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A four-panel image featuring screenshots from films including Akira, Apocalypse Now, Baraka, and Blade Runner. Graphic: Toussaint Egan/Polygon | Source images: Funimation; Lionsgate Home Entertainment; Arrow Films; Warner Bros. Pictures

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The Creator director says watch these movies next

From Apocalypse Now to Lone Wolf and Cub

Toussaint Egan is a curation editor, out to highlight the best movies, TV, anime, comics, and games. He has been writing professionally for over 8 years.

While creating the new sci-fi action epic The Creator, director Gareth Edwards drew on his lifelong love of science fiction and cinema to fashion a world that walks the lines between spirituality and technology, artifice and emotion.

“I thought this might be the last film I ever get to make,” Edwards said in an interview with io9. “So I just threw in everything I loved about sci-fi movies and then tried to stir the pot enough, pull out something, and combine it in a way that felt like its own movie.”

The evidence is plain to see in the film itself — a war movie à la Apocalypse Now populated by sentient robots pitted in an existential battle for survival with their human creators. The Creator is the kind of movie that inspires a deep dive into those films, tracing the root of their influence on Edwards in the way that their themes and images echo throughout its world.

We’ve pulled together a list of each of the movies Gareth Edwards has cited as an influence on the world-building of The Creator and where they are available to stream. From Akira to Paper Moon and beyond, here are the movies to watch next if you loved The Creator.


Kaneda skids his motorcycle in Akira Image: Tokyo Movie Shinsha/Funimation

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo
Cast: Mitsuo Iwata, Nozomu Sasaki, Mami Koyama
Where to watch: Hulu

It’s not hard to see the parallels: Both Akira and The Creator take place in the wake of an apocalyptic event that resulted in the destruction of one of the most populous cities on the planet, both take place in futuristic cities, and both predominantly focus on childlike characters gifted with immense telepathic abilities that make them the target of multiple competing factions. If that weren’t enough, The Creator has NOMAD, a low-orbit nuclear warship, that bears more than a passing resemblance to SOL, the orbiting laser cannon that plays a prominent role in both the original manga and anime adaptation of Akira.

Apocalypse Now

Martin Sheen as Benjamin Willard wearing face camouflage and emerging from a body of water draped in moonlit shafts of fog in Apocalypse Now. Image: Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Cast: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen
Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Filmed over 16 arduous months in the Philippines, Coppola’s film is a masterpiece of majestic scope and perilous psychological depth, with large operatic battle scenes that capture the destruction and chaos of the Vietnam War in 360-degree detail. The influence of those aspects of Apocalypse Now is acutely evident in the battle scenes of The Creator, as futuristic tanks and flying warships barrel across the plains of Southeast Asia in their campaign to eradicate all sentient artificial life from the face of the planet.


A child wearing red face paint peers through a canopy of leaves in Baraka. Image: Arrow Films

Director: Ron Fricke
Where to watch: Peacock, Plex, Tubi, Freevee

Arguably the most unique film cited as an inspiration for Edwards is Baraka, an experimental documentary from director Ron Fricke. Fricke, who previously served as the cinematographer on Godfrey Reggio’s non-narrative documentary Koyaanisqatsi, named his film after “baraka,” the Islamic concept of continuity that flows throughout all life. The influence of Baraka on The Creator is visible not only in the film’s cinematography — it was filmed across several countries, including Cambodia and Thailand — but also in the themes of spirituality and sentience.

As James Clyne, the production designer behind The Creator, told Polygon:

There was one specific movie that stuck out — Baraka. In a way, we looked at that movie and thought, What if Baraka was made 60 years from now, and we were able to watch it today? What would that look like? What does that mean, what does that feel like?

Blade Runner

Rick Deckard trains his service weapon in Blade Runner (1982) Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young
Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Blade Runner is nothing shy of the aesthetic ur-text of futuristic sci-fi, so it only seems inevitable that Edwards’ own film would nod to Ridley Scott’s masterpiece. The New Asia cityscapes of The Creator are crafted in the mold of Blade Runner’s vision of Los Angeles, a sprawling metropolis irrevocably marked by the advent of artificial intelligence. Themes of sentience and humanity aside, Edwards also pays homage to Blade Runner by way of citing Syd Mead, the concept artist responsible for the film’s dark vision of the future, as a principal inspiration on The Creator:

Aesthetic-wise, you can’t escape the shadow of Syd Mead and [Star Wars concept artist] Ralph McQuarrie. They’re hanging over us in every single sci-fi design. And Akira. It’s really hard to do a film like this and not [reference them.] You can either pretend they didn’t inspire you or you just put it out on the table straight away and say, “Yes, of course, we’ve seen these films and they’re masterpieces. And we’re standing on the shoulders of giants making this movie.”

