CS Soapbox: The emotional toll C-3PO’s death could create
Well the time has finally arrived for the third and final trailer of the highly-anticipated concluding installment in the Saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and while fans are buzzing about the epic final battle and conclusion to Rey and Kylo Ren’s journeys of discovery, there’s one bit that kicked every viewer in the emotional crotch: Foreshadowing the death of C-3PO.
We may have followed someone in the Skywalker lineage through all three trilogies across over 40 years of cinematic history, but when the franchise first began in 1977’s inaugural entry A New Hope, we were witnessing the story through the eyes of C-3PO, a protocol droid who is tasked with taking the message from Princess Leia to Obi Wan Kenobi. Audiences weren’t actually introduced to the young Luke Skywalker until over 20 minutes into the film when he purchases the droid from Jawa traders, which would be the first step in his journey into becoming the most legendary Jedi of all time.
As the series continued on and all of the characters evolved, C-3PO remained one of the most integral pieces to the puzzle. While it always seemed as though Threepio was the nearest droid working for her that the Princess could grab, we learned in 1999’s Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace that his roots go back even further as a young Anakin Skywalker salvaged and built the droid from spare parts.
Through his course of working alongside young Anakin and witnessing his transformation and downfall to the Dark Side, audiences have grown a deeper and more emotional connection to the character outside of his comedic roots. Looking at the bigger picture we know the larger role and importance he has to the Skywalker lineage and we can get a sense of the pain he may or may not be feeling. Given that he’s a robot, it’s hard to determine whether he has emotions, but we do know he has frequent opinions and voices them often, so it seems safe to say he can experience something that resembles emotionality.
Going into The Force Awakens, fans were obviously curious about where the story would go for those set to return and those being introduced, but it was hard to figure out just how C-3PO’s story would pick back up going into the Sequel Trilogy. His story might not have been as emotionally resonant as Rey and Kylo Ren’s over the two films thus far, he still has proven to be more than comic relief as some of the most emotionally rewarding moments thus far have been granted to him, be it his reunion with a reactivated R2-D2 or the wink Luke gave to him before heading out for his climactic battle with Ren in The Last Jedi. And let’s not forget to speculate how he got his red arm!
The latest and final trailer for The Rise of Skywalker teased an epic conclusion to every story element, but it’s teasing the death of C-3PO is one of the more pertinent and heartbreaking threads hinted at in the forthcoming film. He’s been one of the more integral cores to the story and, along with his counterpart R2-D2, the only primary character threaded through the entire Saga. Now it appears his time may be coming to an end, with recent marketing showing images of his eyes becoming red at some point, while last night’s footage showed the new alien character Babu Frik working on the droid as he states he is “taking one last look at my friends.”
Now if that doesn’t make a chill go down your spine or send a tear – or 100 – to your eye, then you might want to stop calling yourself a Star Wars fan, as the loss of the protocol droid would not just mark the end of the Skywalker Saga, but the end of an era. It all began with him 42 years ago as he journeyed across the galaxy far, far away to help bring peace to a divided universe, and it would be a significant decision to let it end with him in two months.
He was the true grounding element to the series as fans saw a lot of the more outrageous and fantastical story through his logical eyes, pointing out all of the concerns and questions we as an audience had while also remaining just as optimistic that the protagonists can beat the odds and pull it all off. Given the marketing for the The Last Jedi was a bit deceptive, it could be argued this is an emotional tease for the end of the franchise, and the last time audiences will see these characters for a while, if not ever… but perhaps not the end for C-3PO. We shall see.
It would be heartbreaking for this part of the marketing to come out true and to permanently lose the only actor (Anthony Daniels) and character to appear in every episodic installment, but it would be poetic given that he was the one to start it all.