I have liked Chewbacca since I first saw him speaking with Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Mos Eisley cantina in A New Hope. I liked how big yet gentle he seemed to be, how he stood out in a cantina full of amazing looking aliens, and how he seemed to have a quiet confidence. Throughout the saga I have admired his loyalty to his friends, his bravery (at most times), and the way he can get frustrated in certain situations just like me. But until I saw The Force Awakens (and then The Last Jedi and Solo: A Star Wars Story) I never realized how much I love Chewbacca. He is definitely more than just a big furry oaf and I can see why Maz Kanata likes that wookiee.
I don’t think I ever fully appreciated Chewie in the original trilogy. Maybe it’s because I always trusted him to make the right decisions and come through when he was needed. I was never worried that Chewie would turn to the dark side or betray his friends. He was the moral compass and there was no conflict in him. He was steadfast in his determination to complete his mission and keeps his friends safe. He was the ultimate sidekick and supporting character. At least in my mind. But now I’m not sure he was ever just a sidekick.
Here are some of my favorite Chewbacca moments from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and Solo that I feel epitomize his character throughout the Star Wars saga.
Chewie saves the day on Starkiller Base.
Few moments in Star Wars are more heartbreaking than Chewbacca’s pained roar as he watches Kylo Ren kill Han Solo in The Force Awakens. Chewie’s anguish can be felt, but he doesn’t let it stop him. Chewbacca takes charge at this point in the saga. He often deferred to Han, but Chewie is a leader in his own right. After wounding Kylo Ren, Chewie detonates the charges he and Han set, which allows the Resistance fighters to destroy Starkiller base. But he doesn’t stop there. He easily could have left Starkiller Base in the Millennium Falcon, and no one could have blamed him after he saw his best friend murdered. However, Chewie searches for and finds Rey and a wounded Finn. Rey was able to defeat Kylo Ren, but without Chewie’s rescue she and Finn likely would have died. Chewie carries the unconscious Finn onto and off of the Falcon and delivers him to medical personnel at the Resistance base. He takes no time to mourn Han’s death. Chewie is a true hero. How different would the galaxy be if Chewie hadn’t saved Rey and Finn?
Rey’s co-pilot to Ahch-To.
In The Force Awakens, as Rey settles into the pilot’s chair of Millennium Falcon to go find Luke Skywalker on Ahch-To, Chewbacca looks over at her and gives her a look that says, “You can do this and I’ve got your back.” Some of my favorite traits of Chewbacca’s are his loyalty and trust. He doesn’t give them freely. In fact he usually wants to rip one’s arms out of their sockets first, but once someone has earned Chewie’s trust he will do just about anything for them. He has only known Rey a short time at this point, but I get the sense that he would do just about anything for her. His relationship with Finn feels similar. Chewie won’t even let Finn patch up his wound on the Millennium Falcon shortly after they meet, but by the end of the movie Chewie is risking his own life to save Finn’s.
Chewie saves the Resistance on Crait.
On Crait, when the situation looks dire for the Resistance, Chewbacca once again is the hero. With Rey using the Falcon’s ventral gun, Chewie deftly pilots the Falcon to draw away all remaining TIE fighters. Han, Rey, Hera Syndulla, Luke Skywalker, and Poe Dameron may be amazing pilots, but is there any doubt that Chewbacca is also one of the best pilots in the galaxy?
Looking for his family.
In Solo, as Chewie sits with Han and Beckett’s crew by the fireside, he explains that he wants to find his family/tribe. He is not just blindly following Han and Beckett. Chewbacca has a mission of his own. In the original trilogy, I had mostly just viewed Chewie as Han’s co-pilot and muscle, but he is so much more than that. There definitely is no conflict in his mind. He becomes a smuggler, but I have a feeling he’s only using smuggling as a means to survive in order to someday defeat the Empire.
Taking the co-pilot’s seat.
Of all of the cheer-out-loud moments in Solo, the one that brought tears to my eyes was when Chewbacca took his rightful seat at Han Solo’s side in the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit. Chewie is ready when needed, just like in the original trilogy. It seemed like I had waited a lifetime (I actually had) to see that moment and I didn’t even know I had wanted to see it until I did. It felt like a culmination of Star Wars childhood memories.
I will never look at Chewbacca as just Han Solo’s sidekick anymore, and I bet Han always saw Chewie as his equal. In The Force Awakens Han refers to Chewie as “my friend.” It was often rumored prior to the release of Solo that Chewbacca stayed with Han because he owed Han a life debt. If anything, Han owed Chewie for saving him more times than can be counted. Chewbacca is the moral compass of Star Wars and a good judge of character. He is a timeless classic that seems to be getting better with every movie. He cares so much for others and doesn’t seem to expect much in return. He is protective of his friends and family and doesn’t harm anyone or anything unless he is threatened. Except for Porgs, I guess.
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