Hi fellow users. I hope this proposal find you well. To be honest, I first watched this movie within a year after it came out, and at the time, this character definitely seemed like they could qualify, but I was never really sure based on their lack of screen time and therefore, the limited amounts of things they do onscreen. However, after recently revisiting the film, I realized they’ve actually got a lot more serious crimes and aspirations going for them than I thought, enough so that they definitely have the potential to qualify as Pure Evil. So here I am with this.
Oh, and yes, I’m sure at least some who read the last couple of proposals I did for characters from the DuckTales reboot are surprised at what a change of pace this is, but honestly, as a browse through my page will tell you, my interests are pretty eclectic, and it just so happens works about dystopian futures have a lot of appeal to me depending on how they’re done. Equilibrium, The Hunger Games series, this film and its predecessor, and especially the anime Shinsekai Yori/From the New World are all great examples of media from that genre that I like. In fact, this isn’t even the first character I’ve proposed from this sort of film; Cutter and Vice-Counsel DuPont were both from very similar movies. So this actually isn’t that unusual for me.
What’s the work?
Blade Runner 2049 is a neo-noir science fiction film that was released late in 2017 and is a 35 year old sequel to Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which to this day, is seen as a sci-fi classic. Set approximately 30 years after that film, it follows “K”, a Nexus-9 replicant who, like Rick Deckard from the first movie, works as a “blade runner” for the Los Angeles Police Department. His job is to hunt down and “retire”, which of course, is another way of saying kill, rogue replicants. For those of you who don’t understand that terminology, replicants are artificial, bio-engineered humans, or to put it more simply, androids, who live alongside humans in this vision of the future, which is one of the main things differentiating K from Deckard; while Deckard is almost certainly a human (though there’s been some unproven speculation that he’s really a replicant), K is unquestionably a replicant himself. Anyway, the main story consists of him making a shocking discovery in the aftermath of one of his missions; the remains of a dead replicant who was pregnant and actually gave birth to a child before they passed away. That’s kind of a big deal, because in this universe, as far as everyone knows, it’s impossible for replicants to biologically reproduce. Therefore, out of fear that this discovery could lead to a war between replicants and humans, K’s superior, Lt. Joshi, orders him to find and retire the replicant child to hide the truth, with K becoming more and more personally invested in the case the more he learns.
But of course, it isn’t long before at least a few others catch wind of this and develop an interest in finding the replicant child as well, with their intentions, of course, being less than upstanding. And that’s where this guy comes in.
Who is he and what does he do?
Niander Wallace is a replicant manufacturer who acts as the main antagonist of the movie. At some point between the first movie and this one, an event occurred that’s referred to as the “Blackout”, which caused the ecosystem to collapse. However, he mastered the practice of synthetic farming, and through supplying artificial food, he helped solve a global food crisis. This allowed him to rise to power and buy out the bankrupt Tyrell Corporation, the original manufacturer of replicants, and through his own company, Wallace Corporation, legalized their production again 13 years prior to when the movie takes place.
His first chronological appearance is in an accompanying short titled 2036: Nexus Dawn where he meets with a group of magistrates, who act as lawmakers and call him in for a hearing. The purpose of the hearing is to tell him that his desire to manufacture a new generation of replicants is illegal, prohibited, and not open to debate, out of a combination of them deeming it immoral to use artificial humans as slaves and replicants inciting violent rebellions over being treated like this. Despite also being told their off-world colonies are thriving, Wallace still argues that it’s all insufficient to their needs, and that they need cheap slave labor provided by replicants to sustain themselves. He then demonstrates how slavishly obedient his new line of them are by having a replicant assistant he’s brought with him grab a shard of glass and cut himself in the face, which he does in spite of admitting that it hurts. He then gives him an ultimatum to kill him or himself, which results in the replicant slitting his own throat with the same shard. Despite how disturbed they are, it’s implied this demonstration was how he convinced the lawmakers to authorize his production of them.
