‘Blade Runner 2049’ Writers Reveal Original Idea for the Ending
It should go without saying, but just in case: SPOILERS AHEAD for Blade Runner 2049 — specifically the ending of Denis Villeneuve’s sequel to Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, which has proven itself exceptionally faithful to its predecessor in that it’s already woefully underappreciated in its time. But if you’re one of the (very smart) few who paid to see Blade Runner 2049 over the weekend, you may be interested to learn a little more about the film’s ending, which wasn’t originally written that way.
In the sequel, Ryan Gosling’s Agent K takes Harrison Ford’s Deckard to be reunited with the daughter he had with Rachael 30 years ago — and whom he intentionally abandoned in order to keep her safe from harm. As Deckard enters the building, K, bleeding out from his wounds, lies down on the steps and slowly drifts away as the snow falls around him.
As screenwriter Michael Green tells Entertainment Weekly (via The Playlist), that ending isn’t meant to be ambiguous at all; it’s pretty obvious that K dies, though it’s difficult to watch the scene and not hope that he — or some part of himself — lives on. “I was surprised to find out that anyone thought he didn’t die,” Green says. He also notes that “The non-casual fan might recognize the music cue that plays in that moment.” It’s “Tears in the Rain” by Vangelis, which was also used to profound effect in Ridley Scott’s film.
Over at The Los Angeles Times, Green spoke with original Blade Runner screenwriter and Blade Runner 2049 co-writer Hampton Fancher, who revealed that his initial idea for the sequel ended very differently — though you can probably guess how:
In my script, Deckard died at the end, but you [Green] have him live. The first time Ridley and I ever considered doing a second ‘Blade Runner,’ in 1986 or whatever it was, I came up with an idea about Deckard and his next job — and it’s kind of horrifying what happens in my little fantasy. Now that Deckard lives, that idea is back in my head. But I’m not going to tell you what it is.
It’s unlikely that Fancher will get to explore that mysterious idea in a future Blade Runner sequel; 2049 had a fairly disappointing opening weekend in terms of box office, effectively nixing any potential continuations of the franchise. That’s okay with Green, who told EW that although he’s “certainly fantasized” about making another sequel, building a franchise (like Marvel) was never their intention in the development of this film:
So many studios and property rights holders have seen the success of Marvel, which we all adore and wonder how to replicate it. For me, the lesson of Marvel is: you don’t begin by building a universe. You begin by telling a story worth telling. And if it is a great story directed well and performed brilliantly and stays with people, it will become the black hole around which a galaxy can form. If you begin by trying to build the universe before creating a film worth watching, well, there be dragons. At no point in the creation of this story or script did anyone talk about spin-offs or how might things continue. It was always: what’s our story and make sure you have a story that is worth the title.
As far as I’m concerned, Villeneuve, Green and Fancher definitely accomplished that mission. Blade Runner 2049 is an absolutely stunning sci-fi film that emotionally enriches the ideas of the original while introducing new themes, gently encouraging the viewer to contemplate the nuances along the way.
If you haven’t seen it yet (why are you reading this article you monster?!), you should definitely make it a priority to see Blade Runner 2049 — and support bold, creative filmmaking — this week.