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Elliott (Henry Thomas) and E.T. in E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Image: Universal Pictures

Director: Steven Spielberg
Cast: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore
Where to watch: Available to rent on Amazon, Apple, and Vudu

Gareth Edwards cited E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, among several other movies, as an influence on nailing down the emotional arc of the characters in his film. Steven Spielberg’s landmark sci-fi drama follows the story of a young boy who befriends an extraterrestrial (nicknamed “E.T.”), who he aids in reuniting with their people after accidentally being left behind on Earth. The dynamic of the film’s emphasis on an unlikely friendship between two individuals from vastly different lived experiences is evident in the relationship between The Creator’s protagonist, Joshua, and his ward, Alphie. Even Joshua’s decision to nickname Alphie after their robotic designation feels like a nod to E.T.

Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance

Ronin warrior Ogami Ittō crossing two swords in front of himself with his son Daigorō on his back in  Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx. Image: Criterion Collection

Director: Kenji Misumi
Cast: Tomisaburo Wakayama, Akihiro Tomikawa, Fumio Watanabe
Where to watch: Max, Criterion Channel

Of all the movies Gareth Edwards references as an influence on The Creator, Lone Wolf and Cub is arguably the most interesting (aside from Baraka) for how its impact can be seen across the entirety of Edwards’ filmography. As Edwards shared in a recent interview with The Playlist:

Essentially what happened is, in 2000, one late night, I was doing visual effects at home—I used to do that for a living—and there was this thing on TV on Channel 4, and I didn’t know what it was, it was like a samurai and a child. And it just grabbed me instantly, like, what the hell is this film? What is this? And I tried to find it. The internet was in the early days. It was hard to figure out what this thing was. I finally figured out it was ‘Lone Wolf and Cub’—a series of Japanese films and manga book series. And I got them all and watched them, and I just loved that dynamic between a sort of jaded warrior and a little child.

While Edwards doesn’t share which of the six Lone Wolf and Cub films specifically introduced him to the series, they all share the core concept of a jaded warrior finding purpose and redemption in the protection of a young child.

Paper Moon

(L-R) Tatum O’Neal and her father Ryan O’Neal as Addie Loggins and Moses Pray in Paper Moon. Image Paramount Home Entertainment

Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Cast: Ryan O’Neal, Tatum O’Neal, Madeline Kahn
Where to watch: Max

Starring father-daughter duo Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, this black-and-white road movie comedy follows the story of a slick con artist attempting to make a living in Depression-era Kansas. After he’s unexpectedly tasked with safely delivering Addie, a recently orphaned 9-year-old, to her relatives in Missouri, they strike up an unlikely partnership as they swindle their way across the country. Paper Moon is another of the movies Edwards cites as an inspiration behind the emotional arc of The Creator, as Joshua’s relationship with Alphie is not unlike Moses and Addie’s — two wayward characters who unexpectedly form a nigh-familial bond over the course of their respective adventures together.

Rain Man

(L-R) Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman as Charlie and Ray Babbitt in Rain Man. Image: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Director: Barry Levinson
Cast: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino
Where to watch: Showtime, Paramount Plus

Starring Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman, Rain Man follows the story of a selfish collectibles dealer who learns about the existence of a half-sibling following the death of his estranged father. Discovering that his brother is an autistic savant with an affinity for calculations, the dealer breaks his brother out of a mental institution and takes him to Las Vegas in a scheme to get rich. Again, the theme of an unlikely genuine friendship born out of duplicity is evident in the premise of The Creator, as Joshua’s discovery that Alphie is in fact the “weapon” created by Nirmata to destroy NOMAD and end the war forces him to grapple with the question of their own humanity.

The Hit

John Hurt as Braddock lighting a cigarette and sitting on a white couch with sunglasses on in The Hit. Image: Criterion Collection

Director: Stephen Frears
Cast: John Hurt, Tim Roth, Laura del Sol
Where to watch: Criterion Channel, Tubi

This 1984 road crime movie stars Terence Stamp as Willie Parker, a London gangster who betrays his criminal comrades in exchange for a generous offer from the police. Ten years later, Willie is abducted by Mitchell Braddock (John Hurt) and Myron (Tim Roth), two hitmen hired by the kingpin of Willie’s organization to bring him to Paris in order to await punishment for his betrayal. While perhaps not apparent on the surface, the strongest commonality between The Hit and Edward’s The Creator is their shared emphasis on travel, as Joshua and Alphie’s journey across the fields and cities of New Asia is akin to Willie’s abduction from Spain en route to Paris.

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