J.J. Abrams on That Shocking Kylo Ren Scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Huge spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens follow!
It should have been clear from the headline that there are spoilers in this article, but I will give you all a little bit more room anyway:
All right, so for all of you who have seen The Force Awakens already (and if you haven't, what are you waiting for?), you know that J.J. Abrams and co. made the potentially controversial decision to finally grant Harrison Ford's wish and kill off Han Solo. In a recent interview with EW, Abrams discussed why he would choose to kill off arguably the franchise's most beloved character:
"Long before we had this title, the idea of The Force Awakens was that this would become the evolution of not just a hero, but a villain. And not a villain who was the finished, ready-made villain, but someone who was in process."
Kylo Ren needed to live up to the greatness of Darth Vader, which was no easy feat, no matter how great of an actor Adam Driver is:
"Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something fucking bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters."
This wasn't always the plan, however, just as another main character was supposed to die, Han Solo was originally supposed to live to see Episode VIII:
"In my early drafts, my thinking was we had to bridge the end of Return of the Jedi to what happens in this movie, and we didn't want everybody to start off all together. We wanted them to be spread all throughout the galaxy. We came up with a backstory that Luke had a pupil who turned against him and fought him, and killed all the other pupils, and that was a thing that exploded the family and destroyed Han and Leia's relationship."
I think it was the right choice to klll him, as the franchise needed to do something truly unexpected to inject more life into it (especially after watching three terrible movies for which we already knew the ending). But it does make my heart hurt a little to hear that he and Leia were originally supposed to get back together:
"I had thought Han's story and Leia's story was just about them coming back together. At the end of the movie they would have reconciled and gotten over their differences. And you would have said, 'Okay, bad stuff happened, but at least they're back together again. J.J. rightly asked, 'What is Han doing in this movie?' If we're not going to have something important and irreversible happen to him, then he kind of feels like luggage. He feels like this great, sexy piece of luggage you have in your movie. But he's not really evolving. He's not really pushing the story forward."
Abrams says, and I agree, that this move was necessary to make sure the movie had "guts":
"[Han Solo's death is] this massive tradeoff. How can we possible do that!? But… if we hadn't done that, the movie wouldn't have any guts at all. It felt very dangerous."
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is now out in theaters.