Less than 7 months until Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is released worldwide. Until that glorious day, speculation (has and) will run rampant regarding the story, locations, and characters featured in this newest adventure. One area of speculation I’m most intrigued by regards what fates will befall Luke, Han, Leia and Chewbacca, our heroes from the original trilogy. I believe they’ll play major parts in the upcoming story but they won’t dominate it. They’ll need to clear the path for new heroes like Finn, Rey and Poe. Therefore it is my humble, amateur opinion, that one of them will die before the film’s final credits roll.
Before we proceed any further, this article won’t dive into spoiler territory. These ideas are my own, fueled mainly by information surrounding the original trilogy and Expanded Universe. There are plenty of rumors out there, but this speculation comes strictly out of my own head.
If Episode VII were to follow some of the now-defunct Expanded Universe plot lines, then we might expect that Chewbacca would be the hero we lose. We know those stories are no longer canon, but in the novel Vector Prime, Chewbacca was killed helping Han Solo and his son Anakin evacuate a planet just before a catastrophic disaster. The planet’s moon was pulled from orbit and sent hurtling into the surface by the villanous Yuuzhan Vong. In an effort to save Anakin, Chewbacca sacrifices himself which allows Han and Anakin to escape the destruction. Apart from the fact these stories technically no longer exist in the Star Wars universe, this plot line would be too difficult for audiences to swallow. Losing Chewbacca would seem too much like losing a pet – the big walking carpet might remind some people of their dogs. I believe the loss will instead come from one of the Big Three – Luke, Han or Leia.
When analyzing the other three, I immediately rule out Leia. Whatever has happened since Return of the Jedi, I find it likely that Leia has assumed a leadership role in the Rebel Alliance’s (assumed) successor The Resistance. I’d expect those responsibilities would keep her removed from any serious fighting and mainly engaged in diplomacy and politics. Luke is a different story – perhaps he’s been training new Jedi, or perhaps he’s gone into hiding since Episode VI. Either way, his abilities make him a threat to numerous groups. And his Obi-Wan Kenobi style beard we’ve already seen in various images could mimic the titular character’s arc in A New Hope, where the older Obi-Wan sacrifices himself to aid his comrades’ escape from the Death Star. However, to me that seems too similar to the original film – Disney and Lucasfilm aren’t looking for a reboot of the original trilogy. They want something familiar (which is why they included the original characters) while covering new ground in the Star Wars universe.
Which brings us to Han Solo. Anyone who’s followed Star Wars closely may know Harrison Ford has had a contentious relationship with his character. Since The Empire Strikes Back, Ford has shared his opinion that Han should have died in the original trilogy. Perhaps Mr. Ford was simply tired of playing the character that made him famous, but he’s also mentioned that he felt Han sacrificing himself for his friends would have been a better completion of his character arc.
For these reasons, and Harrison Ford’s advanced age, I believe Han Solo will breathe his last in Episode VII. But why kill off such a beloved character? To me, it’s simple. Losing one of the original three illustrates just how dangerous Kylo Ren and the First Order are to The Resistance and the new heroes. The stakes are always high in Star Wars films – I believe Episode VII will require a major character’s death in order to drive that point home.
The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18, 2015
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