Thandiwe Newton Disappointed Over Her Character Dying In 'Solo'
Newton Opens Up
When Solo: A Star Wars Story came out in 2018, it did not fulfill the box office expectations that Lucasfilm and Disney had for the film. Despite the behind the scenes troubles and substantial reshoots, many fans enjoyed it, and it became somewhat of a cult hit in circles. Certain threads from the film ended up continuing in other media, including the current War of the Bounty Hunters comic event. However, while many fans were happy with the film, Thandiwe Newton, who portrayed Val, was not.
Within the context of the film's story, Val was the love interest of Woody Harrelson's smuggler character Tobias Beckett. Val and Beckett were a team and seemed to have been together for a very long time, with plans to retire somewhere nice after pulling off a big job. When Han Solo and Chewbacca join their team, they attempt a train heist to acquire coaxium for Crimson Dawn. However, things go awry when Enfys Nest's marauders intervene. Team member Rio Durant ends up dying, and Val blows herself up at the end of the heist gone wrong.
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On the surface, it may seem as if these characters were killed off to make more room in the cockpit for characters like Lando Calrissian, L3-37, and Qi'ra. However, people here and there have expressed criticism over this narrative choice. It fed into the trope of "fridging," which has plagued many women characters who have died for the purpose of furthering the motivations of male characters. What made this a strange case was that Tobias Beckett did not mourn Val for quite as long as characters in other similar situations may have.
Regardless, the criticisms are there, and Newton recently opened up in an interview with Inverse. She talked about her new film Reminiscence, as well as some Westworld, but Solo came up in the conversation. Here is what she had to say:
"I felt disappointed by Star Wars that my character was killed. And, actually, in the script, she wasn’t killed. It happened during filming. And it was much more just to do with the time we had to do the scenes. It’s much easier just to have me die than it is to have me fall into a vacuum of space so I can come back sometime.
That’s what it originally was: that the explosion and she falls out and you don’t know where she’s gone. So I could have come back at some point. But when we came to filming, as far as I was concerned and was aware, when it came to filming that scene, it was too huge a set-piece to create, so they just had me blow up and I’m done. But I remembered at the time thinking, 'This is a big, big mistake' — not because of me, not because I wanted to come back. You don’t kill off the first Black woman to ever have a real role in a Star Wars movie. Like, are you f***ing joking?"
She has a point. In the Star Wars films up to that point, there had never really been a black woman in a major role. In 2018, this was the closest at the time. A lot changed behind the scenes in terms of filming, but regardless of how far along in the process this was, Newton was surprised by the decision to have Val killed off, when it appears that the character was originally going to have a chance to live. Had this been the case, this would have been another dangling thread from the commercially unsuccessful film, but at least the character could have popped up in future content, just as Qi'ra has in the comics. As it stands, killing off Val was a major misstep on the part of the filmmakers, and a missed opportunity in terms of what more could have been done with the character.
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Written By Steven Shinder
Syndicated From Culture Slate