Minds were blown when Han Solo found himself on the business end of his son's lightsaber in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But at the same time, this decision made some sense, considering that the space opera series usually throws a major death or two into any given trilogy in order to up the stakes for our heroes on their journey. Well, that, and Harrison Ford had wanted Han Solo dead for a long time. But ultimately, it wasn't fate or even Ford that killed our beloved smuggler. No, according to Disney CEO Bob Iger, that decision was crafted by two people: Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams, though Iger did provide some assistance. He described the thought process thusly:
You have to think about legacy because it deserves respect and there's an expectation. But you also have to innovate. We had a big debate about Han Solo, actually. In that, he's a beloved character and, should he die or not? Should we kill him off? It was ultimately, it was a decision that was made by Kathy Kennedy and J.J. Abrams, but I got involved.
So there you have it. If you're still harboring a grudge for the death of Han Solo, you know who to address your hate mail to. But while Kylo Ren's decision to murder his father does contribute to the Star Wars tradition of killing off major mentors, it also serves another purpose: to keep the story going in new and fresh directions. Iger's remarks towards Kennedy and Abrams' decision-making process only reinforces this, as the fact that there was even a discussion on whether Han should die or not just shows that it wasn't something entered into lightly.
What also comes out of this conversation is that while Kathleen Kennedy is the head of Lucasfilm, and thus the de facto ruler of the Star Wars galaxy, Bob Iger still plays a somewhat important part in the conversation as well. Being the man who basically runs the entire Disney empire, he would obviously get a say in the decisions involved in the Star Wars' sandbox, as well as the various other sections of the company's film apparatus. So if Iger did have any objections to what was going on with Han Solo's fate, he would have had a venue to voice them, but ultimately he knows that the buck stops with Kennedy.
To be one of the three people involved in the top Star Wars decisions seems like it'd be one of the coolest positions in the world, like a proverbial kid in a candy store. But as Iger continued to tell Vanity Fair, it's not it's all cracked up to be, stating:
It does weigh on me. It weighs on me in the sense it's a different kind of responsibility; you think a lot about it. Star Wars and Marvel and Disney, there's a core base of unbelievably devoted and involved fans that are just maniacal about every nuance of the stories we tell. We think about them.
So the next time you see someone die in the Star Wars galaxy, before you start to curse any one person's name, try to think for a moment about how hard it was to have to make that decision in the first place. It's a good thought to keep in mind as the franchise keeps chugging along in the coming years.