The biggest question from the original Blade Runner was whether Deckard was a replicant. I think the biggest question from the recent movie is whether Niander Wallace is a replicant.

Somebody explained why Wallace could be replicant in an answer to another question.

  • Have the producers, directors, or script-writers ever said Wallace was a replicant?
  • Or have they ever said he was meant to be human?
  • Or did they deliberately leave the question unanswered?

Evidence For

His Goal is Replicant Reproduction

Wallace wants replicants to reproduce. A human would not want to create a race of more powerful people that could replace humans, so that suggests he wants to make replicants the dominant race in the galaxy because he is one.

No Eyes

Wallace is blind. This may be due to him having his eyes damaged so nobody could read the replicant serial number imprinted on his eyeballs.

Several eye-drones fly around him to give him vision. The eye-drones may have multiple cameras that can see in wavelengths beyond visible light. They may give him the ability to see from several inputs at once. What human brain can process vision from several distinct sources?

enter image description here

His Children

When asked if he has children, he responds, "Millions", implying that the millions of factory-made persons are his children. The CEO of a major corporation would not refer to products as "children".

Evidence Against

Head of Corporation

How could a replicant become the CEO of major corporation? The back story of every major CEO today is well known. People today know all about Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs. Their families are known. Their childhood friends are known. If Niander Wallace's backstory was missing, people would suspect he was a Nexus-8 model. (Nexus-8 replicants had natural lifespans, not 4 year life-spans and were the last models created by the Tyrell Corporation before it was destroyed in 2022.)

The Blackout that occurred in 2022 wiped out electronic records for most of North America. An anime movie shows that the Blackout was due to an EMP from a nuclear weapon detonated over North America. He became known after the Blackout so his true origins could be shrouded in mystery. But still, you would think enough people would know him from childhood.

No Remorse For Killing Replicants

The backstory anime, Blackout 2022, shows that humans hunt down and kill replicants. Humans in the first movie called them skinjobs and considered killing them as "retirement".

In one scene, Wallace killed a replicant just seconds after it was activated. The female replicant falls to the floor being "born" from a machine. Wallace inspects her, decides she is not good enough and stabs her in the lower abdomen. He does this while talking about he will send replicants all over the galaxy.

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Most other replicants in the movie express concern for other replicants. Mariette the prostitute shows concern for Officer-K. So does Freysa, the leader of the Replicant Freedom Movement. Officer-K himself comes to regret killing Sapper Morton, the Nexus-8 model in the opening scenes who hid the bones of another replicant. Sapper himself cared for other replicants. Trixie and Iggy cared enough for other replicants to risk their lives.

Wallace would be much like other humans in his lack of remorse for killing what he considers to be a bio-machine that looks human.

I know some replicants seem remorseless toward other replicants, such as Luv when she tries to kill Officer-K, or Deckard when he hunted down 4 replicants in Los Angeles, but most show concern for other replicants.

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    “What human brain can process vision from several distinct sources?” You’re human, right? Count your retinas: I think you’ll find you have two. – Paul D. Waite Nov 19 '17 at 18:01
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    @PaulD.Waite You have two retinas; Wallace had at least 3 eye-drones. Your retinas always move together since they are inside the same skull. Wallace's eye drones move independently from each other. Your retinas are only 3 inches apart. Wallace's eye-drones can be several meters away from each other. And on top of all that, each drone could have multiple cameras. Wallace must have an extraordinary visual processing system in his brain. Your quip missed all those points. – RichS Nov 19 '17 at 18:56
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    I don't think we know enough about how the eye-drones work. Perhaps he only sees the feed from any one of the drones at a time, and can merely switch between them quickly when required. Or perhaps the feeds are passed through some intermediary system that compiles them into a single image (something akin to looking at a bank of security monitors). – delinear Nov 20 '17 at 13:04
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    When asked if he has children, he responds, "Millions", implying that the millions of factory-made persons are his children. The CEO of a major corporation would not refer to products as "children". He would if he were delusional, which I think is the whole point (especially since he also calls them "angels", indicating a god complex). There are definitely humans in our world might express delusions in this way, so I have no idea why that would be evidence that he's a replicant. – Thunderforge Dec 3 '17 at 2:29
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    @LincolnMan Being "unnecessary" isn't a good reason to roll back an edit, true, but consider this: now that you've included this information in your question, Dominic Fonde's answer seems useless. It could even be flagged as "not an answer" for simply repeating information that's already given in the question. That seems like a poor (albeit well-intentioned) way to thank someone for answering your question. I haven't re-rollbacked your post, but please consider doing so. – Rand al'Thor Dec 3 '17 at 11:54

