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Many of fiction's greatest heroes have arch-nemeses, and soon, popular Star Wars droid BB-8 will have his own adversary to deal with. Earlier this year, we learned that a First Order BB unit called BB-9E would be rolling around in The Last Jedi, though the movie's crew referred to the droid as BB-H8. Described as "vigilant and intimidating," BB-9E assists The First Order in eliminating galactic threats, and while keeping up with its duties during the course of the new Star Wars movies, it will cross paths with BB-8, and that will lead to a moment of conflict between the two. As Neal Scanlan, the visual effects artist in charge of the Star Wars creature shop, put it:
There's a lovely moment between BB-8 and BB-9E, which tells that sort of parallel story of Vader and Luke.
Neal Scanlan wouldn't elaborate on what this conflict in The Last Jedi will entail, though one can assume it will involve a lot of frantic beeping. However, BB-9E's black coloring was meant to be an homage to the same-colored armor of a Sith Lord, in contrast with BB-8's white and orange color scheme, which calls back to the "old school" X-Wing pilots. So the droids' tussle will be another example of the "light" battling the "dark" in the Star Wars universe. Scanlan also mentioned that BB-9E was designed to evoke "dread instead of warmth," like how its glowing eye is modeled after the sinister HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Scanlan explained to EW:
BB-8 has this huge personality and this huge heart, but you know, in a sense, I've always found it to have a sort of slightly manipulative quality. With BB-9E, we go back to literally the cold First Order sort of Empire version of what a BB unit might be. This was much more cold, calculative, much more direct.
One other big difference between BB-9E and BB-8 is the former's lack of companionship. While BB-8 is happy to work with the likes of Poe Dameron and Finn, BB-9E is a loner. So even though he may be in Kylo Ren or even Supreme Leader Snoke's presence during The Last Jedi, don't expect it to be chummy with them. Instead, BB-9E has a "patrol element," suggesting that he'll deal with any troublesome individuals aboard Snoke's Star Destroyer. While BB-9E is enforcing The First Order's will, BB-8 will continue assisting The Resistance, which will include flying with Poe Dameron on the pilot's new X-Wing and accompanying Finn and Rose Tico to Canto Bight. Let's hope it can handle itself when it runs into BB-9E and their scuffle kicks off.