How the Walkway Scene in Star Wars: The Force Awakens could have been better (even if you love the movie)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens Spoilers Discussion Ahead!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is breaking all kinds of records at the box office. It’s not just die-hard Star Wars fans who are giddy about Episode VII, critics love the movie too. The critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes is currently above 90% and The Force Awakens received a Best Picture nomination from the Critics Choice Awards.

This is all not to say that The Force Awakens is immune to criticism. It’s possible to be a fan of a film and at the same time be critical of parts of the movie which aren’t working as well as it could have.

Some believe that there are way too many similarities between The Force Awakens and A New Hope. On the other hand, some appreciate how Episode VII mirrored the original and reenergized the Star Wars universe for a new generation. While others draw the line at the Starkiller base being an unneeded retread of the Death Star.

Personally, The Force Awakens is deserving of a lot of praises yet there is one scene in particular, among a few, that took me out of the movie watching experience. This is the scene towards the end of the movie where Kylo Ren confronts a certain rebel on an open bridge. (Spoilers ahead, final warning)

Perhaps you were in a theater where the audience gasped in shock or quietly sobbed after Kylo Ren drove his light saber through Han Solo. Or maybe there was a collective silence where if you could read the thought bubble above each movie-goer it would say “Did they really just kill off Han Solo?” or “I saw that coming from a mile away.”

kylo ren verus Finn and Rey

Whatever is your personal reaction to that scene, whether positive, negative, or neutral it’s completely valid. It’s your reaction. Nobody needs to convince you how you should feel about it. If you loved it, that’s great. For myself, maybe I’m growing colder but I wished that moment emotionally resonated with me. I wished it was a gut punch where I’m completely absorbed in that cinematic moment. A scene where I could say, wow they really nailed it.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Han Solo’s death was handled didn’t ruin the film for me. It wasn’t a bad scene and it didn’t take away from all the other aspects that director J.J. Abrams got right. But I can’t help to think how the open bridge scene could have played out better. Here’s one possible version which with a few minor tweaks on the original screenplay would have worked better for me. 

Let me preface this by saying that the intent of my alternative version of the scene is not to change the ending. The fate of all the characters remain unchanged. This is still character driven storytelling which is one reason why fans of the original trilogy connected with the Star Wars universe as a whole.

HanSoloTrailer

The ultimate goal is to give Han Solo a stronger farewell as a beloved fan favorite character and to raise the emotional stakes. As for concerns that Han Solo’s demise is telegraphed, that’s not a huge concern for me as long as there is a well written build up which should make for a stronger pay off. Further, it could help flesh out Kylo Ren’s character and his arc within the movie.

One point about Han Solo and Kylo Ren’s confrontation is that this is the first and only time we’ve seen them together through-out the entire movie. We didn’t get a chance to see their dynamics as characters, as father and son or what really happened between them before this pivotal scene.

You can make a case that the scene between Ben Kenobi and Darth Vader in A New Hope worked perfectly fine without knowing their history or relationship at the time. As much as the writers may want to mirror Obi-Wan and Han’s death, there are differences at play and ultimately the question which should be asked is what works best for this movie, for Han Solo and for Kylo Ren?

So to set up the walkway scene, Han Solo would have an earlier confrontation with Kylo Ren during the Battle at Takodana (home of Maz’s castle). Han tries to reach out to Kylo Ren and to secure Rey’s release. This brief dialogue scene would be designed to make us more invested and learn about their relationship, essentially setting up a bigger pay off for the walkway scene.

An altercation erupts where Ren quickly gets the upper hand on Han but Ren is not ready yet to kill his dad. This struggle to resist the light and embrace the dark side would also relate later in the scene when Ren talks to his grandfather’s helmet and commits to the darkness. “Show me again, the power of the darkness, and I will let nothing stand in our way“.

vanity-fair-star-wars-01

Jumping ahead to the actual walkway confrontation this could play out almost exactly as depicted. Except add a moment where Kylo Ren force reads Han Solo’s memories before falling to his knees. Han’s life long memories flashes before his eyes but from Kylo’s perspective.  This would be a nice way to honor Han and briefly relive favorite moments in a heart breaking way. 

We could also get a flash memory of the original core three (Leia, Luke and Han) together since it might not ever happen again. One of the final memories would be Han and Leia holding their baby boy with love and as proud parents. This overwhelming love would feel tumultuous for Kylo Ren as he fights to resist the light. The dialogue would be the same, he whispers “thank you” to his dad and knows what needs to be done. 

Here’s director J.J. Abrams thoughts on why Kylo Ren had to kill Han Solo:

Star Wars had the greatest villain in cinema history. So, how you bring a new villain into that world is a very tricky thing. We knew we needed to do something fucking bold. The only reason why Kylo Ren has any hope of being a worthy successor is because we lose one of the most beloved characters.”

