SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Blade Runner 2049, in theaters now.
1982's Blade Runner presented Deckard as a human, a blade runner for the LAPD who hunted down replicants. But as the movie reached its end, audiences were given a tease in the form an origami unicorn, a final notion to make us all wonder if the movie's main character had been a replicant all along.
Depending on your take on those closing moments, you might fall into the "Deckard is a replicant" camp, or "Deckard is NOT a replicant" camp. It's a question that has been analyzed a thousand times over, with everyone and anyone having their own answer.
With Ford returning for Blade Runner 2049, fans wondered how the sequel would address this massive question, and what answer, if any, it would ultimately give us.
The source of this debate stems from what the original film's origami unicorn actually meant. Those who stand firmly in the “replicant” camp argue that, in the Final Cut of the original film, the inclusion of Deckard's famous daydream sequence depicting a running unicorn would confirm that his thoughts and memories were known to Graff, who left the origami as a sign of his passage at the end of the film. On the other hand, there are those who say that this was simply a way to illustrate that both humans and replicants can have similar dreams, be they implemented or not -- that it could merely just be a coincidence. Ridley Scott has long since confirmed that he intended for Deckard to be a replicant, something that Harrison Ford has famously and vehemently disputed on many occasions. And so the debate raged on.
It seems that the real strength of the original movie's ending is in its ambiguity, where no one can fully be certain, and where anyone can choose the ending he or she prefers. So where did Blade Runner 2049 leave things? What did it make of the series' most dumbfounding question? Perhaps even that sequel's director, Denis Villeneuve, knew that this question was too big for him to answer, because instead of putting an end to it, he kept its fire burning bright.
Once again, audiences will walk out of a Blade Runner film debating the true nature of Deckard. Some will say that what we came to learn confirms beyond a doubt that he is a replicant -- and they could be right. In the film, we find out that Deckard and Rachael conceived a child together. One could easily argue this could only be possible if both parents were replicants. Then again, perhaps the opposite could be just as true. Perhaps a human parent was needed in order to bring this new creature to life, a hybrid of both human and replicant descent.
Then we have a scene fans will most likely debate the legitimacy of for many years to come – when Deckard finally meets with Jared Leto's villainous Niander Wallace. Desperate to find this miracle child, Wallace suggests that Deckard and Rachael's love -- as seen in the first movie -- was manufactured by the man who would have created them, Dr. Eldon Tyrell. Their entire relationship, Wallace insists, was an experiment designed by the scientist, a test to see if the two could eventually create a replicant of their own. If that is true, Deckard would have been created before Rachael, and their chance meeting would be reduced to nothing but a manipulated encounter. Obviously, Deckard refuses to believe that theory, because he knows that his love is real.
It's important to take into account Niander Wallace's very own god complex when analyzing this scene, and the possibility that everything he says to Deckard is a lie, told simply to get what he truly wants: the child. It could very well just be that Wallace is trying to put doubt in Deckar's mind in a bid to break his walls down. There's no way to know beyond a doubt, because the movie (deliberately) never makes it clear. ItThere is no scene where Deckard turns to the camera to ask, “Are you saying I'm a replicant?” and Wallace answering with a smile. Just like its predecessor, Blade Runner 2049 can be seen one way just as legitimately as the other.
When it comes down to it, it doesn't really matter what the truth is, if Deckard is a human or a replicant. The heart of Blade Runner was always about what makes one human, whether they're "real" or synthetic. Ultimately, neither is better or more important than the other. Blade Runner 2049 takes that thinning dichotomy even further, placing both species on an equal level. And once again, the character of Deckard is at the center, straddling the line between the two. In the end, however you choose to see it, yours is the only answer that will matter.
Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Arrival) from a script by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, Blade Runner 2049 stars Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Barkhad Abdi, Lennie James, Mackenzie Davis and Sylvia Hoeks. Executive produced by Ridley Scott, the film is in theaters now.