As I watched The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration last week, I was struck by the noticeable lack of a certain character. No, it was not the purposeful dearth of Darkside characters or even the missing mysterious new additions played by the extremely talented Benicio del Toro and Laura Dern. My ultimate disappointment was caused by the absence of the best pilot in the resistance, the always witty and charming, Mr. Poe Dameron himself, Oscar Isaac.
Oscar Isaac’s absence was distressing on multiple fronts. First, it was a lost opportunity to have another hilarious and engaging (not to mention handsome) guest on the highly anticipated panel. And of course, it signals a potential departure from his status as a leading figure in the Skywalker Saga. While nothing has been officially confirmed and there are many reasons for him not to attend Celebration, there is always plenty to speculate. Furthermore, the addition of newcomer Kelly Marie Tran with a prominent role in the resistance presents an opportunity to reduce Poe to a side figure permanently.
So in this, my moment of despair, I make a plea to the forces that be– we NEED MO’ POE.
Poe was the first major character introduction to this new chapter in the Skywalker Saga. Not only did his mission set up the inciting events of the film, but Poe’s first interaction with Kylo Ren reminded the audience how fun Star Wars could be. When he mocked Ren’s mask it was a reminder that this film wouldn’t take itself too seriously. As George Lucas said himself last week, he sold Star Wars as a film about “dogs flying space ships” and Poe continues on in the legacy of characters acknowledging the absurdity of the world around them (walking carpet ringing any bells here). The fandom was holding its breath through the crawl and opening sequence, yet it was Poe that allowed us to laugh and breathe. His first few minutes in the film are confident, sacrificial and delightful.
Poe’s return in the third act was a welcome and energizing surprise– full of optimism and charm. His appearance at Maz’s castle harkens back to the pilots and fighters of the original trilogy. The reunion with Finn, and more importantly BB-8, was reminiscent of the dynamic between the Luke, Leia, and Han reunion at the end of A New Hope. Not to mention, he served as a necessary bridge between the resistance and Finn… again.
Additionally, Poe Dameron IS the most important new character with ties to the resistance. He rose out of the remnants of the rebellion, but his story is intertwined with the fate of the galaxy now. Through Marvel’s Star Wars: Poe Dameron we learn more about Poe and see the villainous First Order through the eyes of a soldier. This isn’t about the Jedi, it isn’t about the force, it isn’t even about the past. Poe knows who he is, where he came from and what he fights for. He is the stability this new trilogy needs to connect the audience to the plight of the Resistance.
Poe Dameron has already nearly escaped death in this trilogy. In an interview with GQ, Oscar Isaac divulged that J.J. Abram’s pitched him the part of the resistance pilot who dies in the first act. While Oscar Isaac accepted the part anyway, J.J. ultimately changed his mind, making Poe a larger character in the film.
This was not a mistake! Poe’s presence feels natural, like a descendant of the original trilogy, but no doubt his absence would leave a noticeable hole. I can only hope there is enough good sense to keep him on with a consistent role through future installments. We need this pilot.