Every once in a while, a novel comes along that fundamentally changes the genre to which it belongs. In 2006, that novel was World War Z by Max Brooks. Zombies have always been a stand-in for other disasters, whether nuclear, biological, or natural. The shambling (or sometimes sprinting) dead are merely a plot device to examine how humans react under stressors that remove us from our 21st century lives. But where most entries in the genre focus on a small group of people living and dying (and rising as zombies), World War Z took a big-picture approach. The narrator gathered stories from survivors all over the world in the aftermath of a devastating outbreak. The result was a collection that, via an oral history, explained how humanity could succumb to — and ultimately survive — a zombie infestation.
World War Z the movie was… not that. The film was a fine piece of standalone summer popcorn movie that had little to nothing to do with the source material. It was also a self-contained story. The zombie virus is cured via a vaccine. Yet, the film performed well enough at the box office that Paramount Pictures has been trying to get a sequel off the ground ever since. Most recently, World War Z 2 was scheduled to hit theaters on June 9 of this year despite not having a director or having shot a single frame of film. So the announcement that the sequel has been pulled from the docket shouldn’t come as a surprise. The Hollywood Reporter notes insiders hope the film will be ready in 2018 or 2019 at the latest. But I have a different suggestion. Let the sequel die. Then resurrect it as a television series.
Paramount has been trying to get back into television since 2013, with limited success. A more faithful adaptation of World War Z is the perfect opportunity to change that. While zombies aren’t at the zeitgeist they were when WWZ hit theaters in 2013, The Walking Dead is still one of the most popular shows on television. But where AMC’s juggernaut caters to the well-worn path of following a single group of survivors, a WWZ series could show audiences something new. How does the United States react to a zombie outbreak as opposed to Israel or South Africa or North Korea? What about the people on the International Space Station?
There are at least two major battles in North America alone that could be the culmination of two different seasons. The carpet-bombing of infected refugees in Russia who then pop back up and join the ranks of the undead, the creepy inhumane rumors about how North Korea is dealing with the problem, the zombie-sniffing dogs at the gates of Jerusalem, Iceland being completely overrun by the undead who then mill about beneath the ocean: the list of potential narratives goes on and on. (Besides, the visual of tens of thousands of undead moving in a herd across the Great Plains is one begging to be part of an opening credit sequence scored by Ramin Djawadi.)