BB-8 may be an early frontrunner for the most beloved character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about the rolling ball droid. Like, until recently, whether we should be calling BB-8 “he” or “she.” There’s been much speculation about BB-8’s gender identity, but today we finally have a definitive answer: BB-8 is a boy. More about the BB-8 gender after the jump.
Over the past few months there have been persistent rumors that BB-8 is female. That speculation reached a fever pitch earlier this month when The Daily Mail (via The Telegraph) reported that sources close to the project had verified BB-8 was a girl. “J.J. [Abrams] was determined to make BB-8 cute and strong – and female,” the publication claimed.
“They want to appeal to girls as much boys, who have traditionally been the fan base. She’s going to be one of the breakout hits of the film.”
Today, however, we finally have word from a definitive source. In an interview with EW, Neal Scanlan, the head of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens creature shop, addressed the BB-8 gender question. “I’m still not sure, dare I say, whether BB-8 is male or female,” he began. But it definitely sounds like he’s leaning toward the former:
BB-8 was female in our eyes. And then she became male. And that’s all part of the evolution, not only visually, but in the way they move, how they hold themselves.
Look, I haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens. All I, or any other Star Wars fan, have seen of BB-8 at this point are some stills and a few snippets of footage. So it’s possible that once Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out, it’ll become clear that BB-8 is a paragon of masculinity.
But from here, this seems like a bizarre statement. BB-8 is a droid that looks, basically, like someone slapped the top half of R2-D2 on a soccer ball. There’s nothing in BB-8’s appearance that looks inherently male or female. (If anything, all those curves probably make BB-8 look more stereotypically female than male.) And while it’s true that men and women move in different ways, neither gender moves like a rolling robot with no neck, torso, limbs, feet, or hands.
It’s even weirder, though, that Scanlan admits he’s not certain. Star Wars: The Force Awakens wrapped a long time ago, meaning any dialogue referencing BB-8’s gender has long been finalized. So maybe it’s just that no one refers to BB-8 as “he” or “she” in the movie.
Moving on, Scanlan also spoke a bit about who BB-8 is under that manly exterior:
We always imagined BB-8 as being quite manipulative. I think he knows he’s cute. He knows that he can win people over. And he uses that the way children do, to get his own way. In this film, he has a very important mission to accomplish, and so he uses his personality [to his advantage].
Again, that doesn’t seem like a specifically masculine way to act. People of all genders use their charm to manipulate others into doing their bidding. In any case, though, it’s amusing to realize that BB-8 actually knows just how cute he is. All that time we spent cooing over BB-8’s adorability and introducing BB-8 Spheros to our unhappy cats? We were playing right into his metaphorical robot hands.
It’s arguably unnecessary for BB-8 to have a gender at all, given that BB-8 is a robot. But it’s established that droids in the Star Wars universe have gender, and so far the only prominent ones we’ve seen in the canon, C-3PO and R2-D2, have been male. So it would’ve been cool to see BB-8 emerge as an important female droid character.
It’s worth pointing out, though, that the Star Wars universe won’t be entirely devoid of female droids. PZ-4CO, a protocol droid who serves in the Resistance, was confirmed to be female in the novel Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure published earlier this fall.
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