The entertainment world lost another legendary icon this week, as beloved actress and writer Carrie Fisher sadly passed away on December 27th at the age of 60. While Fisher had a long, career in film, both as an actress and as one of Hollywood’s most sought after script doctors — some of her credits include Hook (1991), Lethal Weapon 3 (1992), and The Wedding Singer (1998) — she will always be best remembered for playing Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars saga.
Fisher got the chance to reprise the role that made her a cultural icon in 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and had finished filming all of her scenes for Episode VIII earlier this year, meaning that fans will get the chance to see Leia one last time on the big screen when the film makes its way to theaters next December. However, Fisher’s sudden death has understandably raised questions about the future of the franchise, particularly when it comes to the fate of her character.
Although we still don’t know much about the plot of Episode VIII (and especially IX)at this early stage, it was expected that both Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher would return for Episode IX, with the film director’s Colin Trevorrow even stating in an interview earlier this year that he wanted Leia to have a bigger role in his film. Whether or not that was still the plan after filming for Episode VIII wrapped is unknown, but what is known is that Fisher’s death will surely have a major impact on the next two Star Wars saga films. While I have no idea what Disney will do going forward, here are a few ways they may go about continuing Star Wars without Fisher.
Leia Will Be Recast
Although I included this option on the list, there is absolutely no way Disney is going to recast the role of Princess Leia. The studio wouldn’t even recast the role of Grand Moff Tarkin in Rogue One — and all respect to the late, great Peter Cushing, but Princess Leia is a far more important and popular character — so if Disney wasn’t willing to give another actor the role of Tarkin, they’re certainly not going to replace Carrie Fisher. Still, recasting the role is technically still a viable option, so it’s one worth mentioning even if it’s never going to happen.
Leia Will Die At The End Of Episode VIII
There is a very real possibility that Leia was always going to die at the end of Episode VIII, even if it’s doubtful. That being said, if the plan all along was to end Leia’s story with Episode VIII, it would mean Disney would not have to alter their plans at all and could give Fisher the sendoff they were already planning on doing anyway. The other, more likely possibility is that Episode VIII reshoots will take place next year that alter the film’s ending to address Fisher’s death. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Leia will die, as it is certainly possible to have her ‘depart’ from the franchise without actually having her psychically perish, but it would make things much easier in Episode IX if the question of Leia’s whereabouts wasn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Leia Will Be Written Out Of Episode IX
With Leia allegedly having a larger role in Episode IX, it’s possible that her role could be given to another character instead. This would be the obvious route to take if Disney prefers not to kill off her character, as Leia’s role could go forward as intended in Episode VIII and would also allow the studio to not feature her onscreen at all in Episode IX.
The main problem with this scenario is that Fisher had not filmed any scenes for Episode IX prior to her death, so it would feel a bit weird to just suddenly not have her character around and have a different character performing her duties. Plus, while having Leia killed offscreen would offer an easy solution, it would be a terrible fate for such an important and beloved character. If Leia makes it through Episode VIII, you can bet that she will have some sort of role in Episode IX, which means we may see one of Rogue One’s more controversial decisions rear its ugly head again …
Leia’s Role Will Be Finished Using CGI
We saw a rather unconvincing younger version of Carrie Fisher’s Leia at the very end of Rogue One thanks to the magic of CGI, which suggests there is a strong possibility that Disney will employ this technology to help close out Leia’s story. This is certainly not an ideal scenario, as both CGI Leia and Tarkin looked somewhat ridiculous in their brief appearances in Rogue One, but if used sparingly, this method could do the trick.
This technology is getting better all the time, so there is a chance that by the time Episode IX comes out, Disney will be able to produce a much more realistic version of Carrie Fisher than they were able to in Rogue One. Either way, Leia’s role in Episode IX will have to be scaled back considerably, as this tech is both time-consuming and very expensive, but if a combination of CGI and stand-ins are used, there’s no reason Leia can’t be given a proper sendoff. Of course, it will be up to Disney and Fisher’s family to determine whether or not this is the right choice.
Kylo Ren’s Fate Will Change
Obviously, the fate of every Star Wars character is going to change if Leia Organa is no longer around, but I thought it best to highlight the two characters who will be most impacted by her death, starting with her son. Assuming that Kylo Ren’s character arc includes some or all of Luke, Rey, and Leia trying to bring him back to the Light side, it’s safe to say that no longer having Leia around will make doing so much more difficult.
Although we have yet to see Kylo and Leia share any screen time, I’d assume that being both his mother and strong in the Force would give her the best chance of turning Kylo Ren back into Ben Solo. Unless this scenario plays out at some point in Episode VIII, it’s fair to say that it will be much more difficult to turn Kylo Ren without his mother around in Episode IX.
Luke’s Fate Will Change
It must be stressed that pretty much everything I’m writing here is pure speculation, as we know next to nothing about the plot of either Episode VIII or IX. That being said, there is a possibility that Luke Skywalker will be killed off in Episode VIII, purely based on what we’ve heard of this film being ‘darker’ than The Force Awakens and also because it would make thematic sense for Rey’s new teacher to die. However, with Carrie Fisher no longer around to film Episode IX, there’s a good chance that Luke’s role could be changed dramatically. In other words, if the plan was to kill him off at the end of Episode VIII, that plan may very well have changed.
With Harrison Ford’s Han Solo gone and Carrie Fisher no longer with us, Mark Hamill is now the only remaining member of the saga’s three original leads, and it just wouldn’t feel right to not have any of them around in Episode IX. Luke may even have a bigger role to play in Episode IX now and could very well fill Leia’s shoes in a sense, returning to help lead the Resistance in the wake of his sister’s death (assuming, of course, that Leia is killed off).