Who loves BB-8? Show of hands. Everyone? Ok good. Well what’s better than one BB-8? Loads of ‘em…
When Uncle George was designing Episode I he said, “Jar Jar is the key to all this!” He thought if he nailed Jar Jar Binks, and the kids fell in love with him, then The Phantom Menace would work. Sure Jar Jar was also a test for future technology, like most of George’s movies, it’s never just about the story, it’s about how to tell that story, and the stories that follow. It’s reasonable to say that both endeavours failed. People hated Jar Jar Binks, and the effect didn’t really work that well. In fact, much is being made of how far away from that “method” of film making The Force Awakens really is. George was right, Jar Jar was the key, but unfortunately the door it opened swung both ways and it hit George Lucas in the ass, if I can mix those metaphors.
Jump ahead almost two decades and we have another New Hope. BB-8 is the Jar Jar Binks of the sequel trilogy. Well, at least as far as he is the key. Get BB-8 working and you’ll win over the audience’s hearts and minds. It looks like that’s already happened.
Last November, on Black Friday, the first teaser trailer for a Star Wars movie in ten years hit large and small screens around the world and a couple of things stood out. That voiceover, John Boyega’s Stormtrooper, the Millennium Falcon barrel rolling across a desert plain, that Lightsaber and a tiny little ball shaped robot named BB-8.
Many people suggested he might be CGI, but he was practical. Others thought he might just be a drop in character and not a main feature of the new movie, but that was wrong, he is a central character.
Like R2-D2 and C-3PO before him BB-8 promises to be a driving force in this new film and a favourite with both young and old Star Wars fans alike.
It’s A Con(vention)
Our affection for the little ball droid only deepened when he made his first personal appearance at Star Wars Celebration this past summer, blowing minds when he rolled out on stage, free from and strings or rods. BB-8 was every bit as reel as R2, with whom he shared the stage. It was a glorious moment seeing the crowd react to the little robot.
Jump forward to Force Friday, a major marketing event and BB-8 was waiting in the wings to steal the show. Only this time he would take the form of a tiny, remote control toy, designed by Sphyro, that will be on the top of many a child’s (both big and small) Christmas list this year. The trick worked, BB-8 is a hit, people love him already and we haven’t seen him do anything yet. We know precious little about him.
So what do we know about BB-8? For a start he appears to be an astromech droid. Specifically Poe Dameron’s astromech droid. There was a model of Poe’s X-Wing fighter (the blue one) at celebration that featured a model BB-8 in the socket behind the cockpit. So it’s reasonable to believe he is on Poe’s mission (Oscar Isaac revealed that Poe is sent on a mission by “a certain princess” in the movie), when Poe is taken prisoner by the First Order. Will BB-8 follow in R2’s footsteps (tread marks?) and head off across a desert to get help in fulfilling his duty? Maybe he carries something vital inside (ahem - Lightsaber) inside him in a similar way to R2 carrying the plans to the Death Star.
We also know that BB-8 will be rescued by Daisy Ridley’s Rey, when he is “salvaged” by a Jawa like character. You know Uncle George said these films rhyme? Looks like that’s still true!
BB-8 might prove to be a mix of both R2-D2 and Jar Jar Binks in the new movies. He could be the key to The Force Awakens success. An anthropomorphised unsung hero who captures the hearts of us fans and provides some well timed comic relief. That’s how R2-D2 succeeded in the original movies and that’s what Jar Jar failed (arguably) to do in the prequels.
What’s more, if, like R2 before him, BB-8 is one of many, ubiquitous utility droids, then the sequel movies may have many BB-8s, in all sorts of colours and varieties! So you better start saving the pennies if you want to fill your living room floor with rolling, chirping automatons!
Thank you for reading,