Major spoilers ahead for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Feel free to read our spoiler-free review and flee from this page before you see something you can’t unsee.
Now that that’s over with, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of The Force Awakens. Star Wars fans were collectively heartbroken and aghast when Han Solo, arguably the coolest guy in the galaxy, was killed by his son in the final act of The Force Awakens. One could almost hear a collective WHY?! from movie theaters across the world as the pilot of the Millennium Falcon fell to the hands of villain Kylo Ren. Well, apparently J.J. Abrams heard our cry and has recently spoken up about why Han had to go to move the story forward:
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. 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 fucking 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.
Honestly, this does kind of make sense. Kylo Ren is still probably going to be seen as a less-cool Darth Vader, but they did set him up to be a captivating original character. Containing a rage we haven’t seen in anyone since cry-baby Anakin in the prequels, Ren is often having temper tantrums and is more volatile than Darth Vader ever was. While he had the potential of being too whine-y and not enough evil, J.J. Abrams cemented Ren’s role as a true villain by having Ren kill arguably the most popular character in the entire Star Wars franchise. And audiences are now ready for someone to take the villain down.
Visually, it was also very satisfying to see another father/son showdown on a bridge of abyss. The Force Awakens was full of homages to the original Star Wars trilogy, and that scene felt right out of Empire. That is, until Kylo Ren stabbed Solo and he fell into the space station’s pit. Why don’t any of these bridges ever have railings? Surely more than one Stormtrooper has slipped and fallen to his death over the years.
J.J. Abrams’ statements, as reported by Uproxx, also goes on to say that Han Solo’s story might have plateaued if he had stayed alive. After Luke and Leia are eventually reunited, whenever that may be, it seemed that Solo’s storyline would stop moving forward. While this is certainly debatable, as we could have had more screen time between Leia and Han, it does make sense that Luke’s arrival onto the scene would dwarf the other characters in a way.
We know that one of the themes of The Force Awakens was the original characters passing the torch to the new generation of heroes. Rey was literally the recipient of a blaster and the Falcon from Han, as well as Luke’s lightsaber from Maz Kanata. Kylo Ren really was the star of the show in my opinion, and it is true that his deviousness was cemented in Solo’s death. His hope for redemption seemingly gone, he fully embraced his rage in his duals with Rey and Finn.
And now he’ll presumably have a scar on his face to represent the emotional one he left the audience with.