It's been 22 long years since we last saw our heroes on the big screen in Return of The Jedi. But on Dec. 18, one of the most -- if not THE most --famous franchises in movie history is returning to theaters in the much-anticipated next chapter of their story with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Over the next 20 weeks, we will celebrate the franchise by looking back and ranking the best of the best moments in Star Wars history
Everyone knows how important droids are to the Star Wars universe. But there’s one droid who is the indisputable MVP of Star Wars (despite my coworker’s poor judgment in thinking otherwise): R2-D2. Though his simplistic design would have you thinking Artoo is little more than an over-glorified trash can on wheels, in reality he’s the Swiss army knife of droids, with a seemingly endless amount of gadgets and functions hidden within a battle-worn, cylinder exterior. Part comic relief, part hero, all lovable, you think R2-D2 and the term “clutch” surely comes to mind.
But like all legends, there’s bound to be some newbie on the scene that eventually looks to dethrone the champ. I'm looking at you, BB-8. The feisty little soccer ball with a head is already campaigning for the hearts and minds of Star Wars fans everywhere, and the movie isn’t even out yet. This newest little astromech droid is like every college basketball player that thinks they’re the next Michael Jordan, every boxer that thinks they’re the next Ali, or every pop star who gets labeled the next Madonna. Almost none of these wannabes live up to the hype.
I appreciate that Disney and Lucasfilm are clearly revamping the franchise by including a host of endearing new characters meant to emulate the beloved heroes of the original trilogy. It’s a smart move for sure. New fans will connect to these younger characters much as older Star Wars fans did to Luke, Leia, Han, et al., while older fans will feel confident in the proverbial passing of the torch and trust that the franchise is once again honoring the original films by finally carrying on the story the way it deserves to be told.
BB-8 is essentially the millennial R2-D2. It's meant to embody some of the qualities of the O.G. but is a streamlined, sleeker take on the classic. Granted, we have yet to really learn the full extent of BB-8’s functions or what role it’ll play in the films, but here’s why he/she/it needs to slow its roll. BB-8 could never topple the G.O.A.T, and here's a few reasons why.
He’s arguably the best R2 unit in the galaxy
The R2 series were built to be workhorses, specifically as military robots used to plug into X-wing fighters and essentially act as co-pilots. But R2-D2 had a host of modifications, another feature that made the R2 series far superior to the R1 and equally popular with techy owners who wanted to trick out their driods, as was the case with galactic fighter pilots. The personality matrix on the R2 was so advanced and robust that as long as the droid’s memory was never wiped it would eventually become independent and headstrong, which is evidenced in R2-D2's behavior.
R2-D2 become such a shining example of how versatile the series was that he helped boost the popularity and sales of the model in the galaxy. BB-8, clearly a next-gen version of that series, wouldn’t even exist if Artoo’s infamous heroics hadn’t become stuff of legend.
He’s saved the day more times than anyone else
Artoo’s heroic and clever maneuvering has led to him saving his friends 21 times in the six films ( I’m sure there are plenty of times in the EU, but let’s stick with the movies). While everyone was dodging blasters from a bunch of stormtroopers with horrible aim or freaking out over the sight of Darth Vader, R2-D2 always kept his head in the game and figured out the quickest way to get his friends to safety. Even if it meant completely risking his survival in the process.
In fact, if it weren’t for this spunky little droid, our heroes would have been goners after A New Hope. The Rebellion never would have gotten the plans to the Death Star, Leia wouldn't have gotten rescued ( he located her in her holding cell on the Death Star), Luke may have never become a Jedi, and Leia and Han may have never fallen in love because all three of them would have become pancakes in the trash compactor. While Threepio was busy being a galactic drama-queen, Artoo was hacking into the computer and shutting down the trash compactor, thus saving all their lives.
He makes C-3P0 much more tolerable.
Let’s be honest, if C-3P0 existed without R2-D2 at his side, Chewie may never have been so willing to reassemble him after finding his parts headed for the incinerator on Cloud City. The uptight, talkative droid is a bit of a pill, and his sidekick makes him that much easier to swallow.
The duo provide comic relief throughout all six of the films, but they also are a shining example of friendship and loyalty. Whereas Artoo’s hijinks and habit of going rogue may have gotten him ( and his friends) into hot water, C3P0 was always the first to defend his little buddy, even if he didn’t condone or agree with his antics. Likewise, Artoo’s indecipherable beeps and boops manage to disarm an arrogant Threepio, at times taking him down a notch when his ego was getting a bit much or his anxiety was making a bad situation worse.
Nothing stops him from completing his mission.
The Empire takes over your ship? No biggie. Captured by Jawas? Whatevs. Get fried by a TIE-fighter? No problem. Get eaten by some weird swamp beast in the murky waters of the Dagobah system? Pfft. Nothing stops R2-D2. Whether by chance or cleverly concealed choice, this determined little droid is continuously fearless in each of the films, regardless of the circumstances.
At first glance, it may seem the rebellious R2-D2 is often getting himself into a slew of unfortunate circumstances due to his inability to follow the leader. But as fans have come to learn, things can be deceiving when it comes to Artoo. In fact, whatever misfortunes come his way could have actually been calculated risks he took as part of his overall master plan. A plan that always ends up working out exactly as it should.
It's Artoo's " no f***s given" disposition that makes me love him as much as I do. Regardless of the chaos around him, whether or not he gets any accolades from anyone, or however bleak life may seem at the moment, he perceveres. That's an admirable trait in a human, let alone a droid. He's like a silent, mechanical Yoda who teaches fans life lessons through his actions instead of backwards sentences that we can't understand.
He’s as important to a family of Jedis as the Force itself.
We all know the Force is strong with all of the Skywalkers ( so far),but the one thing that has served them more consistently than their Jedi powers is R2-D2.
All life-saving moments aside, Artoo has been there to keep the families deepest secrets ( such as Anakin and Padme’s relationship), and stood by their sides at the times they needed companionship the most ( Luke’s training at the Dagobah system). In fact, R2-D2, having never had a memory wipe, is possibly the only character in the movies to truly know everything that has been going on at all times. Yet despite this, and possibly due to his ever-evolving conscious, has kept information to himself that could potentially risk the lives of Luke, Leia, and the others.
Even George Lucas admits R2 is the s**t
For anyone that has watched the DVD commentary from Revenge of The Sith, you’ll know the Lucas went on record saying that R2-D2 was his favorite. In fact he loved the little guy so much that he insisted he save the day at least once in every film. The director has alledgedly even claimed that he always wanted a friend just like Artoo and honestly, who could blame him?
If you ask me, those are some pretty big shoes… er, wheels to fill, BB-8. Sure, you may have had a most impressive toy released in your likeness that ended up flying ( or rolling) off the shelves, but R2-D2 has decades of awesomeness to live up to. The droid is one of the most recognizable characters in pop-culture history, whose unique sounds are so famous that even non-nerds know those trademark beeps when they hear them. The bar's been set pretty high, BB-8. Come December 18th, let's see what you've got.
What do you think? Will BB-8 become the most beloved droid in the galaxy, or will Artoo retain his crown? Let us know in the comments!
Previously in 20 Weeks of Star Wars ...