TV & Movies

The Controversial Leia Scene in The Last Jedi Is Growing on Me

Leia The Last Jedi

Warning: This should be obvious from the title, but this article contains spoilers.

I’ll leave an image of BB-8 here so you can click away before seeing anything that might cause you to be spoiled on one of The Last Jedi‘s most controversial scenes.

BB-8 in Space

Alright then, let’s forge ahead.

In The Last Jedi, there’s a scene where Leia is sucked into the vacuum of space. Just as we think this might be the end of our favorite princess from the galaxy far, far away, Leia uses the Force to pull herself back to the safety of her ship. This superpowered version of Leia — Space Leia, Superman Leia, Marry Poppins Leia, or whatever else you want to call her — has caused an enormous uproar among Star Wars fans. Some people hate it. Some people think it might be the worst thing to ever happen in a Star Wars film (a pretty harsh criticism, since this is the same franchise that brought us Death Sticks and Jar Jar Binks).

I admit, I reacted negatively at first too. I think I physically cringed in my theater seat. It’s just too weird. It goes completely against all the rules previously established in Star Wars.

But wait. Does it really?

The more I think about this — and believe me, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time mulling this over — the more okay I am with it. In fact, I would now say I’ve been won over to the pro-Space-Leia side completely.

Leia The Last Jedi

First off, there are two Force powers at play here. The first is a Force pull/push, which is pretty much standard Star Wars stuff. If you’ve watched any of the movies, or played a video game where you’re allowed to be a Jedi, then you’ve seen this power used before. Several Jedi knock several droids backward at several points throughout the Prequel Trilogy. Characters pull lightsabers into their hands at some point in just about every Star Wars movie. It’s pretty much routine at this point.

Clearly it’s not the Force push/pull part of this maneuver that’s controversial; it’s the idea that Leia can end up floating in space and still be alive to tell the tale.

As it turns out, Leia is not the first Star Wars character to survive unprotected in space. General Grievous walks on the outside of his ship in Revenge of the Sith, and Plo Koon stands on top of an escape pod in an episode of the Clone Wars cartoon.

Clone Wars Plo Koon in Space

Now, Dave Filoni, executive producer of the Clone Wars cartoon, justified both of these by pointing out that Plo Koon isn’t human and that Grievous is technically a cyborg (no, he’s not a robot or a droid). So this isn’t exactly the same as what Leia does. But this shows us that there’s at least some precedent for a character surviving in space in the Star Wars universe.

Another thing we must consider here is that space in Star Wars doesn’t function like space in our universe. Here are a few facts about space in Star Wars:

  • There is some sort of gravity in space. This is why when a Star Destroyer is destroyed, it begins falling instead of just drifting there like it would in our universe.
  • There is sound in space. We’ve always known that TIE fighters sound awesome because they actually make noise while flying through space.
  • There can be fire in space. You’ll often see explosions and flames when a starfighter is destroyed.

Even in our universe, a human being can survive in space for a very, very brief period. So, in the Star Wars universe, how long can a Force-sensitive human survive in space? Probably a bit longer than that, right?

The Last Jedi Bombers

Think about it. If the Force indeed surrounds all living things — and if it can do all sorts of wild things, like cause objects to float, allow people to see things without their eyes, show people visions of the future, and connect people’s minds across a vast galaxy — then why wouldn’t it be able to protect a human being from the effects of space, if only for a few minutes or so?

Also keep in mind that we’ve never seen Leia use a Force power outside of some telepathy with Luke. We enter The Last Jedi unsure of what she’s even capable of, and we walk out knowing the potential depth of it.

Also, according to Rian Johnson, this ability is triggered as a survival impulse, like a parent who gets adrenaline-fueled strength upon seeing a toddler caught under a car.

So the more you analyze the “Space Leia” scene in The Last Jedi, the harder it is to criticize. There’s actually no good reason this feat would be impossible in the Star Wars universe, and I’m not sure why I assumed it would be in the first place.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.