In nearly every film in the Star Wars saga, a noteworthy character dies. This is especially true in the first and final installments of the trilogies, and since this is the beginning of a new set of films, I wholeheartedly expect there to be a handful of deaths. In fact, I'm going so far as to say we will see at least five deaths that will resonate with the audience in one way or another.
Who will those five deaths include, though? Let's break them down.
1) The Rebel Pilot Death
In Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope, one of the deaths that is overlooked but shouldn't be is Biggs Darklighter. Biggs is a childhood friend of Luke's who is essentially set up as a sort of big brother to him. Luke looks up to Biggs, and when he's killed by Darth Vader, that's when things get dire for Skywalker and the fun stops.
Right now, you might be thinking that Poe Dameron—the most widely advertised member of Black Squadron—is the easy target for this section, but I think he'll be making it out of this film alive. We haven't seen all that much about Poe, but he's been said to be an important character. My guess is he'll be the love interest for Rey (if her love interest isn't Finn), so he'll be sticking around for a few more movies, even though he's being tortured in the trailer by Kylo Ren.
Instead, I think Greg Grunberg's character is the one that will fill this role. I can see him being someone that Poe is friends with and filling sort of a Wedge Antilles position in the cast as someone who will be remembered, but not spoken about often. Grunberg is such a likable guy, so in a short time frame, he could make the audience care about him and then feel bad that his ship totally gets blown to pieces instead of us laughing like when Porkins wasn't quite alright or not remembering Dack's name most of the time.
2) A New Republic Figurehead
Leia is clearly going to be one of the primary faces of the New Republic considering how important she was during the original trilogy and how she was a well-known political figure from Alderaan. In fact, she might be at the top of the pecking order already, but if by some chance she isn't, I'm confident in saying she will be by the end of this movie.
Admiral Ackbar is confirmed to be in the film and I can't imagine him getting much more screen time than what he got in Return of the Jedi, which was pretty nominal. The same goes for Mon Mothma, who may be in the movie as the leader of the New Republic above Leia. If that is the case, Mothma will die to make room for Leia to move up in the ranks. If Mothma is already taken out of the equation before the events of the film, then I'm expecting Ackbar to turn into fried Mon Calamari. The death of one of the most distinguished generals will be a big loss for our heroes.
3) The Helper on the Sidelines
If you're a character who helps our heroes and you only appear in a few scenes, there are two ways in which your story can go. If you're lucky, you're someone like Dexter Jettster, who gives Obi-Wan Kenobi some information and then goes back to his stupid '50s diner. If you're Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru, you end up a charred skeleton. None of the handmaidens die in The Phantom Menace, but one of them serves her purpose (even though she says she failed, but that's another discussion for another day) in Attack of the Clones. Her name was Cordé, aka "the one that wasn't played by Rose Byrne" who gets blown up in an assassination attempt on Padmé. Even Shmi Skywalker only lasts two films before falling victim to Tusken Raiders.
Although we don't know too many details about their characters, I think the two that could fill this role are those played by Max von Sydow and Lupita Nyong'o. The former is supposedly playing Lor San Tekka—a villager with information. The latter's character, Maz Kanata, is a pirate who has been around for a long time and could also be spilling some information before spilling her guts. One of these two, if not both, are definitely going to be destroyed by the First Order. I'm 100% positive about that. I expect them to not even still be alive by the midway point of the movie as their deaths could be great tools to show how dangerous our new villains are.
4) The Big Villain Death
As dangerous as they'll be, it's not just heroes that die in these films and we can't forget about the obligatory comeuppances for greed and evil. In A New Hope, countless Imperial forces are killed when the Death Star explodes, but none of them are as featured as Grand Moff Tarkin. Losing the various governors, admirals, captains and so on just to see them replaced by someone else in the next installment is a staple of this franchise, so I'm putting a lot of faith on General Hux going up in flames when Starkiller Base is invaded.
Although I'm not as confident in my next prediction, I do think that there's a good chance Captain Phasma is killed off as well. While Hux is someone who Poe Dameron can waste in an X-Wing, Phasma's death would be better served at the hands of Finn, if she's his superior officer while he was a Stormtrooper. That would be the ultimate sign that he's ditched his former alignment and fully joined the side of good. You may think that she's too important of a character to be killed off in the first movie, but many other characters didn't make it past their first film. Sure, Zam Wesell and Greedo are nothing, but Jango Fett and Darth Maul are huge deaths that Phasma would be on par with.
