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The Blade Runner 2049 backstory

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 30, 2017

The original Blade Runner was set in 2019, so 30 years have passed since then by the time the action picks up in Blade Runer 2049. While I imagine some of what happened in the interim will be covered in the new film, too much exposition is a narrative killer. So the filmmakers are releasing three short films that fill in the 30 year gap. The first one is set in 2036 and focuses on Niander Wallace, a character from Blade Runner 2049 played by Jared Leto.

In 2023, government authorities legislated an indefinite “prohibition” on replicant production, as a year prior a massive EMP detonated on the West Coast and is pinned on Replicants. So in this Wallace piece, we’ll see the beginnings of the new Replicants that are created after the prohibition is lifted.

At Comic-Con earlier in the year, a Blade Runner timeline was shown to fans:

2018: After a bloody mutiny by a Nexus 6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants are declared illegal on Earth — under penalty of death.

2019: A prototype Replicant, Rachael, and Officer Rick Deckard, a Blade runner, escape Los Angeles together.

2020: After the death of founder Eldon Tyrell, the Tyrell Corporation rushes a new line of Nexus 8 Replicants onto the market for use Off-world. Unlike previous Nexus models, built with 4-year lifespans, the Nexus 8s have open-ended lifespans, as well as ocular implants for easy identification

2022: The Blackout. An EMP of unknown origin detonates somewhere in the West Coast. Cities are shut down for weeks. Electronic data is corrupted or destroyed over most of the United States. Finance and trade markets crash worldwide. Food supplies become dire. Theories spread as to the cause of the Blackout; none are proven. The most popular blame Replicants.

2023: Replicant Prohibition. The governing authorities legislate an indefinite “prohibition” on replicant production. Nexus 6 models are now all decommissioned due to their programmed 4-year lifespans. Surviving Nexus 8 models are to be retired. Those that can, go into hiding.

2025: Idealistic scientist Niander Wallace pioneers advancements in genetically modified food and shares his patents for free, marking an end to a global crisis. His company, Wallace Corporation, E&C, expands across the globe — and into the Off-world colonies.

2028: Niander Wallace acquires the remains of the bankrupt Tyrell Corporation.

2030s: Niander Wallace improves upon Tyrells’ genetic engineering and memory implantation methods to make replicants obedient and controllable.

2036: Prohibition is repealed. Wallace reintroduces a new line of “perfected” Replicants — The Nexus 9.

Early 2040s: The LAPD commits additional resources to bolster its existing Blade Runner unit, tasked with locating illegal Replicants and retiring them.

2049: When we return to Los Angeles, 30 years after the original movie, climate change has caused the sea level to rise dramatically. A massive Sea Wall has been built along the Sepulveda Pass to protect the Los Angeles basin. Los Angeles is even more uninhabitable than before and filled with poverty and sickness. Humans, who were not well enough to leave for the off-world colonies are left behind. There is no fresh food, and inhabitants survive on Wallace’s genetically modified food products sold from vending machines at street markets.

I’ll include the other two short films here as soon at they’re posted. (thx, david)

Update: The second short is out, starring Dave Bautista (Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy) as a replicant on the run.

Update: The third short is out; it’s animated by Shinichiro Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop.