It’s a rather cruel irony that Zack Snyder’s much-anticipated space epic saga and DCEU’s last cinematic venture have been released almost at the same time, given how Zack was responsible for laying the foundation of the cinematic universe in the first place. The reason to bring forth the coincidence is a particular similarity we couldn’t help but notice. One of Snyder’s most divisive movies in DCEU, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, was majorly lambasted for jam-packing the narrative with future teases and using exposition dumps in a tell-don’t show policy while establishing character arcs. However, it was later revealed that Warner’s futile attempt to catch up with the MCU resulted in the shoehorning of world-building elements into the narrative. However, this time, despite being Snyder’s second original work, where apparently Netflix allowed a lot of creative freedom, Rebel Moon suffers from the same aforementioned problems. For a story that spans a vast swathe of the cosmos and includes a number of worlds and characters, viewers never really learn anything significant about the characters to relate to the narrative.
Aside from the poorly fleshed-out characters, another major flaw that plagues Rebel Moon is the fact that it appears very derivative, both visually and narratively. The most apparent similarities it shares are with the Star Wars universe, especially Rogue One, and a host of sci-fi video games contribute to a substantial amount of setting and character design-wise cues. A Rebel Moon franchise is already shaping up across different media adaptations through sequels, graphic novels, and video games, and we sincerely wish some of these glaring issues get rectified in future ventures before generic treatment results in this universe meeting the same fate as DCEU.
Everything We Learn About Motherworld And Arthelais: Who Is Issa The Redeemer?
The world in which Rebel Moon is set is governed by a supremely powerful galactic empire called Motherworld, with a longstanding royal family at the helm. After centuries of conflict resulting in Motherworld’s absolute conquest of multitudes of worlds across vast cosmic space, the present king grew weary of the old means and tried to seek a more peaceful approach. The decision was also influenced by the king’s daughter, Princess Issa’s presence being seen as divine benediction, who, much like Queen Issa, the redeemer of legend, was prophesied to usher the universe into a new age of hope and compassion. However, as the royal family—Issa and her parents—were slain by an assassin, the royal bloodline ceased to exist, and during the ensuing chaos, a tyrannical, charismatic senator named Balisarius took control as ‘Regent,’ in the name of the slain king. After gaining total command, Regent Balisarius sent his sadistic, cruel Admiral Atticus Noble to suppress rebel uprisings across the outer reaches of the Empire, which gradually began to sprout up after the killing of the royal family.
During his years as the Imperium’s (the Galactic Empire’s military might) general, Balisarius had rescued a young girl whose entire world was obliterated in the face of Imperium’s brutal, ruthless might, and for reasons unknown, he decided to adopt the kid and named her Arthelais. As Arthelais grew up, she was educated and trained under the Imperium, joined the same force that was responsible for the deaths of her loved ones, and contributed to a similar crisis by subjugating others for the sake of Motherworld. Her battle prowess earned Arthelais the title of ‘Scargiver,’ and she was eventually assigned as an elite guard for Princess Issa’s security. During this period, Arthelais observed the princess’ fantastical revival powers, as she was able to breathe life into the dead in a very literal sense. Arthelais felt it was an obligation and honor to protect Issa, and the assassination of the royal family left an emotional void in her that was never mended.
Why Did Kora Decide To Rebel Against The Imperium?
It is hinted that aside from the tragedy, Arthelais also participated in some sort of treasonous act, and abandoning her position as Imperium Officer, she hid in one of the humble agrarian settlements of the moon Veldt. An elderly resident, Hagen, helped her mingle with the local populace and make a new identity among them as Kora. However, things took a wrong turn after Gunnar, one of the village residents and Kora’s friend, sold crops to the rebel forces, which brought hounding Atticus Noble and Imperium forces to their doorsteps. Their arrival resulted in village father Sindri’s brutal death at the hands of Noble, as he was unable to keep up with his demand to feed the Motherworld’s forces. Kora initially considered fleeing and getting away from the upcoming turmoil, but eventually finds herself in the role of firestarter after decimating the stationed Imperium soldiers who tried to rape Sam, a village girl. This is undoubtedly a point of no return for Kora and the village residents, as they are at risk of incurring the wrath of Noble and his troops, and the only way to even stand a chance is to fight back.
