What Happens to Princess Leia?

What’s Next for Our Star Wars Princess

What happens to Princess Leia in the next Star Wars movies? What should happen with Princess Leia?

There’s no doubt that old-guard Star Wars heroes are dying like irradiated flies. So far, one hero per movie. And no matter what you think of the new trilogy, the question remains for our beloved franchise: what happens to Princess Leia now that Carrie Fisher has unfortunately passed from this world to one far, far away?

Here are some options, and some thoughts.

Princess Leia Becomes CG

I’m fairly certain there isn’t enough footage for Leia’s future to be stitched together out of odds and ends. So the CG option rears its ugly head, and if you remember the uncanny valley moments with Grand Moff Tarkin in Force Awakens, you know how ugly that head is.

However, Disney fortunately shot this down in April 2017, announcing that they will not digitally recreate Fisher. They also said that Fisher won’t be in Episode IX, which is… interesting. But it doesn’t solve the problem of what happens to the character.

Princess Leia Becomes a Force Ghost

This is the lazy solution: cobble together enough old footage to kill Leia and then have her reappear as a benevolently-smiling but silent Force ghost, standing beside all the others. (I wonder what all the Force ghosts do when they’re not summoned for some feel-good postlude. Force bowling? Force Scrabble?)

However, with Disney saying that Fisher isn’t going to be in Episode IX, this is also seemingly off the table.

Leia Goes Offstage

Not Off-Broadway, but simply gets called away and isn’t involved in the flow of Episode IX at all. I doubt anyone is considering this kind of farewell.

The Princess Leia Time Jump

Popsugar posits that Leia will be written out in exposition via a leap forward in time between Episode VIII and IX. I’m thinking Ep IX would open on a memorial service to remember her great sacrifice of five years ago, and all the new heroes would weep over how noble and impactful her last deed was.

Honestly, I think this is a bad idea. In my opinion, one of the main reasons Last Jedi did worse than Force Awakens at the box office was fan revolt at the way the new movies have been killing off favorite characters (although I believe Jedi was a stronger film). Killing Leia offscreen, no matter how reverently, doesn’t feel right. The early returns on Solo make it clear that the Star Wars magic does have its limits. Mistreating Leia could damage the franchise further.

Princess Leia Becomes an Audio Presence

With Fisher unavailable, what if Princess Leia’s called to a far-flung star system to fight another great conflict for the Force? There are plenty of voice talents capable of capturing Fisher’s wry, gravelly audio presence, and plenty of side quests (and for that matter, meta-quests) she could pursue for years and years. This is a bit of an old-school lo-fi solution, but an elegant one.

Princess Leia Ascends Into a New Lifeform

Unfortunately, with the trilogy format, I don’t think they can postpone the Leia problem in Episode IX. So something must be done.

Here’s a suggestion: give Leia her moment of ultimate sacrifice, maybe something where she willingly steps into a trap or threat to save another hero or heroes. (This could be done via a long shot and a lookalike.) In my example, the threat is a chamber encrusted with eggs, each containing a horrible biological threat. After the explosion (there’s always an explosion), the good guys find a large, oddly-shaped globe in the room. After some discussion, they take it to their base and scan it to find that it contains a child.

At that moment, the globe dissolves, revealing a mysterious girl. And Princess Leia is reborn, keeping our ties to the original trilogy alive, and giving Carrie Fisher a positive, life-affirming farewell to the Star Wars universe.

But again… Disney has said that Fisher won’t be in Ep IX.

Don’t Kill Leia at All

My last modest proposal is to find another way. It’s rather short-sighted to assume that all character arcs end in death. Wouldn’t it be seemly to send Leia off to new journeys and new arcs?

Although it’s ostensibly scifi, the Star Wars universe has always been one steeped in magic and myth, about an adventure as connected to the spirit as it is to the physical realm. The Leia of The Last Jedi is certainly older and frailer, but she clearly demonstrates that she is no ordinary being, and perhaps her last farewell to the movies should do the same.

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