Rebel Moon Ending Explained: Win The Battle, Prep For The War 

This article contains major spoilers for "Rebel Moon."

Filmmaker Zack Snyder knows a thing or two about kicking off a franchise in style. Previously considered the heir apparent to Christopher Nolan himself, Snyder was hand-picked by the "The Dark Knight" director to shepherd a new DC universe with 2013's "Man of Steel" and eventually brought things to a fitting (if premature) conclusion with the delayed release of "Zack Snyder's Justice League." Now, for the first time in his career, the divisive storyteller will have a chance to end things on his own terms.

Snyder's creative choices since his roller coaster of an experience in the world of superheroes have skewed noticeably towards original works. Whether by design or a by-product of his approach to world-building, his most recent efforts haven't shied away from setting up rich new worlds to explore in multiple movies to come, like "Army of the Dead." Now, it's up to "Rebel Moon" to keep the machine chugging along. Marketed as the first part of an epic, "Star Wars"-sized series, the film subtitled "A Child of Fire" hit an early snag when reviews (including one written by yours truly for /Film, which you can read here) came away unimpressed by the final work — or, rather, the "theatrical" cut (an ironic moniker for a movie that will mostly only be seen on Netflix) that will precede the eventual R-rated director's cut. But we can only work with what we've got, and "Rebel Moon" gives us plenty to chew on.

Viewers will undoubtedly come away buzzing about the climactic battle between Kora (Sofia Boutella) and her team of rebels vs Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) and the might of the Imperium. Who lived, who died, and what does it mean for "Part Two"? Allow us to explain.

What you need to remember about the plot of Rebel Moon

There's a lot to keep track of in "Rebel Moon," to say the least, which is probably why Snyder created a character like Jimmy (voiced by Anthony Hopkins, performed by Dustin Ceithamer) to literally explain background information to viewers throughout the film. After a ponderous exposition dump about the Imperium "motherworld" and their authoritarian grip on the universe through a relentless campaign of expansion, we open on the moon that gives the movie its title. Veldt is the newfound home that Kora has relocated to in the two years prior to the beginning of the story. Although the script intentionally keeps her exact background a mystery from us in the early going, we eventually learn that she was once a child of another world decimated by the Imperium and kidnapped to be raised by her oppressors as one of their own. Having survived countless battles and left a hollow shell of herself, she breaks free and becomes a drifter, eventually landing on the peaceful world of Veldt ... until her past comes knocking at her door once again.

Once Admiral Noble's Imperium warships arrive in orbit around Veldt in search of an insurrectionist cell and demand a share of the harvest from Kora's humble village, it's obvious what will inevitably happen next. Internal arguments about whether to beg for mercy or fight back are answered decisively when Kora makes the choice for them. Upon attacking a group of soldiers for threatening young villager Sam (Charlotte Maggi), it becomes only a matter of time before Noble returns to exact his vengeance. In the meantime, the only reasonable course of action is to send Kora to find as many warriors, criminals, and rebel-sympathizing figures to help them in their dire straits.

What happened at the end of Rebel Moon?

The extended second act takes up most of the film's runtime as all the core team members gather together, but it's the final fight that actually puts them in the middle of the action that's worth the price of admission (er, rather, the price of your Netflix subscription). Kora teams up with her closest friend and crush Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) and local bounty hunter Kai (Charlie Hunnam) to find the most formidable allies they can get their hands on. One of their last stops involves a secret meeting with the band of rebels that Noble is so dead-set on eradicating, led by the sibling duo of Devra (Cleopatra Coleman) and Darrian Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher). Although only a few agree to join Kora (including Darrian and his comrade Milius, played by E. Duffy), the stage is set for their first real engagement with the Imperium.

Unfortunately, that only comes about through an act of betrayal. Kai, for all his talk about seeking honor and redemption, had always planned on turning Kora in once she amassed a big enough group of the galaxy's most wanted fugitives to make it worth his while. He springs his trap under the pretense of visiting a distant world to pay off an outstanding debt. Instead, he calls in Imperium forces to attack and imprison the entire team. In the fight that breaks out soon after, Kai is killed, Darrian selflessly sacrifices himself to buy the good guys some more time, and Kora engages in a prolonged, one-on-one fight to the (near) death with Admiral Noble.

The overall battle won by Kora and her friends is a relatively minor one, but it becomes the first shot fired in what promises to be a galaxy-spanning war of attrition.

What the end of Rebel Moon means

The script for "Rebel Moon," penned by Snyder and co-writers Shay Hatten and Kurt Johnstad, packs in all sorts of mythological underpinnings and teases for future events, but very little matters more to the story at hand than the film's concluding moments. After narrowly surviving the attack by the Imperium and slowly recognizing the symbolism of their victory, the merry band of warriors make the long trek back to the wheat fields of Veldt. The tone of the scene is full of foreboding and unresolved questions about what may happen next, but instead, the film makes the curious choice to return to a character who has remained off-screen for nearly two entire hours to this point. We once again circle back to the robot Jimmy, who has undergone a bit of a wardrobe change thanks to his friendship with Sam. He observes the conquering heroes from afire and wistfully gazes towards the sunset at the horizon, channeling his inner Luke Skywalker as the ending implicitly promises a bigger story for next time.

Narratively speaking, the final act is as straightforward as it gets; but in context of Snyder's obvious inspiration from "Dune," "Seven Samurai," and especially "Star Wars," many viewers will likely interpret this in the same vein as the final moments of "Man of Steel" — another movie that ends on a high note following a victory and hints at greater (and likely darker) things to come. As it stands, the fate of Veldt is far from secure. The Imperium is still out there with Regent Balisarius (Fra Fee), the man behind the curtain, intent on defeating Kora and the rebels. Now, however, they'll at least be better prepared to face the impending war.

"Rebel Moon" is currently streaming on Netflix.

Read More