The MCU should go all-in on Marvel Zombies at some point in Phase 5. Marvel Studios officially unveiled their MCU Phase 4 slate at San Diego Comic-Con this year, which includes films like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder (in which Natalie Portman stars as Mighty Thor), among others.
But as excited as fans are to see where Marvel goes with these titles, there's also some hope that the MCU will start to dig even deeper into the comic universe and maybe even create a Marvel Zombies project. The idea of a Marvel Zombies film or series isn't a brand new one, of course. With the popularity of zombies over the past decade of pop culture, it's no surprise that comic fans and zombie fans want to see the greatest heroes of the MCU in brain-eating form.
Interestingly, while something like Marvel Zombies being incorporated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe may have seemed like a pipe-dream at one point, that's no longer the case. This is now something that has actually been given a nod in the MCU already, thanks to a scene of zombie Iron Man in Spider-Man: Far From Home, and that is more than enough to get the ball rolling on a full-fledged Marvel Zombies project.
What Are Marvel Zombies?
Marvel Zombies is an alternate universe in Marvel Comics (Earth-2149, to be precise), where a terrible virus came to Earth and turned people into zombies. Many of the biggest superheroes in the Marvel Universe were hit first, turning from heroes into ravenous monster-versions of themselves, and attempting to eat everyone on the planet. The original Marvel Zombies was a five-issue miniseries (2005-2006), written by Robert Kirkman (who is also the creator of The Walking Dead) and Sean Phillips. Since the original series, Marvel Zombies has expanded massively, including additional Marvel Zombies series as well as holiday specials, tie-ins, and more. In fact, it was recently announced that Marvel Zombies will be returning, although little is currently known about the latest series other than a piece of cover art featuring zombie Wolverine, Deadpool, and Captain America.
The massive appeal of Marvel Zombies has taken them across the galaxy and to multiple worlds, always in search of flesh to chow down on - and one of the reasons that this series is so popular is not just because it's fun and gory, but also because it tosses traditional ideas of heroes and villains out the window. Quintessentially good guys turn into monsters thanks to the virus, and there's no complex plotting or reasoning with them - just some good, straightforward, gory fun, and a chance to see favorite superheroes in a totally different way. And now, it looks like Marvel may actually consider bringing them to the big screen, if a Spider-Man: Far From Home Easter egg is hinting at anything.
Iron Man In Far From Home Makes The Best Case For Marvel Zombies
Spider-Man: Far From Home included only a single Marvel Zombies scene, and one that was easily missed. When Peter is lost in a series of terrifying visions thanks to Mysterio, he sees dozens of things that are references to comic moments, including one shot of Iron Man rising from his grave, covered in black widow spiders. Of course, on the surface this is a very obvious choice - Peter is grieving for the loss of Tony Stark, and in a different way, Black Widow. Seeing Tony rise from the grave isn't just ugly and frightening, but it also plays into Peter's fears that he's letting Stark down, that he'll make the wrong choices and they'll come back to haunt him.
However, zombie Iron Man is also clearly recognizable as being from the Marvel Zombies universe - and makes a solid case for why Marvel should embrace this gory world and bring it to life on the big screen. Zombie Iron Man doesn't look campy, cartoonish, or unbelievable - instead, he looks like an incredible live-action version of the comic character fans love. It was truly horrifying to see this version of the character, not laughable as one would've expected. Ultimately, this vision is proof that Marvel does have the ability to create a Marvel Zombies universe that looks good, and one that captures the spirit of the source material.
How The MCU Could Adapt Marvel Zombies
The great news for fans of the Marvel Zombies universe is that there are plenty of ways that Marvel could introduce this into the MCU. The past decade has been all about the build-up to Avengers: Infinity War, and now that that (massive) event is over, it's time for Marvel to start pushing the envelope. The MCU has always been about building up to bigger, weirder, and wilder concepts: from Phase 1 and the straightforward superhero action films, to Phase 2 that brought in Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, to Phase 3, which introduced more galactic, mystical, and totally different civilizations. Continuing this evolution of the MCU includes Marvel's first horror movie: Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Marvel has, thus far, been much more about funny, brightly colored, purely enjoyable superhero flicks, so should Dr Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness do well, it could pave the way to explore the darker corners of the comic book world.
The Multiverse Of Madness also opens the door fully for other worlds to appear in the MCU. The idea of the multiverse has been teased - first, with Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One explaining the basic concept, with the animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-verse (even though that's not part of the MCU), and then with Quentin Beck's assertion that he comes from another world. Beck was lying, of course, but the MCU has definitely been slowly building to the introduction of a multiverse, and a series as popular as Marvel Zombies could be the best possible way to do this in Phase 5.
The timing is also perfect - while the height of the zombie pop-culture craze has died down somewhat, there's likely to be a zombie-shaped hole in viewers' lives relatively soon... because although there has been no official news of a final season of The Walking Dead, the zombie series is entering its tenth year, and it's rare for shows to last much longer than ten seasons. If The Walking Dead ends within the next few years, it could be the perfect time for a new zombie franchise to take over: Marvel Zombies. There's even already a director interested. In 2017, Ben Wheatley expressed interest, saying that it was the only Marvel title he would really be interested in directing. Add to all this the possibility of bringing back fan-favorite dead characters (like Tony Stark and Steve Rogers), and it seems like this is the perfect time to take that Far From Home vision and turn it into a full-blown feature.
Could Marvel Zombies Already Be Planned?
Of course, there is also one more possibility - that Marvel Zombies aren't going to become a full-blown TV series or film, but that they will be making an appearance in What If...?. The upcoming animated series (premiering on Disney + in summer 2021) will explore all kinds of alternate versions of the MCU, that would have come about if something had happened differently. For example, one episode sees Peggy Carter being given the super-soldier serum instead of Steve Rogers. This is obviously a fantastic opportunity for playing with Marvel's more wild and wacky ideas, and now eagle-eyed fans have noticed that there appears to be a zombie Captain America in the logo for the show. (Zombie Cap appears between the first and second slants in "W".)
This may mean that Marvel Zombies is already on the way, as a single episode of What If...?. It makes a lot of sense since it still allows for original actors to come back and voice the characters without committing to a full-on movie or TV series, and an animated version would certainly be more cost-effective than live-action. This is also a great way to deal with the risk of such an out-there concept, and to have a little fun with the Marvel Zombies world in a lower-stakes way. That said, seeing how good zombie Iron Man looked in Spider-Man: Far From Home, it would be a shame not to get any more live-action zombie heroes at some point.
- Black Widow (2020) release date: May 01, 2020
- Eternals (2020) release date: Nov 06, 2020
- Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021) release date: Feb 12, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2021) release date: May 07, 2021
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2021) release date: Nov 05, 2021