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SPOILERS AHEAD: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you want to read our spoiler-free review, click here. The rest of you, read on… but know that you have been warned.
The beginning of a new Star Wars trilogy introduced us to a host of new characters. Some human, some alien, but all of them new and interesting. Finding out what happens to our new heroes and villains is the reason we’re now all excited to continue on this saga. However, it turns out that one of our heroes was originally going to have his journey end rather quickly.
One of the more exciting characters in The Force Awakens was Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac. It turns out that originally he wasn’t going to survive the opening sequence that shows him obtain the map before getting captured by The First Order. In an interview with GQ, Isaac tells the story of when he first met with director J.J. Abrams about the role. At first incredibly excited that he would be the one to open the film and play a "badass fighter pilot," Isaac’s enthusiasm was tempered when Abrams informed him that Dameron would die after that big opening. This caused Isaac to reconsider the role, in part because he’d already played a similar role, dying in order to set up the movie for somebody else, in The Bourne Legacy. However, in the end Isaac, decided to take the role, thinking that not committing to three movies might be the silver lining. Of course, at that point, J.J. Abrams threw another curveball, informing Isaac that plans had changed and Poe Dameron would survive.
And thank god for that. Poe Dameron was one of the highlights of the film. He wasn’t in the movie nearly enough as it was, if he had died, it would have been a tragedy on multiple levels. It’s clear from the interview that J.J. Abrams really liked the character as well, so it may have been the director’s desire to keep Dameron alive as much as anything that lead to the pilot’s survival. Abrams said he’d "figured it out," implying that originally Abrams felt the plot required Dameron to die, but that he was able to build the situation in a way that allowed him to live.
We’re truly glad that Poe Dameron will live on. His character brings comedy as well as action to the new trilogy, and he does both things perfectly. Much like another pilot with a sarcastic edge that we love, we look forward to flying with Poe wherever he goes from here.