Prior to the events of Edge of Tomorrow the United Defense Force achieves a significant (if not their only) victory against the invading Mimics at no other place than Verdun, in which Rita Vrataski shines out as a hero and symbol of hope for humanity. This battle supposedly marks the turning point for the overstrained human forces and inspires them to their huge offensive during which the events of the movie pan out (yet, as we learn later as a deliberate attempt by the Mimics to inspire the humans with false hopes).

Now seeing that the movie seems to some degree ripe with military historical references, it seems unlikely that the choice of Verdun was made by mere coincidence, since the real Battle of Verdun was one of the most prominent, longest and wasteful battles of WWI and remains as a symbol for the inconclusiveness of an attrition war and the horrors of war in general.

But I fail to bring this into context with its significance in the movie. Was the choice of Verdun as such a prominent battlefield in the movie's backstory simply just "name dropping" as part of the movie's other historical references or is there a deeper connection between the real battle of Verdun and its significance in relation to the movie's story and themes or maybe even word from the film-makers/authors why this particular location was chosen? (An in-universe relation seems unlikely anyway, since the Mimics surely didn't know about its signifiance in human history.)

3 Answers 3


I think that everything you said makes complete sense, but I see also that there was a previous "Battle of Verdun" during the Franco-Prussian War:

The 1792 battle occurred over a single day, and the Prussian army successfully defeated the French.

The 1916 battle, that you mention, occurred over 11 months and ultimately the French army defeated the German army, despite an initial assumption (by the Germans) to the contrary.

Looking at the plot of the movie, the Mimics' plan is revealed to be that they are staging battles and when suffering a loss, they repeat the day, remember the previous events, and then go on to seem prescient and win the "second" version of the attack.

Everything was working perfectly with that methodology until Rita steals the time-reversal power, and now she remembers the battles and they do not, because she is the one resetting the time-line. She eventually loses this power, but Cage garners it in a very similar manner, and this is the focus of the movie. We only learn about Rita's experiences through dialogue, and she is situated as a mentor to Cage.

So, if we ignore Rita's experience and simply look at the movie and the references to Verdun in regards of Cage's experiences, I think that the history of the two battles mirrors the plot of the film.

The "first" time through, it was an unequivocal defeat for humanity. But now that Cage has the power for time-reversal, despite the loooooong and arduous task of training and dying and training and dying, he ultimately defeats the mimics and wins the war.

I think the specificity of the choice of the battle site is because it has this very unique history of being a site of an extremely short and then an extremely long battle. The mimic attack that Cage first went through was clearly going to be a quick defeat of the last human defense effort, but by being able to restart the time-line, he was able to then endure this incredibly long battle and ultimately succeed.


Some historians believe that the German attack at Verdun was a ruse aimed to lure the French into responding in an attempt to retake the city. The Germans assumed the French counter-attack would be in vain in the face of their overwhelming artillery fire and that they could destroy the French army on open ground in a confined space. The idea was to destroy the French ability and will to fight further by making it too costly in manpower. So the parallel might be that the Mimics in Edge of Tomorrow were luring the allied Earth Defense forces into a counter-attack where they could be not possibly succeed, allowing their attacking armies to be destroyed en mass.

  • 3
    I +1 this, but do you have any sources to back up this theory?
    – cde
    Mar 27, 2016 at 6:40

Based on the map seen in the beginning news real, and behind General Brigham during Cages railroading, all of Western Europe is infected with Mimics. France, Germany, all the way across to Romania and Western Russia.

Operation Downfall is staged to push in from the French coastline (British Channel, Biscay and Mediterranean, Spain), Lower Italy, Scandinavia, while the Russians and Chinese push back on Eastern Europe.

Verdun is a border town of France near Germany, south west of Luxembourg. Based on the map in the General office, it's several hundred miles into the Mimic controlled Border. It would not be a strategic point based on current territory projections. It would be dumb, plainly speaking, to launch an offensive there when they are losing the war, and it was only through Rita's looping they seem to win, later shown to be allowed to win.

And since based on the map, it's still significantly in enemy territory, the battle was never to keep territory, likely a strategic, low casualty withdraw, that was spun to encourage humanity. Considering that Cage is a military PR Spin Doctor, in movie, the location is coincidence, and not supported by on screen facts.

  • Huh? So what you're saying it had no strategic meaning to chose it and was only chosen as a PR location (which I could follow). But from that you then deduce that it had no meaning whatsoever at all? I would have guessed the gist of your answer would then be that it was, in its nature as a PR gig, chosen exactly because of its wider connotations. But then concluding that it had no meaning at all seems rather unintuitive. (Let alone that I wasn't so much searching for an in-movie perspective anyway, but of course it's still a generally interesting viewpoint to add, if reasoned intuitively.)
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 26, 2015 at 8:50

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