13 Questions Left Unanswered by ‘World War Z’


Why did Gerry’s family have to leave the U.N. ship so immediately?

It was made clear that if Gerry didn’t go on his mission that he and his family had no place on the U.N. ship. But he did go on the mission, risking his life for the future of humanity and the second it was thought that he failed — albeit as a fallen hero — his family was thrown off the boat. Of course, the Nova Scotia safe zone did end up looking pretty secure and probably even more comfortable, but still that was seriously a dick move on the part of the people in charge. Especially so quickly and without certainty of Gerry’s fate. A related question is this: why did the little boy that accompanied Gerry’s family get to stay on the ship? He wasn’t a part of the family unless they chose to adopt him in a rushed decision amidst all the chaos. I can understand them caring about him, but as far as the U.N. officials were concerned he definitely didn’t deserve a bed on the boat the same as Gerry’s real kids did.

Why does Gerry’s daughter have asthma?

Technically, because of a combination of medical circumstances that led to her having respiratory problems. But that’s not what I mean. Things like asthma aren’t scripted unless they have some narrative purpose. That’s just how the movies work, and while a writer might want to add something like a specific condition in for character development they usually won’t because in the context of a film it throws the audience off rather than maintains any kind of natural reality or whatever the intention. As is, the daughter’s asthma plays like a red herring or even something that was supposed to be more significant, a piece of the investigative puzzle that would come back later. In the story it only serves as a reason for the family to stop at a supermarket, though they could have just gone there anyway to get water, food, flares and any other supplies. Especially because the foundation of the movie deals with viruses and the like, it’s hard not to make a connection with a character’s medical condition, yet there’s nothing to our logical presumptions of foreshadowing.


Why is Matthew Fox only an extra in the film?

Maybe spotted Fox for the literally few seconds he was onscreen or maybe you only saw his name in the credits and got confused about how you missed his role. He’s there, all right, as a “parajumper” aboard the helicopter that rescues Gerry’s family (and I think he was also there when they were booted, but maybe not). Did his part get cut drastically when the rewrites and reshoots happened? Was he to figure prominently in the original climactic battle, for instance? I can’t find much on what the deal is with his appearance being so minor he can’t even be called more than an extra in the film, but I’ve seen unsourced claim that Fox believes his character was only supposed to be introduced in World War Z and would factor heavily in the sequel. Maybe World War Z Part 2 could focus on that character’s part in the globally expansive story? It would be neat if the sequels told other people’s stories that happened simultaneous to or independent of Gerry’s.

Why would the zombie virus spare terminal humans?

Here’s my dumb guy question, as in I really naively don’t get why the zombies avoid attacking humans with a terminal illness. Story-wise, sure, it sounds good. But if a zombie did bite, say, someone with cancer, what would the issue be? Would the newly turned zombie die of cancer? Would the attacking zombie get cancer? That doesn’t sound right. And aren’t the humans who are infected with “zombism” or whatever their actual condition also now terminally ill if not actually dead to a degree? Does the zombie virus pass on terminal people for the same reason zombies don’t attack other zombies? I guess that’s probably the answer, but it still seems weird.


What is the disease used as the camouflage vaccine in the end?

This is my I apparently didn’t pay enough attention during the quick expositional conclusion question. And I can’t seem to find the answer anywhere else on the web yet, so hopefully someone can clarify. I thought I heard them say meningitis, but as far as my understanding that wouldn’t be the best thing to give yourself. For the solution to work, it’d have to be a terminal disease that we have a cure for, because otherwise what would the point be if we’re just camouflaging ourselves from death with a different kind of death, even if a more prolonged cause? A colleague said he thought the vaccine drop-delivered to different areas in the final montage was some sort of poxvirus. That also sounds too dangerous. Are there really any technically “terminal” and well-contained diseases that are curable and not just treatable that fit or did they actually not specify in the film because it was too hard to come up with a perfect candidate?

What was that about a major battle in Russia?

Also in the montage in the end there’s a briefly mentioned and shown battle in Russia that sounds and appears to have been quite substantial. Originally it was actually the climactic sequence of the film. For more on that, head to our previous post on differences between the initial version of the film and the reshot version. And for even more details, check out Peter Hall’s lengthy post at Movies.com on the battle and rest of the original ending as it was written in the earlier shooting script (the greater capacity of Fox’s role is also divulged).

When Gerry says “this isn’t the end” at the end, does he mean the zombie apocalypse or his revenge against the U.N.?

The way World War Z ends, with Gerry discovering a way to defeat the zombies and then the swift happy ending montage and scene reuniting the family in Nova Scotia, everything seems pretty nicely tied up. At least more so than most zombie apocalypse movies end. That means it’s okay if they never make a sequel, but there’s enough left open that there’s plenty of room to continue. That’s even without Gerry directly telling us in narration that, “This isn’t the end. Not even close.” I’m sure he means the war against the zombies, but part of me wants to think he means his beef with the U.N. officials who risked the safety of his family after he risked his life to save the world for them. Last year when Marc Forster and Paramount announced plans to turn World War Z into a trilogy, the Jason Bourne series was alluded to as inspiration. I can’t help but wish Gerry’s character does go full Bourne and goes after his former bosses as Bourne eventually did. The answer to this question is obvious: he means the zombie apocalypse. But that doesn’t make it the proper answer.

Rather than a reject, Christopher Campbell is a film school dropout. But he has since gotten a master’s degree in cinema studies and has been blogging about movies since 2005. Earlier, he reviewed films for a zine (a what?) that you could buy at Tower Records (a what?). He is married with two children.

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