Fans have waited years to see Star Wars back on the big screen, and they finally got their wish with director J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens.
Unsurprisingly, it became one of the biggest hits of the past several years, and scored some pretty great reviews to boot. It borrowed heavily from the first Star Wars film, sure, but it sprinkled in enough fresh ideas to balance out the nostalgia perfectly. So the film is pretty great, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things in there that might make you scratch your head.
From strange plot points left unexplained to quirks created by changes to the script, here are the dumb things we all ignored in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Why isn’t there a bigger security detail on Rey once she’s captured?
Kylo Ren makes it a priority to pick up Rey and bring her back to his ship when he realizes she’s seen the information BB-8 is hiding in regards to Luke Skywalker’s secret location. So he takes her back to the base, interrogates her for a bit, then leaves one lowly stormtrooper (played by an uncredited Daniel Craig, who just really wanted to be in a Star Wars movie). Rey taps into the Force to make the stormtrooper set her free, and snags his weapon on the way out. Now, if Kylo Ren knows how important she is, why doesn’t he have a larger security detail on her? He has no shortage of stormtroopers, so why not put a full contingent in the room with her? Rey has already proven to be fairly cunning at this point in the movie. Sure, she’s still trapped on the Imperial base (though she obviously manages to escape anyway), but why not beef up security? She could potentially hold a piece of intel the First Order has been seeking for years, and they put one stormtrooper at the door.
Wait, how could they see the planet destroyed from the other planet?
This one made for great dramatic effect, but man, how small is this galaxy? When the First Order fires up Starkiller Base, they use the crazy planet-destroying ray to take out a few planets. But Han Solo and Finn can see this happen in the sky from the planet with Maz Kanata’s club. This doesn’t make a ton of logistical sense, considering it implies these planets would have to be around the same star system for this to be feasible, and they all seem to have habitable temperatures (what the heck kind of orbit are these planets in?). This is certainly one of those plot points where they needed to see it happen so they could see it happen. But the Star Wars films have always played into the scope and size of the universe, and this moment in The Force Awakens made it all seem a bit too small.
How exactly does R2-D2 wake up at the perfect time?
The entire McGuffin about the data file leading to Luke’s location served as a great carrot to dangle in front of everyone and keep this movie rolling, but connecting it back to R2-D2 just didn’t make a ton of sense. So it turns out a piece of the map to find Luke has been hidden on Jakku and ends up in BB-8, while the rest of the map is apparently locked away in R2-D2. So R2-D2 has had part of the map to find Luke, but was shut down in the corner the entire time. It makes sense Luke would leave the map with his trusty droid, but why hadn’t the Rebellion ever tried to access it before? Also, how did R2-D2 know exactly when to wake up from his shutdown mode and plug in the rest of the map? It was great getting R2-D2 back in on the action, but it just didn’t make very much logistical sense.
Starkiller Base is basically Death Star XXL (and just like the Death Star, also has a critical weak spot)
The Force Awakens borrowed several elements from A New Hope, and for the most part it was great. It provided a nostalgic, familiar throughline to revive the franchise for a new generation of fans. We got the outmatched Rebels (now the Resistance), the powerful Empire (or First Order, whatever), and a big super base that destroys a Republic stronghold. At the center of this attack is Starkiller Base, which is literally a super-sized version of the Death Star from A New Hope. Which is fine, and it goes with the theme of basically making Force Awakens into A New Hope 2.0. But it gets a bit silly when Starkiller Base also has a critical weak spot that is eerily similar to the one that took down the Death Star. It all comes to a head with a rousing X-Wing attacks that blows up the base, and while it’s one heck of an exciting sequence, it’s all just so familiar. It would have been a great time to throw that trope on its head, but instead they just followed the plot point by point.
Wait, Captain Phasma turns off the shields just like that?
Everyone assumed the new stormtrooper leader Captain Phasma was going to be a major role when Gwendoline Christie landed the gig, but she ended up playing a fairly small part in the story (albeit one that likely sets up a bigger arc in future films). Her biggest moment was actually pretty lame: Phasma is set up as a tough-as-nails drill instructor early on, but she pretty much caves immediately after being captured at blaster-point by Finn on Starkiller Base. Finn tells her to bring down the shields across the base, and she does it with barely a fight. If Phasma is such a strong warrior, why not try to get the drop on this former trainee to protect her base? It makes sense from a story perspective that the Rebellion team needs her to drop the shields, but it all happens way too easily.
The New Republic is pretty much wiped out offscreen
We barely get a glimpse of the new Republic that’s discreetly supporting the Resistance before Starkiller Base essentially wipes them all out. How exactly did the First Order rise up in the Empire’s wake? Why does the Resistance have to fight the First Order—why doesn’t the Republic put its own army up against these obvious villains? They have intel the First Order is building another planet-destroying weapon, why not act? It makes sense they’d want to set up the Resistance as this rag-tag group with its back against the wall, but the existence (and apparent demise) of the Republic really needed additional exploration.