In his first physical appearance in the movie, he’s seen being approached by his replicant assistant, Luv, and checking on a new replicant that has just been born to examine it before it’s sent out for delivery. During the scene, Wallace rants about how his production of replicants has helped expand their colonization to nine new worlds, but dismisses this figure, because “a child can count to nine on their fingers” and claims “they should own the stars”. He also talks about how every civilization was built off the back of a disposable workforce and laments how humanity has lost its stomach for slaves, unless they’re engineered. Then, just to make a point to Luv about his frustration that despite all of his successes, he still hasn’t discovered how to make replicants that can biologically reproduce so they can reproduce faster, he slices the newborn replicant he’s examining across her lower abdomen with a scalpel, causing her to bleed out until she collapses dead on the floor. He then orders Luv to find the replicant child that K is searching for, presumably to extract a means of unlocking the secret to doing this.
After this, Wallace doesn’t appear again for a while, but meanwhile, Luv kills a decent number of people that happen to get in her way while following his orders. Here are the most notable things she does; first, she steals the replicant remains from the LAPD, and when a forensics officer named Coco runs into her, she breaks his neck and leaves him to horribly choke on his own blood as a result of internal bleeding. Later, when K gets attacked by locals while exploring outside the city, she takes remote control of a drone and uses it to launch missiles on them, blowing a number of them to bloody smithereens. Finally, when K goes rogue and is on the run, she interrogates his superior, Lt. Joshi, by squeezing her hand with such force that a glass she’s holding breaks and causes her great pain, and when she still refuses to tell her anything to protect him, she fatally stabs her.
Now, pretty early on, it’s discovered that the replicant who gave birth to a child was none other than Rachael, the one from the first movie that Rick Deckard fell in love with, after which they went on the run together, making him the child’s father. Therefore, K tracks him down, but after that, Luv finds both of them, kidnaps Deckard and brings him to Wallace. At first, Wallace acts very courteous and polite, promising him good things if he helps him find the child. However, it’s worth noting that even at that point, he plays some rather nasty psychological mind games with Deckard by questioning if he’s even considered that his initial meeting with Rachael may have been staged, and that he was meant to do nothing short of falling for her specifically for the ultimate purpose of bringing that child into the world. In other words, he makes him question his own humanity and if his love for her was truly real. Shortly after Deckard tearfully replies he knows it was real, Wallace tries to appeal him by offering him a replicant that’s seemingly identical to Rachael in exchange for the information he wants. However, despite the temptation, Deckard still refuses upon noticing he got her eye color wrong. Dropping any remaining pretense of affability, Wallace then has Luv shoot the Rachael duplicate in the head and sends Deckard with Luv off to the off-world colonies with the promise of torturing the information out of him.
This is actually the last we see of Wallace. After that, K manages to intercept the ship taking Deckard to the colonies, kills Luv in self-defense, rescues him and reunites him with his daughter. Therefore, even though his plan was ruined and we discover during the film that there are indeed a bunch of replicants gathering their numbers and planning for a revolution, he’s still alive and active to oppose them should a sequel be made, though nothing is planned as of yet.
Okay, so here’s the interesting thing about Wallace; technically yes, he did save humanity from a global food crisis by helping produce genetically modified food in the wake of the Blackout. In fact, his actor, Jared Leto, describes him in a special feature as “kind of a madman, but I don’t think that bad of a guy. He’s just trying to save humanity”. Well, as his actor, he’s certainly entitled to his opinion, but based on how he’s actually portrayed in the movie, I respectfully but strongly disagree with that assessment. Personality-wise, Wallace is an extremely arrogant narcissist and megalomaniac with a god complex who has no empathy whatsoever for replicants or other humans alike. In fact, all the evidence points to Wallace not helping humanity as a whole out of a genuine desire to help them, but for the self-serving motive to gain goodwill and rise to power. After all, it’s shown multiple times that Wallace is not content with merely stabilizing their society, but pushing them to so-called greater heights no matter how unethical or outright immoral his methods are.
