We know we’ll see Luke and Leia in The Force Awakens, but where have they been for the past 30 years?
One of the reasons the trailers for The Force Awakens have been so well-received is because of how great it is to see so many beloved characters return to the big screen after three decades away, especially after George Lucas vowed for years that he was abandoning any plans he once had for a Star Wars sequel trilogy.
But it’s also surprising to see the directions some beloved characters like Han Solo and Leia Organa have taken. Whereas books that are no longer considered canon dove into a somewhat happy ending for our heroes where a New Republic is established and the major characters in the original trilogy go on to raise Jedi children, it looks like The Force Awakens will present a galaxy where the remnants of the Empire are still a force to be reckoned with decades after the Battle of Endor, and where there weren’t really any happy endings for most characters
Based on the trailers and canon information released so far, here’s what it looks like some major Star Wars characters have been up to since Return of the Jedi.
Han Solo and Chewbacca
It looks like Han and Chewie are stepping into the Millennium Falcon for the first time in quite a while in the first trailer when Han declares, “Chewie, we’re home.” That’s led to speculation that Han lost possession of the legendary ship at some point after Return of the Jedi. In the second trailer he tells Rey “It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi, they’re real,” which seems to indicate that the adventures he, Luke, and Leia had in the original trilogy are now the thing of myth.
That, and the fact Han’s choice of clothing hasn’t substantially changed, likely means he’s spent the past few decades doing what he does best: Smuggling and being a scoundrel. There actually hasn’t been any canon material released suggesting what he’s been up to beyond a few hints and whispers. That also means it’s possible things didn’t work out for him and Leia, but if some rumors are to be believed, their former relationship could still have a major impact on the sequel trilogy. Warning: Possible major spoilers.
The Droids: R2-D2 and C-3PO
C-3PO has shown up only in the background of any of the Force Awakens trailers and TV spots, but a Star Wars-heavy Duracell commercial shows him now sporting a red left arm. Of course, we know just how clumsy the droid is – that could be the result of anything from an injury caused by an errant blaster to breaking it when he fell down. Maybe R2-D2 just got tired of his whining one day and ripped it off. The bigger implication, though, may just be in how low the Resistance’s resources have dwindled, such that they’re salvaging a new arm from a similar droid rather than re-completing 3PO’s matching golden set.
Meanwhile R2-D2 is still old self, and has apparently been hanging out with Luke Skywalker for quite some time. Luke can be seen placing his cybernetic hand on the droid in the second Force Awakens trailer.
Sadly, Lando won’t be showing up in The Force Awakens, but J.J. Abrams says Lando’s story isn’t over yet. Given that the sequel trilogy is in many ways trying to mimic the structure of the original films, it would make sense to bring Lando back in Episode VIII since his first appearance was in The Empire Strikes Back, the second chapter of that trilogy. Lando seemed to be quite at home on Cloud City, so it’s plausible he’d have returned there after the Battle of Endor. Of course, that was after several years on the run with the Rebel Alliance, so maybe not. But in either case, Cloud City and Bespin (the planet it hovers above) will be key figures, if only background ones, in The Force Awakens. Somebody had to have recovered Luke’s lightsaber he lost there.
There was also a rumor making the rounds a few weeks ago that Finn is Lando’s son, but it seems like that’s been debunked.
Leia Organa is shown reuniting with Han in the second Force Awakens trailer, possibly for the first time in many years, and according to director J.J. Abrams, she’s now known as “General,” not “Princess.” That infers that while Luke has gone into hiding and Han is back to his old tricks smuggling, Leia has stuck to her guns, attempting to eradicate the last vestiges of the Empire.
While there have been comparatively few rumors about Leia ahead of The Force Awakens premiere, at least compared to Han and Luke, her new title raises several questions. How many battles has she overseen? Did she take more of a role in combat after Return of the Jedi? And has she learned to use the Force at all? How much of the Empire is left? It would be extremely interesting to see some of these issues explored in a Star Wars spin-off movie, or some other canon media like novels or comic books.
One of the stronger rumors on the internet right now is that Kylo Ren is Luke Skywalker in disguise. This is almost assuredly false as Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, has been photographed without his mask and apparently in character. It’s much more likely that because Luke hasn’t been seen in almost three decades, the heroes of the new film, Rey, Finn, Han, and Leia, aren’t sure whether or not he’s turned to the Dark Side. Perhaps that’s why Luke went into exile after Return of the Jedi. After seeing how the Dark Side corrupted Darth Vader, he was so worried about what the Force could do to him or others if he trained them, that for the safety of the galaxy he felt it was best if he went into hiding like Yoda and Obi-Wan before him, and it’s only the “awakening” of the Force that brings him back into the fray.