Hi there! Welcome to my blog! This is my first post and since we have a new Star Wars movie right around the corner I thought I’d tackle one the biggest questions I had coming out of The Last Jedi and after Carrie Fisher sadly and untimely passed away; “What are we gonna do about Leia?”
In a moment I’ll be getting into why this is such a difficult issue for Disney to resolve but I think I’ve found a solution that will do justice to our beloved princess as well as honouring the memory of Carrie Fisher. My idea is a bit unorthodox and if you have any comments, reactions or ideas of your own please feel free to leave a reply. I just made this website so I’m eager to start a discussion with any readers.
The Most Untimely Passing of All
Now onto the topic, first I want to lay out why I think this question of how to properly honour Princess Leia is such a tough one and why there are no right answers or full-proof solutions. Lets backtrack a little, whether or not you like the Sequel Trilogy, its clear that a major theme of it is the old learning to pass on and let the newer characters take the spotlight. Each of the new movies was to showcase one of the original three major characters we love (being Han, Luke and Leia in that order) before closing off their character arcs.
Han took the spotlight in The Force Awakens before dying as a loving father, Luke took the spotlight The Last Jedi before dying while restoring his legend and making peace with his mistakes and Leia was to die in Episode 9 until Carrie Fisher passed. Watch any interview with the higher-ups at Lucasfilm and they’ll all tell you that Leia was gonna be the star of the show here. She would be the last member of the original cast to die so that new characters and new stories could take centre-stage. Unfortunately, thats not how it’s gonna play out.
Lets look at some of the ways they could handle this of which there are only a few. Disney could recast Leia, which cannot and will not happen under any circumstances EVER. Disney could create a CGI abomination of Fisher’s likeness and simply reduce her role in the movie, lessening the impact of her character’s inevitable death. They also could kill her offscreen and start Episode 9 with her funeral which would disrupt the flow of the trilogy since at the end of The Last Jedi Luke clearly implied that Leia would be the one to eventually redeem her son. They could betray her character by just claiming she retired from the Resistance, which she would never do because Leia fights to the end and she needs to redeem her son. At worst they could have her die in the first five minutes in an explosion of something (like she nearly did in The Last Jedi). No, none of it will do.
The reason none of these options work in my view is that they don’t earn Leia’s death. It robs the most beloved princess in Sci Fi of the send off she deserves. Leia isn’t a character you just write off, you can’t do that to the millions of fans who grew up with her and idolised her. Say what you will about The Last Jedi but even its most strident critic can’t deny Luke’s journey was a huge part of the film and his eventual passing was truly touching. Leia deserves that same treatment, not a cameo, not a 2 minute funeral before the movie moves on and not a CGI clone or anything like that. I think I’ve found a way to do her justice and you may not like it.
The Importance of Catharsis
Before I get to that solution, I want to touch on the idea of catharsis because its important. With regards to storytelling it refers to the release of built-up emotions one experiences at the end of a story. Whether you know it or not, when you experience a story you are building up certain emotions and expectations as to how it will end. It’s the climax’s job to release those emotions, to validate them and bring an end to the story you’re experiencing. Anytime you see an emotional climax at the end of any story, realise that is a form of catharsis. Without it audiences feel cheated, like they wasted their time and the story has no payoff.
A great example of catharsis (and you can find it in almost any competently written story) is in The Avengers. The movie starts with the characters failing to get along as a team and ends with an amazing battle to save New York as they put aside their differences and work to save the world. For a more relevant example we have Return of the Jedi, where audiences finally see Luke become a Jedi, redeem his father and save the galaxy. Characters in general need catharsis, their story needs to start somewhere, go somewhere and end somewhere. The reason the question of how to kill off Leia is so hard is because almost all options rob the audience of this catharsis, we don’t get to see the payoff to her story that we all wanted.
Therefore I believe that the most effective way to end Leia’s character is to do so in a book, a full fledged novel. This would allow Leia to be the star of the show and the book would in essence be a love letter to her character and everyone who loves her. It would be what Logan was to Wolverine fans; a worthy send-off to a character we’ve known for decades. It would be a celebration of everything inspiring about her as a person. One last hurrah before she joins her brother and becomes one with the Force.
You may be asking; “But Cameron, people won’t want to read in order to know how Leia dies!” Okay, sure. But as Jon Snow once said;
Seriously I want to know because as far as I can see there are no good answers here. This is just the one I think will give Leia a satisfying conclusion to her story. Here are some ideas I’d incorporate into the book, if you have any suggestions of your own please feel free to share them.
