Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia Organa is one of the best sci-fi movie characters of all time, male or female. She’s tough, caring, and conflicted; a great leader and a devoted friend. Many of these things will stay the same in the latest trip to that far, far away galaxy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but at least one key thing has changed, her official title.
The latest issue of Entertainment Weekly is full-to-bursting with all kinds of Star Wars: The Force Awakens goodies, including interviews, new photos, and some fresh information. Talking about Leia, director and co-writer J.J. Abrams said:
She’s referred to as General. But … there’s a moment in the movie where a character sort of slips and calls her ‘Princess.’
Hearing characters refer to Leia as "General" is, while very fitting given her leadership role Rebellion and the new world that follows Return of the Jedi, going to take some getting used to. We don’t know who it is that calls her "Princess," or what the context is, but if we had to place a wager, we’d bet it’s Han Solo — though it’s just as easy to imagine the title being used in an affectionate manner as it is being used as a jab or insult intended to hurt her.
It’s also going to be interesting to see what exactly that means in the grand scheme of things. After the Battle of Endor, the destruction of the second Death Star, and the death of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, the Empire has fractured. But, as we’ve seen in in-canon additions like the novel Aftermath and he comic Shattered Empire, though it’s down, it’s not out, and we know the First Order rises to prominence and poses a very real, very dire threat.
There’s obviously still a large-scale military conflict going on, and with her background and experience, Leia is a perfect fit for a leadership role. Every time we’ve seen her, she’s decked out in military style garb, and she’s been glimpsed multiple times in places that look very much like military command centers, doing her duty, but at what cost?
There’s also a personal angle to Leia that we can’t help but wonder about. With all of these responsibilities, what’s become of her relationship with Han Solo? Did they ever settle down, get married, and have kids, like they do in the Extended Universe? She and Han embrace in that one clip, but it looks sad and despondent, not a happy occasion. There have even been rumors that the two are no longer together and that their son becomes the villainous Kylo Ren, both of which could cause a great deal of tension.
J.J. Abrams says that Leia’s story has very high stakes, and that hers is one of the heavier arcs. When asked about how her character is coping with all of this weight, Carrie Fisher described Leia as:
[S]olitary. Under a lot of pressure. Committed as ever to her cause, but I would imagine feeling somewhat defeated, tired, and pissed.
That may not tell us a lot in a concrete sense, but it is ominous and sets the mood and tone. And with the escalating clash between the Resistance, and the Rebel Alliance is now known, and the First Order, you can bet that burden is only going to increase.
We’ll find out exactly what this all means and what General, not Princess, Leia has been up to for the last 30 years when Star Wars: The Force Awakens finally opens on December 18.