Welcome to our Colossus Movie Guide for The Creator. This guide contains our detailed library of content covering key aspects of the movie’s plot, ending, meaning, and more. We encourage your comments to help us create the best possible guide. Thank you!
What is The Creator about?
The Creator is a pretty clear answer to the question of “Is America the bad guy?” In some ways, it’s similar to Team America: World Police in its demonstration of the ugly manner in which the United States has “spread freedom” throughout the world. The Creator’s plot point of artificial intelligence detonating a nuke on Los Angeles and the resulting 15+ year military response is similar to the attacks on 9/11 and the War on terror that’s lasted for over two decades, to this very day.
One of the terrible byproducts of the 9/11 attacks was an increase in the fear of foreign peoples that inflamed racist attitudes that have existed since America’s founding. The Creator is a battle cry against that way of thinking, similar to Blade Runner.
Beyond that, The Creator explores ideas of technology, parenthood, judgment, redemption, sacrifice, and duty.
Movie Guide table of contents
- Joshua Taylor – John David Washington
- Maya Fey-Taylor – Gemma Chan
- Alpha-O (Alphie) – Madeleine Yuna Voyles
- Harun – Ken Watanabe
- Drew – Sturgill Simpson
- Kami – Veronica Ngo
- Colonel Howell – Allison Janney
- General Andrew – Ralph Ineson
- General McBridge – Marc Menchaca
- Written by – Gareth Edwards | Chris Weitz
- Directed by – Gareth Edwards
The ending of The Creator explained
The end of The Creator begins after the U.S. military seizes Alphie and Joshua from the remote village that had been keeping a comatose Maya alive via a life support system. There, Colonel Howell meets her demise. Joshua also pulled the plug on Maya but was able to use Howell’s brain scan flash drive to create a copy of Maya’s mind. The military doesn’t know the extent of Joshua’s treason so he’s partially considered a hero for helping them acquire Alphie.
After some time, the military calls Joshua in. They’re unable to easily terminate Alphie so ask Joshua to do it since the child trusts him. If he refuses, then the military will do it the painful way. So Joshua enters the room and turns the EMP blaster to the highest charge, which causes a distortion in the room’s audio recorders. Masked this way, he tells Alphie to go into “standby” rather than “off”, a callback to the euphemistic language the two had used throughout the movie with regards to unconsciousness vs. death. He then blasts her with the weapon, seemingly short-circuiting her brain (killing her). Joshua demands to be part of the burial.
During what is essentially a funeral procession, the government decodes Joshua’s words to Alphie just as Alphie wakes up and sabotages the car driving her. The two disappear while the government gives chase. They end up on a commercial flight to the moon but then Alphie uses her powers to change the airplane’s course to NOMAD, the main military skyship of the United States military. NOMAD happens to be in the middle of a strike on the key AI strongholds across the world. Alphie is supposed to reach the bridge and stop the missiles from firing, while Joshua sets up a bomb on one of the missiles. That will destroy NOMAD entirely.
The plan works but a bit late as multiple rockets launch and strike targets across Asia. Joshua gets back to the ship before Alphie because Alphie finds simulant constructs of her mother, Maya, and decides to try and bring one back to the ship. She eventually stops dragging and places the brain drive into the simulant. Nothing happens. Meanwhile, Joshua’s suffocating but Alphie arrives in time to activate the airlock. Except the U.S. military manages to activate some Doctor Octopus arms to attack Joshua. Alphie eventually manages to stop them but it creates a situation where she’s trapped inside the escape pod and Joshua can’t join her. The two say goodbye and the pod launches.
In the final minutes before NOMAD explodes, Joshua wanders to a field of crops and there’s Maya. The two kiss. NOMAD explodes.
With the destruction of NOMAD multiple rockets fail to find their target, sparring many lives. Alphie arrives back to Earth, near her people, and they all cheer because the end of NOMAD means the survival of AI life. It’s the dawn of a new era.
NOMAD becomes symbolic for America’s global military might, oversight, and the attempted genocide of AI. In short, it represents American dominance and primacy. Its destruction marks a new era that moves away from the United States setting the tone across the world. New Asia and the AI no longer have to live in fear of this sky monster that rains down mass destruction. It seems to ensure they have a fighting chance for a future.
