The primary focus of upcoming sequel Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens may be new characters like Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren, but writer/director J.J. Abrams is going to be sprinkling in bits of nostalgia with appearances by classic trilogy heroes. Even then, though, there seems to be a fresh spin on some of these familiar faces.
There isn't much we know so far about the state of the old guard, but questions like "Who is Luke Skywalker?" and speculation that Han Solo and Chewbacca are no longer the owners of the Millennium Falcon suggest a lot has changed since Return of the Jedi. That extends to protocol droid C-3PO, who is sporting a mysterious red arm in The Force Awakens that fans will learn about thanks to a Marvel comic.
In an announcement on Disney's official Star Wars website it is revealed that readers will be able to find out how C-3PO received his new limb in a special one-shot comic book. The comic reunites the award-winning team of writer James Robinson and artist Tony Harris for the first time in two decades and will be part of the "Journey to The Force Awakens" line of publications that's filling in the 30-year gap between Return of the Jedi and Episode VII.
Plot details are being kept under wraps for now, with the only hint being that C-3PO will be venturing on a solo adventure (so, no R2-D2?) that leads up to his appearance in The Force Awakens. If the secrecy for the books is anything like what it's been for the movie, we probably won't find out much about the comic until it hits shelves in December.
Even the most die-hard Star Wars fans would probably admit C-3PO is far from the most interesting character who could get his own spinoff comic, but this move is a smart one on Lucasfilm's part. People are wondering why the droid has a red arm this time around, and answering that question in a medium outside of film is simply more economical. The Force Awakens is going to have a lot on its plate setting up a new galactic conflict between the First Order and the Resistance (and all the new characters). A couple of clunky lines of exposition dedicated to C-3PO's look may interrupt the pacing of the movie and come off as forced.
Some may take a cynical mindset and say that Abrams changed C-3PO's appearance for the sake of marketing gimmicks such as this, but even if you're not interested in reading the comic, there is a logical real-world explanation for the switch. C-3PO is a very old robot, having been around at least since Anakin Skywalker was a 9-year old boy. It stands to reason that, over the course of the many decades he's been in operation, C-3PO would need some maintenance from time to time. The comic just provides an official reasoning for those who are interested.
In the grand scheme of things, the red arm is largely insignificant, but it is nice to see Lucasfilm do something to address it instead of leaving it as a random alteration. Just like the other "Journey to The Force Awakens" books, reading this comic is not a prerequisite for seeing the movie, but ideally it can enhance the experience by providing some clarity.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens hits theaters on December 18th, 2015, 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.