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Despite the fact that it has earned more than $2 billion worldwide and connected with fans in a way that George Lucas’ prequels did not, most will admit that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is not a perfect movie. In fact, even writer and director J.J. Abrams admits that he made some mistakes along the way, and one thing he’d like to change involves a moment that many have interpreted as a diss to Chewbacca by Leia.
For the five of you out there who haven’t seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I assume you either don’t care (then why are you reading this?), or you’re in a coma. Still, there are SPOILERS beyond this point. Do what you must.
Near the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, after Starkiller Base has been destroyed, the Resistance fighters return to their base. Han Solo has also just been killed by Kylo Ren, his son—his and Leia’s son. This is Leia’s husband, estranged though they were, and Chewbacca’s best friend and partner in crime for decades. You’d think these two would be devastated and turn to each other for comfort. Still, Leia walks right past Chewie and embraces Rey, someone she’s never met. Not intended as a slight or snub, J.J. Abrams told Slashfilm that it was really just a matter of positioning and blocking. He said:
Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn’t have thought of it. But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention.
That said, J.J. Abrams never intended for Leia and Chewbacca to embrace at this particular moment, but he had a very good reason why Chewie walks right by. Sure, the giant wookiee was hurting and in pain having just witnessed his best friend murdered, but while that’s the case, he had a more pressing practical concern at the moment. Finn was still wounded and in need of immediate medical attention. The intention was to have Chewie rush off with the former stormtrooper in his arms to find a doctor. There would be times for hugging it out later—it’s not like they haven’t before. The way it was staged, however, that apparently wasn’t clear for many.
As far as the embrace between Leia and Rey, two people who had never met, J.J. Abrams also clarified his intentions there. While Chewbacca was off having Finn attended to, he wanted to focus on Rey and Leia. He said:
The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey of course would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss.
Some have also interpreted this embrace, and the familiarity that appears on Leia’s face when she sees Rey, as proof that she knows her and that the younger woman is in actually part of the Skywalker bloodline. The fact that it’s also Rey who is the one who goes to find Luke Skywalker, despite the fact that she just heard about him for the first time earlier in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, also seems to support this.
We have a lot of time to ponder this, and the many other questions left by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, while we wait for Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII, which doesn’t arrive until December 15, 2017. In the meantime, however, we have Rogue One: A Star Wars Story dropping December 16 to keep us occupied until then.
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Or check out everything we know about Star Wars 8 here.