This seems like a pretty clear reference to the events that followed the 9/11 attacks. The War in Afghanistan went from 2001-2021. The intervention in Yemen started in 2002 and is ongoing as of October 2023. The Iraq War launched in 2003 and concluded in 2011. Intervention in Pakistan spanned 2004 to 2018. All fell under the umbrella of the Global War on Terrorism, aka the war on terror. The revelation at the end of The Creator’s second act that AI didn’t nuke Los Angeles, a coding error caused the strike, is an obvious twist on the whole “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction” line that America used in 2002 to justify the Iraq War.
As specific as Edwards is with America being the villain, it is worth noting that really the movie is about any larger group that wields its power against people deemed problematic. Past, present, or future. It’s a broader reminder that those labeled as others certainly aren’t. And that it’s worth questioning that label as much as we can. With Joshua being an example of someone who believed what he was told until he realized how stupid it was.
For Joshua, he had mentioned wanting to see Maya even if it was just for a single minute, so he could apologize and make things right with her. He also mentioned multiple times that he wasn’t going to heaven. But in those final moments, he achieves a kind of redemption he had thought impossible. He reunites with Maya in this field in the sky. It recalls the idea of Elysium, or the Elysian Fields. It’s a Greek concept of the heroic afterlife that’s similar to Valhalla from Norse mythology. In film, it was famously referenced in Gladiator as the field Maximus Decimus Aurelius sees before he dies. This plays into the multiple references to various religions that pepper The Creator, from Christianity to Norse mythology to Buddhism. Incorporating such classic Greek imagery seems in-line with what the rest of the movie is doing.
There’s pretty strong commentary in having an American soldier believing he was damned until he finds redemption in a more humanistic cause that transcends national interests. We also see how in the beginning of the movie political differences broke the family apart. Only when their views align does the family reunite, albeit briefly. The Creator has a tragic quality to it because you know there was a world in which the NOMAD attack on the beach house never happens and Maya, Joshua, and Alphie lived happily ever after.
The themes and meaning of The Creator
Reactionary military overreach and government lies
The entire plot of The Creator revolves around the idea that America believes it is defending itself in the wake of a nuclear bomb dropped on Los Angeles by AI. Except it turns out the AI had nothing to do with the bomb. It was a coding error. Possibly a human one. We don’t know the exact total of lives lost by this crusade to “protect the world from AI” but every single one was taken under a false pretense. Which is incredibly evil. Especially if the government knows.
Yet it seems most citizens of the United States have been gaslit by their government into believing the AI are to blame and viewing NOMAD as some heroic entity that’s raining justice down from the heavens. Unfortunately, fiction is close to reality. The United States has a history of forcing its way into military occupancy under the guise of bringing freedom and stability. Russia, Turkey, and North Korea all utilize propaganda to galvanize their citizenry into supporting the dehumanization of an oppositional group.
Rallying the population around a cause is an effective tactic often used by budding dictators in order to seize power. In The Creator, this dictator happens to be an entire country rather than an individual. It’s a way to establish authority across the planet rather than within the nation’s own borders. When you frame it as, “We’re defending ourselves after this horrible thing” it’s difficult for others to say you’re the one who is wrong.
People are people and tolerance is important
The Creator has been compared to Blade Runner mostly for aesthetic reasons. When Joshua and Alphie end up in the city, the visuals have a kind of grungy, neon style that isn’t quite Blade Runner but is similar enough to be the first thing that comes to mind. But the connection runs deeper. Blade Runner has replicants hunted by a police officer, while Creator has simulants hunted by soldiers. And just like the ultimate point of Blade Runner was for Deckard to understand that replicants were humans, so too is the purpose of The Creator. While the AI aren’t physically human they are people, with individual personalities, desires, hopes, dreams, fears, etc.
Joshua, like Deckard, starts off believing in the division, that the “things” are others. Both realize how wrong they were. Deckard before its too late. Joshua way too late but still in the nick of time.
The casualties of radicalized politics
Given how obviously Edwards draws on the foreign policy of 21st century America, it seems fair to wonder if the political divide between Maya and Joshua is reflective of another aspect of recent U.S. happenings.
Over the last decade, much has been said about political differences causing rifts between loved ones, especially in families. Initially exacerbated by Fox News in the 90s and 00s, the issue only became worse with the rise of QAnon and the new age of social media conspiracy.
Joshua had told Maya he had retired from the military. All the while, he was still working under cover, fully believing in the evil of Nirmata and that Nirmata must be taken down and the whole bomb fiasco was the fault of AI and that AI are things rather than living beings. It’s not too far off from the way real life political conspiracists believe in reptilian people or that many on the Left are actually Satan-worshippers in disguise who are actively yet secretly pushing a Satanic agenda.
