Han Solo’s death in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was a game changing move for the franchise, so much so that Disney’s CEO Bob Iger was consulted by Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams about the decision to kill off the beloved and iconic character.
When Disney purchased Lucasfilm and first revealed that they were reviving the Star Wars franchise with a new trilogy of films, fans were ecstatic to learn that original cast members Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Kenny Baker, Anthony Daniels and Peter Mayhew were going to reprise their roles as Han Solo, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, C-3PO and Chewbacca, respectively, in The Force Awakens. Of course, this announcement led us to wonder just how much the original cast members were going to be featured alongside newcomers Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver and John Boyega. The Force Awakens was centered around Ridley’s Rey and Driver’s Kylo Ren (aka Ben Solo), but the beating heart of the film was Han Solo as he comes to grips with his son falling to the dark side and the ultimate sacrifice he made trying to bring him back to the light.
In a conversation with Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton at the magazine’s annual Summit in Los Angeles, Bob Iger revealed there were mutual concerns between himself and Abrams on how to balance legacy with innovation (fan service with new content) in a new release on Polygon. Through those conversations, Han Solo’s fate was discussed and hard decisions were made about if the character would survive past The Force Awakens. Here is what Iger said about his involvement in the decision:
“We had a big debate about Han Solo. Should he die or not? It was a decision made by Kennedy and Abrams, but I got involved.”
We all know what they decided, towards the climax of the film Han Solo was killed at the hands of his son Kylo Ren with his crossguard lightsaber. It was a shocking moment for audiences when Han fell to his death with Rey, Finn and Chewbacca watching horrified from the sidelines, but it also set up the action for the next two films in the trilogy solidifying Kylo as a real villain and not just a Darth Vader wannabe.
Han's death will most likely have huge ramifications for Kylo Ren in The Last Jedi as he comes to grips with killing his father and choosing the dark side over the light in his internal battle between the two sides of the force. We will also probably see how Han's death affects Leia and her decisions regarding their renegade son. It was Leia in The Force Awakens who told Han to bring their son home, so it wouldn't be surprising to see her feel the burden of Han's death weigh heavily on her shoulders in the next film.
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