Possible The Force Awakens spoilers below. Proceed at your own risk!
When you’re asked to name 5 characters from Star Wars lore, you’d be hard pressed not to include Leia in that list. As a legacy character who’s life on screen spans nearly 60 years, Leia has been through a lot. Maybe too much. Consider that from the very first moments of her life, she began experiencing loss:
- In Revenge of the Sith, the death of her mother, Padmé.
- In A New Hope, she loses many soldiers on the Tantive IV who were presumably aboard the ship to protect her. (Chalk those lives up to the cost of war, but it still).
- Then the Death Star vaporizes her home world of Alderaan.
- Later on in The Empire Strikes Back, she loses Han (even if she gets him back in RotJ).
- In Return of the Jedi, she finds out that Darth Vader, the scourge of the galaxy is her father. Talk about a loss (at the very least a questioning) of self, even for a self-assured leader like Leia.
- Fast forward 32 years to The Force Awakens, and it seems to be a commonly held belief that Leia will lose Han Solo for good at the hands of her crazy son, Kylo Ren. #parentingfail
- If we think ahead to Episodes 8 and 9, it’s hard to imagine that she won’t lose Luke as well.
That’s a lot for one person to take and it makes you wonder about Leia’s resolve, and about her destiny. Is she here to fight until the bitter end, having to endure one devastating personal loss after another while the struggle for freedom goes on and on without a light at the end of the tunnel? If that comes to pass, Leia will have lost virtually everyone that has ever mattered to her. How brutal is that? Of course, she will have close friends and allies that we will come to know under the new canon (including books, comics, films, etc), but everyone that we, and Leia have come to know will have been taken away. It goes without saying that Leia has always been a stoic leader, and brave solider when called upon and totally confident even when totally disempowered.
If Leia is the last of the “big three” standing from the original trilogy then she becomes the human avatar for the audience through which we view these movies. I know that role has traditionally been assigned to the droids, but if Han and Luke are both gone, then Leia is the next closest link that long-time fans will have. Her losses become our losses.
Is there a point at which Leia becomes too tragic a figure? Or does the amount of loss she suffers only add to the heroism and bravery of her character?
In the wider scheme of things, are we fans prepared to lose favorites that we’ve come to love over four decades? Amidst the excitement leading up to The Force Awakens, everything is puppy dogs and ice cream. We’re all in love with Star Wars all over again, and the thought of more epic adventures filled with fist-pumping moments are dancing in our heads like sugar plums. Frankly, I don’t know how prepared fans are to deal with the losses of long-time favorites. There is an awful lot of denial out there, and sure as rumors of every shape cropped up claiming someone’s demise, there were legions of fans screaming that it had better not be true. Is that a fear of loss, or a misalignment of the movie they want versus the reality? Sure, we’ll gain new favorite characters along the way as the new trilogy and Anthology movies unfold, but I doubt they will become a part of original generation fan DNA like the classic characters have.
What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments or @tumblingsaber.