BB-8 rolled his way into our hearts from the moment we first saw him, managing the impressive task of recreating what audiences loved so much about his astromech predecessor, R2-D2. The little droid was a key part of The Force Awakens‘ plot, acting as the custodian of the map to Luke Skywalker’s location on Ahch-To. Now that he’s succeeded in delivering that, you may worry that he won’t have much to do in The Last Jedi.
But fear not, because he’s set to tangle with his evil First Order counterpart, the sinister BB-9E (I can’t help but imagine him as BB-8 but with an old-timey moustache to twirl). Star Wars creature shop head Neal Scanlon told Entertainment Weekly the following about this rotund nemesis in a recent interview.
“With BB-9E, we go back to literally the cold First Order sort of Empire version of what a BB unit might be. This was much more cold, calculative, much more direct.”
As you can see in the photo below, he resembles BB-8, but with some sinister looking modifications. For starters, rather than cheery orange and white he comes in monochrome black and white, and has a single malevolent red eye that recalls 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s HAL. The aesthetic is intended to evoke a classic cop car with a siren on top, with Scanlon saying he wanted to communicate a “patrolling element” as well as mirror the Darth Vader color scheme.
Even better, we know that BB-8 and BB-9E are destined to cross paths. Scanlon says, “there’s a lovely moment between BB-8 and BB-9E, which tells that sort of parallel story of Vader and Luke.”
It’s fun to imagine a battle to the death between two cute droids rolling around the place, each trying to take the other one down. For me, this cranks up the hype dial for The Last Jedi just a couple of millimeters, and I really can’t believe we’ll be settling down to watch the film in a mere two weeks.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is set to open big on December 15th.