Kora and Gunnar set out to seek help from some of the best warriors of the galaxy for their cause; the major ones among them are disgraced, legendary General Titus, as well as siblings Devra and Darrian Bloodaxe, who are the major forces to reckon with in the ranks of the rebels. As the duo reach Veldt’s port city, Providence, their conversation is overheard by a thief/pilot (Han Solo archetype), Kai, who offers his assistance against the Imperium forces and suggests recruiting a couple more warriors who share Kora’s anti-Imperium ideology. We meet Prince Tarak, a beast tamer who was doing penance for his unknown, sordid history, and he agrees to join Kora’s battle after she frees him from servitude. On the mining planet of Daggus, the team approaches a sword-wielding cyborg assassin, Nemesis, who shows a phenomenal display of her skills as she slays a mutant arachno-humanoid creature, Harmada. It is revealed that Nemesis had lost her children at the hands of Imperium forces, and since she has ventured deep into the dark, devious path of vengeance, therefore having a common motivation against the forces of the Motherworld, she joins Kora’s cause without hesitation. The team finds General Titus in a gladiator arena on the planet Castor, and Kora’s impassioned pep talk about honor turns out to be enough to convince the disgraced general to join the ranks of the rebels.
Finally, the group finds out about the Bloodaxe siblings, who have been given refuge by King Levitica of planet Shaaran, but as Kora and Gunnar plead with them to provide warships to counter the Imperium Dreadnought ‘King’s Gaze,’ the siblings refuse, considering such an attempt at direct combat to be suicidal, which will only waste their resources. Kora promptly reminds them that the transaction with the rebels was the reason their village was targeted by Noble, and therefore it is their responsibility to provide assistance in times of crisis. Darren is finally convinced to join their ranks, and he takes a handful of rebel fighters with him, while Devra chooses to stay back with the rest of their forces.
Was Kora Able To Save Her Village?
Meanwhile, Noble learns about King Levitica’s assistance to the Bloodaxe siblings and delivers horrifying retribution as he razes their civilization, the entire planet of Shaaran, to the ground. As the group heads back to Veldt to make a stand against Noble’s forces, Kai shares his willingness to regain his lost honor by joining Kora’s battle. Adhering to Kai’s request to offload a shipment, the group makes a final stop at the planet Gondival, and it is revealed that Kai was working as an Imperium bounty hunter all along as Noble’s forces round up the rebels after clinically trapping them using contraptions. Kora’s mission to gather rebels has actually turned into a methodical capture of the Imperium’s most dreaded adversaries, and Noble also recognizes Kora as Arthelais, the Scargiver, daughter of Balisarius. Noble orders the rebels to be executed, and to humiliate Gunnar in his helpless situation, he gets forced to pull the contraption trigger. However, Gunnar manages to kill Kai instead and set the rebels free, and a prolonged battle ensues between the rebels and Imperium forces.
At the end of Rebel Moon Part 1, Darren Bloodaxe sacrifices his life to bring down ‘King’s Gaze’; in brutal melee combat, Kora manages to kill Admiral Noble, both of which ensure the rebels’ victory over the Imperium forces. Although this is not the definitive victory as Motherworld will adequately repay for this apparent transgression, the impact of this win will be far-reaching, and true to her words, Kora has managed to save her village. As Kora and Gunnar bring the team of rebels to their village in Veldt and they rides off to the sunset, there is a rejuvenated sense of hope and assurance in their faces. Their optimism reflects even in the robotic features of Jimmy, the last surviving member of the sentient King’s Guard robotic clan, whose sense of purpose, which was lost after the death of Princess Issa, seems to have been found at long last.
The larger crisis is still looming as Imperium forces arrive at Gondival and revive Noble. His consciousness is taken into a psychic plane, where he is taken into the presence of Regent Balisarius, who threatens Noble with dire consequences should he fails to suppress the rebellion and bring Arthelais to him, as he plans to execute his own adopted daughter to make a horrid example for the rebels. As the movie ends, a flurry of questions surface regarding the divine mythology of Issa, Jimmy’s role in a larger context, and a proper background exploration of each of the members of the rebels. There is vast potential for exploration, as teased by the movie itself, but the shaky foundation will surely make even the ardent fans of the director a bit skeptical regarding its future. Nevertheless, the existence of a director’s cut of Rebel Moon has been teased already, and hopefully that will answer some of our queries eventually, along with a number of upcoming continuations.