Book Vs Movie: World War Z

If you follow movies, you’ve known for quite some time that Max Brooks’ 2006 zombie book titled, “World War Z” has seen a few bumps and bruises on its way to the big screen.  First was a bidding war between production companies, than there was rewrites, reshoots and delays.  But at the end of the day, World War Z hit the big screen and did $15 million better than any analysis thought, ending its opening weekend with $66 million.  Max Brooks, in comparing the book vs. the movie, said the two essentially shared the same name and, “that’s pretty much all it has in common.” So what changed?

Order of Events:

Book: Brooks wrote the book as if he was the United Nations worker narrating the decade-long battle against the zombie apocalypse.  The book presented the stories of others as collected by the United Nations worker, and played out in past-tense with the world wide event having reached it’s conclusion.

Movie: The movie played out in chronological order presenting the material as it happened.  The story played out from the perspective of the United Nations worker played by Brad Pitt.  Instead of traveling to collect the stories of others Pitt traveled the globe to find the origin of the Zombie Outbreak.

Patient Zero:

Book: In the book, China was the location of patient zero, the first person to become infected with the zombie virus.

Movie: Perhaps fearing the movie would be banned from Chinese theaters, no mention of Patient Zero exists in the movie.  Pitt’s character technically never locates the origin of the Zombie apocalypse.  The movie instead makes a reference to South Korea, and India but never pinpoints the exact location.

American Involvement:

Book:  Much of the novel’s political commentary is directed against the United States.  The book shows the U.S. Government as confident, yet unprepared, and slow to respond.  The book even mentions that due to American war efforts abroad (i.e. Iraq, Afghanistan) the U.S. Government lacks the resources to properly handle the crisis at home.

Movie: The big screen adaption takes the opposite approach to American involvement of the book. American leadership is forefront in the battle against the undead.  It is the American’s floating Navy which has made the world wide command center to fight the Zombies.  An American United Nations worker spearheads the efforts to research and develop a cure.

Nations Play-by-Play:

Book: Not every country is effected by the Zombie outbreak.  United Kingdom emerges unscathed. Pakistan and Iran nuke each other.  Cuba takes advantage of the outbreak to undergo a democratic revolution.  Havana becomes the financial capital of the world.  China becomes a democratic nation.  Tibet becomes an independent nation with the most populous city in the world.  Iceland is devoured by Zombies, and North Korea hides in an underground network of bunkers.

Movie: The movie doesn’t mention half of these countries.  You leave the theater thinking everyone worldwide suffered equally from the Zombie plague.  North Korea rips every one’s teeth out, so no one can bite each other.  Israel builds a Zombie defense wall based off some 1 out of 10 rule.  Besides those countries you don’t really get a sense of what each country went through.

Sequel Talk?

In general the World War Z the movie is different in almost every way when compared to World War Z the book.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t get a good sequel.  In fact, World War Z the book takes place of 10 years – giving plenty of material for film makers to play with.  The movie was initially thought of as a trilogy before production costs and reshoots called their plans into question.

Things are looking bright for a World War Z sequel, though.  Star Brad Pitt said, “We’ve got so many good story lines stemming from the book or inspired by the book and then just generated from our own powwows it might still be fun.  We’ve got enough material, that’s for sure.” My only suggestion is don’t call it World Ward Z Two, it just doesn’t roll off the lounge very well.


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Austin Faux is the host of the nerd podcast, “I Am A Super Nerd. Austin is a huge fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Red Dwarf, Doctor Who, Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Spider-Man, X-Men, Willow, Terminator 2, you name it. If it’s nerdy, he’s talking about it.  You can follow Austin on his Facebook and on Twitter @IamASuperNerd49