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Why Chewbacca Should Have Died in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Why Chewbacca Should Have Died in “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Chewbacca is one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars franchise. He is the enormous, strong, yet very caring Wookiee that we first encounter in Episode IV: A New Hope.

Chewbacca is the best friend and travel-fighting companion of Han Solo. They face adversity and the Empire together. As we know from the sequel movies, Han Solo dies at the hands of his son, Kylo Ren, but Chewbacca survives and continues to fight for the Resistance.

According to Legends, however, the story is different: Chewie does not survive.

In a Legends book, Chewbacca dies while trying to save Han’s son. Should he have died in the movies too?

Chewbacca and Canon

Han Solo and Chewbacca

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Chewbacca is the main Wookiee character in Star Wars and plays multiple roles. He is a smuggler, pilot, mechanic, and Rebel to Resistance freedom fighter.

The actor Peter Mayhew played Chewbacca in the original movies. As the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, Chewie travels alongside Han Solo and prevails against great odds.

For example, Chewbacca and Han fight off rounds of stormtroopers while attempting to rescue Princess Leia on the Death Star. They fly in and attack Darth Vader’s TIE fighter to allow Luke to destroy the Death Star.

In Return of the Jedi, Chewie also helps the Rebels during the Battle of Endor, bringing about the defeat of the Empire.

We get more of the backstory on Chewbacca from the movie Solo: A Star Wars Story. The two meet while in captivity by the Empire. In this film and others, Chewie helps save Han’s life.

For example, Chewie helps with the rescue of Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt’s palace. Things do not go as planned, but Chewbacca, Luke, Leia, and Lando Calrissian do manage to unfreeze Han, and then they later defeat Jabba’s forces.

Chewbacca is a survivor and continues to work for the Resistance in the sequel movies.

After Han dies, Chewie takes command of the Millenium Falcon and supports Rey’s missions to defeat the First Order.

Chewie does almost die in Canon when Rey attempts to use the Force to pull down a ship that Chewbacca was aboard but accidentally destroys it. Luckily, Chewbacca was actually on another ship, so he lived.

Yet, the story is quite different according to a Legends book.

Chewbacca and Legends

Chewbacca narrowly escaped death in The Rise of Skywalker. He was not so lucky in the 1999 book The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime.

In this Legends, a.k.a. Expanded Universe, book, author R.A. Salvatore tells the story of how the New Republic formed after the Empire collapsed. Chewbacca figures prominently as the companion of Han Solo.

Chewbacca and Han Solo

Once Han and Leia have three children, Chewie becomes a protector of them. In 25 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin), Chewbacca and Han travel with Han’s son Anakin (appropriately enough) to the planet Sernpidal.

Trouble ensues when a moon named Dubido is on a collision course with Sernipal. Chewbacca, Han, and Anakin are evacuating people from the planet, but Anakin gets caught in a windstorm.

Chewie leaves the Millenium Falcon to rescue Anakin. He does get Anakin back to the ship, but not himself. The winds knock him away.

As the winds get stronger, Anakin and Han are forced to fly off, leaving Chewbacca on the planet. Dubido smashes into Sernpidal, and Chewbacca dies.

This denouement makes sense if we factor in the Legends version of Chewbacca’s character development after the Fall of the Empire.

As the Wookieepedia Legends website explains, Chewie had become like an uncle to Han and Leia’s children. He was known to protect them as if they were his children.

About ten years before going to Sernipal, for example, Chewie helped Leia rescue her children from the Empire Reborn Movement. On other occasions, Chewbacca would take care of Han and Leia’s children when they were gone.

Soon after The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime, the Dark Horse comic series Star Wars: Chewbacca paid tribute to Chewbacca. Han, Leia, and Luke tell stories in this volume to help memorialize Chewbacca’s life.

According to Legends then, Chewbacca died saving Han’s son.

Chewbacca is Resurrected

Chewbacca is resurrected

However, once Disney/Lucasfilm decided to launch the sequel movies, Chewbacca was brought back to life. He faced a near-death in The Rise of Skywalker. Some argue that he should have died in Canon as he did in Legends.

That Chewbacca survived could be evidence of weak storytelling. His death may have been a stronger way to develop the plot and film.

As Kylo Ren lands on the planet Pasaana, Rey and he engage in a contest of Force power. At the same time, Chewbacca is captured by a First Order transport. The audience clearly sees him board this ship.

Rey tries to Force-pull the transport back to the ground, but Kylo Ren steps in and Force-pushes it back upward. Their tug-of-war battle leads to an escalation of Rey’s emotions to the point where Force Lightning shoots from her fingers.

The transport explodes, and the audience believes Chewbacca is dead. But, all of a sudden, there is a second transport that Chewie was on instead. It does raise questions.

Why didn’t anyone see this second transport on a vacant desert planet? Should Rey have been able sense that he was not on the original transport? Would Chewbacca’s death have been more than audiences could handle?

Chewbacca in Canon and Legends

In Canon, Chewbacca lives on to fight for the Resistance. In Legends, he dies while saving Han’s son Anakin. Fan discussions indicate sadness over Chewie’s death, but also acceptance of the storyline.

Would movie audiences have responded the same way? It’s hard to tell, but a stronger reaction may have occurred if the beloved Chewie had died in The Rise of Skywalker.

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