If you haven't seen The Last Jedi, you may be shocked to learn the movie kills off one of its secondary, though quite popular, characters without much fanfare. There will be four week old spoilers moving forward as the latest Star Wars movie enters its fifth weekend of release. So be warned. What I might say next could be very upsetting to long time fans who have somehow not made it to theaters yet. Yes, Admiral Ackbar is dead. And it was always supposed to be that way. At least according to the editor of the movie.
'It's a trap!' Is definitely Admiral Ackbar's most iconic line, and it's in the top ten Star Wars lines of all time. The man who originally uttered those three words has left this world. And he did it quite suddenly, and unexpectedly. Ackbar has never gotten a ton of screen time. He first showed up in Return of the Jedi more than 30 years ago. He played an important role in the attack of Endor against the second dreaded Death Star. Over the years, he went onto become the most quoted, memed, and parody character in official canon. He would later appear in episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars and he made his big screen return in 2015's The Force Awakens, going up against the Starkiller base. In The Last Jedi, this Mon Calamari was not so luck.
In a shocking twist. Admiral Ackbar, now a general in the Resistance, was killed off screen as Kylo Ren and the First Order moved in for their attack on the fleeing Rebels. During the scene in question, Ben Solo stops himself from firing upon his mother's ship. But the squadron backing him up doesn't follow through, and instead blows up the bridge on General Leia's command ship. The move wipes out everyone on board, save for Leia, who uses the force to fly back to her ship after becoming stuck out in space.
Audiences didn't get to see Gial Ackbar's final moments. And some missed the fact that he died altogether. Ackbar's death is mentioned in one throwaway line of dialogue before the Rebels press on. This angered quite a few fans. And it seemed like an afterthought. Huffington Post reached out to editor Bob Ducsay to find out if there was more to Admiral Ackbar's death than what made it into the move. And he says no.
"That was how it was designed. It's interesting that you mentioned it, because I watched the film last night and I thought, hmmm, maybe that's too incidental. It's a very funny thing about that because what happens ... I don't typically watch movies that I work on much afterwards, because you're so familiar with it. But this movie I've seen now a couple times with an audience. And it occurred to me last night that what does happen when I watch movies ... is I generally find things that are like, hmmm, I wonder if I should do that differently. Which is some really horrible form of personal criticism because there's really nothing to be done. That's how it was designed. That's how it was intended. But it is slightly incidental, isn't it?"
That's for sure. So much was happening at this point in the movie that some fans completely missed the mention of his death altogether. In the books prior to Lucasfilm being bought by Disney, which are no longer official cinematic canon, Ackbar died a much more noble death. And he was awarded a grand memorial service in The Unifying Force. He wasn't just killed off screen and forgotten about soon after.
Huffington Post goes onto note that actor Erik Bauersfeld, who voiced Ackbar in Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens passed away in April 2016, when The Last Jedi was in production. So it's appropriate that Ackbar got a send off in this latest movie, though it perhaps wasn't handled as well as it could have been. Here are some of the tweets honoring and remembering the first fishman to rule modern cinema before Guillermo Del Toro's Shape of Water came along.
Cast into the blackness of space like the Empire’s garbage OFFSCREEN; not a heroic storyline fit for a Grand Admiral. I will forget-you-not #admiralackbar . You deserved better than this meandering, offensive, thoughtless film. #lastjediawful#fanart#TheLastJedi#NotMyLukepic.twitter.com/MzfyoDQXCF— DelusionsOfGrandSt (@JRaesDOGS) January 3, 2018