So how did Poe Dameron survive and get off Jakku?
There’s a reason we don’t see Poe Dameron following the crash of his TIE Fighter on Jakku once he helps Finn escape, and that’s because he was supposed to die in that scene. Oscar Isaac told GQ that when J.J. Abrams originally recruited him to play Poe in The Force Awakens, he told him his character would be a brash, charismatic pilot who leads this daring escape—then dies in the crash. It’s the classic fake-out approach, and even though Poe wasn’t supposed to survive the first act, Isaac signed on anyway. But later on, Abrams decided to keep the character around and have him show up in the back half to help lead the X-Wing mission. Bringing Poe back was a great move (Issac is perfect in the role!), but his sudden reappearance is a bit jarring. The story never follows him after the crash, and we’re just told later that "Oh! Hey! I survived and made it off the planet, too, all off-camera!" It felt tacked on, and less like a surprise and more like a decision made then tweaked into the script.
How exactly did Han ‘lose’ the Millennium Falcon?
The Millennium Falcon has a long history in the Star Wars universe; even before Han Solo was flying it, it belonged to Lando Calrissian. Han makes it very clear in the original Star Wars trilogy that he loves the Falcon, so how on Earth could he lose it for (seemingly) decades? Having Rey and Finn use the derelict Falcon as an escape ship was a fantastic sequence, but it’s just so hard to believe Han would ever let it go in the first place. We learn the ship is apparently stolen from Han, and then subsequently stolen several more times, before ending up in a junkyard on Jakku. All the while, Han has just been half-heartedly looking for it? C’mon. Han would never lose the Falcon.
Wait, how can Rey understand Chewbacca?
There aren’t many characters who can understand what Chewbacca says, and that’s because he speaks the language Shyriiwook. But who can also speak the language of the Wookies? Rey. We see Rey interact with Chewbacca throughout the movie, and along with Han, she’s one of the few characters who can understand him. So how exactly did Rey learn this little-known language? We’re told Jakku is a trading post planet, which means there are probably a lot of people traveling in and out. So maybe she picked it up from a few travelers over the years passing by on Jakku? We don’t really know, because they just kind of leave it hanging out there after playing the reveal for a gag.
So Han has never used Chewie’s bowcaster? In 40 years?
Han Solo and Chewbacca have been buddies for the better part of a half century, and throughout the whole film, Han seems to have a fascination with Chewie’s bowcaster laser weapon. Which, yeah, the thing is pretty cool. It all pays off with a gag when Han gets to use the bowcaster and is pretty happy about it. Which is fun, sure. But, you want us to believe these guys have been smuggling around the galaxy for decades and Han never grabbed that thing and gave it a shot? If he’s so interested in it, why hadn’t he ever used it before? It’s obviously played for a joke, but it really starts to fall apart if you tug at that string very hard.
Rey picks up the Force way too quickly
This one has been debated at great length pretty much everywhere, but it’s certainly worth noting. Yes, Luke Skywalker picked up the Force relatively quickly in the original Star Wars trilogy—but he also had a few mentors to train him. Whereas in The Force Awakens, Rey picks up the Force after being pushed into situations where she might need it. She’s so good, in fact, she’s able to go toe to toe with Kylo Ren—a trained warrior—by the end of the film (though he’s admittedly injured during the fight). Of course, there could still be some good reasons for this that haven’t been explained. We still don’t know Rey’s parentage, and that’s something the creative team has teased could play a major role in the franchise moving forward. There could certainly be some story threads to give this additional context in Star Wars: Episode VIII, but right now we just don’t know.
Rey should be too old to learn to be a Jedi
It’s a small point, but one worth noting. When Luke Skywalker was taken on to train as a Jedi, they made it clear he was going to be a long shot because he was so old. Turns out, Jedi training typically starts when a kid is a whole lot younger. We’ve already talked about how Rey was able to pick up the ways of the Force a bit faster than most fans would’ve expected, but Rey is also way too old to start learning how to be a Jedi. Picking it up fast is far-fetched enough, but being able to do it as a young adult is really pushing the boundaries of this world.
It’s only been 30 years, how has Luke Skywalker become a myth?
When Rey and Finn realize Han Solo knew Luke Skywalker, they seem positively befuddled by the thought that this those "legends" could actually be true. Umm, it hasn’t been that long since the Rebels took out the Empire, has it? Yes, the world of Star Wars obviously doesn’t seem to have much as far as a news and communications infrastructure. But it’s hard to believe these massive events could’ve completely faded into the stuff of mythical legend in such a short amount of time. When the Empire fell at the end of the original trilogy, freedom reigned through the galaxy. Luke, Han and the gang were given medals by Princess Leia in front of pretty much everyone. How has all of that been forgotten in this relatively short period of time?