The Hope of the Resistance
I’m not going to outline the whole thing unless Disney pays me to (please do that). However no matter what happens in the book here are some beats the story needs to hit. Firstly we need to see Leia inspiring the galaxy to stand against the First Order because to me she’s always been the hope of the rebellion. I know we all love Luke but Leia’s been in this fight since she was a teen and she’s inspiration because of it. All her life she’s fought for what she believed was right and we need to see that. At the end of The Last Jedi the First Order has pretty much won, everyones too afraid after Star-Killer Base to rise up. Leia needs to change that, we need to see her go from planet-to-planet and rebuild the Resistance from nothing. Also she needs to start grooming Poe Dameron to take her place, because someones gotta lead when she’s gone right?
Secondly, she needs to reconcile with her son. I’m not saying that she needs to turn him back to the light because then we won’t get an Episode 9 but we do need to at least have her plant the seeds of doubt in Kylo Ren so that Ben Solo will return later on. We need to know why exactly Ben turned to the dark side (other than his uncle nearly murdering him). We need to see why Ben had that darkness within him in the first place and whether or not Han and Leia really did fail as parents. The two of them need some serious family therapy. Maybe we could get a scene where the ghost of Anakin comes back to advise her on how to redeem her son, since we never really got a scene where Leia and Vader interacted with that father/daughter dynamic.
Thirdly however they decide to kill her, it needs to be character based. What do I mean by this? Well a character based death is where the character dies in a way that logically and emotionally ends their arc. For an example you can look to Darth Vader himself, who dies when he returns to the light, saves his son and accepts death. There is also Han Solo who dies when he chooses to try and redeem his son rather than retreat and live to smuggle another day, dying a better man. Lastly theres Luke who dies when he restores his legend, saves the Resistance and passes into the Force like a true Jedi. A death that isn’t character based says nothing about their arc, it just happens and then the story moves on. Its why I didn’t want Leia to die in The Last Jedi when she got blown out into space, it would’ve be a death for death’s sake. No emotion or catharsis, just cold-blooded character murder.
Heres how I would do it, throughout the book I’d have Leia unite the galaxy against the First Order. It would get to a point where theres a 50/50 chance either side could win. Knowing the coming battle would eventually bring them together, Leia decides to meet with her son on Naboo, the home-world of her mother. There she tries to come to a peace agreement so that no further souls have to die. At first Kylo is hesitant but thats when Leia pulls her trump card, she introduces him to his grandfather, the ghost of Anakin Skywalker. Anakin basically tells him from firsthand experience that the Dark Side leads to self-destruction. He tells him to stop idolising Vader and start emulating Anakin. Eventually Leia and Kylo would reconcile, he agrees to guide the First Order in the right direction and Leia forgives him for killing Han.
However General Hux watches the exchange from orbit in a star destroyer. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to eliminate both his rival and the leader of the Resistance he bombards the planet from orbit. Both Kylo and Leia would survive the initial strike but the latter would be wounded. Kylo is then faced with a choice; escape and leave his mother to die or escort her back to the Resistance where he would be arrested for his crimes. Kylo chooses the latter but his mother refuses. She tells him that Ben Solo is the key to saving the galaxy, that she believes he can bring the First Order in the right direction and create real lasting peace. Not the tyrannical regime Palpatine and Snoke died for, not the hypocritical Jedi Order Luke and Yoda failed to implement, Ben can forge a new path ahead and bring real change to the galaxy. None of this can happen if he’s rotting in a jail cell, General Hux is an extremist with no redeeming qualities whatsoever and if he takes control the galaxy is doomed. Leia bids her son farewell and trusts him to make the right choices.
In her final moments she staggers over to the balcony where her parents were married back in Attack of the Clones, she gazes out at the beautiful horizon as dozens of First Order Star Destroyers nearly block out the sky. “All that just for little old me?” she says to the ghosts of Anakin and Luke with her classic wit, she has one last laugh before transitioning to bittersweet resolve. “He’ll make it better, he’ll be better than we ever were.” In that moment General Hux orders the full-scale bombardment of the city. Leia’s death is instantaneous, she feels no pain, only relief that she got to see her son become the person she knew he was before she died. Ben Solo escapes and returns to the First Order where he accuses Hux of trying to assassinate him and has him quickly executed. Rey, Finn and Poe Dameron think Ben ordered this and resolve to finish the fight in Episode 9. They rally the galaxy and Leia becomes a martyr for freedom.
Thats how I would conclude Princess Leia’s journey. She’s dies as she lived; the hope of the rebellion, a mother who never gave up on her son and a leader who fought to the end for a better future for the galaxy. I hope you enjoyed this article, if you want to see more rest assured I plan to post something once every week. My next article is going to be a review of Marvel’s Iron Fist and why I think it failed as a show on almost every meaningful level. Thanks for reading and I hope to find you here again soon!