Chewbacca in The Force Awakens

Been a while since my last post, but since then I’ve read some awesome stuff and seen Star Wars Episode 8. This post contains spoilers, but if you’ve arrived here chances are you have seen the movie or are actively seeking spoilers (even if you say you aren’t).

My own feelings are that 1) the movie was fun, 2) I’ll probably see it in theaters again, 3) I’m looking forward to the next installment, and 4) if I think too hard on it the plot falls apart. But I’m okay with that (see reason #1).

I guess you could call this post a counter point to some of the reviews that are out there. Many of the reviews are positive, but some very detailed ones are extremely critical.

 

One the common criticisms is Chewbacca’s behavior in the movie, which I am here to defend. Specifically the complaint is that that Chewbacca would never have let Han into that situation.

Let’s level set here. Chewbacca is a fictional character. I’m not defending the actions or inactions of a fictional character. If I were, then Chewbacca shouldn’t have let him onto a narrow bridge over a bottomless cavern not because there was an emotionally stunted force wielder on the bridge. But because there were no hand railings on the bridge! So ridiculously easy to fall off.

Again, I’m not defending behavior; I’m defending the writing. Better yet: I’m answering the question if the previous body of work supported the characters actions.

For starters, it has been some 30 years in Star Wars time since audiences have last seen the character. It’s fair to allow some latitude in his behavior. In real time, it’s been a lot less than 30 years because Chewbacca makes an appearance as a General (I think) in Episode 3. A General. Not a rank giving to a youngling. So basically, Chewbacca’s old. Really old. I read a blog that estimated he was over 200 years old. That part of the writing I’m not happy with, but I’ll deal with it.

Even with a geriatric Chewbacca factored in, was his character inconsistent from previous installments? Was there a time in the previous movies where he allowed Han to go to his certain doom without a fight? You betcha. In Empire Strikes back, Han ventures off by himself on a ton ton in search of a missing Luke Skywalker with minimal chances of survival. I know at least one person reading this will know the odds C3PO translates from R2D2.

Chewey’s character doesn’t shield Han from making high risk decisions. He helps Han deal with some of the consequences of those decisions. Chewey’s storm trooper tossing freak out in Cloud City was that Han was truly and completely defenseless.

The other thing we need to know about Episode 7, is whether Chewbacca knew that Han wasn’t coming back? I raise this question because Han’s character was acting as if he knew he was not coming back from Star Killer base. What actions am I speaking of?

I can think of 2 from memory of the a 6am showing several days ago:

  1. Abandoning his winter coat. Chewbacca is the one who gives it back to him and Han isn’t pleased about it. At the time, I thought it was a joke. Chewbacca acting as the parent and saying it’s cold outside, and Han rolling his eyes as if he were a child caught… going outside without a jacket. But Han hates the cold. Remember his obnoxiously huge winter coat in Empire, and his disdain for the planet Hoth in general? On reflection, Han was busted. Not because he had forgotten his coat, but because Chewbacca knew he wasn’t planning on coming back.
  2. Handing all the charges over to Chewbacca. As someone I know mentioned, “There was only one reason to do that.” (Granted the discussion we were having was centered on when we… audience members… knew that Han was going to be killed.)

At least to me this seems like enough evidence that Chewbacca knew what was up. And that Han had made a decision.

After Han’s murder at the hands of Kylo Wren, I think it was Chewbacca who fired the shot that injured Kylo Wren. That part of the scene I take issue with because Wren had force stopped a blast early on in the movie and now allowed himself to be hit. One person commented to me that this is believable because of the emotional turmoil going through Kylo Wren. And in that case, I will give equal measure to Chewbacca’s emotional turmoil influencing his aim. Also… Wookie’s like 200 years old and doesn’t wear glasses. I really shouldn’t nitpick about his aim.

Drawing my meandering thoughts to a close. The details of the writing is consistent and supports Chewbacca’s actions. But perhaps it would have been easier for the audience to be more in the moment if Chewbacca had been more emotional at some point.

What do you think of Chewbacca’s character in The Force Awakens? Let me know in the comments.

 

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