#2 – Make Poe Meaningful
This is a tricky one, because A) the direction “make something meaningful” is vaporous and often hard to achieve, and B) Poe is probably the 5th most important character in this movie (in order, Rey, Finn, Kylo Ren, Han Solo, Poe), so by definition his screen time is going to be limited. That does make it a little weird structurally that he’s the first character we’re introduced to, but that’s not a dealbreaker. The original Star Wars spent much of its opening following C-3PO and R2-D2, while also introducing Darth Vader and Princess Leia. The Force Awakens does something similar, giving us Poe as a means by which to meet Kylo Ren and Finn.
But in the original Star Wars, C-3Po and R2-D2 stay involved in the action of the rest of the movie, even if they stop being the focal characters. In The Force Awakens, Poe’s arc is really weird. We’re introduced to him as a dynamic, active character. He holds his own against stormtroopers, talks back to Kylo Ren, generally seems to be a really important figure. And then he and Finn crash in their escape attempt and Poe disappears. The early part of the movie conditioned us to believe that Poe’s attempts to recover BB-8 would be of prime importance, and while the audience knows BB-8 is headed in the right direction, there’s no real way Poe does. So when he shows up at the battle over Maz Kanata’s castle, it feels a little out of place. It reminds us that there was a whole other story we didn’t see about Poe surviving the crash, trying to find BB-8, and then escaping off-world to rejoin the Resistance in time to hear BB-8 was spotted at Maz Kanata’s.
So how do you make Poe a more constant presence without pulling too much focus from Finn and (especially) Rey? The easiest way might be just put him in Han Solo’s role, but then you run into problems late in the movie if you want to maintain the awesome father/son showdown, which will probably be really important to Kylo Ren’s development through the trilogy. But what if instead of the pirate attack on Han’s ship (which we already ditched) the thing that causes Han and the others to escape on the Falcon is that a Star Destroyer appears and tries to pick them up. It has a tractor beam on Han’s freighter, but by jumping to lightspeed, they’re able to escape in the Falcon.
Little do they know – but we’ll learn it – this Star Destroyer is a captured ship used by the Resistance, outfitted with fake or stolen First Order call signs and codes so it can stealthily get around First Order space. We’ll learn that Poe called for an extraction on Jakku after hearing of Rey and Finn’s escape, but they didn’t know the freighter belonged to Han. This could also account for the Resistance showing up at Maz’s castle later, as they’d have traced the Falcon‘s route and fortuitously arrived just after the First Order attack.