The Star Wars universe could’ve taken a much darker, sinister direction had Disney signed off on Zack Snyder’s original R-rated pitch 10 years ago. Now, Netflix is set to reveal Snyder’s space opera Rebel Moon; an epic that would’ve altered the timeline of Star Wars forever.
From the mind that conceptualised Watchmen, Batman v Superman and Man of Steel, Snyder has long been associated with cinema that has a notably “harder edge,” taking ideas of what audiences felt they knew and completely turning them on their head.
Iconic characters such as DC Comic’s Superman – that occupy an eternal place in popular culture – were depicted in completely reimagined ways through Snyder’s lens: moody, marginalised and troubled. Henry Cavill’s depiction of Clark Kent in Snyder’s Man of Steel was flawed, almost human. He wouldn’t run whimsically into a phonebox and emerge as the Man of Steel to a fanfare procession, but would instead have to step out of the shadows to become the hero, emerging from the fringes to save the day.
However, if Snyder had his way, we would have seen Star Wars get a grittier treatment, too – long before Disney’s Star Wars TV shows explored a darker, more realistic galaxy.
Following Disney’s $4.05 billion (~$6.05 billion AUD) acquisition of Lucasfilm over ten years ago, speculation was rife as to what direction the iconic Star Wars universe and its collection of beloved characters would take. Snyder saw an opportunity to present a fresh, new narrative set in a galaxy, far, far away, but in a completely new world, previously unseen.
Snyder’s world would be innately rich and complicated with its own lore and history. It would exist adjacent to Star Wars, exploring new characters and storylines but anchored in George Lucas’ beloved world.
Speaking with Empire, Snyder said: “The sale [of Lucasfilm to Disney] had just happened. There was that window where, you know, who knows what’s possible? I was like, ‘I don’t want any of your characters. I don’t want to do anything with any known characters, I just want to do my own thing on the side.’ And originally I was like, ‘It should be rated R!’ That was almost a non-starter.”
WATCH a behind-the-scenes look at Rebel Moon below.
Disney ultimately decided against pursuing the project, opting instead to follow the central Star Wars saga for three more movies, to complete the celebrated ennealogy. Other Disney feature films would include Rogue One and Solo, as Disney continued to populate the expansive world of Star Wars, anchored in time by the central story and its characters.
Similarly, television series such as The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Andor would serve to fill in some of the outstanding gaps of the well-known Star Wars timeline, introducing new characters and narratives but never straying from the path – as Mando says, “This is the way.”
Now, in 2023, we’re finally going to see the result of Snyder’s vision – sans any connection to Star Wars, but with themes that’ll be immediately familiar to fans of the franchise as well as classic cinema.
Netflix’s Rebel Moon will follow the story of a young woman in a universe under the tyrannical rule of an oppressive government, that recruits intergalactic warriors to fight against their rulers. Rebel Moon is largely influenced by Snyder’s favourite movie Seven Samurai – a 1954 Japanese film centred around seven great warriors that defend a town from its enemies – and for Zack Snyder, this is only just the beginning.
Speaking with Empire, Snyder imagines an expansive world that can exceed expectations of the sci-fi genre, offering multifaceted, multidirectional storylines simultaneously; a bottomless cornucopia of character-led chronicles in a completely new universe. “We can’t really hit the bottom,” he confessed.
Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon will be released on Netflix on December 22 2023.