One of the most influential sci-fi films in modern history, Ridley Scott's 1982 dystopian classic Blade Runner commands respect from just about anyone who loves the genre. Starring Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard - the titular Blade Runner - Scott's film examined what it really means to be human, and posed the question of whether an artificially created being could ever advance to the point of being entirely indistinguishable from mankind in any noticeable way.
Since the original release of Blade Runner, one of the most popular theories concerning the film has been that Deckard himself is in fact a Replicant, a variation on the genetically engineered beings that he's tasked with hunting down over the course of the film. The theatrical cut of Blade Runner left the answer to this question ambiguous and open to interpretation, although further edits - including Scott's preferred Final Cut - seemed to offer much clearer hints that Deckard isn't human.
One factor that has prevented many fans from accepting one way or another that Deckard is a Replicant is that those involved with making Blade Runner have publicly disagreed. Scott has said that Deckard is a Replicant, while screenwriter Hampton Fancher prefers to leave the question unresolved. Ford himself has expressed a belief that Deckard is human. When asked during today's Blade Runner 2049 SDCC panel whether the sequel clears up any lingering questions that Ford may have had about the original though, he responded rather bluntly, "It doesn't matter what I think."
Ford has, of course, come to be known as a no-nonsense straight shooter over the years when asked questions concerning his films. Still, it seems a bit telling that the above was his answer to a question by host Chris Hardwick that clearly seemed to be referencing Ford's stated disagreements with Scott about Deckard being a Replicant. If Ford doesn't think his opinion matters, it's likely that Scott chose to specify once and for all in the sequel that Deckard isn't human.
While the Replicants that Deckard hunted in the original film were engineered with a limited lifespan in mind, the fact that Deckard has long outlived that span doesn't necessarily mean anything either way. The original film made it clear that there were different models of Replicants, and it's quite possible that Deckard is simply an advanced model capable of a normal human lifespan. Whatever ends up being the case, sci-fi fans will surely turn out in droves to learn the answer in October.
- Blade Runner 2049 (2017) release date: Oct 06, 2017
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