Never has a massive blockbuster movie release, let alone one of the most merchandised entertainment brands ever, been kept so tightly held secret. With the first new Star Wars movie in over a decade, and the first followup to Return of the Jedi in over 30 years, Disney and director J.J. Abrams refused to share when it came to plot details of Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens.
Even when it came to interviewing the film's cast at the Star Wars 7 press junket, Disney wouldn't screen the movie beforehand, and the actors couldn't say much about their roles. But was all for a good reason. There are moments and major details, had they leaked out before the film opened in theaters around the world, that would ruin the experience. And there's one big shocker in particular at the top of the spoilers list...
NOTE: The following post contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Star Wars 7
If you grew up having a strong passion for the original Star Wars movies and their iconic characters, there's a good chance you felt a big blow, like a lightsaber through the stomach, when Kylo Ren killed Han Solo in the third act of Episode VII - The Force Awakens. Even if there were rumors that Solo might meet his end in this film, and that Harrison Ford would only return for one more flick, it was still an emotional beat and an epic loss for the saga.
Why Did ______ Have To Kill _______?
But this had to happen. This was Han Solo's sendoff, helping pave the way for new characters to take the spotlight and carry the franchise forward while also passing the torch to Luke Skywalker to make his triumphant return in Episode VIII. More than that though, it was necessary to make Kylo Ren the antagonist he needs to be, especially in the shadow of Darth Vader - a character that Ren fittingly worships. It works on so many levels.
At a screening and Q&A for Star Wars: Episode VII at the Writers Guild of America this weekend, director and co-writer J.J. Abrams spoke about the film's biggest moment and why it had to happen to develop a worthy villain.
“Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something f—king bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters.”
Han's futile effort to reconnect with his long lost son, whom he describes as having too much of Vader in him, came at the request of Leia who believes there's still light left in their son. Kylo Ren (real name: Ben) knows he did too and this moment was him proving to himself that he can resist the light and the temptation of his attachments to his family. Abrams continues:
“Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain. And not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process.”
“It’s this massive tradeoff. How can we possibly do that!? But… if we hadn’t done that, the movie wouldn’t have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous.”
This wasn't always the plan though. Earlier drafts of Michael Arndt's Star Wars 7 script had diffrent plans for Leia and Han...