Look, we all know Kylo Ren isn't going anywhere, nor would they introduce Supreme Leader Snoke and have him not be quite so supreme. Phasma and Hux are the two most expendable of the main baddies, and even if one of them makes it to Episode 8, the other one won't.
5) The Main Hero Death
Sadly, the first film of both trilogies has seen the death of a mentor character for our heroes. The main example of this is Obi-Wan Kenobi's sacrifice in A New Hope, as he fades away to become more powerful than Darth Vader can imagine, despite how he really doesn't live up to that hype. In The Phantom Menace, it's Qui-Gon Jinn who fails to fade away on-screen because he's yet to finish the last chapter in his book "How to Become a Force Ghost For Dummies" and saves that for another time.
Since both are bearded Jedi, one would think that Luke Skywalker fits the trope, but I think he's safe. Instead, I'm worried about not one, but two of the most popular characters in the Star Wars franchise: Han Solo and Chewbacca.
Exhibit A is the image of Rey crying over someone's body in the trailer.
|Or maybe someone just sprayed her with a water gun. I mean, a water blaster.|
Clearly, this is someone who she is enamored with in some fashion. The four most likely candidates from the information we know so far are Finn, Poe Dameron, Han Solo and Chewbacca. Why? Well,we can see that brown is the predominant color. We all know Finn and Rey interact with each other, and Finn has been seen wearing the same brown jacket that Poe wears. We can assume it's the same jacket. Also, since BB-8 is Poe's astromech droid and we have seen BB-8 and Rey together, it's fair to assume Poe and Rey cross paths. However, those two aren't likely to be set up as the new faces of this franchise and then die, so I'm ruling them out.
We also have seen shots of Rey and Finn in the Millennium Falcon and spending time with Han Solo and Chewbacca—both of whom are no stranger to brown as that's half of what Solo's wardrobe consists of and all of Chewbacca's, obviously. That part on the right side of the photograph could be Chewie's bandolier.
Han Solo makes so much sense to me that as soon as Harrison Ford was announced to be in the film, I was speculating how he would die. Lest we not forget that he was almost killed off in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, so there's a precedent for this sort of story to be told. Han also makes sense because he'll be the mentor for Rey and Finn (as well as possibly Poe) and that position just screams sacrifice. Although I don't know how much stock to put into the rumor, I had heard rumblings that Han could be killed in a way where he has to trust Luke telling him that that's how things have to be. This could be a scenario where Luke has a vision of what's to come and passes that information along to Han, breaking the bad news that it's time for him to die in order to prevent a bigger disaster. I will be beyond shocked if we don't hear Han say "That's three you owe me, junior."
And then there's Chewbacca. It sounds like blasphemy to say it, but let's face the facts—without Han Solo, there's no reason to keep Chewbacca around. Now, perhaps Han won't die, but Chewbacca will, and Han will be paired up with Lando for Episode 8 or just interact more with Leia, Luke, or even Finn/Rey/Poe. However, with Peter Mayhew's health in concern, I can't imagine Chewbacca continuing on. There really isn't much of a reason to keep him around. Chewbacca is a textbook supporting character. He doesn't offer much to the plot and the cast in this movie is so overloaded. How can we find time to properly utilize Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca, C-3PO, R2-D2, BB-8, Poe Dameron, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma, General Hux, Supreme Leader Snoke, Maz Kanata and more? The most expendable of the bunch is Chewbacca, who has been killed off in the now non-canon Expanded Universe before, so it's not as though he's too sacred of a character to kick the bucket.
I would not be surprised to see Chewbacca honor his life debt to Han Solo by sacrificing himself around the 3/4 mark and for Han to be killed at the very end, or carry the guilt of Chewbacca's death into Episode 8. Killing Chewbacca would be like killing a dog. There's no way the audience won't feel a pit in their stomach seeing him breathe his last breath. He's too loyal of a hero to not evoke the feels when he passes the ultimate test of loyalty.
Those are my theories, but where do you stand? Who do you think will end up being killed off in The Force Awakens? Do you agree or disagree with my list, and if so, why?
Tell us your predictions in the comments below!