How the Alien Design in 'Nope' Was Inspired by These Angels

The inspiration behind the alien in 'Nope'Credit: Universal Pictures
From the Bible to a classic anime, these are the angels that inspired Jordan Peele's alien in Nope. 

The ending of Nope throws a curveball at the audience with the reveal that the UFO is actually a sentient creature of its own. The creature, nicknamed "Jean Jacket," took on the appearance of the classic UFO design for most of the film before morphing into a jellyfish-like creature at the end.  

The creature’s final form is unique and defies people’s expectations of what the antagonist might look like. Jean Jacket is a frightening yet oddly beautiful sight that feels almost biblical. According to the production notes for the film, this final reveal is highly influenced by the antagonists in the classic anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion

/Film breaks down which Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion influenced Jordan Peele's creature in Nope. Let's see how Peele was able to pay homage to these Earth-destroying creatures while still writing the greatest American UFO story

What Are the Angels in Neon Genesis Evangelion?

Before breaking down Jean Jacket’s design and purpose, it is important to understand what the Angels are in Evangelion so we can better understand their influence on Nope. 

Angels are otherworldly creatures that date back to the First Ancestral Race. Created by an all-powerful entity named Adam, the angels come to Earth to try and reach the Tokyo-3 geofront, or a subterranean cavity carved underneath the surface of the industrial city. If the angels achieve their goal, they can combine forces with the remnants of Adam to trigger the Third Impact, which would wipe out all life on Earth. 

There are some similarities in status and appearance between Evangelion’s Angels and the biblical description of angels. Angels have a specific level of importance in the hierarchy of heaven. 

Evangelion’s Angels look most like the Seraphim, an angelic being that has six wings, two of which are for flying, while the rest are used to cover their heads and feet, and the Ophanim, the most bizarre being as it is made out of interlocking gold wheels with each wheel’s exterior covered with multiple eyes and move by floating themselves in the sky. 

Biblical Angels by Matthaeus (Matthäus) MerianCredit: Public Domain

Which Angels Influenced Nope?

When Jean Jacket puffs up near the end to meet the challenge of the Haywood family, the transformation has been described as resembling biblical angels, most likely the Ophanim. It has been theorized by Jose F. Blumrich, a former NASA employee, that the Ophanim might have been what people spotted and labeled as a UFO sighting. The theory was quickly dismissed as a conspiracy. 

A comparison can be seen between Jean Jacket and the Ophanim, but a few of the Angels in Evangelion can directly influence Peele’s creature from above.

The Angels’ appearance and abilities vary wildly, but there are some angels that Jean Jacket’s design calls back to, mainly the fifth Angel Ramiel and the sixteenth Angel Armisael. When appearing as a saucer, Jean Jacket can maintain a stationary form similar to Ramiel’s seemingly unbreakable appearance as a blue octahedron. 

Armisael is most similar to Peele’s creation. Armisael does not have a fixed form and shares a similar fusion effect to Jean Jacket.  If stared at for too long, both creatures will attack in their own ways—Jean Jacket through consumption and Armisael through bio-fusion with its host. 

Armisael from 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'Credit: GKIDS

These two Angels seem to have an influence on Jean Jacket in its UFO form, but the creature’s final form takes an obvious reference to the tenth Angel, referred to as Sahaquiel. Sahaquiel can rapidly expand and has a very wide wingspan with an unblocking eye in the middle. The Angel also can shut down technology in the areas it is hovering. 

There are major design changes between Sahaqueil and Jean Jacket, but the influence is loud and clear. Evangelion has had a massive impact on popular culture.

The bait-and-switch of the show is not unlike the one that Peele often uses in his work. Nope, a film marketed as an alien invasion, had a lot to say about Hollywood’s abuses in the name of spectacle. While not as much of a slow burn as Evangelion, Nope is a grand project that pays homage to the classic popular culture moments in cinema and television—like the Akira motorcycle slide—while warning us of the dangers of our desire for displays beyond comprehension. 

Sahaquiel in 'Neon Genesis Evangelion'Credit: GKIDS

Jean Jacket’s design is a spectacle to behold. Peele shows us that when it comes to designing a creature from another world, play with the expectations of the audience and pull from what you know. The great thing about designing otherworldly creatures is that we, as normal people, have no idea what they look like or what they are capable of. You are free to create what works for the story you are wanting to tell. 

Just be careful to know when you are paying homage to another artist’s work and when you are casually plagiarizing. Filmmaking still requires you to add your take on a subject, design, and structure. Make sure you are serving your story rather than overindulging in references. 

Let us know in the comments if there are other references in Nope that you spotted!      

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