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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Potential Deaths of 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

After Han Solo's death in The Force Awakens and, uh, the last 30 minutes of Rogue One, Star Wars has shown in recent years that it's not afraid to kill off major characters. Add that to the persistent reports of The Last Jedi being an unpredictable game-changer for the saga, and you'll want to be ready for some of our heroes and villains to not make it through the film.
Unlike Rogue One, The Last Jedi has a definitive sequel and thus can't shock the audience by offing most of its main cast, but we can still expect at least a few notable deaths. We're taking a look at each of the characters in the film and how likely they are to survive it.

Luke Skywalker

We'll start with the big one. Luke is guaranteed to have a huge role in The Last Jedi – director Rian Johnson has said the title directly refers to him and him alone – and given the First Order's determination to kill him and Luke's own Jedi selflessness, it's not hard to imagine him pulling a Ben Kenobi and sacrificing himself while his apprentice (Rey) looks on in anguish.
Furthermore, the Vanity Fair cover story in May revealed that Leia was intended to be the star of Episode IX in the same way that Han Solo dominated The Force Awakens and Luke leads The Last Jedi. Aside from what that means for Leia's fate (more on that later), this may have been a hint that her brother won't survive the movie; Leia's always been tertiary to Han and Luke in terms of on-screen attention, so one could argue that only both of their deaths would let her truly take the spotlight.

But Rey already got her mentor-death, "Noooo!" moment when she watched Han Solo die. And after his infamously minuscule part in The Force Awakens, fans would be pretty unhappy if Luke died only shortly after re-entering the franchise. Wouldn't it be satisfying to see him finally accept a lightsaber again – either his father's or his green Return of the Jedi blade – alongside his twin sister in the film's final scene?
Clearly there's strong evidence on both side, but ultimately this comes back to Luke's own words from the trailer: "This is not going to go the way you think," a not-so-subtle reference to the film's own plot. Luke's death is so predictable that – for the more cynical fans, at least – it would be a bigger surprise if he made it through the movie. So let's not count on him dying just yet.

Rey

Don't let the whole "two halves of our protagonist" thing fool you; Rey is the quintessential hero of the Sequel Trilogy, and she's not going anywhere. By the end of the movie, she may very well fall to the Dark Side – the marketing definitely wants us to think that could happen – but she'll still very much be alive. 
Moreover, Rey's significance to female Star Wars fans cannot be understated. We finally have a young woman at the center of Star Wars, and there's no way that there wouldn't be outrage if Rey died and left Kylo – a sulking, emo man-child – as the protagonist of Episode IX.

Kylo Ren

Like Rey, Kylo is one of the most important characters who would seem to naturally survive The Last Jedi so that his arc could be fulfilled in Episode IX. Whether or not he ultimately redeems himself and returns to the Light Side, he's a key part of the Sequel Trilogy that can't be discarded easily. 
But at the same time, Kylo's sudden death would be a true shock to audiences. What if Rey or Luke killed him in the movie's climax, simultaneously revealing their own shocking descent to the Dark Side? Both of them have a nasty history with him; Rey attacked Kylo with fury in The Force Awakens, seemingly taking pleasure in his anguish, and Luke must feel responsible for all the horrors his former student committed (burning Luke's Jedi temple, murdering Han, etc.). 

While we're at it, Leia killing Kylo (maybe with her A New Hope blaster that she'll be using in the film) is an intriguing possibility as well. Her relationship with him is more conflicted and personal than anyone else's; he's her son and she'll always love him, but he killed his father, and by the end of The Last Jedi, she might come to believe that there's no saving him from the Dark Side. It would be a tearjerking moment for everyone if Leia chose to put down her son to stop him from turning into her monstrous father.
Kylo's still more likely to survive the movie than not, but the filmmakers want to deliver a truly shocking death that changes everything for Episode IX, then he's their guy. 