The "remorse" argument doesn't work for me.

Look at good-old humans. The response to death, violent or natural, varies from person to person and context to context. This presumably ought to extend to BR and BR-2049's replicants. So remorse or lack of it doesn't say anything.

Also note that "K" kills replicants - it's practically his life function. Yet his character is otherwise very emotive and empathic - the two things are not incompatible with violence.

"Wallace" doesn't, quite frankly, strike me as much different from the kind of ruthless individual that do get to the top of the corporate ladder. Call me cynical (I do) but I think such behavior is not uncommon.

The idea that he is too prominent to be a replicant doesn't work at all. "Wallace" is clearly an entity who lives utterly apart, perhaps more like a Howard Hughes than anything else - driven by his own goals and not particularly interested in anyone else's. If such an individual existed as a human once, how hard would it be to replace them with a replicant ? So he could be either a replicant or human. Consider, for example, Kurosawa's Kagemusha where a dead warlord is replaced by a lookalike - now replace "warlord" with "CEO" and "lookalike" with "replicant" ...

Several drones fly around him to give him vision. What human brain can process vision from several distinct sources?

Interesting point, but in fact we do it all the time.

How many of us have had picture-in-picture TV's or used displays monitoring multiple security cameras at the same time. He has artificial eyes and they possibly communicate with the drones and form a synthetic image for his human visual system to work with. It's not at all impossible.

Wallace wants replicants to reproduce. A human would not want to create a race of more powerful people that could replace humans, so that suggests he wants to make replicants the dominant race in the galaxy because he is one.

Wallace can control replicants, regardless of his own type. If "Wallace" is driven by the need for order and control and power, it would make little or no difference to him that he was controlling replicants or humans. In practical terms there would, for some real CEOs, be no difference between how you feel about a human employee and a machine on the shop floor. Is "Wallace" any different in this sense ? Not to my mind.

Have the producers, directors, or script-writers ever said Wallace was a replicant? Or have they ever said he was meant to be human ? Or did they deliberately leave the question unanswered ?

I don't recall them saying anything about this. However, from a purely pragmatic point of view the expressions "sequel" or "TV series" suggest they would like to leave as many options open as possible for the future.

I also think that writers and producers should leave ambiguity in their work. Let the audience think about the possibilities - it adds to the enjoyment. "Tying up all the loose ends" is an irritating idea from TV shows - I think the best films leave some points to ponder - "The Dark Knight Rises" and "Inception" have deliberately ambiguous endings - you can read them a couple of ways. This adds to the enjoyment. I don't think audiences need or want every single plot point explained or defined for them. YMMV of course.

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  • Producers and writers often leave some questions unresolved, but not in the original Blade Runner movie. The director said Deckard was a replicant, but the actor said Deckard was a human. They each answered that question even though their answers conflicted. – LincolnMan Nov 21 '17 at 8:05
  • @LincolnMan But I wonder if their conflicting answers were by accident or by design ... ? :-) – StephenG Nov 21 '17 at 8:58

It's interesting to note that the name Niander seems to be a variant of the name Neander which can ascribed the meaning "New Man". You can check this on various websites that list the meaning of names. Here is one for reference. http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/1/Neander

Meanwhile the name Wallace can be ascribed the meaning Stranger. Here is the Wikipedia entry... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_(surname)