The fact that many of us are actively thinking about this movie long after watching it is a good sign that The Force Awakens is doing many things right. Whether we may agree or disagree on certain issues is not really the point. The Star Wars universe is stimulating the imagination of many old and new fans alike. These are exciting times.

What was your reaction to Han Solo’s death?  Is Kylo Ren a worthy Star Wars villain? What would you have changed about The Force Awakens?

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on January 7, 2016, in Movies, Review and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. I completely agree. In talking with my friends about it, I’ve said that the reason that scene was so big was because it was Han Solo, one of the franchises most beloved characters, who died. I would have liked to have seen their relationship built more, focusing less on the reveal of Kylo Ren being Han’s son and more of their relationship. That would have given his death at Ren’s hands much more weight. Maybe even saving his death until Episode VIII. Your idea is a great way to add some more weight without significantly changing the film. Ren is beginning to look like he could possibly be one of Star Wars’ most complex characters.

    • I love hearing and reading a lot of different reactions to that big scene. And your right, it was big because the franchise lost one of it’s most endearing, popular characters. I think you hit upon the key missing ingredient which is to have seen more of their relationship and focus less on the reveal. There was a lot going on and lots to process in that one scene. Yeah, I think there are many solid alternatives to give the death more weight. I would love to know more about Kylo Ren, he has me very intrigued. Thanks for commenting!

      • I hope his past will be a big part of the story. Now that Luke has been found I feel like he is going to explain it to us, especially since Ren was the reason he went into isolation.

  2. I thought this scene was really well handled in the film, especially as it was such a major character, but it would have been nice to have had their relationship covered more. I like your idea as well. Overall I thought Episode VII was great, sure there were some things that were similar to a New Hope, but I actually thought it was more a homage to the original trilogy as a whole. Awesome movie!

    • Hey Paul, glad to hear you thought the scene was handled well. A lot of people did as well. Covering more of the relationship between Han and Kylo would have been great too. The movie as a whole is incredibly well received. Overall, I liked the homage and recapturing that old magic, at the same injecting new likable characters to take us on the next saga. 😀

      • Star Wars VII The Force Awakes was so good, I was really pleased with it, and was so happy to see it do so well at the box office. JJ did an amazing job with this film, with nice nods to the past, awesome action, adventure, and it set everything up for the new trilogy – brilliant!

        • I hope to see it again in the theatres, add even more to the box office success. 😉 I like that the Star Wars franchise is in a great place now and this movie set up the sequels very well. Should be lots of exciting things to come, including the spin-offs.

          • I think Episode VII has completely revitalised the franchise now, the way it set things up for the rest of the trilogy was inspired, and I’m sure the sequels will do just as well. Going to be a fun time for Star Wars, especially with the spin-offs on the way too, can’t wait!

            • I know of people/kids who haven’t watched any Star Wars movie before, so this would be an exiting one to watch and get into the universe. I would still recommend watching Episode IV first if possible, I think it still looks great for it’s age. The spin offs is another great way to fill in the missing gaps and expand the universe. Should be fun!

  3. Great points man. Your point about the death of Han Solo and the relationship between him and Kylo Ren was the same point that John Campea brought up on Collider Movie Talk. The first time I first watched the film I never thought about it, that being said it would have been great if when Kylo took Rey away that Han and had a talk/confrontation prior to the scene on Starkiller base. I do like your ideas for the stuff that happened prior to the death scene. But at the end of the day my repeat viewing experiences have not been ruined.

    • I think there’s a certain segment of viewers who thought there was something about that walkway scene that could have had more dramatic/emotional weight. Maybe after letting the movie sink in, it’s easier to try to put our finger on exactly what was missing. Of course, those that have a hard time coming to terms with the death, it would be a bitter pill to swallow. But like you, it didn’t ruin my experience. I guess since Kylo and Han were in the same area when Rey got captured it could have been a cool moment to see them interact and set up their pivotal scene later on. I haven’t had repeat views yet but maybe I will. 😀

  4. For me, there was no dramatic intensity about this pivotal scene: a). I knew it was coming (it was originally planned for RotJ); and b). a flashback featuring Han and infant Ben wld have generated some much-needed emotional impact when w get to th walkway scene.
    TFA was great spectacle, but annoying in that it left me w more questions than answers.
    U might like to see this:
    https://bradscribe.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/rey-of-light-whos-that-girl/
    Cheers!

    • I hear you about knowing it was coming. I was thinking … Han get off that walkway, this isn’t going to end well for you! I agree, there was a lack of dramatic intensity considering he’s a central and beloved character.

