover the $200 million, Kate winds up coming along for the ride too. After all, what's the best way of repairing a fractured father-daughter connection than by throwing some zombies into the mix?

Army of the Dead is a self-aware movie featuring lots of pop culture allusions

Do you like movies that reference other movies? If your head nods even slightly at the thought, Army of the Dead has the goods for you. The trailer alone features an astounding amount of nods at other famous works. The helicopter flying toward the sunset invokes immediate images of Apocalypse: Now. Huma Qureshi's Geeta rocks a bandanna that's very similar to the one worn by esteemed Private First Class Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) in Aliens – another movie about a group of protagonists facing off against a dangerous horde of inhuman opponents. Oh, and that zombie tiger at the end of the trailer? Walking Dead fans know that King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has had by his side in a zombie-filled universe a pet tiger named Shiva — but obviously, Army of the Dead obviously takes this concept a little further.

As one can probably guess, none of this is an accident. Looper attended a press event for the trailer, where Zack Snyder and Dave Bautista made it very clear that self-awareness is part of the movie's charm. As Bautista put it, "It's very self-aware, which makes it entertaining."

Zack Snyder's zombies are fast and smart in Army of the Dead

The plot rarely moves slowly in a Zack Snyder movie (unless it's in slow motion), so it's only appropriate that when it comes to his zombie flicks, the undead move at an accelerated pace. Based on what's shown in the Army of the Dead trailer, it's apparent these aren't your grandpa's zombies that shamble around aimlessly. They know how to move, and that's something that's been featured across Snyder's filmography.

Snyder's first directorial feature, 2004's Dawn of the Dead, differed significantly from the George Romero's original in various facets — most notably with the introduction of fast-moving zombies. While it was a controversial choice, the movie (along with 28 Days Later) helped usher in the age of zombies that could run as fast as professional athletes (via Slate).

Seventeen years later, Snyder isn't simply bringing fast zombies back — he's upping the ante in the process. The trailer showcases that these members of the undead are quick on their feet and more intelligent than big-screen zombies of yesteryear. There are a few scenes in which we see the zombies organizing their ranks, and a brief moment where two zombies push their faces together in what looks like a loving embrace. From all accounts, it appears that "Army of the Dead" isn't merely a cool moniker: This will be a genuine force of nature our heroes will have to go up against.

Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em

In the Army of the Dead trailer, Zack Snyder makes it clear that he's not merely using the Las Vegas setting for the iconic visuals and cultural jokes. The city's reputation as an oasis for gambling also plays strongly into the themes of the film. After all, one of the taglines for the movie is "Always bet on dead." The choice of song for the trailer — "The Gambler" — ties into that theme as well. 

Kenny Rogers' 1978 recording of "The Gambler," written by Don Schlitz, is one of the most iconic country songs of its era. The lyrics tell the story of a person who meets a world-weary gambler while traveling "on a train bound for nowhere." The gambler of the track's title imparts some wisdom onto the narrator, the most famous bit of which makes up the song's chorus: "You've got to know when to hold 'em / Know when to fold 'em / Know when to walk away / And know when to run."

The heist at the center of the film is presented as a major gamble for all those involved: It could potentially net a huge payoff, but it comes with incredible risk. While the use of the song makes for an easy audible allusion to the general Vegas vibe Snyder is going for, it's also likely playing off the tension surrounding the characters' decision to get involved. Have they taken the advice dispensed by the proverbial gambler to heart? Or did they miss taking the opportunity to walk away when they still had the chance?

There's something special in the vault

Some viewers going into Army of the Dead will be most familiar with Zack Snyder's work in the DC Extended Universe — and the director evidently knows this. Snyder has thrown in a sneaky Easter egg to something that has dominated pop culture headlines in the last few years: the Snyder Cut of Justice League.

It's easy to see why Snyder included a nod to his version of Justice League in Army of the Dead, since fans spent years campaigning to persuade Warner Bros. to release it and since Army of the Dead will debut just two months after Justice League hit HBO Max. But what's so surprising about the reference is that the director included the Snyder Cut itself in the film instead of making some passing reference to it. 