Leia Organa

The tensest moment in the trailer was a tease of Leia's death as Kylo Ren targeted the command bridge of her ship, finger hovering over the trigger, while Leia seemed to sense him in the Force. Everyone knows Kylo's not afraid to kill a parent to further his path to the Dark Side, and taking out Leia would be a massive strategic victory for the First Order as well. Add that to Carrie Fisher's real-life passing last December, and on the surface, Leia's death seems pretty likely.
However, every report has indicated that Leia was meant to survive The Last Jedi and, as previously mentioned, have an even larger role in Episode IX. We also know that Leia's part in the film was untouched after Fisher's death in order to preserve her final performance, and that the filmmakers instead rewrote a now-Leia-less Episode IX script from scratch.
Unless they secretly reversed their decision and gave Leia an awkward death scene in the postproduction process, she's guaranteed to survive The Last Jedi. The responsibility of handling Fisher's death and the future of the character will be left to Episode IX.

Finn

Finn's role in The Last Jedi has been downplayed so far. While the marketing for The Force Awakens made some attempt to convey that he and Rey were equal in terms of significance to the plot, The Last Jedi's promotional campaign has almost entirely ignored his Canto Bight subplot with Rose, choosing instead to hype up his fight with Captain Phasma, which he'll almost definitely escape with his life (much more on that later).
There's still a chance that Kylo and/or Snoke could kill Finn to bring out Rey's Dark Side, in the same way that Vader tortured Han in The Empire Strikes Back. But as a much-loved protagonist who helps to ground heroes like Rey and Poe ("Why does everyone want to go back to Jakku?"), Finn has very good chances of living on. 

Poe Dameron

As a supporting character who wasn't even supposed to live through The Force Awakens, Poe would normally stand a certain chance of dying. However, Oscar Isaac pretty much confirmed that he's not going anywhere. Unless he's mistaken or intentionally throwing us off, case closed.
Chewbacca

As with The Force Awakens, Chewie falls in that sweet spot in terms of characters who are likely to die. He's almost as beloved as Luke and Leia, so his death would absolutely crush the audience, but the plot could easily move on without him. 
Think about it. We don't need him to fly the Falcon; Rey, Luke, or even Kylo could do that. It's great to see him step out of Han's shadow and attach himself to Rey, as well as explore his old friendships with Luke and Leia, but it's easy to imagine him pulling a K-2SO (or a Chirrut Îmwe) and sacrificing himself to save his friends. And if this was a suicide flight in the Falcon that destroys the iconic ship in the process, then you've got an emotionally devastating scene that proves The Last Jedi is willing to take big risks.

The filmmakers also might feel particularly comfortable killing off Sequel Trilogy-era Chewbacca because unlike any of these other characters, this would by no means be his last live-action appearance; he'll have a huge role in next May's Solo: A Star Wars Story

Snoke

This one's easy. We've heard that while Rey's parentage will definitely be revealed in The Last Jedi, Snoke's past will remain pretty murky, suggesting that they're saving that particular Sequel Trilogy mystery for later. He'll almost certainly return in Episode IX to sit on more thrones, concoct more evil plans, and deliver more bone-chilling lines of dialogue.
Captain Phasma

Phasma and Finn's showdown is shaping up to be one of the movie's most anticipated moments. The captain has let us down before, but now she'll finally be showing off her warrior skill as she whips out her spear and goes toe-to-toe with her former trooper in a fiery First Order hangar.
Phasma's more experienced and logically should be the better warrior. She's also motivated by pure revenge after Finn betrayed and humiliated her, while Finn's grudge against her isn't nearly as personal. But even if Finn dies in this film, there's no way it's gonna be in this fight. He's also unlikely to make the mistake of sparing her life again, so does that mean he'll use some trick to kill his old captain just when her victory seems most assured?
We can be sure that some plot device will allow Finn to escape while still proving that Phasma is technically the superior combatant. However, one badass fight scene wouldn't be enough to redeem her, and considering the Marvel Comics miniseries and self-titled novel she's received in the past few months, it's clear that Lucasfilm is invested in her character.
What we can predict is that Finn will somehow incapacitate Phasma and make a quick getaway (probably with help from Rose and/or Poe), and both will live on, albeit with fresh wounds. After all, we need someone to prove that women can be merciless, despicable, authoritative fascists, too.

