Director J.J. Abrams created many questions with his advent of the prequel trilogy, but one of his strangest answers revolved around the role of beloved droid R2-D2 in Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Much to the disappointment of fans, the little robot’s presence throughout the film is fairly minuscule, being reduced to nothing more than a set piece for the majority of its runtime. Making his entrance within the final minutes of the movie to miraculously present the final piece of the plot’s entire puzzle, R2’s usage in Abrams’ first foray into Star Wars showed he had no idea what he was doing.


The director previously revealed his motives for underutilizing R2, both narratively and strategically. Following the untimely death of legacy character Han Solo, Abrams explained that R2’s sudden awakening was meant as a delayed gratification for viewers who had just lost one of their favorite characters by returning another one in exchange. Despite referring to it himself as “taking the easy way out” of the narrative corner they had written themselves into, Abrams doubled down on this when he elaborated on why he made R2 the holder of the MacGuffin.

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J.J. Abrams Explains R2-D2’s Surprising Force Awakens Role

R2-D2 is about to turn on Luke Skywalker.

When viewers are first reintroduced to R2-D2 in The Force Awakens, he’s found in a pitiable state collecting dust in the back of Maz Kanata’s pirate castle, shut down and unresponsive. It’s insinuated that the reason for Luke Skywalker’s disappearance from the galaxy coincides with the reason for R2’s deactivation, but no greater reason is given outside the droid simply being in a depressive state due to his separation from Luke. However, this staggeringly simplistic reasoning presents a glaring contradiction due to R2 being the only one in the entire galaxy that knows exactly how to find Luke, as he holds the map to his precise location.

Even more baffling is Abrams’ deep-cut explanation as to how R2-D2 acquired this map in the first place, which goes far beyond the obvious answer of Luke having just given it to him. Supposedly, the map was never designed to locate Luke himself, it was meant to locate every Jedi temple spread out throughout the galaxy, one of which being where Luke has taken refuge. As Abrams explains it, this map was apparently pilfered from Imperial records by R2 in the singular instance that he plugged into a scomp link aboard the Death Star to prevent the heroes of A New Hope from being crushed by the trash compactor.

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This overly elaborate explanation creates many more problems than it solves, one being the implication that R2-D2 would’ve gotten a lot more than just a map upon downloading an entire Imperial archive. At least one immediate plot hole is created from this line of reasoning, as it doesn’t remotely address why the Rebels would do nothing with this sensitive Imperial information until after they had already been defeated. Additionally, if the Empire had access to the locations of these Jedi temples, then the First Order would’ve likely never had any reason to desperately pursue Rey for an entire film to steal information they already had. Regardless of what Abrams thought he was explaining, knowing the comical amount of information that would’ve been found in an Imperial archive shows that either this was simply an afterthought for Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens, or little R2 has a hard drive bigger than the actual Death Star.

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