Army of the Dead may have included major teases about aliens and robots, but the biggest theories to arise after the release of Zack Snyder’s new zombie movie revolved around the potential of a time loop. The movie contains multiple references to the possibility of time travel or a time loop and alternate dimensions, and director Zack Snyder is even encouraging some of the speculation.
Initially, the time loop concept appears to be a throwaway line by Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), but further examination shows even more hints. Even more interesting, Army of Thieves, the Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer) centric prequel added even more to the time loop theory. Here’s every time loop reference from the movies and how Zack Snyder has supported the theory.
Army of the Dead’s Opening and Closing Elvis Song Teases the Time Loop
Army of the Dead’s first time loop tease may have been a subtle reference in its first scene. Elvis’ song “Suspicious Minds” is playing as the bride and groom drive towards the military convoy transporting the Alpha Zombie, Zeus. The lyrics say “we’re caught in a trap. I can’t walk out,” and the same song plays after the closing credits after Vanderohe is revealed as the new Alpha Zombie, about to be unleashed on Mexico City, mirroring Zeus and Las Vegas from the beginning. It may not be a literal time loop, but it is a repeating cycle set to the same song about being “caught in a trap.”
Tanaka’s Mission Briefing Montage Could Tease an Alternate Reality
Tanaka gives them a mission briefing accompanied by a preview montage of the team fighting zombies and successfully breaking into the safe, only things happen a little differently than they do later in the movie. Notably, the entire team makes it to the safe in this version, including Damon, who actually bails on the mission in the middle of the briefing once he realizes they’re going to be fighting zombies.
Of course, it makes complete sense for the team to imagine this ideal version of the heist, but there’s still a number of specific details shown that none of the Las Vengeance team would have known. It may not be a time loop, but it’s the kind of eerie echo that keeps the time loop concept present throughout.
Vanderohe’s Omega Symbol Brand Teases His Alpha Zombie Future
When Vanderohe digs up his buzz saw before the mission, he’s shown shirtless with an Omega symbol branded on the left side of his chest. Possible references to Darkseid and Zack Snyder’s Justice League aside, the Omega symbol is the last letter of the greek alphabet and represents the endpoint of a series or sequence. Since the movie ends with Vanderohe becoming the new Alpha Zombie, the Omega symbol is an interesting nod his part in the story as a potential player in a repeating sequence of events.
Another Team Already Attempted the Heist, Was it an Alternate Reality?
When the Las Vengeance team arrives at Bly Tanaka’s casino, they find a roulette table with another set of blueprints to the vault and several dead bodies of another team. The movie lingers on this point to give it a moment of significance, but the presence of another team is never relevant to the plot in any other way unless it’s a nod to a time loop.
Vanderohe Explains Army of the Dead’s Time Loop Theory In Front of the Vault
The “other team” found at the roulette table was fairly innocuous, but there’s another dead team found outside the vault, and this time the resemblance to members of Las Vengeance is uncanny. Also of note, there’s a skeleton resembling Peters, who is never actually in the vault. Incidentally, during Tanaka’s previously mentioned mission briefing montage, she is shown entering the vault. This scene is responsible for spawning the time loop theory since Vanderohe explicitly calls it out: “I mean, look at them. It’s us. It could be us in another timeline, and we’re caught in some infinite loop of fighting and dying, fighting and dying, fighting and dying.”
The Götterdämmerung Safe Might Have Mystical Properties
The safe itself, the Götterdämmerung, inspired by Richard Wagner’s ring cycle opera is also given a mythic quality and potential factor in the time loop theory. When Dieter is recruited he calls it “a doorway to another realm” and tells Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) “providence has brought you to me. We go through it together.”
Once he actually cracks it is where the most intriguing time-loop tease comes into play, as Dieter tells Vanderohe “the only thing that is left is to turn the wheel. As it was inevitable that we won. Mr. Vanderohe, would you do me the honor?” This line is especially interesting if we take the time loop as fact since Dieter is asking Vanderohe to “turn the wheel,” since Vanderohe become the Alpha Zombie at the end, meaning he could be the one turning the time loop into its next iteration.
Army of Thieves Changes the Time Loop
Army of the Dead’s prequel, Army of Thieves adds an interesting twist to the time loop idea, adding even more of an air of mysticism and legend to the Wagner safes and giving Dieter dreams of cracking a safe in Las Vegas, surrounded by zombies. Korina (Ruby O. Fee) even suggests “maybe they’re prophesies, not dreams. Maybe you saw your own death,” which is especially interesting considering it was basically a foreshadowing of Dieter’s apparent death in Army of the Dead.
What Zack Snyder Has Said About Army of the Dead Time Loop Theories
There’s enough explicit and subtle references in Army of the Dead and Army of Thieves to make time loops more than a crazy fan theory, but Snyder has also fanned time loop theory flames a few times in interviews, encouraging speculation about time loops. Snyder is still cryptic about the theory, saying “I’m not saying this is 100% true, and in some ways it’s not,” but he also said “the group at the table, I mean, it’s pretty subtle, but that’s them also at the team as well as… they get farther every time. Like, is this the time they made it all the way to the money?”
While there’s numerous sci-fi concepts going on already, such as alien, robots, and even portals to alternate dimensions, the time loop concept doesn’t have to be a literal time loop in order to have meaning for the movie. Vanderohe’s speculation about being caught in a loop of “fighting and dying” has thematic resonance as a metaphor, as does Dieter’s dream of his death. Army of the Dead‘s sequel, Planet of the Dead, or prequel animated series, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas could begin to answer some of these far-out sci-fi concepts, but it’s obvious there’s more going on with Army of the Dead than meets the eye.