Caution: potential major spoiler for The Last Jedi below. Consider yourselves warned.
Star Wars fans have spent countless intense hours debating what Lucasfilm should do with Leia’s character in the aftermath of Carrie Fisher’s passing. The opinions range from “kill her off in The Last Jedi” to “kill her early in episode 9”, to “recast the role, and see Leia’s story through to it’s original conclusion”. Each case has it’s pros and cons.
But for this blogger, there’s only one correct answer.
Finish Leia’s story as it was originally intended.
Because many moons ago, some very smart, creative, and talented people got together and fleshed out story arcs for our beloved heroes from the galaxy far, far away. But in December 2016, the big bad wolf huffed, puffed, and blew the house down. Carrie Fisher was struck down before Leia’s complete story could be told.
As stated in the huge Vanity Fair piece, the powers that be had to move from grieving to pragmatism very quickly. A retooling of episode 9 had to take place, presumably to work around Carrie’s passing.
What a mistake. Telling passages from David Kamp’s Vanity Fair piece seem to make Leia’s future quite clear:
Fisher’s death doesn’t change anything about The Last Jedi except make it more poignant: the film farewell of both the actress and the character. But it does change Episode IX, for which, as Fisher hoped, a central role for Leia had been planned. Kennedy, Trevorrow, and the Lucasfilm team have been compelled to swing from grieving into pragmatic mode, working out how to reconceive the next film in the saga, which is scheduled to start shooting in January.
What? Did they just spoil Leia’s fate in The Last Jedi? More than six months before the film’s release? What the hell just happened here? Softening the blow? Letting us down gently? To call this a curious decision is putting it mildly, especially considering how insanely close-to-the-vest Lucasfilm likes to keep things. Is there another way to interpret this quote? It’s definitely the farewell for Carrie. Is The Last Jedi the end for Leia as well? I can’t imagine Lucasfilm green-lighting this spoiler at any stage of the film’s production, or ramp-up period, yet here we are.
Look, I get it. Carrie is Leia. Leia is Carrie. They’re intertwined, forever synonymous with each other. They are both a part of our DNA as fans of this franchise. We’ve all grieved, and some are still grieving over her loss. That’s fine. For many, the thought of seeing another actress on-screen as Leia is revolting and a non-starter. I understand the sentiment.
But mark my words: if Lucasfilm takes the easy path of writing Leia out because Carrie is no longer with us, we’ll all regret it soon enough. We will all have to bear the brunt of that mistake for the rest of our saga-loving lives. Five, or maybe ten years from now you’ll sit down to watch episode 9. You’ll get cozy, grab a cold drink, and some popcorn. Dim the lights, crank up the volume….and there’s Leia’s premature death. Your fan brain will note this was done because Lucasfilm was AFRAID to forge ahead with the (presumably) terrific story they had conceived for her, for fear of fan backlash over a new face accepting the mantle as General Organa. You’ll forever wonder what the original plans for the film, and character was. If the saying “your first instinct is usually correct”, then episode 9 is bound for a let-down.
That’s a damn shame.
Cutting the knees out from under Leia’s story does a disservice to the story of Star Wars, and it’s especially a disservice to Leia, who deserves as epic and fitting a farewell as Anakin, Han Solo, Obi-Wan, and at some point, Luke.
It’s a disservice to fans, even the ones who don’t yet realize it.
It’s a disservice to Carrie, a great storyteller in her own right. I’d bet my last dime that she would not want her character to be disposed of hastily just because she was no longer in the credits.
But it’s done now. The powers that be re-wrote episode 9 earlier in 2017 in light of Carrie’s passing. Perhaps a decision made with compromised feelings due to her death?
It’s not engraved in stone to say that there’s only ONE WAY to end Leia’s story. Version 2.0 of Leia’s fate can be a fitting, and satisfying one. That duty now falls to Colin Trevorrow, the guy who directed Jurassic World; a film that while a spectacle, was not noted for it’s storytelling. The trust also falls to Derek Connolly, the guy who wrote the screenplay for Jurassic World, and to this flop:
Still optimistic? As Obi-Wan says: “Don’t let your personal feelings get in the way!”
Don’t let your nostalgic sensibilities get in the way of a good story.
I had hoped for more from Kathleen Kennedy and the leaders at Lucasfilm; bravery, confidence, and resoluteness in the face of backlash. It’s a shame that appears to not be the case. I pray that I’m wrong. I’ve nodded with enthusiastic agreement over nearly every single choice that has they’ve made on behalf of the saga, and it’s fans. This seeming decision threatens to tear that all down.
As always, comments are welcome. If you enjoyed this, or find the least bit thought-provoking, please give it a share on twitter or facebook so the debate can rage on.