"New Man" plus "Stranger" could be interpreted as "strange new form of man" and if applied to Wallace himself could indicate that he is a replicant. (Please note there is no canon source for this which is why I say could). Alternatively the inference could be that Wallace is a man but see's himself as or wished to be a God. With the resources of the Wallace Corporartion at his disposal he can create life in the form of replicants, hence "New Man". With his artificial eyes and his off world connections he is a literal "stranger" on earth. This reading would also tie in with the biblical overtones of Racheal's story. In the Bible Racheal was barren but late in life in miraculous circumstances gave birth. When she died her bones were buried under a tree where her husband came to lay flowers. Racheal appears in the bible book of Galatians, and when K discovers the death of the twin in the orphanage the cause of death listed on screen is "Galatians Syndrome". If Wallace can create replicants who can conceive and give birth he could claim to have created a new race. He would be a god.

What does all this add up to? There are multiple ways to interpret what you see in this film. Wallace could be a replicant, equally he could be a man. So the simple answer is we just don't know.

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  • Not a bad supposition given that there are other names which sound like what they allude to, I.e. Sapper (connected to the tree) Mariette (used like a marionette), etc. – Möoz Nov 21 '17 at 7:07
  • So his name literally means "Strange New Man"? You got my vote for digging that up. Maybe it is a hint from the script writers! – LincolnMan Nov 21 '17 at 7:58
  • There does seem to be something interesting with the names, but I stress I have no back up from script writers or directors, although i'll be interested to see what emerges. I stand by my point that we don't know if Wallace is a replicant or not. Personal option is he is a human but that's by the by. LincolnMan, thanks for the vote! Mooz points out the name Sapper being connected to tree, I did not know this, I took it mean Soldier, here is the definition from Meriam Webster. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sapper It's a very interesting film loaded with clues and misdirection. – dominic fonde Nov 21 '17 at 21:52
  • @LincolnMan His name could mean 'New man', this is unconfirmed though, and only a guess from the answerer. – Möoz Dec 4 '17 at 2:41

No, it's an interesting theory, but there haven't been any such discussion by the production staff that I can find.

This doesn't surprise me, since aside from the eye-drone thing there's no real indication that he's anything but human. There isn't any more reason for them to talk about him being a replicant than there is to talk about any other character that was. Consequently if they did start discussing it, that by itself would be dropping a major hint.

The major replicant/human identity confusion themes in Bladerunner 2049 were between K and Deckard. It would undermine their characters if they started hinting that other random characters might be replicants. Sadly I don't think we'll get a sequel, but if we did that is where this kind of theory would need to be addressed.

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I was going to post this as a comment, but I don't think I can embed images nor use spoiler tags in comments. Also, not sure if a movie poster should be considered as canon, but consider:

enter image description here

The viewer can quickly see two "groupings" of these 4 characters, one by color and the other by direction they are facing.

Direction the characters are facing:

we see K, Joi and Deckard all facing right, while Wallace faces left. I interpret this is a simple "good vs. bad" division, which fits the film well.

And for color:

Here we see known replicant K and Wallace in red and Deckard in blue. Joi, a non-physical AI, is in yellow. Now, we don't really have a definitive answer on whether Deckard is human, but if we consider that "blue is for humans", then that would suggest that K and Wallace are both replicants.

To me this would suggest that a) Deckard is human and b) Wallace is himself a replicant.

But, out-of-film, I really just see this as Villeneuve, et al just stirring the "Is Deckard a replicant" controversy even more =)

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Wallace is human.

  1. In the short film "Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn," Wallace refers to his "disease" as the cause of his blindness and his weird affect. Replicants are always stronger and hardier than humans; that's part of the point of creating them. So a Replicant with a chronic disorder makes no sense.

