This past December, Star Wars fans rejoiced as the force finally awakened, bringing home almost $2 billion from the box office. The film was the first of many sequels, prequels and spinoffs to come in the next several years, and as such, has left fans with many unanswered questions.
Amongst the characters introduced in the new trilogy, a certain droid has taken the world by storm, winning over the hearts of Star Wars fans and leaving them wanting more. Of course, the droid, BB-8, is also the source of many unanswered questions. The droid finds itself at the crux of the film and, at many points, is pivotal to the plot. So who is this new droid?
Here are 10 Things You Need To Know About BB-8.
**Potential Spoilers Ahead**
10 The Gender Debate
Fans and filmmakers alike have disagreed on the gender of the new droid, and there is no definitive answer. Though filmmakers refer to the droid as a “he” in interviews and on set, they initially believed the droid to be a female due to the cuteness factor, something that feminists have picked up on. There hasn’t been an integral, female droid in the Star Wars franchise to date, and with one of the most diverse casts yet, there really isn’t a better time to introduce one.
However, filmmakers also claim that BB-8 has masculine programming, and the fact that the droid is a combination of sounds voiced by Bill Hader and Ben Schwarz also tip the scale in the male direction. Still, the droid’s gender is a debated topic among fans, perhaps one that will be answered definitively in future films.
9 The Manipulative Personality
BB-8 was designed with the “cute” factor in mind – filmmakers wanted the droid to be new and unique, but to also hit home with audiences. And let’s face it, when you’re introducing a new droid to work alongside the iconic duo of C-3PO and R2-D2, there are so many ways to go wrong.
Luckily, that didn’t happen. BB-8 has personality enough for days, and creators hint that the droid is well aware of how cute he is, something he will be using to his advantage. The droid is referred to as manipulative, using his personality to his advantage when necessary. Of course, this could also mean that BB-8 will be unpredictable in future films, something to keep an eye out for.
8 BB-8’s Operation
Though it doesn’t look like it on camera, BB-8 is a physical model that’s then operated by puppeteers, whom the filmmakers then edited out using CGI. And while CGI typically has negative connotations, especially when the technology detracts from the film itself, its use in The Force Awakens doesn't detract from the character in anyway. In fact, in this circumstance specifically, the CGI contributes by giving more personality to the droid’s movements.
Of course, using puppeteers while touring the country for press-related activities wasn’t exactly going to work. So there is a fully functional robot version of BB-8 that the filmmakers have used for press appearances, giving a realistic look to the beloved, new droid.
7 How BB-8 Came to Be
BB-8 is based on the original concept drawings for R2-D2 as created by Ralph McQuarrie. Of course, that isn’t to say this is the only contributing factor in the droid’s creation. In fact, J.J. Abrams developed a simple, clear concept drawing of his own, involving a ball with a small dome on top, which very quickly turned into the BB-8 droid, named as such to mimic the roundness of the character.
The panels on the droids body were also designed keeping movement in mind, so that this way, viewers could track which direction the droid is moving in. BB-8 also underwent several facial arrangements, as filmmakers found that moving certain components on the face would give the droid different emotions, something that would be huge to the droid’s personality.
6 The Panels
BB-8 has far more panels than viewers are initially shown in The Force Awakens. In fact, filmmakers have even claimed they haven’t defined all of the panels, yet. What we do know is that BB-8 has a taser-like probe and the ability to eject grappling hooks. We also know that the cables that BB-8 shoots in the Millennium Falcon are actually liquid cables.
And those orange circles surrounding BB-8’s body aren’t just there to look pretty. In fact, these circles are actually swappable equipment bays, housing the many trinkets and tools that BB-8 has. As suggested by the filmmakers, the amount of tools BB-8 houses are infinite, something that might just come in handy during future films.
5 BB-8’s Complicated Language
While Droids in the Star Wars films aren’t typically understood by the audience, aside from C-3PO, of course, it’s unusual that a droid isn’t understood by the other characters in the film. Recall, for instance, the many conversations R2-D2 has with other Star Wars characters in the first two trilogies.
BB-8 falls into this different category of droid in that he’s unable to communicate with all of the Star Wars characters, most notably when conversing with Finn. This is because the machine language BB-8 speaks is a far more complicated evolution of the language that droids such as R2-D2 use. Therefore, as the films continue, communication between the droid and the new trilogy’s characters may be strained.
4 BB-8’s Loyalty
As explained in The Force Awakens, BB-8 is a droid that belongs to X-wing pilot, Poe Dameron. Dameron once served in the New Republic and now the Resistance as it continues its battle with the First Order. Dameron is considered an extremely loyal, talented addition to the Resistance.
BB-8 and Dameron have a strong relationship, as displayed by the droid’s dedication to the pilot throughout the first film. BB-8 would go to the ends of the galaxy to complete Dameron’s tasks, and it’s very clear where the droid’s loyalty lies. This loyalty is a trait that will perhaps be further discussed in future films.
3 The Backstory
While Poe Dameron was born just two years before the Battle of Endor, BB-8 didn’t come to fruition until thirty years after that battle. Still, the two become close allies to one another and the resistance.
When The Force Awakens begins, Dameron and BB-8 are tasked with finding Lor San Tekka on Jakku, as this is where the map containing the secret location of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is being held. However, as things go south when the First Order arrives, Dameron must entrust the map to BB-8, who is able to escape capture. The droid traveled the desert endlessly until stumbling upon Rey, who saves him from capture.
2 The Homing Beacon
As mentioned above, BB-8 is a complex machine that stores all types of information, tools and other important items that could prove useful as the new trilogy progresses. Of course, not all of these items are effectively used, as demonstrated by the absent homing beacon in the first film.
According to filmmakers, BB-8 is equipped with a homing beacon that C-3PO (who, by the way, currently runs a galaxy-wide, droid spy network for The Resistance) forgot to activate before Poe and the droid traveled to Jakku. And it’s more than likely this tidbit will become much more important as the trilogy continues.
1 What BB-8’s Future Holds
The BB unit, astromech droid is going to be an integral character as the new Star Wars trilogy continues. And though plot secrets are very well kept, it is continually hinted at that BB-8 is going to be a major character as the films progress, though it’s unclear how the storyline will play out exactly.
What we do know is that filmmakers suggest BB-8 and Rey will have a relationship very much similar to that of R2-D2 and Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy. What this means for the trilogy is unclear at this point, but it’s obvious that BB-8 is a droid that fans are going to want to pay attention to.
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