Warning! SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker ahead!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker gets justice for past wrongs done to Chewbacca by the franchise. The final installment in the Skywalker saga, The Rise of Skywalker promised to bring closure to a story that began 42 years ago with 1977’s Star Wars. It was also the conclusion to the trilogy which began with 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The Wookiee Chewbacca has been an iconic Star Wars character ever since he debuted right alongside Han Solo in Star Wars in 1977. Since then, Chewie has gone on to appear in six more saga movies, Solo: A Star Wars Story, the many animated series, books, comics, and one rather infamous holiday special. The role of Chewbacca was originated by Peter Mayhew, and it’s in large part thanks to his decades-long performance the character has endured. The Force Awakens marked Mayhew’s retirement, however, and the role is now inhabited by actor Joonas Suotamo.

It’s Suotamo again in the suit for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and as Chewbacca, he gets a satisfying part to play in the final adventure. First, Chewie is off with the new trio of Rey, Finn, and Poe on their adventure to Pasaana, and then later on, he brings the cavalry to the final battle on Exegol with his old pal, Lando Calrissian. But most of all, there are moments in The Rise of Skywalker meant as long overdue corrections for previous slights the Wookiee has received across the series.

How Star Wars 77 & The Force Awakens Do Wrong by Chewbacca

In 1977’s Star Wars, Chewbcacca helps Han, Luke, and Obi-Wan rescue Leia from the Empire, and he’s right by Han’s side when they return in the Millennium Falcon to blast Darth Vader so Luke can take his shot at the Death Star. In the awards ceremony that follows, however, Luke and Han are presented with medals by Leia while Chewie is not. The moment has never sat well with Star Wars fans, and as new Star Wars movies further explored Chewbacca’s character and backstory, it only became more apparent how disrespectful it is that Chewie doesn’t receive a medal.

By the time of The Force Awakens, the medal ceremony is old news, but even still the film manages to slight this legend. In the moments after Han’s shocking death, Chewie loses it and goes on a rampage. It’s abundantly clear how affected he is by his best friend’s death, and yet, when Chewie returns to Takadona with Rey and the rest of the Resistance, the film decides to shows Leia embracing Rey instead of Chewie. The moment between Leia and Rey is nice, but featuring it at the expense of a scene in where Leia and Chewie mourn the death of Han is an unforgivable oversight.

How The Rise of Skywalker Gets Justice for Chewbacca

The Rise of Skywalker has had a mixed reception among Star Wars fans, but it’s the film that finally does right by Chewbacca. The first correction comes about midway through the movie and it’s a heartwrenching scene of Chewie learning about Leia’s death, with the Wookiee falling to his knees and wailing in grief. However, unlike in The Force Awakens, this scene in The Rise of Skywalker is completely focused on Chewie and not acting as setup for the next big action scene. It also shows Chewie being comforted by his friends because they recognize he has just lost someone he’s known and loved for many years. Leia’s death is, unfortunately, a moment in The Rise of Skywalker that’s somewhat handled in a clunky way, but Chewie’s reaction is what sells the emotional impact of the scene.

There’s further payoff in the film’s final scenes, too, when Chewbacca is presented with a medal by Maz Kanata. The moment is clearly intended as making amends for Chewie never receiving a medal at the end of the original Star Wars, but in this instance it holds an even deeper significance. The medal isn’t just any medal, it’s Han’s medal, and it was left to Chewie by Leia - a token from two of his dearest friends and a reminder of all their adventures together.

More: Star Wars: Rise Of Skywalker’s 6 Biggest Questions Answered By JJ Abrams

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