There will be massive spoilers for Blade Runner 2049 in this article, so please proceed only if you’ve seen the film, or don’t care about having a few of its key reveals spoiled.
I took in a screening of Blade Runner 2049 last night, and I absolutely loved it (my review). It touches on all sorts of deep meanings and philosophies about life and creation, but to me it also puts to bed any doubt about a longstanding mystery revolving around the character of Rick Deckard. Fans of the original Blade Runner, and Scott’s subsequent super-duper-final-cuts, have long debated if Deckard was indeed a replicant, which would make him a slave hunting down his own kind, so it’s a pretty deep revelation to think about. Especially if you’re Deckard, who throughout the original Blade Runner does begin to question his line of thinking and the emotions he starts to develop for the machines he’s hunting. He begins to question his own humanity, but in the original version any scene that teased the fact that he could be a replicant was cut.
In 2007, Scott released the final cut of Blade Runner, which is said to be the definitive edition, and it added key scenes back in that led many fans to guess that Deckard was indeed a replicant all along. Scott himself has gone on record saying without fail that Deckard is a replicant, but the man who played him, Harrison Ford, has been documented as thinking Deckard was a human. Denis Villeneuve, the Director of Blade Runner 2049, has gone on to say that he wanted to keep Deckard’s status ambiguous in the sequel, but after experiencing it, I have made up my own mind on Rick’s true status. Sort of. Yes I’m starting to waffle already, but that just goes to show how mysterious this sci-fi debate truly is.
New Blade Runners are Replicants
I without a doubt do believe that Rick Deckard is a replicant, and here’s why. First off, right from the get go we learn that Ryan Gosling’s character, who is a Blade Runner, is indeed a replicant. This gives insights into the Blade Runner program, and the fact that at least during this timeline, replicants are used to hunt down other replicants. With this knowledge it isn’t hard to speculate that the same methods were used during Deckard’s time as a Blade Runner. Using machines to retire other machines makes complete sense, especially when you consider the increased strength that replicants have. Why send a meatbag to take care of a super human strength machine when you could send an equally matched replicant?
Deckard Hid Away in a Radiated Zone
The second case for Deckard being a replicant is where rooted in where he chose to live. We come to find out that he’s been in hiding since the last film, and K (Gosling) ends up finding him in a highly radiated destroyed city. If Deckard were a human I’m not sure he’d be able to survive the conditions due to the toxicity. At least not for 30 years with no real protection from the radiation outside of an old high rise apartment building.
Deckard Still Fights Like a Healthy Young Man
The third case revolves around the fact that Deckard can still handle himself capably in a fight as an old man. He goes toe-to-toe with K, who we know to be a robot, and fairs quite well. You could make the argument that K wasn’t trying to hurt Deckard, but the old man had some powerful and graceful moves for a dude that looks like he has one foot in the grave. He also battles a few bad guys with strength that doesn’t reflect what a human of his age and physical condition could do. This case is definitely a stretch. After all, we’re talking about fiction, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary to have regular people do extraordinary things, but to maintain a level of believability, one can easily explain Deckard’s physical skills at his advanced age being a by-product of his replicancy.
Deckard Procreated with Rachael
A major reveal in 2049 is the fact that a replicant had a baby, and that replicant is Rachael from the original Blade Runner. In that film Deckard falls in love with her and we see them together by the time it ends. It’s implied in the sequel that the two remained lovers and somehow had a baby together. This to me is a strong indication that he too was a replicant since his system was compatible with Rachel’s to the point of them being able to procreate. You’d think that a human’s DNA wouldn’t be able to mix with a replicant’s makeup to create a new replicant by birth. Again, this is sci-fi, so anything can technically happen, but to me it just makes so much more sense that these two beings were of the same make, therefore they could procreate.
Deckard Has Become a Symbol for the Replicant Revolution
Towards the end of the film it’s revealed to K that there is a Replicant revolution brewing, and that Deckard is a highly respected icon within it. So much so that the rebel replicants enlist K to do what it takes to protect Deckard’s daughter, and in turn Deckard himself after it’s revealed to him that he’s not the magical replicant baby he thought himself to be. You’d think that their reverence for Deckard would signify that he’s one of them, so they’re uniting behind him, but I guess you could argue that they look up to him for the fact that he loved a replicant himself and had a baby with her. Again, to me, it makes more sense that they share the bond of being machines, so I’m sticking with my theory. Which is hard, because even as I type this parts of me want to make a case for Deckard still being human, but during my initial viewing of 2049 I couldn’t help but feel it was clear that he is not.
Like I just said, this fun sci-fi movie debate can get very confusing from both viewpoints. Going into this piece and coming fresh out of my screening I was all but convinced that Deckard is a replicant, but even now I’m starting to question my own line of thinking. If we want to believe the man that created this universe, then the debate is over, he is a robot. But on the other hand the man that brought him to life is hellbent on his belief that this character is a human, so who do you trust? Maybe Villeneuve is a genius with his belief that Deckard’s status should remain ambiguous so people like me keep this interesting debate alive for many years to come. Either way, Blade Runner 2049 ends in a very open way, so there could definitely be another film, and in that film I don’t think Deckard’s status can be ignored. If that sequel goes down I do believe we will finally get a definitive take on Deckard being a replicant or not.
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