Warning: Lots of spoilery details and speculation for those looking to go into Blade Runner 2049 blind.

Arguably my most anticipated film this year, Blade Runner 2049 took the stage directly after Spielberg’s Ready Player One, but had no problem following the icon, bringing its owns sense of gravitas and energy to the crowd.

Kicking things off, Warner Bros. immersive wrap-around screen (covering the entirety of Hall H’s walls) showed a reel consisting of old and new footage, anchored by Roy Batty’s tears in rain speech. The clip concluded with Edward James Olmos’ Gaff, and the ominous quote, “It’s too bad she (Rachael) won’t live, but then again, who does!”.

Next, a timeline began to populate the screen’s quadrants, with more footage and photos of the Blade Runner universe. Entitled, The Road to 2049, each event filled in the space between Ridley Scott’s original film, and the sequel. There was a lot to glean here, interesting clues and world building that promised to make the new film as lived-in and real as possible.

The most striking revelations of the timeline:

-Shortly after the original film, Replicants are given longer lifespans in order to become better products.

– Soon after, an EMP blast detonates and leaves a majority of the robot workforce in disarray.

-Humans eventually leave the planet after the catastrophic EMP leaves the world in chaos.

-Replicant prohibition takes place.

-A mysterious tycoon named Wallace (Jared Leto) buys an ailing Tyrell Corporation and helps to solve world hunger. He then repeals replicant prohibition.

– 2049: Almost 40 years after Deckard and Rachael have escaped, Los Angeles is a vastly different place. Humans who can’t afford to leave are stranded with replicants, with the two factions living a tenous co-existence.

As you can tell, these events alone are salivating, opening up the world to a huge amount of rich possibilities. Above all, these are really smart ideas, shifting what we thought we knew about the Blade Runner universe and creating a tone of desperation that furthers what Ridley Scott’s original film started.

From here, Jared Leto took the stage in pink hot pants, but, not a real Jared Leto of course, a hologram. He spoke of the new film and how it was gonna be great – the mix of technology and Leto’s oddball appearance made for a great entrance.

As the cast and crew took the stage, energy was high, with panelists including director Denis Villeneuve, Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Lennie James, producer Broderick Johnson and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. At this point, the talent on stage was no joke, and the idea of all these people contributing to the film was too much to bear.

Host Chris Hardwick began by asking Villeneuve why he had to make the film, with the director enthusiastically answering, “I didn’t want somebody else to fuck it up.” The director then went on to explain that the original is his favorite film of all time, and birthed his desire to become a filmmaker.

Villeneuve went on to stress that Ridley Scott gave this new film to him, saying that this chapter is his and that its his responsibility, allowing him to run free without constraints.

Slyly pressing Harrison Ford on whether Deckard was a replicant, Hardwick asked whether the new film helped Ford to answer questions about his character in the original film, to which Ford scoffed and laughed “it doesn’t matter what I think.”

Gosling called working with the cast and crew something akin to being on a football team with the Avengers, earning a loud laugh, due to the fact that this was Warner Bros.’ panel, home to DC, not Marvel.

The footage shown was a small, self-contained moment that teased a lot of great questions rather than showing us something bombastic and action driven, confirming that the film will fall in line with its heady predecessor.

The footage began with Wallace’s showroom, as seen in the trailers. Gosling’s K is led through a corridor featuring old Nexus replicant models. His guide is Sylvia Hoeks’ character, who seems to be Wallace’s (Jared Leto) right hand woman. She leads K into a lower level room containing what appear to be archives. She opens a drawer with orbs, which appear to be memories or files, selecting one and reading it via a device. The orb contains a weathered audio sample of Deckard’s Voight-Kampff test on Rachael. K and Hoeks’ characters remark on the exchange between the pair, noticing a subtle provocation on Rachael’s part, as K implies that she is trying to rouse Deckard. Hoeks remarks that, “We were difficult to spot then”, revealing that she is a replicant and that newer versions may be more robotic than their predecessors. She also then turns the tables on K, asking him a personal question in a way that mirrors Rachael in the audio recording. K is unsettled by this and the clip ends.

As you can tell, this was a very psychological scene, a sly, inversion of the Voight-Kampff possibly by one replicant to another, or on a replicant towards a human? This is all loose speculation, but it does raise some incredible questions!

Finally, an audience member shocks Hall H in the Q&A portion by asking if it’s Harrison Ford’s life goal to reboot every franchise he’s ever been in. Ford’s answer is priceless, “You bet your ass it is!”

Everything in this panel only helped to further confirm that Villeneuve and crew may have another masterpiece on their hands.

SG