WARNING: This post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As is the case with most films, Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens was not written in a single draft before principal photography commenced. The script went under several alterations. Initially, Toy Story 3 scribe Michael Arndt was penning the screenplay, before J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan joined the project and essentially started with a new slate. It makes sense there would be many revisions along the way, since Disney wanted to kick the new era of the franchise off on the right foot.
While the narrative was being developed, the ultimate fates of certain characters changed. And we're not just talking about the roles of Luke Skywalker and R2-D2. Originally, Abrams had envisioned one of the newcomers meeting his bitter end during The Force Awakens, before changing his mind and keeping him around for future installments.
In an interview with GQ, Oscar Isaac revealed that his hotshot X-wing pilot Poe Dameron was going to be killed off. The actor described his meeting with Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, where they pitched the Dameron character to him. Isaac was excited to be the one who set the movie's larger story in motion, but was decidedly less enthusiastic when he discovered Poe dies after doing so.
Abrams and Isaac had a lengthy conversation concerning the role, where the director tried to sell Isaac on the idea of creating a character that could be immortalized in other forms of Star Wars media, such as books, comics, and video games. Despite having a productive conversation about what the character could be, Isaac remained hesitant when they parted. After some thinking, he agreed to be in Star Wars 7, figuring it'd be a cameo appearance. Abrams surprised him by revealing he had reworked the script to keep Poe in the whole film.
It sounds as if the original plan was for Poe to be killed during the movie's opening sequence, which sees Dameron visiting Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) on Jakku to receive a map that leads to Luke. Shortly after, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and his stormtroopers land on the planet, hunting for the same information, and lay waste to the village before leaving. Instead of Poe dying, he is taken captive and teams up with Finn (John Boyega) to make a daring escape so they can retrieve BB-8.
Those who have seen Star Wars 7 will probably be happy Abrams had a change of heart. Isaac's performance was very well-received, and many wished Poe had more screen time. He's an instantly likable character, who mixed humor and roguish charm in a classic Star Wars manner. It also would have been a waste of the actor's talent and stature for him to appear briefly before dying. Now, Dameron still has a part to play in the war between the Resistance and the First Order, and fans can see more of his budding friendship with Finn, one of the movie's many high points. Hopefully, Isaac gets a meatier role in Episode VIII and further establishes Poe as a fan-favorite.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.