While it's difficult to argue that Solo: A Star Wars Story wasn't a Star Wars movie with a much lighter tone, an awful lot of people get killed in it. In fact, the vast majority of named characters of any significant size don't survive the film. The exceptions, of course, are those characters that we knew from the beginning would make it because they appear in films that take place later in the chronology. According to screenwriter Jon Kasdan, the fact that the audience knew that some characters, like the title hero, would survive was exactly why the decision was made to kill off others. The writers felt the only way to keep the audience guessing was to get them invested in new characters, and then make it clear they might not make it. According to Kasdan...
Early in the film, Han Solo finds himself teaming up with Beckett and his crew to pull a job in order to steal valuable hyperspace fuel. The team consists of Beckett, Val, and a multi-armed alien named Rio Durant. However, by the end of the heist, both Val and Rio have died, leaving Beckett with only the new recruits of Han and Chewbacca.
Of course, we know from the beginning that whatever else happens, Han, Chewbacca, and also Lando, will all be fine, so there's no drama as it regards their fate. Jon Kasdan says in one of the bonus features attached to the brand new Blu-ray for Solo: A Start Wars Story that this lack of drama for those characters meant that it had to be found in other characters.
And overall, it works. By killing off Rio and Val at the beginning, the audience has to wonder what could happen to other characters like Beckett, Dryden Voss, and Qi'ra. We've never seen them in other Star Wars movies, so they might survive but they could just as easily die. Two of those characters, in fact, do die by the end, but Qi'ra survives, though she could have just as easily died, especially since we know the movie had no problem killing people off. You spend the rest of the movie wondering how things will go because the precedent has already been set.
Solo: A Star Wars Story arrives on Blu-ray today and is also available in Digital formats.
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