[SPOILERS for The Last Jedi ahead.]
Rian Johnson has confirmed that Star Wars: The Last Jedi never included a "big" role for Captain Phasma. Despite her limited screentime in The Force Awakens, Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma left a significant impression on fans. The character wore instantly iconic chrome armor and Christie made for a fearsome villain. At the same time, it ultimately felt like Phasma was wasted in the film, to many of those same fans.
It was teased that Phasma would have a much bigger role to play in The Last Jedi and that she would be seeking revenge on Finn (John Boyega), following his betrayal of the First Order. However, Phasma reappears relatively late in The Last Jedi and while viewers get to see her and Finn face off, her screentime isn’t much more substantial than it was in the previous Star Wars movie.
Since The Last Jedi’s release, there has been a lot of talk of deleted scenes and subplots, but writer/director Rian Johnson admitted to IGN that Phasma’s role in the story was always the same, and there wasn’t enough time to include more of her.
"I mean, as you can see, man, we had a really full movie already. We had a big, big movie with a lot of characters we were trying to serve, and the God’s honest truth is, every character had to find their natural place.”
Johnson added that ultimately, Phasma was included in The Last Jedi to advance Finn's storyline, above all else:
And Phasma supports Finn’s storyline, obviously, and there just... until she shows up to fight him at the end, look through the story that we have, there’s just not a lot of space to go into a big Phasma storyline in it.
While Phasma might be a fan favourite, it sounds like Johnson wasn’t really interested in pursuing a storyline for the character. The film pays off the rivalry between her and Finn and gives fans the battle they were hoping for in The Force Awakens, but it lacks a little dramatic punch. The end of the battle also suggests Phasma likely won’t be returning for a rematch, though Johnson has played coy about this in recent interviews. Ultimately it feels like Phasma has become the Boba Fett of this new Star Wars trilogy - being a character with a cool look, but sadly given little to do during the actual movies.
While overall reactions to The Last Jedi have been positive, it’s hard to deny that some viewers took issues with the story. The reveal of Rey’s parents and the Snoke storyline are two contentious issues among the fanbase, while the movie’s portrayal of Luke Skywalker himself has also proven controversial. Even Mark Hamill initially took issue with how the character was handled in the script and felt it wasn’t really his version of Luke. That said, others have praised The Last Jedi's subversion of expectations, so those issues are likely going to be heavily debated in the months – if not years – ahead.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018