There are now support groups and therapists specializing in helping people recover from political radicalization. Many recovering from it are left trying to rebuild their lives and wishing they could get their families back.
That’s Joshua. He bought into this political conspiracy. Fought for it. Lost his family over it. Then spends the movie essentially deradicalizing himself and trying to make amends for what happened.
The sacrifices parents make for their children and the duty children bear
The Creator’s main characters are a father-daughter duo. Initially, Joshua’s only helping Alphie because he thinks doing so will lead him to Maya. When he finally begins to realize Alphie’s essentially his daughter, a switch flips and it becomes not only about protecting her but protecting her future by turning against his country in order to destroy NOMAD. Ultimately, he gives his life to accomplish this. Maya, too.
For Alphie, Maya designed her in such a way that she would have the power to destroy NOMAD. There’s a sense of duty that comes with that, a burden passed from parent to child. A similar dynamic occurred between Maya and her father, the original Nirmata. She became part of his mission. So much so that once he passed she took up his title.
Why is the movie called The Creator?
The title has a few applications.
First, it refers to the creator of the simulants, Nirmata, a Nepalese title that originally belonged to Maya’s father then Maya herself.
Second, it refers to Joshua. He is the father of Alphie—sort of. At least the baby Maya used as the scan for Alphie. But the relationship between parent and child, and the duty a child has, comes up several times. We see that with Maya and her father, the way she picked up his title and work. And then we see it with Joshua giving everything he has to protect Alphie’s future by helping her destroy NOMAD.
Lastly, there’s the spirituality motif that pops up throughout The Creator. The end of the movie has Joshua and Maya essentially having a moment in “heaven”. Characters refer to heaven, reincarnation, Valhalla, and we get a visual nod to the Fields of Elysium, as well as spending time with Tibetan AI monks.
So it serves to prime the viewer to look for several important elements: the hunt for Nirmata, the parent-child relationship, and the religious subtext.
Important motifs in The Creator
No character gives a big speech about spirituality. But religious references occur throughout The Creator. From the title to Joshua mentioning (several times) how he won’t go to heaven, to Colonel Howell referring to Valhalla, to the final moments between Joshua and Maya taking place in a reference to Elysium, to Maya’s reincarnation, and the monks.
By spreading the religious references across belief systems, it seems The Creator is taking a broader stance on spirituality rather than highlighting a singular belief system. This seems in-line with its larger statement about nations and people. Christianity isn’t the end all be all, just like America, just like human beings aren’t. You need to have room for other faiths, other countries, and other living things.
Also, Alphie’s name is a Bible reference, coming from Revelation 22, in which God says He is the Alpha and the Omega.
Questions & answers about The Creator
Are simulants robots?
Yes and no. They definitely have machine bodies. But they are unique individuals with personalities and the ability to learn, feel, emote, etc. To think of them as anything less than living beings/people is to miss the point of the movie. Also, Alphie is the first step in AI evolution as she is a simulant who can grow. Which makes her closer to a replicant from Blade Runner than it does a robot.
What does Alphie’s full name, Alpha-O, mean?
It’s short for the greek letters Alpha Omega. Those happen to be the English equivalent of A and Z, in other words the first and last letters of the alphabet. The combination has gained significant fame thanks to its use in the New Testament of the Bible, specifically Revelation 22. A conversation occurs between John and an angel.
While a majority of the Bible is about past events, the Book of Revelation is special because it’s essentially full of prophecies of what will happen next. In this specific section, the angel fills John in on a bunch of stuff by quoting things the angel heard God say. Things like, “Look, I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy written in this scroll.” And “My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End….I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
The idea of Jesus’s return is part of the whole Messiah prophecy. Which is especially relevant in The Creator as Alphie is heralded as the Messiah of the simulants. So her name being Alpha-O is a direct reference to this part of the Bible. She does, indeed, usher in a new age.
What did the section titles mean?
The Creator has four section titles. Nirmata. The Child. The Friend. The Mother. Each coincides with a character.
The opening chapter catches us up on the history of AI advancement, leading to the dawn of the age of simulants, and finally the rise of Nirmata in New Asia. Nirmata is Nepalese for “creator”. So this section being about the backstory, the creation of simulants and the current global situation, fits. It’s also sneaky because we don’t know that Maya is Nirmata but this is the biggest block of screen time she has in the movie.
In The Child we, of course, meet Alphie.
The Friend refers to Drew, Joshua’s friend who lives in the city. Like Joshua, he was an American soldier trying to find Nirmata. But his time in New Asia caused him to change his beliefs. He now supports simulants and is even in love with one (Kami).