      Cool, I’ll check out your post! Thanks for commenting man!

  5. Good post! I thought the walkway scene was done well in the movie, but I like your ideas too and it would have been really cool if they had worked those into the movie. I’ve read a lot of the Expanded Universe novels, and in those books Han and Leia have a son who goes to the dark side. I thought this was a really interesting plot twist and I’m glad they kept it in the movies. In Episode VIII I really hope we get some flashbacks with Han, Leia and Kylo together, and I’m REALLY curious to know how Rey fits into the whole Skywalker lineage, or if she’s someone else entirely. I like Kylo Ren as a villain; I like that they’re showing the rise of both a villian (Kylo) and a hero (Rey). I think we’re going to see some pretty tense and epic confrontations between these two in future films.

    • Thanks a lot! Great to hear the walkway scene worked for you. I know you’re a huge Star Wars fanI It’s fun to imagine how things would have played out if there were a few minor changes to the script. A flashback with Han, Leia and Kylo would be great. One to see Han again and secondly to answer a lot of questions. I’m really liking Rey and Kylo, I think this movie was about setting them on the path towards being the hero and villain. At first I hoped to get more answers about Rey in this movie, but I like how they are saving stuff to be explored/explained in the next one.

  6. Great analysis, I completely agree. An extra scene between the two would have improved things.

  7. Thanks Brik, the way I see it there was definitely room for improvement, another scene could have helped.

  8. I definitely teared up when Han died. Even though I saw it coming it was still heart wrenching. I like your idea of getting more of a back story of Han/Ren dynamic. Coming from Disney though, I don’t think they are too invested in substantial background. At least in these types of movies. I jokingly said to my husband that Han got killed off because Harrison is getting old and he keeps getting in plane crashes and they didn’t know how much longer Harrison would be around. Not a nice thought…

    Throughly enjoyed episode VII even though it did take the same path as A New Hope. Just hope the next one has a story different than Empire. Kylo Ren isn’t as strong of a character as Vader was at this point but I liked how he was resisting the good side of the force rather than the dark side. Just refreshing that this round of SW is so much better so far than those prequels.

    • Awww, love hearing that you got emotional. My theatre was mostly silent. Harrison is definitely getting up there in age, I heard he broke his leg while filming this movie. Ouch. Before going into this movie I thought the original 3 (Leia, Han and Luke) would be safe for the new trilogy, but as soon as the walkway scene started I knew that Han wasn’t going to make it, even when Kylo looked like he gave into the light for a moment.

      It’s hard to compete with Vader as a villain, he’s iconic. I also like how Kylo Ren is resisting the light side, as opposed to the dark. It was interesting to see him punch his own wounds during the fight to give himself more strength/force. I think what would have helped his development is fleshing out his relationship with Han/parents. I guess the next episode will go into more specifics as to what happened in the past. Just glad that new SW is back in the conversation, totally better than those prequels for sure. 🙂

  9. Very interesting Eddie! I think your suggestion would work, the way the scene was set up in the movie as it is wasn’t emotional at all for me. Plus it was devoid of suspense as I knew he’d be killed off straight away. As to your question about Kylo Ren, well I don’t think he’s a strong villain at all. I actually think he’s hilarious w/ his temper tantrums, and the fact that he wears a helmet just to *channel* his grandpa is just lame.

    • Hello Ruth! Same here, I wasn’t affected by that scene and knew he was a goner. I lot of people thought Kylo Ren’s temper tantrums were too much haha. I want to think of him as a villain in the making. I am intrigued by him and I do like the actor Adam Driver. Maybe in the next movie they’ll flesh out his development plus gives us more of his back story. Yeah, he certainly has daddy and grand daddy issues lol.

  10. Great and interesting post. I think it is notable that I don’t even remember Han Solo dying, though I did see it a while ago.

    Re- Kylo Ren, I was really underwhelmed, not just as a SW villain but for any villain. He looks like he is wearing a comic book hero mask painted black. It almost looks like something The Wolfpack could have come up with. As soon as he stepped on screen I sighed. And then halfway through he takes the mask off anyway! I seem to be by myself on this one though 😉

    How would I change it? That’s too much to write here hehe 😛

    Nice blog btw 🙂

    • That says a lot when a major character’s death is forgettable for you.;) That scene didn’t really do anything for me either, I was unaffected by it.

      I guess Kylo turned out to be more divisive that I thought. 😀 I think I see where your coming from. I didn’t mind him but admit he isn’t a full fledged villain yet.

      Haha, maybe someday we’ll get to read about your version of Force awakens. Thanks man!

  11. Great film! Two thumbs up! It lived up to the hype!

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