One of the more frustrating aspects of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is how many extra details there are that need to be discovered outside of the movie, whether it’s from the visual dictionary for the movie or from co-writers Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams themselves. As time goes on, it only seems to be getting worse, including a recently confirmed death that is quickly glossed over in the film’s climax, and it involves the demise of a Rebel hero from Return of the Jedi.
Our contributing Star Wars expert Bryan Young recently noticed that Rebel pilot Nien Nunb seems to meet his end when the Tantive IV, the ship captured by a Star Destroyer in the opening of A New Hope, is blown up in The Rise of Skywalker‘s climactic space battle. It seems to be a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, because I don’t recall any such demise for the alien character. If you think there’s a chance that Bryan might be mistaken, there’s further confirmation.
Rae Carson, the writer of the forthcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization (which will include expanded details and scenes not in the movie), confirmed that Nien Nunb does indeed perish during the final battle (via CinemaBlend):
Yeah, I think it's pretty clear from the movie (upon careful watching), so I feel comfortable confirming. Props to you for noticing!
— Rae Carson (@raecarson) January 6, 2020
Even Carson says that you have to keep your eyes peeled to see Nien Nunb’s final moments, so it must happen pretty quickly. Word on the street is that it happens just before the scene where Rey hears all of the Jedi voices in her head.
Nien Nunb is a Rebel hero who flew the Millennium Falcon with Lando Calrissian in the final space battle to destroy the second Death Star in Return of the Jedi. He also returned as a pilot in The Force Awakens in the fight against Starkiller Base, and he had a role in the Battle of Crait in The Last Jedi as well. He’s a minor character, but thanks to his delightful laugh and unique look, he’s a fan favorite.
Honestly, it’s a real shame that Nunb had to go out so unceremoniously, especially for a movie that acts as a farewell for so many characters. It’s part of the overall problem that The Rise of Skywalker has as it moves far too quickly for anyone to have any significant time to let moments like this resonate. That includes some of the big plot points and story turns that come at breakneck speed without slowing down.
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