Warner Bros. panel at Comic-Con brought us a lot of information about the new Blade Runner, bridging the events of the original Ridley Scott classic with the sequel set for release this fall. Although both films share a name, it seems that 2049 is a lot different than the world of Deckard and the replicants he was charged with hunting down. Roy Batty didn’t live to see it, but replicants are now the dominant “race” on the planet Earth and Humans are either living in squalor or they’ve moved to off-world colonies. And somewhere in there, Deckard plays a part that Ryan Gosling’s K has to figure out.
According to the timeline released at the convention, the original film ended in 2019 — so technically we should have flying spinner vehicles now, right? — when Deckard escaped with Rachel with Gaff likely on their trail. Edward James Olmos will return in the sequel, but it’s hard to know exactly what it all means right now. What we do know is that right after Deckard escaped, a new replicant model was created by the Tyrell Corporation in 2020 called the Nexus 8s. If you’ve seen Dave Bautista in the trailers, he is this type of replicant that doesn’t experience the life span limits of those in the Nexus 6 line from the original film.
Gosling’s character visits a facility where these new models were created and is greeted by several models inside of these glass preservation boxes. As with most of the shots, it is all very striking to see and each scene seems to take on its own little existence. These new replicants are apparently easier to detect by this point in the future and a definite evolution from the older models that give replicants “a bad name according to K’s replicant host.
The timeline then states that a prohibition of replicants went into effect in 2023, sending them into hiding until Jared Leto’s Neander Wallace helps get the ban repealed before creating more replicants. He also helps to solve a hunger crisis that plagued the planet by this point, the chained results of an EMP disaster that causes a global blackout years prior. Wallace Corp becomes a major force due to these two aspects, giving Leto’s character a lot of power and bumping replicants to a majority soon enough.
The Wallace Corporation becoming the dominant group seems to nix any of the past theories that Alien and Blade Runner share the same universe. They still could, but it’s a lot of hoops to jump through the explain how Weyland Yutani survived a global calamity, returned to prominence, and then didn’t mention any of it in the films that followed. So long, beloved fan theory.
By the period the movie takes place in, Earth has become a far different place than it was during Deckard’s period. There are two classes now, with replicants becoming the dominant one and humans either fleeing or living in the wreckage of an old world.
Most of the other reports from the panel seem to describe this as a dystopia, at least for the humans. We can get bits and pieces of this throughout the second trailer, with Lennie James from The Walking Dead living with a bunch of other scruffy looking people in some sort of junkyard area. Gosling is clearly there to ask some questions and finds a fight in the process, but it’s a place that also stands in contrast to the rest of the world you see on film.
The facility where he sees the Nexus 8 models in the tanks is a familiar slice of the original film, along with some of the street shots and large electronic billboards. That is the classic aspect of the new film that seems to scream Blade Runner and cyberpunk. But then there’s the rest, the ruined junks and the deserted city that is being swallowed up by dust. This seems to be where Deckard is hiding, keeping to the ruins because, as he says in the trailers, he was being hunted.
Deckard’s connection to all of this seems to play into the central mystery behind it all. Leto’s character wants to find him and the events of the original film play into the reasons behind that. K even watches some of the memories of Rachel taking the Voight-Kampff test while touring the facility. During the panel, Harrison Ford was asked about the divisive question of Deckard being a replicant or not. His answer is priceless According to BBC:
“It doesn’t matter what I think.”
Ford originally held tight to the notion that Deckard was not a replicant, but Ridley Scott did and noted that Ford had given up his crusade back in a Wired interview in 2007.
There’s always the possibility that Deckard IS a replicant and he’s the type that comes between the original Nexus 6 and the newer Nexus 8. He could be the key himself to whatever plan that Wallace has throughout the film. No matter how it plays out, there’s a lot to love about this sequel. It passes all the tests to this point and is visually a stunning follow up to a sci-fi classic. If it’s a failure, it’s going to have to be a huge failure considering all the big talent involved. We’ll find out on October 6th.