“It’s very much clear as far as the morality of who’s good and who’s bad,” says the director. “We don’t do a lot of ‘Oh, the Imperium, they’re just misunderstood, and as far as they’re concerned, they’re the good guys.’ It’s not really like that.”
That’s not to say the characters are one-dimensional, though. They have backgrounds and complexities that are often inspired by real-world issues and experiences. Boutella, who was born in Algeria, channeled her experience growing up in a country torn by civil war to inform her performance as Kora. General Titus (Djimon Hounsou, Gladiator), comes from a colonized planet stripped of its native culture—Snyder and Hounsou used Nigerian culture and history to inform Titus’ backstory.
The rest of Kora’s band of rebels includes brother-sister insurgents Darrian and Devra Bloodaxe (Ray Fisher and Cleopatra Coleman), the animal-whispering Tarek (Staz Nair), literal spider-woman Harmada (Jena Malone), and gun-slinger Kai (Charlie Hunnam). But the most intriguing hero of them all is Jimmy, a soul-searching combat robot played by Sir Anthony Hopkins. “Yeah, he’s the most human character, I think,” Snyder says, fully aware of the irony of the statement. Pulling out his phone, he shows us an image of Jimmy donning a helmet he’s fashioned from the skull of a dead deer, indicating a transformative journey, to say the least.
One of the main takeaways from the set visit is that the films explore a fascinating interplay between the new and the old—the alien and the familiar— with their props, costumes, and sets. In other words, while there is a lot of futuristic technology on display, they all look aged and worn in, resembling artifacts you might find in a World War II museum. There’s a decidedly terrestrial, recognizable element to the imagery, due in part to Snyder unexpectedly falling in love with the village of Veldt.
“I think the interesting thing is the way Veldt evolved [over time],” Snyder says. “In the early days [of writing], I always thought it was a generic village. I didn’t care as much about it because I liked all the space guys and the warriors. But as we made the movie, we really took a deep dive into the culture and it became its own thing.”
Snyder shoots the village reverentially, like something out of a Terrence Malick film, capturing beautiful shots of farmers harvesting wheat with scythes at sunset, lines of villagers weaving through the golden fields in slow motion. Veldt and its people are the heart of the story, and it’s purposefully reminiscent of our own world.