General Hux

Kylo has the lightsaber, Force sensitivity, and serious character development. Phasma has the awesome armor that shrouds her in mystery. And Hux, well, Hux just has that one spittle-producing, Nazi-esque speech in The Force Awakens, as well as a fanfiction-inspiring rivalry with Kylo. (Sorry, Kylo/Hux shippers, but it seems like the general already has a true love: galactic genocide.)
He's the most boring of the First Order's leaders, so his death wouldn't have much of an impact on audiences. Still, Hux doesn't seem like the type to get on the front lines, so if he were to die, it would most likely be at the hands of Snoke as he demonstrates his great Force power and punishes his subordinate for a particularly unforgivable failure.

Rose Tico

Ask anyone in The Last Jedi's marketing department, and you'll find that Rose is already dead to them. At least, that's the only explanation for why Kelly Marie Tran's new character has been missing from almost all of the trailers and TV spots. (The posters, at least, have been gracious enough to marginalize Rose, rather than exclude her entirely.)
But every sign points to Rose emerging as The Last Jedi's breakout character. As a lowly mechanic, she's more relatable to the audience than other heroes, and she's already a huge hit among Asian and Asian-American fans who are eager for representation in Star Wars. She'll be joining Finn on his mission to Canto Bight and aboard a Star Destroyer, and a recent training featurette revealed that she'll get the chance to kick some ass.
All of this means that Rose is pretty unlikely to die. And given how positive the fan response has been to her character based on only images and interviews with Tran, she's sure to become a true Star Wars icon once we actually see her in action. Rose's role is only getting bigger from here.

Amilyn Holdo

From everything we've heard about her, Holdo seems like an intriguing sum of dichotomies. She's an oddball with the pink hair to match, but she's also a professional military leader with her own, seemingly-strict way of doing things. We've seen her wear a long gown and all kinds of jewelry, but Laura Dern has repeatedly said that her character will be handling a blaster in the film. Most importantly, she'll be clashing with Poe, but she's old friends with Leia and (like Poe) has learned much from her.
"Vice Admiral" is a bit of a confounding title (Does she actually command ships? Who's the official "admiral" that ranks above her?), but make no mistake, Holdo must intend to be at the very top of the Resistance's leadership. And with Leia missing from Episode IXHoldo may very well end up taking her place in the storyline as the Resistance's experienced female leader. 
Would Lucasfilm hire an actress like Laura Dern for only one movie, in an arguably superfluous role that mostly just serves to create tension within the Resistance and give Poe more dramatic scenes? Yeah, they might; just ask fellow Hollywood veterans like Max von Sydow (Lor San Tekka) or Forest Whitaker (Saw Gerrera). But chances are Holdo will return in Episode IX, after establishing in The Last Jedi that she's ultimately worthy of Poe's (and the audience's) trust.

DJ

Benicio Del Toro's character will lend a hand to Finn and Rose and even journey behind enemy lines with them, but he still considers himself a neutral party in the war. Like Holdo, we aren't meant to initially know whether or not we can trust him. 
But unlike Holdo, he's a third party with no personal connections to any of the characters, so his death wouldn't have much of an impact on the plot or the audience. And no matter his fate in the movie, he's bound to show up again in a novel or comic book in the next few years. Instead of asking whether or not he'll die, the better question is whether it would even matter to us either way.

Maz Kanata

Did you even know Maz was in this movie? No? Well, that's a good sign that she's not gonna die. Making Star Wars has reported that she has a small role as the intermediary between the Resistance and DJ, meaning that she won't be on-screen long enough to give us anything close to a satisfying death for this fan favorite. 
Lupita Nyong'o (who's still one of the top-billed actors in The Last Jedi's credits, because that's what happens when you win an Oscar) will hopefully return in Episode IX with a part equal or greater to her first appearance in The Force Awakens.

Who do you think will die in The Last Jedi? Tell me in the comments or tweet to @SithObserver, and may the Force be with you all.

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