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Zack Snyder discusses the expansive universe of his Netflix sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon

Zack Snyder knows what he’s doing. Whether thanks to its considerable popularity for his artistic benefit, or by focusing on every detail of a film, the filmmaker is perfectly aware of this. So of course when it comes to his last movie, Rebel Moon, he knows more than anyone when referring to the science fiction that came before it. He also knows that most people who see the film will see it on Netflix. What people are waiting for this film to connect with others. This is all running through his head.

Snyder I spoke to io9 via video chat earlier this month and we dug into all of this. We discussed how he is aware of the homage in the film. We discussed the clues he left for himself to possibly explore in the future. We even talked about his fan base and if it changed the way he makes films. Read our interview with him below.

Snyder’s Manufacturing Rebel Moon.
Picture: Netflix

Germain Lussier, io9: Rebel Moon is an absolute love letter to science fiction. You see this passion everywhere. But when you’re doing things that seem a little trickier, like finding transportation to an alien bar (from Star Wars) or bow before a large beaked animal (of Harry Potter), are these intentional homages or things you love that are deeply part of your DNA?

Zack Snyder: I think it’s probably a combo. I feel like when you go to a bar and you know you’re in a bar, you have to deconstruct it slightly because you’re aware of it. And so you make a mess of it. The ominous connotations in the bar become a little more overt, and need to be, as you have to make a statement about your awareness of where you are. This stuff is absolutely self-aware, because I think it helps the audience who are 100% aware of the mythology that we’re sort of playing with. And we just have to walk a fine line with that.

io9: That’s true. So much care is given to this world. Every line, every character, you think, has a story behind it. And I know we’re going to do a lot more in Second part but without spoilers Second partIs there something on the outskirts of this film that you added and you’re like, “Maybe one day I can explore that” without a real plan?

One of Snyder's many creatures.

One of Snyder’s many creatures.
Screenshot: Netflix

Snider: Oh damn. Yes of course. Well, I mentioned the Zanadytes. (Note: We couldn’t find the correct spelling of this alien species, so we’re going by sound. We will update this article if we find a different official spelling.) The Zanadytes are (the species of) the blue woman in the canteen. It is a possible spin-off of a army of the dead The concept I had was literally this completely weird riff from another dimension that me and (co-writers) Kurt (Johnstad) and Shay (Hatten) talked about with each other a few times. They think I’m crazy, but that’s the kind of thing I think is really fun to have in the movie. And I’m like, “We’ll just put a Zanadyte in the movie!” »

io9: Just in case!

Snider: And we will see. Let the chips fall where they may. Every once in a while, despite all our planning and all our world-building and very careful detailing, it’s still fun to take a hammer and smash something because it feels good.

io9: Absolutely. It’s probably one of the things that makes you unique and one of the reasons why, in recent years, you’ve almost become more than a filmmaker. You are a renowned brand. You are the star of the show. Does this change your approach to filmmaking? And do you feel this responsibility as additional pressure?

Snider: You know, I don’t think I have a different approach to films than to Dawn of the dead, Frankly. It’s like I kind of have one speed, one speed, and I love doing this job. I like the kind of myth that a story has inherently built into it. And I love exploring it. So that’s what excites me. And I do it as much as I can.

Snyder on set.

Snyder on set.
Picture: Netflix

io9: Yeah. And you are also a filmmaker who loves big shows. Rebel Moon fits into that, but you’re also making a Netflix movie that most people will see on the small screen. Does making a film for Netflix change your approach in any way or what have you learned after making a few films for them so far?

Snider: Oh, not really. I mean, I made this film specifically for the service. That’s how I did it. It has a widescreen look. But I did it on purpose also because what I was really trying to do with this thing was give viewers at home as great a cinematic experience as possible, you know? Really feels like a movie movie. No compromise. And I think that’s the gift I was trying to give you while sitting on your couch.

io9: I read in another interview, and you can tell me if I’m wrong here, but you said Rebel Moon takes place in the same universe as your first Netflix film, Army of the dead.

Snider: Yeah, maybe that’s the case. It’s more absurd. There is a dimensional rift in Area 51 that can take you to Rebel Moon universe, but it is not a straight (line).

io9: Okay. Yeah, because we see alien ships army of the dead and I was wondering if these ships were intentionally left vague or did you have an idea that they could relate to Rebel Moon?

Snider: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s delicate.

io9: No problem. Now in interviews you’re almost always asked about the director’s cuts, sequels, and follow-ups, all of which are upcoming for the film.

Snider: Yes, all of that.

Part of the cast of Rebel Moon.

Part of the cast of Rebel Moon.
Picture: Netflix

io9: That’s true, but my question is: have you ever thought otherwise? Just make it one big movie rather than two movies and a whole universe and all that?

Snider: When I originally wrote it, I kind of irresponsibly wrote a 200-page script, and so once I did that, I was kind of stuck and didn’t want to take anything out. And so I said to myself, “The only way to move forward is to split it into two films.” “And, you know, Netflix was really incredibly cool about the idea that we would have two films, and it was great because we could advertise it. For example, I really believe that these two films cost essentially what a normal big sci-fi film costs, because we were able to amortize a lot of that on both films. And so in the end, we’re going to have four films because we have these two, and then the two director’s cuts, which are an hour longer each, so you get a lot more. A much deeper dive into the universe.

io9: Yes, I’m very interested to see this. Okay, again, another thing that everyone always talks to you about is your DC movies. People call it the “Snyderverse,” but those weren’t your characters. These are your characters. Consider yourself now Rebel Moon be the real Snyderverse?

Snider: Wow, that’s a good question. It might be. Absolutely. I mean, if there is such a thing. I don’t actually own the copyright to this “Snyderverse” concept. The fans do it. So I would be careful about stealing it. But yeah, it’s an interesting thing to talk about. But I think ultimately I reserve that name for all things DC.

io9: OK OK.

Snider: But it’s only now, so who knows?

Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon.

Sofia Boutella in Rebel Moon.
Picture: Netflix

io9: (Laughs) Yes. Everything can change. Okay, like I said before, this movie is a sci-fi love letter. There is a spectacle. It’s a matter of honor and family. But, aside from making sure people come back to see the sequel in April, what do you hope most people leave this movie with?

Snider: I think that’s exactly it. I think it’s because, you know, you understand the way that this genre, on this level, with this kind of deep love, this warm embrace of cinematic genres – fantasy, science fiction – really brings cinema to its bizarre final incarnation, You know? I still think sci-fi fantasy is the tip of the spear. It’s kind of the top of the genre mountain, if you can do it. And so for me, it’s really an incredible honor and super fun to play in this world.

io9: This brings me to my last question which is the first idea of Rebel moon, or the concept of it, was in the Star Wars universe. Which, of course, didn’t happen. But if it had been in the Star Wars universe, what would have been the biggest difference between this film and what fans can see on Netflix?

Snider: I think ultimately the tone would have made the big difference because I think my instinctive natural tone is closer to the more R tone. I just can’t help it. And that would have been problematic in the Star Wars universe. There wouldn’t have been a mess.

Rebel Moon – Part One: A Child of Fire is now streaming on Netflix.

Want more io9 news? Find out when to expect the latest news wonder, Star WarsAnd Star Trek exits, what is the next step for the DC Universe in cinema and televisionand everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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