“Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.”
So says Kylo Ren at the climax of the most polarizing Star Wars movie to date, and while you could certainly read this line as a mini-manifesto for The Last Jedi, the relatively faithful The Force Awakens also took a page from Kylo’s book when it killed off the villain’s own nerf herder father.
The deaths of Han Solo and Luke Skywalker may not have been particularly surprising, seeing how the latest trilogy was always going to pass the torch on to a new generation of fighters and Force-dabblers. Nonetheless, author Timothy Zahn, whose Star Wars novels helped define the Expanded Universe, takes issue with the approach of the recent films.
Speaking to SYFY, Zahn argues that it isn’t in the spirit of the series to kill the heroes once they’ve run their course in the story.
“My philosophy before the sequels came out was that Star Wars was not the kind of thing where you killed off major characters. My logic on that one being if that was, we kill off major characters, either Wedge or Lando would not have survived the second Death Star [in Return of the Jedi]. It always seemed to me, this is the type where the heroes get into danger and you have to, they have to figure out a way out of it that you’ll be happy at the end.”
Zahn also goes on to make the case that killing the old characters isn’t the only way for a series to make way for new ones, saying:
“My vision always for the sequels would be, you would pick up with the children of our main characters. [The original cast] would be the elder statesman type and not necessarily die on camera. They’d be off doing beekeeping like Sherlock Holmes allegedly did. You don’t have to kill off a character to get them offstage.”
With that in mind, what’s interesting about the demise of Han Solo is that the moment was clearly intended as a nod to one of the few major hero deaths in the Original Trilogy: Obi-Wan Kenobi, at the hands of Kylo’s grandfather Darth Vader – a death that was already explicitly echoed in the slaying of Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace.
As for The Last Jedi, for better of worse, the film was partly a result of Rian Johnson consciously pushing the boundaries of what a Star Wars movie can or can’t do, so we doubt the director’s losing much sleep over whether or not the character deaths were true to the spirit of the Original Trilogy.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, this divisive new trilogy still has one more entry to get to its happy ending, with Star Wars: Episode IX hitting cinemas on December 20th, 2019.
Source: Cinema Blend