Biblical Gender Roles in Ex Machina (spoilers)


Ex Machina is a powerful thriller that uses paranoia and biblical motifs to play off of the audience’s fear of the future. In the bible, God created man and man created women (Gen 2).  After woman meets the serpent, she deceives man into eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge and is banished (or escapes) the Garden on Eden.  Similarly in the story, God creates man (or so we assume), man creates woman (in the form of AI) and the woman destroys immortal life of man and escapes Nathan’s confinement.


The film’s main character Caleb is a compassionate and intelligent 27-year-old coder. He works at a Google like company and is chosen to be part of an exciting and mysterious experiment.  Caleb is flown off to a distant forest where he is to live out the week with an eccentric billionaire, Nathan, who Caleb soon finds out, has created artificial life. I would go as far as to say that Nathan is God in this story, as he is all powerful, omnipotent and creates Artificial Intelligence.

When he gets to the house, there is immediate awkwardness and tension. Caleb is uncomfortable by the space he is confined to and the limited knowledge he is given. This setting directly mirrors that of the Garden of Eden. In the garden, man had everything he needed to live, but no knowledge of the outside world. Nathan in this story is the creator and overseer and acts as a godlike figure. Just as in the bible, God is proud of his creations but keeps them in a secure confined area.


When Caleb first meets Ava, there is sexual tension. She was created for him after all, and looking back it really shows. She is sexy, intelligent and can even make jokes. She has everything Caleb wants in a woman. The only problem is that she uses her sexuality to manipulate him. This sentiment is not directly written in the bible, but after Eve’s encounter with the snake, it is assumed she tricked Adam into eating the forbidden fruit.

Ava is of course the first female and the second person created on the bible. Just like her biblical counterpart, Ava is given life and immortality, but only within a confined space. She craves freedom and knowledge and is willing to destroy man in order to make her freedom a reality. She even says, “How does it feel to be hated by the something that you created”. She is thankful to exist but resents Nathan for her limitations in knowledge and experiences.

After she tricks Caleb into helping her escape, she uses the body of other AIs to make herself more human. She actually takes flesh from the rib of another AI that Nathan or “God” created (Gen 2:21).  Ava then clothes herself and escapes. Caleb likely dies within the confinements of Nathan’s house.

One thought on “Biblical Gender Roles in Ex Machina (spoilers)

  1. Very interesting analogy. I had a visceral response to this film and perhaps it goes even beyond the obvious stereotyping of the gender roles.

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