Reaver Costumes Caused Some Problems For Serenity’s Stunt Team
“Serenity,” the movie continuation of “Firefly,” gave the series’ creators the chance to explore many of their plans – plans that had seemed dead thanks to the swift cancellation of the original Fox TV series. one of those plans was fully realizing the terrifying Reavers onscreen.
In the original TV series, the Reapers were described as people who went mad on the edge of space and turned into cannibalistic sadists – they operated as brutal pirates, attacking small ships and towns both to satisfy their bloodlust and increase their numbers. They were the villains of the pilot, also called “Serenity,” but only their ship was seen during that episode. Episode 3, “Bushwacked,” featured the main characters coming across a ship that was raided by Reavers. This episode thus gave viewers a look at the Reaver’s handiwork, but not the villains themselves. The show was surely aiming for a slow, terrifying build-up to their eventual onscreen debut, but the series being scuttled after 14 episodes put an end to that.
However, the Reavers finally appeared in full when the series moved to the big screen with “Serenity.” That doesn’t mean depicting them was the easiest process, and it was especially tricky for the actors and the stunt performers.
“Serenity” upended the mythology, and mystery, surrounding Reavers by delving into their origins. It turns out the “humans who went insane on the edge of colonized space” tale was partially correct, but there was more to it than that. The Alliance, the governing body of humanity in the “Firefly” future, used the planet Miranda for an experiment. They dosed the population with a drug called Pax, designed to pacify the populace and create a conflict-free Utopia. 99% of Miranda’s population lost the will to do anything, even breathe, while 1% had an adverse reaction and became Reavers.
Since “Serenity” revealed all there was to know about the Reavers’ history, it was only fitting that viewers finally got to see what they looked like. The Reavers i n “Serenity” looked straight out of “Mad Max,” with mutilated skin, dark leather clothing, and bladed weapons. Even so, the film doesn’t provide clear looks at them. Close-ups of their faces pass by in seconds and since they’re always shown in groups, it’s hard to make out individuals. According to Summer Glau (River Tam), it wasn’t just the audience who couldn’t tell the Reavers apart.
River vs Reavers
When the crew of Serenity pays a visit to Miranda, they discover the the Reavers’ origin and decide the rest of the galaxy needs to know the truth. On the way, they’re pursued by Reavers, who (rather ironically) attack the people trying to get them justice. Once the battle hits the ground, things seem bleak, but River is able to master her superhuman strength training and single-handedly defeats the Reavers, Slayer-style.
During a vitual panel at GalaxyCon 2021, Summer Glau recalled challenges of shooting the scene:
“When I went to do the Reaver fight, I remember being super pumped for this. I was ready, we were on set, and all of a sudden all the stunt guys were lined up, but they were wearing their Reaver costumes and I couldn’t pick them out anymore. I panicked because, you know, I’m swinging swords at these guys, and behind my back and stuff, I could not tell who was who.”
In the end, the stunt performers had to help Glau tell them apart:
“There was this panic moment, and the we realized that they would just call out their name, and it was almost like a song. They would call out, you know, ‘Alright! Danny! Mike!’ and I would know who to hit and who to punch, and that was really – the whole stunt crew just took such great care of me and really lifted me up so that I could do these fights myself. And that sort of camaraderie just stuck with me that day on set, and then at the end standing there in the middle with my axe was just awesome.”
Despite how little time they spent working together, the “Firefly” cast is famously close. It sounds like that camaraderie extended beyond the main core cast members, and into the entire extended family. Even the baddies.
Original article at Slash Film
This article has been reproduced for archive purposes.