- Zack Snyder’s new sci-fi film Rebel Moon has been in development for over 20 years and has gone through various iterations before landing at Netflix.
- The film was once pitched as a Star Wars movie and there were discussions with Lucasfilm, but Snyder ultimately decided it should be its own original IP.
- While Rebel Moon has undeniable similarities to Star Wars, Snyder isn’t bothered by the comparisons and believes it’s impossible to make a sci-fi film without being compared to the iconic franchise.
Zack Snyder’s new Netflix sci-fi epic, Rebel Moon, is being heavily compared to Star Wars thanks to some obvious similarities (like lightsabers) and a connection to Lucasfilm in its production process, but the full story of Rebel Moon‘s origin means it’s far more than “Zack Snyder’s Star Wars,” and has far more potential as an original property than Snyder would ever have if the film were worked into existing Star Wars canon.
During Screen Rant’s visit to the Rebel Moon set we spoke with the filmmakers about the origin of Rebel Moon, where the idea originally came from, and how it’s connected to Star Wars, and it’s clear labelling the movie as a “Star Wars rip-off” is reductive considering the movie’s long development arc, which began before George Lucas even made the Star Wars prequels. Star Wars comparisons are virtually unavoidable for any sci-fi property, but there’s far more to Rebel Moon‘s universe than its few superficial Star Wars similarities.
Rebel Moon Has Been In Development For Over 20 Years
Zack Snyder has been making Hollywood movies since 2004’s Dawn of the Dead remake, but he started development on Rebel Moon long before then. During Screen Rant’s visit to the Rebel Moon set, Deborah Snyder “the fun part about this and this idea that Zack had, I think it started like before we were even married, so like 20 years ago, 21 years ago, and he wanted to do something science fiction.” Zack Snyder told Screen Rant the idea started when he pitched it in a class in film school: “I had said something to my professor about like “what about Dirty Dozen in space? Or like an ensemble movie like Seven Samurai in space.”
The plot of the movie is most directly inspired by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which was also a major inspiration for George Lucas in making Star Wars. Snyder says he pitched the movie to Warner Bros. a couple of times and it was even engineered as a TV show at one point. Deborah Snyder said it was a project he kept coming back to over the years on the side as he continued working on other movies: “He kept coming back. He originally worked on it with Kurt Johnston. And then we brought in Shay. And the three of them worked on the script together. And yeah, it’s been years. But he has a lot of these that have been around. I was like, it’s kind of a matter of time, but it’s a good time for things. And it seemed to be a good time for this.
Rebel Moon Was Once Pitched As a Star Wars Movie
Warner Bros. wasn’t the only studio to turn down Snyder’s Rebel Moon pitches. At one point he briefly met with Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy to discuss re-engineering it to fix into Star Wars new canon. Deborah Snyder said “At one point he met with Star Wars before the sale and ILM pitched him some art.” Zack Snyder said there were some early discussions, but never got to the point where they were actually working on the script: “it never got that far. We were just literally you know it was more of in the pitching stages and sort of discussion stages.” In another interview, Snyder also said he wanted it to be totally disconnected from other Star Wars stories.
While Zack Snyder is a huge Star Wars fan and wanted to make it happen, Deborah Snyder thinks it’s better off as its own original IP: “I always was like, I feel like doing something original is better and more in your wheelhouse, but he’s such a huge fan that I think it was interesting to him and it never worked out.” At the time Snyder was getting ready to enter production on Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, after which he says Disney had already established their new Star Wars plan “so it was going to be like “look I can do this at some point,” but you know they had kind of made a pretty hard plan once they made the sale about how they were going to — what Star Wars was going [to be] into the future.”
Rebel Moon Can’t Escape the Star Wars Comparison And That’s Ok
Since Rebel Moon‘s tangential Star Wars connection was reported early-on in its development at Netflix, it’s already largely considered “Zack Snyder’s Star Wars,” a label strengthened by a few similarities, such as the glowing swords resembling lightsabers, but Snyder isn’t bothered by the Star Wars comparisons: “I don’t think you can make a sci-fi movie now that’s not going to be compared to a Star Wars movie in some way.” As the biggest sci-fi franchise of all time, it’s hard for any property to avoid a comparison to Star Wars, although Rebel Moon‘s visual and tonal inspirations stretch far beyond a galaxy far, far away, with influences from a number of different sci-fi and fantasy properties.
Ironically, Rebel Moon‘s path to creation isn’t all that different from Star Wars. George Lucas wanted to make a Flash Gordon movie and couldn’t get the rights to the IP, so he crafted a new story inspired by a plethora of his favorite influences including Akria Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai and Hidden Fortress, Frank Herbert’s Dune, and more. While Snyder brought a few of those same influences to Rebel Moon, he also extended into a number of other properties like Excalibur, Heavy Metal, Blade Runner, and even some anime inspirations. Like Snyder said, it’s impossible to avoid comparisons to Star Wars, but Rebel Moon is far from a Star Wars rip-off.
Ultimately, Rebel Moon remaining as an original IP is likely the best option for Snyder as he has far more storytelling freedom and isn’t likely to face the same studio constraints or audience backlash as he has when adapting other licensed properties like Batman and Superman. Netflix seems to have plans to turn Rebel Moon into its own shared universe, and that would never be able to happen if it were engineered into a smaller puzzle piece of the existing Star Wars story. The trailer is also a massive departure from the tone of the Disney Star Wars movies, so maybe Rebel Moon will one day escape the Star Wars comparisons as well.
Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire
Rebel Moon: Part Two – The Scargiver