  2. Wallace may refer to his replicants as his children, but he clearly sees them as lesser creatures, even beyond his willingness to kill them when they've outlived their usefulness. Look at the relationship between him and Luv: he doesn't care about her, and she knows it, and she's clearly programmed to seek affection (probably why he named her Luv), and knows that too. It's hard to imagine a Replicant, trying to breed a Replicant nation to colonize the stars, treating his own people as playthings. Or, anyway, it makes little sense from a narrative perspective.

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  • If he had deliberately removed his eyes to avoid serial number id, he would refer to it as a disorder rather than saying, ever since i blinded myself... – Jeff Jul 29 '18 at 23:39

I think the answers here which suggest character names may be significant to a degree, may be on to something. Sapper has been suggested as a reference to taking the goodness from naturally grown plants like a tree or flowers, or the worms of the soil. Mariette, seems to be suggestive of a Marionette, an illusion or pretend act involving a body, and reminds us of Pris playing with the puppets. KD6-3.7's name Joe, seems to a male version of Joi, implying that she is the feminine aspect of his own unconscious mind, an amalgam of different implanted memories and TV/book characters. The book they read together, Pale Fire, is all about a man publishing his dead friend's magnum opus, a 999 line poem, and describing their experiences in a round about way. A tribute in memorium.

Rachael is named after the biblical matriarch, it would seem. Featuring appropriately in Genesis, she is Jacob's first wife, first love. She has a tyranical father, Leban, who they flee from, attempting to steal from him and becoming cursed in the process. Her first son Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers by another mother, a hand maiden she grew up with who replaced her as child bearer when she was deemed infertile. Eventually she dies in child birth when she is finally given a second son in later life, Benjamin. She ends up on the road with Jacob in a time of strife, the wet nurse Deborah dies and is buried under a tree, then Rachel dies in child birth while still on the road and buried under a hastily erected column far from home by Jacob - on his death bed he apologises to Joseph for not bringing his mother home. Joseph and Benjamin go on to become the founders of Israel and the other brothers, the lost tribes of the north. So it ends in a sort of redemption for Rachel's two children. For most of his life, Joseph lives as the Pharoah's son in Egypt. If this is relevent then, Ana Stelline, the little star, is the beloved child Benjamin, rescued from a difficult birth on the road. KD6_3.7 would be, metaphorically, Joseph, transforming himself and coming to see himself differently.

So if names are important, Neander or Niander does seem suggestive of 'new man', or to put it another way, 'beyond man', over-man, which is an expression from Friedrich Neitzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which the Nazi's and Ariosophists misinterpreted as being a racial term. Philip K Dick explicitly stated that his Androids book, the basis of Blade Runner, was based on reading the testimonies given at the Nuremberg trials and subsequent information regarding cold, inhuman concentration-camp staff. The common aim amongst extreme utopian ideologies is to be 'more human than human'. Wallace uses language in a very grandiose way suggesting he has some totalitarian vision in mind, similar to many 20th century fascists or dictators. He has the private army as well. 'Wallace' also conjures up images of the stranger from the north bringing war, and Niander does come from a space station to wage a sort of war on the Earth, which he believes is righteous, but which causes great suffering. In the prequel, 2022 Blackout, it is explained that most rebels fled from the army when they realised they were taking part in convoluted wars between different paying customers, rather than any genuine conflict. Wallace is also a historical name suggesting a sort of hereditary type of legitimacy, although it may well be a post-black-out name which he has adopted to set up a company, rather than his birth name. It is interesting that Wallace seems to be a 'data hoarder' and has somehow inherited all of Tyrell's secrets. In other words he has inside knowledge of how Tyrell Corp operated, which places him amongst either developers or creations. What we know for sure, even from the first film, is that there have been various replicant rebellions which have built in scale. If Wallace was in line to benefit, did he perhaps start or help start those wars? He twice clearly links the prosperity of human civilization, 'we', as dependent on replicant reproduction when he says, "We need more replicants than can ever be assembled, millions so that we can be trillions more." Following this, he says, " We can retake Eden." It's very unclear here who the 'we' are.

