Okay, so if you’re reading this then there’s a very good chance that you’ve already seen The Last Jedi. If you haven’t, then make like the Millennium Falcon and hyperspace yourself away from this article, as it contains HUGE SPOILERS. Seriously, we don’t want to have to force-choke you to DEATH.
Still here? Well, that means that you have seen The Last Jedi and you’re as annoyed as we are about how it treated Captain Phasma.
But before we get to that, let’s remind ourselves that, before The Force Awakens, JJ Abrams was naming Phasma whenever he was asked who his favourite new character was.
“I can only say that Gwendoline Christie is my favorite,” Abrams told Collider at D23. “She just killed it. You think, ‘Well, what? It’s wearing a costume.’ But it’s a lot to wear and to have a performance when you’re wearing that requires a different kind of skill set and an additional talent, and she’s got it. It’s an incredible thing to work with her. I am glad that a character has been designed that is visually as stunning as that is, because she deserves it and the fans do to. When I first saw that design my mind was blown because it looked so undeniable.”
He had reason to be pleased. Phasma was originally written as a male part, with JJ gender-swapping the character after an Internet uproar over the lack of new female characters in The Force Awakens – that’s a very positive move. Even better, Christie was cast, and we got very excited.
Game Of Thrones‘ Brienne from Tarth playing another armour-plated bad-ass? And she’s JJ’s favourite character? Where do we start queuing?
The problem is, we did queue, we watched the movie, and then we went home and tossed our Phasma merch into the trash compactor.
But then we rescued our stuff back from the garbage, because at least Phasma didn’t die, and she’ll be back for Episode VIII where she’ll have a much bigger role, right? RIGHT?
Wrong. Captain Phasma gets one scene in The Last Jedi – and it’s not even a particularly long one. Oh, and it ends with – last chance to run away before major spoilers – the character DYING.
Which kind of makes us wonder – what was the point in Phasma? Was she a conscious attempt to try to create the next Boba Fett? Both are cool characters with an amazing outfit, who never show their faces, show up for a couple of scenes in one movie, before dying in the next. Could that be what’s going on here?
We’ve dug into the character’s origins, and discovered she was always a bit of an afterthought. Phasma wasn’t just gender-swapped, she was character-switched.
According to costume designer Michael Kaplan: “When I was trying to ‘tackle’ Kylo Ren’s character, I thought, what if he were The Lord of the Stormtroopers, in bright shining silver armour? I had this strong image in my head which I conveyed to one of my brilliant concept artists (Dermot Power).”
“He produced a stunning illustration which was immediately shot down by J.J.; not right for Kylo Ren! The drawing remained on our design room wall. One afternoon, Kathleen Kennedy came in for a meeting, pointed at the illustration and exclaimed: ‘What is that? It’s fantastic!’ JJ wrote the part of Captain Phasma for the armoured character, and brilliantly cast Gwendoline Christie in the role.”
Yeah, we’re going to have to quibble with that last point. If you’re going to create a character from nothing, and you’re planning to never show her face (or give her much to do at all), maybe don’t cast a cult actress from one of the most successful TV shows of all time.
Also, maybe don’t create quite the same level of merchandise (including an entire spin-off novel – that’s not even told from her perspective!) for a character that has five-minutes of screentime, tops.
As for that Marvel comic that told us how she got out of Starkiller Base before it exploded, why bother?
The character had so much potential – why does she have that armour? What does it take for a woman to rise in the ranks of the Stormtroopers of the First Order? Why does she hate FN-2187 so much? All questions we’ll never see answered.
Unless… There’s a chance (small though it may be) that Phasma’s armour is fire-proof. Which means she could return – with a burn-scar in the place of her left-eye. Maybe Episode IX will be a five-hour epic that fills in her complete backstory and sets her up for her own spin-off series!
Yeah, we know, we’re clutching at death-sticks – time to throw all of our Captain Phasma t-shirts, action-figures and alarm clocks back into the bin. Phasma, you deserved so much better.
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