'Always the plan': Zack Snyder reveals Rebel Moon Part 1's big plot twist was there from day one

Kora tries to persuade a shirtless Titus to join her cause in Rebel Moon Part 1
"Djimon, did you hear about the huge plot twist that happens in our movie?" (Image credit: Clay Enos/Netflix)

Full spoilers follow for Rebel Moon Part 1 – A Child of Fire. You have been warned.

Zack Snyder has explained how the huge plot twist in Rebel Moon Part One – A Child of Fire was on the cards from the very beginning.

With the last of 2023's new Netflix movies hitting the platform on December 21 in the US (December 22 internationally), Snyder diehards and other movie fans have no doubt watched the filmmaker's latest big-budget flick. If you're among that contingent, you'll know about the big character betrayal that happens in its final act.

This is your final warning: we're about to get into major spoiler territory for Rebel Moon Part 1. Turn back now if you haven't seen it yet. 

Kai stands in front of a shuttered window bathed in light in Rebel Moon Part One on Netflix

Well, this is a turn up for the books... (Image credit: Clay Enos/Netflix)

After assembling her band of warriors to protect Veldt from the Motherworld, aka the tyrannical galactic superpower, Kora (Sofia Boutella) and her crew make their way to the spaceport known as Gondival before traveling to the moon-based outpost to make their last stand. However, they're ambushed by Motherworld's Imperium forces – led by the callous Admiral Atticus Noble (Ed Skrein) – which sees the group captured after the surprise attack.

How did the Imperium know where they were? There was a traitor in their ranks and it's none other than Kai (Charlie Hunnam), the spacepilot mercenary – we should have known! – who originally agreed to help Kora and Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) rounded up their merry band of insurgents. Cue Netflix viewers across the globe calling Kai all kinds of names, including betrayer, backstabber, double-crosser, and likely more harsh words than those.

His journey should've been one of redemption

Zack Snyder, Rebel Moon creator

With so many cryptic characters – whose backstories are largely shrouded in mystery – seemingly joining forces to aid Kora's defence of Veldt, why was Kai selected as Rebel Moon's Judas? Speaking to TechRadar ahead of the space-fantasy epic's release, Snyder enlightened me on the reasons behind that decision.

A close up of Kai with Kora and Gunnar in the background in Netflix's Rebel Moon Part One - A Child of Fire

Yippee-Kai-Yay, you mercenary. (Image credit: Netflix)

"It was always [going to be] Kai," the writer-director said when I asked him if there were other characters who might have fulfilled that role. "I saw it as a mythological misdirect in this genre. His journey should've been one of redemption and then there's the possibility for him and Kora to have some sort of a love interest. 

"It also seems unlikely it would be Gunnar or Kai who would screw over the group as they're the least likely characters to do that, so I thought it would be fun to have one of them commit the sin. But we picked Kai early on and that's who we stuck with."

Unfortunately for Kai, his plan backfires and, to the delight of those watching the film on the world's best streaming service, gets his comeuppance before the credits roll. Indeed, the timid Gunnar, who isn't tied to one of the Imperium's so-called 'Beetlejuice chair' torture contraptions because he isn't perceived as a major thread, becomes the hero of the hour by freeing his fellow captives before killing Kai.

Some viewers may be sad to see Hunnam's time in the Rebel Moon universe end prematurely, but we'll get to see more of the character in the future. Snyder is working on an R-rated director's cut (one that'll test your runtime limits) of the franchise's first entry as we speak and, given it'll be an hour longer than the initial PG-13 edition, we'll see more of Kai in the extended version. If you bauked at the length of that flick, you're not the only one – some of the cast couldn't believe how long Rebel Moon's director's cut will be, either.

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Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

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