Rebel Moon: The Snyders Talk Building a Post-DC Universe

Rebel Moon: The Snyders Talk Building a Post-DC Universe

On December 22 Netflix will become home to a new Zack Snyder universe, that being the director’s Star Wars-like sci-fi Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire.

It’s a germ of an idea that has been kicking around since the director first saw Star Wars back in 1977, Mr. Snyder said during Rebel Moon’s press conference in Tokyo. In fact, it was a pitch that once made its way to Lucasfilm, before the studio decided to pass.

As it turns out, this was the right move for the Snyders, who had just spent years working within the confines of the DC universe.

“After working for over a decade on DC, where it was such strict canon, it was so refreshing to create something on our own, to not have those limitations,” Deborah Snyder, Zack’s wife and producing partner, added.

“It was really exciting for us to create something that was wholly original, and also that made it so challenging because there was nothing that existed. Everything just existed in Zack’s head. So we had to figure out how to make that come alive,” she continued.

The result is a sprawling sci-fi, fantasy epic, that spans two movies (and two even longer director’s cuts) with plans for multiple spin-offs across different media platforms. To create such an in-depth cinematic universe from scratch, the Snyders said the process involved a lot of drawing and conceptualising to make their new world feel real.

rebel moon zack snyder
Image: Netflix

“The first thing that we did after we had the script was we hired so many different artists and we just started drawing. Zack would work with them, he’d pull a lot of references that he would find online,” Mrs. Snyder said. “…We had so much art that when we did the presentation to Netflix to show them what it was gonna be like, it fit in a whole soundstage.”

In just the first movie, Rebel Moon travels to multiple different planets, exploring a plethora of different cultures and landscapes, teasing at an expansive history and lore, a lot of which goes unsaid on screen.

“It was so important that, even if you didn’t see it, that you believed that just around the corner, there was a world that existed,” she explained. “So that attention to detail, I think, really makes the world feel real.”

“We know the entire history of the Motherworld even though it’s not expressed in the movie,” Mr. Snyder added. “…These things that you think are limitations actually become nice guidelines to help you get to where you’re going and keep the world consistent.”

Gathering the Rebels

rebel moon netflix cast
Image: Netflix

Filling out this world is an ensemble cast of heroes and villains. Mr. Snyder related the story of Rebel Moon: Part One to an assemble-the-team-movie, in a similar vein to something like Seven Samurai.

This involved recruiting some of the brightest stars in Hollywood, such as Sofia Boutella, an actor known for her roles in Star Trek, Kingsman and Atomic Blonde. When it came to preparing for the leading role of Kora, Boutella said her background as a dancer was a real asset in such a physically demanding movie like Rebel Moon, particularly as her character has been a warrior from a young age.

“Being a dancer is a big part of my life that will always help me in everything that I do, especially when it comes to the discipline of it all, and creating a structure for myself in order to better execute movement,” Boutella said during the press conference. “I also did Pilates and all sorts of training in order to condition myself.”

Speaking to Gizmodo Australia in an interview later, Boutella said nothing could really prepare her for working on a Zack Snyder movie.

“From the way he shoots, his technique, what the story was about and how complicated it was, as well as how epic it was, I don’t think that there was anything that was similar to that,” she confessed. “I don’t think anything prepared me for that size. I learned a lot on this shoot.”

The actress added that they filmed Rebel Moon in a marathon 153 day shooting period which resulted in all the cast immersing themselves in their characters.

rebel moon netflix atticus noble
Image: Netflix

That can definitely be said for Ed Skrein (Deadpool, The Transporter) who said during the press conference that he went “so deep underwater” to play the evil Imperium leader, Atticus Noble, that he no longer recognised himself on screen.

“Admiral Atticus Noble, was there to provide this terrible threat to the underdogs. So it was clear for me from the start that that is what I had to provide. So the way I provided it was being as menacing and mean and evil and horrible as possible…” Skrein said. “I’m scared of the man and I don’t recognise myself in him. It reminds me of how deep underwater I went to to play this character.”

Skrein told Gizmodo AU that it was his role in Alita: Battle Angel that prepared him most for Rebel Moon, due to the similarities between directors.

“Robert Rodriguez, he is the same [as Snyder]. He has this macro lens and he sees the big picture, but he’s just so chilled, so nice,” he said. “But really, nothing can prepare you for a gargantuan task and piece such as this.”

Doona Bae, who plays the sword-wielding Nemesis, is no stranger to visionary directors, having worked with some legends herself.

“I’ve been lucky. I have worked with some great directors, like Bong Joon-ho, Park Chan-wook and the Wachowskis, and Zack, I mean, like he’s also one of the geniuses,” she said. “I didn’t have much time to talk to Zack, because he was really busy on set. You know, he’s the director of this film and one of the producers and he was a DOP on set, so he had a lot to do.”

rebel moon netflix nemesis
Image: Netflix

Of all the characters in Rebel Moon – Part One, Nemesis has one of the most distinctive styles, which Bae confirmed was influenced by the traditional garb of Korea, during the press conference.

“Her costume was influenced by [a] Korean traditional gown. The hat is very famous,” she said. “It’s called gat in Korean and actually, it was only for men back in the day. And I was so excited to wear this, because you were not allowed to wear it if [you were] a girl.”

Despite Nemesis’ badass appearance (and her proficiency with fiery swords) the actress reassured us that she is still a “very warmhearted person” who we’ll learn more about in Rebel Moon Part 2

The Final Fight

rebel moon netflix sofia boutella
Image: Netflix

It wouldn’t be a traditional Zack Snyder movie without some action and Rebel Moon has plenty of it. Boutella and Skrein, in particular, have a distinct rivalry that leads to an epic face off, the shooting of which required even more intensive preparation.

“When we shot it, it was long, at least six days,” she said. “We spent a lot of time learning it, it has to do so much with the structure and using that space, which wasn’t easy. It took us a bit of time.”

Boutella added that both herself and Skrein learned their parts with each other’s stunt doubles, before filming the scene together. Both actors were sure to shout out the work of their stunt doubles, a criminally under-recognised profession in the film industry.

“Zack was very appreciative that you had two leads that could do all the stunts themselves, but no way could we have done that without them. They’re like our physical directors,” Skrein said.

The results of the scene are explosive on screen and just one of many parts of Rebel Moon that hint at more to come. And much more to come there is.

“We have a novelisation. We have a graphic novel. We have a podcast,” Mrs. Snyder said, when asked about all the different moving pieces in their new cinematic universe. With each of these projects each bringing on their own creative teams, with the Snyders overseeing all of their work, it’s certainly starting to look like Rebel Moon could be a new blockbuster franchise all of Netflix’s own.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire releases on Netflix on December 22.

Image: Netflix

The author of this article travelled to Tokyo as a guest of Netflix.

Want more entertainment news? Check out when to expect the latest MarvelStar Wars, and DC releaseswhat’s coming to cinemas in Australia this year, and everything streaming this month across all platforms. Check out our dedicated Entertainment tab for more.

The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans

It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Gizmodo, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.