Maz Kanata just doesn’t really fit (and there’s a reason why)
The original cut of Star Wars: The Force Awakens reportedly had a more substantial role for Maz Kanata, the alien who runs the cantina where Han takes Rey and Finn when they’re looking for help. Maz serves as a mentor of sorts for Rey while they’re there, and plays a pivotal role in giving Luke’s old lightsaber to the mysterious young woman. She literally has Luke’s lightsaber, which is huge. How? Why? Who is she? Then her castle is attacked, and we really don’t see her again. Not surprisingly, Maz Kanata originally had a bigger role in the film, and several of her scenes were cut. Reportedly, she was originally supposed to join Han when they left her castle after the attack, though she didn’t really play an active role so they decided to not have her tag along. Hopefully we can learn more about Maz in the future, and fill in a few of these gaps from The Force Awakens.
The guys from the Raid are there for pretty much nothing
J.J. Abrams snuck in a bit of stunt casting in The Force Awakens, though you probably didn’t even notice it. Before the film opened, there was a good bit of buzz about Abrams’ move to cast The Raid series stars Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman in small roles. If you’re unfamiliar, The Raid films feature some of the craziest and most ambitious action scenes ever put to film. Abrams is a fan, and decided to work these guys into the script to show off their skills. So who were they? The leaders of the Kanjiklub, the guys who board Han Solo’s ship before all hell breaks loose. Bringing in a few legit action stars was a cool move, but they were fairly underutilized in these roles. You have some of the best action choreographers on the planet there, and you just have them stand around for a few minutes? Give them something to do.
How convenient was that chasm that saved Kylo Ren?
The film ends with a climactic battle between Rey and Kylo Ren, as the extremely young Jedi basically got the drop on Ren and took him to the woodshed. By the end of the fight, Ren has a few holes in him and Rey is triumphant. Then a very convenient chasm busts open right between them, allowing Ren to be rescued and taken off Starkiller Base before it explodes. Yes, the planet was starting to break apart due to the explosion of the super weapon, but it’s still pretty convenient. The reason is obvious, though: You can’t take out your "new Darth Vader" in the first film of the trilogy, right?
So Luke and Han both ditch the Rebellion and leave them to face the First Order alone?
This is one that was largely glossed over in the film, but it begs the question: Han Solo and Luke Skywalker obviously see what’s happening in the galaxy, and they both choose to sit out the battle against the First Order. What? They were both major leaders in the Rebellion chronicled in the original trilogy, and played key roles in the defeat of the Empire. So when the First Order rises to power, Han decides to keep kicking around as a smuggler—despite the fact that the First Order could pretty much destroy the galaxy. Sure, he had a falling out with Leia, but isn’t the fate of the galaxy more important? Even worse, Luke opts to go hide out on a deserted planet to brood while the entire universe falls apart. Yes, we know he had a terrible experience in the years between the original trilogy and The Force Awakens when Kylo Ren went rogue and killed a bunch of pupils. But it seems petty for the galaxy’s greatest heroes to just ride the pine.
Why did the Resistance send Rey to get Luke?
Yes, she’s been the main character of the film, but when the Resistance finally learns Luke’s location, they send a Wookiee and a woman he doesn’t know to retrieve him. Why didn’t Leia go? Why didn’t they send a team? Yes, Luke knows Chewbacca, and it makes some sense that Rey would go, considering she has his lightsaber. But if there’s anyone qualified to explain the situation and convince him to retune from his self-imposed exile, it’d be Leia, right?
If Kylo Ren is so keen to take his mask off all the time, why wear it at all?
Seriously. As we learn in the film, there’s nothing wrong with Kylo Ren’s face, and he essentially wears a mask as an homage to his dearly departed grandfather. Which is fine—the mask is a big part of what made Darth Vader so intimidating, and Kylo’s certainly lives up to the legacy. But one big reason Vader’s helmet was so scary is because he never took it off—well, you know, right up until he died, of course. We see Kylo take his mask off a few times, which makes sense from a publicity point of view, because they cast up-and-comer Adam Driver in the film and the creative team obviously wants to show him off a bit. But if Kylo really wants to be Vader, he’d keep that thing on no matter what.
Where are the Knights of Ren?
The Knights of Ren were a well-publicized part of the lead-up to the release of The Force Awakens, but they were pretty much a non-factor in the actual movie. We might’ve gotten a fleeting glimpse at them in a flashback, but that was pretty much it. Kylo is leader of a group that never bothers to show up, not even when all hell breaks loose and the Resistance attacks their base. They actually sound pretty cool, and it would’ve been great to actually see them in action—fortunately, it sounds like we’ll be getting a major eyeful of the Knights in Episode VIII.