The reference to the non-existent 'Galations Syndrome' that Rachel's child does not die from, comes in the form of a DNA-base examined by K, after Deckard has shown the replicant army how to 'fix the records'. The replicant army uses the 'nicean creed' definition of humanity repeatedly (many reviewers have pointed this out), which comes from the book of Galateans and refers to Christ's birth to a human mother so that he could experience the same life as the people he was apparently saving, the Lord's sacrifice.

Although the replicants don't seem to have religious beliefs, they do utilise classical philosophy, where as Wallace has an alternate interpretation of history which involves the ascent of a new mankind. It's never really clear exactly what that entails, but in the 2036 prequel, he states that replicants can live as long or as short lives as customers require. It seems likely, from the point of view of someone who knows exactly how replicants are made, that he no longer differentiates between human and replicant, rather he just views mankind as made up of different castes of different abilities assigned different jobs according to the needs of an economic empire, like a giant British Empire, where he would be like the East India Company. He talks of civilization losing its stomach for what he deems necessary to conquer more territory and explore (slavery, commercial wars). So to ask whether Wallace views humans as slaves, 'robota' as Karel Capek called them, would be to ask a colonialist if he believes some people should be classed as slaves or subhuman - it depends on which humans. It seems Wallace views creators of life, social engineers, as truly human and everyone else as a lower order, that needs to find a higher purpose, whether that be replicant humans or regular humans. For instance, he may have intentions to create replicants who are like him and have them rule his empire alongside 'worthy' humans.

The eye problem is interesting because he refers to it as an affliction, but there is no sign of disease on the man. He seems very healthy and isolated from disease, like a less paranoid version of Howard Hughes, mixed with the megalomania of Gordon Gecko and the fervour for a new technological totalitarian 'futurist' world of war and conquest, like a Mussolini. And this extremism is channelled through the slick presentation and trans-humanist visions of technology billionaire. If you look at Wallace in BR2036, he is identical in 2049 and came to prominence around 2022. He seems to age very little.

The most likely option seems to be that Wallace is a crazed trans-humanist who has deliberately removed his eyes in order to upgrade them, rather than someone who is literally a replicant. Whatsmore, he may have several life-extending, intelligence augmenting or cybernetic features to his body - Luv has a whole series of eight different microchip devices to plug into his visual cortex region and only uses one, giving him a 3D map of the whole space, in any light spectrum, from any angle, in minute detail - metavision. The line between replicant and augmented cybernetic human is quite thin. It all comes down to what method they use to 'programme' or condition the mind of mechanically born humans. We can see from the example provided in Wallace's laboratory that these cultured, synthetically incubated humans, are not born with fully formed replicant type minds. So we therefore know very little about what aspects of their behaviours are genetic and which are trained into them while they are in this early malleable, "clay" state of being.

Finally, I think the wording of K's baseline test is very revealing as to the ideology of the state-corporate government: "A blood black nothingness began to spin. A system of cells, interlinked within cells, interlinked within cells, interlinked within one stem. And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall white fountain played."

This could mean that Wallace sees himself and his colleagues as the fountainhead, the fountain of youth or health. And everything else should arrange itself, like a hive, around this essential stem of power, lest people get abandoned in the darkness of uncultivated barren space. As with the honeybee hive though, you could choose to reinterpret the image in a more positive way if you were a replicant rebel or their human allies.

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    You've given a great account of why Wallace could be a replicant, but this answer is obscenely long and has a lot of additional info that could be trimmed to make your points slightly more clear. – Edlothiad Jan 19 '18 at 10:35

The central role that eyes play in both 2049 and original and Niander's conspicuous blindness would seem to imply that the creators of 2049 want the possibility of him being a Replicant to be something that the audience considers. Of course that he is the successor to a man who made Replicants makes this more plausible. A very rich man wanting to hide the origins of his successor is also plausible. Indeed, that Tyrell inhabits the body of Wallace somehow (by memory transfer perhaps) is not out of the fictional question.

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