Army of Thieves is the second film to release in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead universe on Netflix, but unlike the first Army of the Dead, it’s not directed by Zack Snyder. Instead, Matthias Schweighöfer took the helm for the prequel, in which he stars as the German safe-cracker, Dieter.
It’s not the first time Snyder has produced a spin-off to one of his films and given the reins to another director. In 2014, Noam Murro directed the 300 prequel, 300: Rise of an Empire, and of course Patty Jenkins directed Wonder Woman after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Snyder’s deal with Netflix isn’t just for him to direct movies, but also for his production company, The Stone Quarry, to build out multiple shared universes with a variety of shows and movies like Army of the Dead, Rebel Moon, and his Norse mythology show, Twilight of the Gods, so Army of Thieves isn’t going to be the only movie Snyder hands off to another director.
Ironically, Army of the Dead itself was originally intended for another director when it was originally developed for Warner Bros.. Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. was originally signed on to direct with a screenplay by Joby Harold, but the project didn’t pan out and was shelved for several years, but when Snyder first started talking to Netflix, the streamer took a lot of interest and it was redeveloped for Snyder to direct. When it comes to Army of Thieves, Snyder originally envisioned a number of spin-offs from Army of the Dead, and Army of Thieves was supposed to be a more localized German-language film. During Army of the Dead production, he saw the potential in Matthias Schweighöfer’s character, Dieter, and since Schweighöfer was an accomplished German director, Snyder decided he’d be perfect to helm the project.
Snyder’s hands are more than full at Netflix with both an Army of the Dead sequel, titled Planet of the Dead, and now he’s also about to start production on an original sci-fi film, developed Snyder’s pre-Disney Star Wars pitch to George Lucas. He’s also planning a super low budget film, Horse Latitudes, in addition to his responsibilities as a producer, so his schedule is packed, even if he wanted to direct Army of Thieves, although based on his intent for the film, it doesn’t sound like he always intended to hand it to another director.
Snyder’s DC movies have been dubbed the “SnyderVerse” in the past, but the director now says he likes to think of the SnyderVerse as all his upcoming original properties, and based on all the projects he has in development, both as a director and producer, the SnyderVerse on Netflix will be huge. Other directors are already on-board to direct episodes of his two Netflix animated series, Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas, and Twilight of the Gods, and his longtime collaborator, Damon Caro, also has his own film in development under Snyder’s Stone Quarry banner, so the SnyderVerse on Netflix is about to explode with both Snyder and a slew of other directors developing original properties for Netflix.