[Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) may have released its third and final trailer, but there is still so much to be discovered about the upcoming movie. The new trailer prominently shows Finn, Rey and Kylo Ren as the movie's central figures, but theres one character that has made an obvious impact on Star Wars fans worldwide ever since appearing in the teaser trailer back in November, 2014. Of course, I'm talking about the loveably spherical droid, BB-8.
This little guy (or girl?) instantly captured our imagination. I even remember seeing a tattoo of BB-8 not long after the teaser was released! His instant success with audiences went even further once the hit BB-8 toy by Sphero was released. Have no doubt, guys - this is the most wanted Christmas present by children and adults alike!
But BB-8's success is, in fact, the least surprising thing about Disney's Force Awakens campaign. We have always loved the Star Wars droids, and BB-8 is clearly intended to be 'the next R2-D2'. In fact, Disney have made no secret of this, and have repeatedly made it clear that the new droid's inspiration comes from the heart of Star Wars. More specifically, from the original design of our favorite Star Wars droid, R2-D2.
BB-8's Original Design & Inspiration
Many fans will already know that the concept for BB-8 was actually based on the original design for R2-D2. The picture above shows concept art for Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, featuring a droid that uses a sphere to manoeuvre itself. This was, of course, the very first design for Artoo, but unfortunately had to be simplified. As a practical effect, the capabilities back in 1977 just couldn't make a spherical droid possible.
So, the earliest design for R2-D2 is the undisputed, core inspiration for our new droid. And this makes perfect sense, as Episode VII should feature some technological advancements in comparison to what was seen in A New Hope. But this development of a new droid using inspirations from the very first Star Wars movie goes even further.
Further Inspiration in Star Wars: A New Hope
Thats right, this might not be the only way in which George Lucas' very first Star Wars movie influenced the final design of BB-8! Whilst re-watching the saga, I spotted a large object just before Luke, Obi-Wan and the droids enter the Mos Eisley Cantina. The object, in my opinion, looks an awful lot like BB-8's head. But don't take my word for it. Take a look for yourself:
What is this object?
According to the original Star Wars blueprints, this object is actually a vehicle. More specifically, the craft is labeled as a 'Ubrickian Landspeeder 9000 Z001'. To those who aren't interested in delving into the history of Star Wars vehicles, this detail might seem a little irrelevant, as it doesn't really make any connections to the characters we know and love... Or does it?
Parked right outside the cantina, it has often been speculated that this landspeeder belongs to Rodian bounty hunter, Greedo. However, even if this is purely fan speculation, it is known that the vehicle was designed with a specific inspiration in mind:
2001: A Space Odyssey
Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey was one of the most influencial movies on George Lucas when creating Star Wars. So much so, in fact, that the cast and crew of the movie were also known as the 'Class of 2001', as many of them had worked on Kubrick's sci-fi art film and were hired purely based on their involvement with the masterpiece.
The Ubrickian Landspeeder 9000 Z001's name can be broken down into three parts. Ubrickian, which refers to the cinematic term 'Kurbickian', 9000 which nods to 2001's famous android, HAL 9000, and Z001, which clearly nods to the movie's title. With this in mind, it is fair to say that BB-8 is, in fact, also inspired by the great Stanley Kubrick's work.
Side-by-side comparison, here's another look:
Of course, there are differences between these two images, but once you consider the Ubrickian Landspeeder 9000 Z001 alongside the original design for Artoo, then you start to see how BB-8's final outcome came into fruition.
The speeder is only featured for a matter of seconds, but the likenesses are glaringly obvious. Personally, I love how [Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens](tag:711158) has been influenced by archived concept art, and it's fantastic to see these nods within the original trilogy.
You can see the entire scene below (and the object at 4.10):
So, what do you think? Is BB-8 influenced by a Kubrickian reference in A New Hope, or do you think I've caught 'Force Fever' and let my enthusiasm for the upcoming movie get the better of my judgement? Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!