The Mother refers to Joshua finally finding Maya in Nepal. Then reunited with her aboard NOMAD.
Why did Joshua have to take Maya off life support?
It’s only briefly mentioned, but apparently the simulants can’t unplug Nirmata. Honestly, I thought they said the simulants couldn’t harm humans. But that wouldn’t make sense with them fighting U.S. soldiers. So it must be they just couldn’t cause harm to Nirmata given her God-like status to the AI. So she’s been in a coma for five years, unable to pass on to her next life. That’s why Joshua pulls the plug.
How did Maya come back to life?
We see Colonel Howell has the technology that allows them to copy someone’s brain and upload the data into a simulant’s body. That’s what happens with Shipley. Howell tries to do the same with Maya, hoping to extract important information. Except Harun kills her before that can happen. That allows Joshua to take the drive with him to the NOMAD. Alphie then uses it on one of the many Maya-design simulants aboard NOMAD. It takes a few minutes to boot up but once loaded in, Maya is in full control of the body. She was 100% human prior to that.
Why did the government have so many copies of Maya?
Good question. They needed one to fake the footage that convinced Joshua to go on the mission. And we know Maya had donated her likeness which is why New Asia had a number of Mayas running around. But there were a weird amount of them on the NOMAD.
Why didn’t the government shoot down the spacecraft to prevent Alphie from reaching NOMAD?
What are Alphie’s powers? Why was she in a vault?
She can commune and control technology. Except because of her young age, the ability has a limited radius. We’re told that as she grows and matures that her power may have no limits whatsoever. Meaning she could access any electronic device from anywhere on Earth. It seemed the AI had her in the vault in order to protect her until she was strong enough to destroy NOMAD from the ground. That probably would have been years in the future. Time that most simulants didn’t have thanks to how powerful NOMAD was.
Does The Creator have a happy ending?
Eh. I mean, yes, but also kind of maybe no. NOMAD is done and people around the world are happy about that. But we don’t know if the American government will actually stop hunting simulants. Will the truth about the Los Angeles nuke ever come out? Or will the U.S. use the destruction of NOMAD as an excuse to be even more evil?
It’s similar to the end of the first Star Wars movie, A New Hope. They blow up the Death Star. That’s great. But the Empire is still a massive threat.
Why did Edwards use the song “Everything in Its Right Place” by Radiohead?
The song comes from Radiohead’s album Kid A. The connection there is hopefully apparent. Kid A. The kid in The Creator is named Alphie. It’s a bit of a meta joke.
If you want to go deeper. There’s a book called Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, by Gavin Edwards. One question it answers is “What exactly does the title of Radiohead’s album Kid A refer to?”
One early theory upon the album’s 2000 release was that the title was borrowed from “Kid A in Alphabet Land,” a collection of trading cards about French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, whose theories helped inspire postmodernism. Singer Thom Yorke quickly debunked that, but encouraged speculation that the title referred to the first genetically cloned child. “I’m sure somewhere it’s been done, even though it’s illegal now,” he said. Since the album was full of electronic treatments of York’s voice, this inspired theorizing about the hidden architecture of the album being replicated DNA. The true inspiration was a bit more mundane, however; “Kid A” was a bit of studio technology—a software program of children’s voices that ended up not making the album’s final mix. If a different sequencer or synth setting had caught the group’s eye, their fourth album might have been called “Tenor Sax” or “Ocarina”.
The key point in there being “the title referred to the first genetically cloned child.” With Alphie being the first genetically developed simulant, the Kid A reference has a bit more nuance to it.
Is The Creator linked to Star Wars?
Just because Gareth Edwards directed Rogue One doesn’t mean every sci-fi film he makes has some Star Wars connection. The answer is no.
What is The Creator based on?
It’s an original IP! Straight from the brain of Gareth Edwards and Chris Weitz.
In July of 2023, someone on Twitter asked Gareth Edwards “are there some key influences and touchstones to see or revisit [before watching the movie]?”
Gareth responded: There’s two sides to it: the world building side and the emotional character side. In terms of world building, I’d say the following films are masterpieces: Apocalypse Now, Baraka, Blade Runner, Akira. Films like Rain Man, The Hit, E.T., and Paper Moon for the emotional side.
Now it’s your turn
Have more unanswered questions about The Creator? Are there themes or motifs we missed? Is there more to explain about the ending? Please post your questions and thoughts in the comments section! We’ll do our best to address every one of them. If we like what you have to say, you could become part of our movie guide!