When the motley crew of mercenaries fling the vault open at the 1:12 mark of the trailer, five bizarrely shaped containers can be seen on a shelf on the left. These are actually the canisters holding all the film reels from Justice League. Fans who've followed the Snyder Cut might remember that the director posted to his Instagram account a picture of the canisters to confirm that the alternate version of the DC team-up movie existed.

Since Army of the Dead is the first project Snyder has directed since his time on Justice League (both in 2017 and in sorting the new cut), it isn't surprising that he wanted to honor it in a subtle yet meaningful way.

Olympus has fallen

There are lots of Las Vegas landmarks on display throughout the trailer for Army of the Dead, as well as a few city-planning additions Zack Snyder made for the purposes of the film. One that appears several times is the façade of a large hotel-casino called the Olympus. From the two brief shots of the building in the trailer, it appears that the hotel has a Hellenistic theme, both owing to its name and the Grecian columns that stand outside the entrance. The second time we see that entrance, there's a horde of zombies flooding out from it. 

In ancient Greek mythology, Mount Olympus was home to the main pantheon of the gods and goddesses (via Encyclopaedia Britannica). The inclusion of a hotel named the Olympus is obviously a nod to Las Vegas' tradition of casinos inspired by the great cities and civilizations of antiquity, such as Caesar's Palace and Luxor Resort & Casino. But considering that Army of the Dead seems to be playing with the idea of zombies who are more intelligent than those you find on your average episode of The Walking Dead, there might be more meaning to this beyond a mere cultural allusion. Do the intelligent zombies represent the Greek gods? Or does the fact that the zombies are seen in the hotel suggests that they are overthrowing their gods, which could be us normal humans? It's a thread of potentially important imagery worth keeping an eye on while watching the movie.

Who's the character atop Vegas' Statue of Liberty?

The Army of the Dead trailer is full of amazing shots that tease a pretty great action movie with unique visual. However, one of its most potentially important images is the moment in which a mysterious figure is seen standing atop the famed Las Vegas replica of the Statue of Liberty. This feels like an establishing shot of a villain who's observing their troops from above, and the effect is only strengthened by the fact that the figure appears to be carrying a staff and a spear — adorned with what seems to be an impaled head.

Since the trailer makes it clear that the zombies in this movie are more than what they seem, could it be that this is our first glance at some otherwise-unseen mystery figure controlling the undead? Perhaps this is someone from the heist team who got lost and snapped after strange and dramatic events separate them from the others? Or maybe it's the apparent leader zombie we briefly see later in the trailer, looming over its subjects? Whoever — or whatever — this ominous figure is, they probably aren't up to any good.

The zombie tiger means more than you realize

If you thought super-intelligent, fast-moving zombies were bad enough on their own, the Army of the Dead trailer ends with a monster of a reveal in the form of a zombified tiger. In the trailer press conference event attended by Looper, Zack Snyder confirmed the animal's name is Valentine, which is an intriguing choice for a name.

First and foremost, the name "Valentine" in pop culture rings a huge bell: Jill Valentine is the name of a protagonist in the Resident Evil video game and movie franchises, which follow human survivors as they navigate the post-apocalypse and battle flesh-eating zombies. We haven't heard anything official on whether that's indeed the inspiration behind the zombie tiger's name in Army of the Dead, but it's hard not to draw a correlation. During the trailer presser, Snyder went on to mention how other zombie animals would be making appearances, and that they would all be working together.

The phrase "Zombie Tiger" started trending on Twitter shortly after the trailer came out, but this actually isn't the first time one of these creatures has been featured in a movie. The climax of the 2011 film Zombie Apocalypse, starring Ving Rhames, also includes a zombie tiger. Snyder may not have been the first to the punch to get a zombie tiger on screen, but at least he can take solace in knowing his version has far superior graphics than the one that came before it. 

Mark your calendars for Army of the Dead's limited theatrical release on May 14, followed by its debut on Netflix on May 21.