Thanks to Disney, a major character has been brought back to life.
As with any huge pop culture property, expanded universes are to be expected. A series such as Star Wars doesn’t just comprise the nine theatrical features released thus far, but also books, comics, video games, and television series that make up its own webbed multimedia experience now known as “Star Wars Legends.” However, something about the Star Wars expanded universe gave Lucasfilm pause when crafting the new sequel trilogy starting with The Force Awakens.
Imagine any kind of reintroduction to the Millennium Falcon without Han Solo and Chewbacca. That would undoubtedly have been strange for anyone not well-versed with other material besides the immovable canon of the films. But a Falcon without Chewie was exactly what the studio had to deal with thanks to “Legends.” Speaking on SyFy’s Fandom Files podcast, Star Wars canon archivist Leland Chee revealed that Chewie’s death in the expanded universe was problematic for the sequels. Not only for the fact that Chewie died, but because the way he died was ludicrous, to say the least. Via io9:
“For me it came down to simply that we had killed Chewbacca in the ‘Legends’ — a big moon had fallen on him. Part of that [original decision] was Chewbacca, because he can’t speak and just speaks in growls, he was a challenging character to write for in novels. Publishing had decided they needed to kill somebody, and it was Chewbacca.
“But if you have the opportunity to bring back Chewbacca into a live action film, you’re not gonna deprive fans that. There’s no way that I’d want to do an ‘Episode VII’ that didn’t have Chewbacca in it and have to explain that Chewbacca had a moon fall on his head. And if we were going to overturn a monumental decision like that, everything else was really just minor in comparison.”
It would have been sad to reveal that Chewie sacrificed himself only to have Han killed in The Force Awakens as well. But it could have been more than a little ridiculous to explain it to Rey onscreen too. For the huge debacle that The Last Jedi has caused over the past couple of months — a huge debate rages amongst fans for “ruining” iconic characters and essentially throwing a wrench into established canon as we know it — at least it wasn’t death by moon.