So yeah, I think if anything, Wallace is the one antagonist/villain from this duo of movies that doesn’t actually have any redeeming qualities, nor any truly sympathetic or well-intentioned motives. In contrast with Dr. Eldon Tyrell, whose company was the original creator of the replicants, and who on a personal level, actually admired and even held some level of affection for his creations, as evidenced by his interaction with Roy Batty, Wallace only views them as a disposable work force to be discarded and thrown away when they’ve served their use. Even Luv, his right-hand replicant assistant, is shown to be visibly terrified of him, and it’s clear she’s so undyingly loyal to him both because she's programmed to be and because he emotionally manipulates and pressures her into proving she’s the best of them all, and therefore, useful enough that she won’t be discarded like the others. If you want evidence, listen to the way he quips “the best angel of all, aren’t you Luv?”, just as she’s leaving on her mission. And he’s barely any better with other people, seeing as how he doesn’t care at all about those that Luv kills in his service while searching for the child. Plus, when he finally meets Deckard, he first uses subtle psychological abuse even when he’s supposedly acting nice, and when he doesn’t agree to give him what he wants, he has no problem sending him off to be tortured for it.
When you really read between the lines, this is clearly not someone who’s looking out for humanity’s best interests. This is someone who, as he puts it to the lawmakers in the Nexus Dawn short, simply sees humanity as fit to “crush the Earth to suits its needs”. Yes, he frames it as necessary for their survival, but seeing as how he aspires to do and conquer more even in the face of solid evidence that where they are is more than sufficient for that, it’s pretty apparent he’s just using that as a pretense to pursue his power-hungry, egomaniacal ambitions. And he doesn’t care who needs to suffer or die for it.
Obviously, Blade Runner and its sequel are very dark films, as is typical for this film-noir themed subgenre of sci-fi. However, I’d still say Wallace stands out quite a bit for the setting. He not only legalized the production of replicants again, but took the unethical qualities of Tyrell’s work to the eleventh degree, building them to be slavishly obedient and have little free will of their own, as well as intending to use the whole species as disposable slaves for manual labor, working them until they’re completely spent, and aspires to make them capable of biological reproduction so he can breed them even faster for this purpose. Oh, and the prequel established he’s been doing this for 13 years already since that’s how long it takes place beforehand. Luv may kill more people directly, but he definitely bears at least some responsibility for what she does since she commits most of it while acting under his orders, not to mention he pretty much empowered her to do it by making her feel she had to prove herself to him. Finally, the few murders he does directly commit, while far from unusual for the setting, are especially cruel in context even compared to what others do, like the slightly infamous scene where he slits open a replicant’s stomach, making her bleed to death just to make a point about their limitations and making another one slit their own throat in the short just to demonstrate his absolute control over them. Oh, and I neglected to mention he manages all this despite being blind, physically unimpressive, and only having approximately 12 minutes of screen time in the movie itself (a few more if you include the short).
Oh, and despite how dark the setting is, most of the other antagonists actually aren’t especially bad. While Tyrell may have been the one who originally created replicants to act as robotic slaves to humans, on top of the genuine affection for them I described earlier, he didn’t go nearly as unethically far as Wallace since he gave them at least some degree of free will, didn’t treat them nearly as disposably or work them as hard, and only outfitted them with a timer that ensured they only lived for a certain amount of years. The original film also had Roy Batty and his band of rogue replicants, and they may have ruthlessly killed some people in their way, with Roy himself murdering Tyrell and at least one other person, but they genuinely cared about one another, only wanted to have longer lives and live freely, and Roy even selflessly saved Deckard’s life despite the fact he murdered two of his companions and had nothing definite to gain from it. So they’re not even close to qualifying. And finally, yes, Luv might be a murderous psychopath, and she even destroyed K’s virtual girlfriend out of nothing more than cruelty. However, she’s probably not even able to disobey Wallace since like all of his other replicants, she’s programmed to obey him unconditionally, and of course, he emotionally manipulates her in addition to that. Plus, she’s even shown crying at a couple of points like when Wallace kills the newborn replicant and when she’s about to murder Joshi. So yeah, Wallace is hands down the worst of all of Blade Runner’s villains.
Between both his nasty personal and larger scale crimes along with everything else I mentioned, I’d definitely say Niander Wallace should be considered being added to the Pure Evil category. As always though, it’s ultimately up to all of you. Thanks for reading!