Walkers, Biters, The Living Dead, The Undead. No matter what you call them zombies are HUGE in popular culture. From George A. Romero’s movies to TV Show The Walking Dead, zombies as the antagonist are everywhere. But in recent years we’ve seen a rise in zombies as the protagonist, in films such as Warm Bodies and comic book to TV show adaptation iZombie.
What is it about zombies that make such great protagonist, and how are they different from their ‘evil’ counterparts?
The key is their humanity. Audiences are drawn to whatever they can make a connection with. In George A. Romero’s movies and The Walking Dead we empathize with the human survivors of the zombie apocalypse, as we can image how we’d feel fighting for our lives, worrying about our loved ones and trying to survive in a zombie ravaged world.
We don’t connect with the zombies, because we can’t imagine what it would be like wondering aimlessly, hungering for brains.
In Warm Bodies, iZombie and other similar medias, we’re not relating to the supernatural, undead aspect, we’re relating to the everyday struggles of the characters -holding down a job, maintaining personal relationships, keeping secrets from those we love in order to protect them.
Again, it’s the humanity we connect with, not the zombie, but in some ways the stakes are higher because we know what these characters could become. We’re all familiar with the decaying, chomping undead, and we don’t want our beloved characters to succumb to their new natures and become monsters.
I think it’s that mix of humanity and real life aspects, combined with the lingering threat that the characters could lose all that in an instant, and become mindless fiends that makes movies and TV shows like Warm Bodies and iZombie so compelling.
What are some of your favourite ‘human’ zombie forms of entertainment?