Gareth Edwards’ new sci-fi movie The Creator includes three chapter titles – we go into each chapter title, who it refers to, and its larger meaning.
Warning: Spoilers for The Creator
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- The chapter titles in “The Creator” – “The Child,” “The Mother,” and “The Friend” – represent specific characters and their roles in the story.
- “The Child” refers to Alphie, a sim made in the likeness of a child who challenges Joshua’s perception of A.I. and represents humanity’s curiosity and questions about mortality.
- “The Mother” refers to Maya, Joshua’s deceased wife who is the creator of Alphie and seeks to bridge the gap between humans and sims, embodying the mother of both factions in the war.
Gareth Evans’s new sci-fi war movie The Creator includes three chapter titles, with each referring to the larger themes and philosophical ideas of the film. Set in the late 21st century, The Creator takes place in a world in which A.I. has become a fixture of modern life, but also sparked a war between humanity and the simulants (or “sims“) after the A.I. drop a nuclear bomb on Los Angeles. When ex-Special Forces soldier Joshua (John David Washington) is recruited to find and eliminate the creator of an A.I. weapon that could wipe out mankind, he faces some shocking discoveries when he meets the young sim Alphie (Madeleine Yuna Voyles).
After setting the main plot in motion, The Creator divides its main story into three chapters, with the titles of “The Child,” “The Mother,” and “The Friend.” As The Creator unfolds, the movie makes clear that each chapter title refers to a specific character and their individual arc within the film’s story. At the same time, each character’s designation as either “The Child,” “The Mother,” and “The Friend” also speaks on a much deeper level to their figurative role in the story, all of which are brought into focus by the ending of The Creator.
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3 The Child
The first chapter title in The Creator, “The Child,” comes about half an hour into the movie, and just after Joshua locates the sim he has been tasked with eliminating. As it turns out, the sim is made in the likeness of a child named Alphie, which Joshua cannot bring himself to eliminate. Against orders, Joshua ends up protecting Alphie as both his fellow human fighters and A.I. soldiers attempting to either kill or reclaim Alphie. The deeper meaning of “The Child” chapter title lies in how Joshua comes to see A.I. in a new light, and how The Creator itself presents Alphie.
Despite the clearly visible mechanical components of her body, Alphie is no different from any human child, possessing the same nature of innate curiosity and forming an attachment to Joshua as her human guardian. Alphie’s questions to Joshua about their mortality and whether they will go to heaven also adds another layer to the young Sim, as these are questions everyone finds themselves pondering over the course of their lives. As an A.I. wondering (and in some instances terrified) of what lies beyond life as she knows it, Alphie is also a stand-in for all of humanity.
2 The Mother
The Creator‘s second chapter title, “The Mother”, references Joshua’s deceased wife Maya Fey (Gemma Chan), and like “The Child”, it has multiple meanings. Joshua has spent the last five years believing Maya had been killed in the attack in the movie’s opening by Nomad, the military’s vast space station capable of launching large scale attacks on A.I. territories from low Earth orbit. Joshua is lured into his mission after being told by Colonel Howell (Allison Janey) that Maya is still alive. This ends up being only a half-truth, with Maya in a coma and Joshua tearfully taking her off life support to give her a peaceful end, but not before he discovers that she is the creator of Alphie.
Moreover, Maya specifically designed Alphie as a scanned replica of her and Joshua’s unborn child, with Maya empowering Alphie with the ability to control other machines in the aim of destroying Nomad. Maya saw this as a way to bridge humans and sims into a peaceful co-existence, and this deepens the meaning of “The Mother” chapter title. As the creator of Alphie who patterned her appearance after her unborn daughter, Maya is Alphie’s mother in two equally literal ways. On the one hand, Maya is very much the mother of Alphie by using her scientific ingenuity to bring her daughter into the world when fate took Alphie from her.
On another level, Maya is the “mother” of both humans and sims more broadly. In devising a plan for Alphie to be an instrument of peace that brings down the weapon of war that is Nomad, Maya is also embodying the mother of two bickering children in man and machine, with a child she loves dearly combining both. Maya’s ultimate goal is to use Alphie is a means to end the bitter war between humans and machines that is destroying the worlds of both, so in that sense, she is the “mother” of both factions of the war.
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1 The Friend
The third and final chapter title of The Creator, “The Friend”, is in reference to Joshua’s connection to Alphie and the lengths he goes to in order to protect her. After learning the truth about Maya’s coma, Joshua is ordered to execute Alphie with an EMP device. Joshua feigns going through with the order, and instead temporarily deactivates Alphie before bringing her back online as the two escape her planned cremation. Joshua and Alphie then embark to Nomad in order to destroy it, with Joshua staying behind in order to properly eject Alphie’s malfunctioning escape pod. Moments before death, Joshua is rewarded when he meets a sim in the likeness of Maya aboard Nomad, the sim uploaded with her memories and the two having one last loving embrace before Nomad crashes into Earth.
While the nature of Alphie’s creation technically makes Joshua her father, he has, on another level, also become “The Friend” of the chapter title through his experience protecting her. Despite Joshua’s perception that sims are not the same as humans, he’s come to see the sentient life they embody in coming to care for one that is not only a child, but an arguably resurrected version of the child he never had. In sacrificing himself to save Alphie (and assuring her they will meet again in heaven one day as he does), destroy Nomad, and end the war between humans and sims, Joshua has become a friend to the very A.I. beings he was one tasked with defeating.
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By the end of The Creator, the movie also displays how its three chapter titles work in tandem with each other in the individual stories of Alphie, Maya, and Joshua. By giving life to “The Child” Alphie, “The Mother” Maya opens the eyes of Joshua to become “The Friend” he did not want to be but that he comes as his true calling. Like all great sci-fi movies, The Creator‘s storytelling is both deeply human and larger-than-life, as the hidden meanings of “The Child,” “The Mother,” and “The Friend” show.