Netflix’s Army of the Dead, like most ‘men on a mission’ movies to come before it, features an ensemble largely filled out by one-note characters. However, like many of the best efforts in the subgenre to have arrived over the decades, Zack Snyder clearly encouraged his stars to put their own stamp on their performances so that they would stand out in a crowd.
None of the roster is particularly well-developed or three-dimensional, but the actors are clearly having fun getting to play around. Tig Notaro’s wryly sardonic helicopter pilot Peters, Omari Hardwick’s philosophizing Vanderohe and Matthias Schweighöfer’s constantly questioning and perennially on-edge safe cracker Dieter are particular standouts, and we know the latter will be back in prequel Army of Thieves.
Schweighöfer also directs the next installment in the rapidly-expanding Army of the Dead universe, which producer Deborah Snyder described as a romantic heist caper in the vein of The Italian Job, one that just happens to be set against the backdrop of an impending zombie apocalypse.
While it’s never explicitly shown on screen, Dieter being torn away from Vanderohe after locking his bromantic interest in the vault would seem to indicate that he’d met a grisly fate, and while Schweighöfer hardly sounded confident about his chances of survival, he didn’t completely rule it out, either.
“I think it’s one of the most heroic things I ever did in my life, and I’m super proud. If I think on Hollywood, but I think about that scene, because it’s like, he saves the life of his friend, and I felt so good and felt so great that I really was proud. All my family would be like, my mother would be like, ‘That’s my son. He did the right thing!’. Yeah. No, I’m super, super happy that the movie ends with Dieter in that tragic way, because this stays for the whole end of the film. Because, ‘What? Dieter’s gone? No way. They cannot do this. No’. The ending we shot is in the movie. That’s it. The rest is fantasy. Maybe he’s still alive. We don’t know!”
Bringing too many familiar faces back from the brink of certain doom is a problem that plagues many franchises, but based on the epilogue, it would appear that Ella Purnell’s Kate Ward was the only one to make it out of Army of the Dead alive, so there’s definitely a gap in the market should any sequels feel that Dieter deserves a return.