Zombieland: Double Tap is hitting theaters ten years after its original with a delightful level of self-awareness to match the predecessor. The post-apocalyptic action-comedy (which got a rare five star review from Comicbook.com's official spoiler-free take) is set in the same time as the real world is watching it but the world for Tallahassee, Wichita, Columbus, and Little Rock ended ten years ago. This means all of pop culture ceased to exist. No more movies, TV, music, or books. Still, the zombie movie managed to sneak a reference to one of the biggest zombie properties of all time, The Walking Dead, into its hour and a half run time.
Early on in Zombieland: Double Tap (and in its trailers), Jesse Eisenberg's Columbus can be seen reading The Walking Dead issue #27. The book published in 2006, three years prior to the onset of the apocalypse in the Zombieland mythology. While director Ruben Fleischer almost went even further with the reference, he was happy to throw a little wink to the series without diving too far into meta territory.
"Well, it's funny because I actually read a ton of The Walking Dead prior to making Zombieland because it was one of the best examples of survivors living in a zombie post-apocalypse," Fleischer told Comicbook.com. "I like the nod in that respect because I was actually reading it at that time to inform this movie. But, yeah, it felt like there had to be some acknowledgments given how it's such a juggernaut of a show and definitely the most significant zombie property out there."
As for the book specifically, it basically just fit the parameters of Zombieland's mythology and Fleischer liked the look of it. "I just loved that cover," Fleischer said. "I thought it was really, really cool and so it was a good one to feature."
Of course, Zombieland made a certain Bill Murray cameo famous the first time around, and it almost followed suit with a member of The Walking Dead cast for the sequel. "Emma [Stone] actually pitched that at one point during the development of the script," Fleischer said. "She thought it'd be funny if, as they were traveling through the post-apocalyptic landscape, they happen across some of the members of The Walking Dead and just in passing, which I think would've been really funny. Given that they shoot in Atlanta, as did we, it felt like it would have been not too hard to achieve, but it was just a hair to meta, winky wink, as to break the reality of our movie. But I always thought that would've been a funny scene, and I know fans would have appreciated it."
Zombieland: Double Tap is now playing in theaters.