The (Mis)Use of Captain Phasma

So this post has spoilers from The Last Jedi but you probably guessed that already…

Following the release of The Force Awakens in December 2015, I was perplexed and annoyed by how small Captain Phasma’s role had actually been in the film. The marketing for The Force Awakens had led me to believe that Phasma, the villainous First Order stormtrooper wearing chrome armor and a cape, would play a larger part in the movie. However, that wasn’t the case, and I was left grasping for understanding about why Captain Phasma was underused. 

In a previous post – Star Wars: Phasma – I highlighted this disappointment, noting in that piece that “I was pretty shocked by how little she factored into the movie.” As well, I also noted my conviction that Captain Phasma would undoubtedly be a greater factor in Episode VIII. In fact, I wrote as much, stating that,

“…I can’t imagine a scenario in which Captain Phasma doesn’t play a larger role. It would be silly for writer/director Rian Johnson not to utilize Phasma in a more direct way, particularly now that Starkiller Base is gone and, presumably, First Order and Resistance forces will be fighting a dirty and gritty war. Besides, with many fans expressing disappointment over how little she appears in The Force Awakens, it would make practical sense just to give us more of her.” 

Well, Captain Phasma certainly shows up in The Last Jedi, but her appearance was woefully underwhelming, even more so than her brief appearances in The Force Awakens. Rather than “more of her” we actually get less, and while we do see her fire her blaster and watch as she battles Finn (one of her former stormtroopers) this hardly makes up for the brevity of her screen-time, not to mention the fact that she dies only a short while after she finally shows up. To say that I was left stunned by Phasma’s (mis)use is an understatement, and while my expectations were admittedly high and could partially be to blame for how I feel, it is never-the-less perplexing that this mysterious villain would be so quickly laid to rest in Episode VIII without her doing anything of significance in the developing war against the Resistance which would serve the First Order’s interests. In fact…

…I find it most perplexing that Phasma died right BEFORE the climactic ground battle the First Order launches on the planet Crait. With Resistance fighters staging a last ditched effort to hold off the First Order, this would have been a perfect and brilliant moment to see Captain Phasma in her prime, leading soldiers fearlessly into battle (*What could have been an engagement that echoed Rogue One’s gritty Battle of Scarif was more of an aesthetic homage to the film at large with the bright red mineral dust of Crait overwhelming the battlefield*). Captain Phasma charging into a battle against the Resistance, that was what I was hoping for, that was the expectation I had anticipated when Phasma was first introduced in the lead up to The Force Awakens. The set up was there, the pieces in place for the Captain to lead her soldiers into a deadly battle, and yet…

…what we get is Captain Phasma falling to a fiery death on a burning First Order ship after being struck by Finn. Talk about disappointing.

Captain Phasma battles Finn
Photo Credit – Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi

The thing is, this disappointment is amplified by the fact that two stories about Phasma were released in the lead up to The Last Jedi. The novel Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson and Marvel’s Captain Phasma comic series offer readers a deep and intriguing look at the woman inside the chrome armor. In particular, we learn in these stories is that Phasma is a survivor, that she will literally go out of her way to stay alive. Having discovered that survival at all costs is her modus operandi, it feels out of place that Captain Phasma would purposefully put herself in harms way by engaging Finn in a fight while the ship around her breaks apart and burns. As well, that she lets her guard down once she believes she has beaten Finn is equally confusing, something she never would have done in her earlier life on the planet Parnassus. 

In laying out my disappointment, and my belief that she was misused in The Last Jedi, I will readily admit that a small sliver of my brain believes Captain Phasma survived her fall. Given all of the unexpected turns that happen in The Last Jedi it wouldn’t be surprising if Captain Phasma survived her fiery flirtation with death, and Phasma is certainly the type who could do so. If so, this could create a very interesting plot-line in Episode IX, with Finn realizing that Phasma is still alive, and a badly injured Phasma holding a blistering grudge against him for besting her. In fact, I am just going to go on record and say this:

I think we will see Captain Phasma again in Episode IX. 

If I am right, I hope Captain Phasma and her re-emergence is treated with incredible care, and that she isn’t misused once again. An opportunity exists to not only show audiences that Phasma is a survivor, but for her to use her survival as a means of rising within the ranks of the First Order, to challenge General Hux for the #2 spot behind the newly minted Supreme Leader Kylo Ren. In fact, I think it is safe to say that IF Captain Phasma survived, Kylo Ren will be pretty damn impressed she did. And I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Phasma were to execute General Hux with Kylo Ren’s blessing…

But if I am wrong, if we won’t be seeing her again in Episode IX, then so be it. While I believe she deserved far more treatment and was misused in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, I am otherwise left with the worry that watching her fall to her doom was a cheap trick, a “gotcha” moment where she will return in IX just to be dispatched once again. At this point, while I have yearned for more of Captain Phasma on the big screen, and grew even more fond of her through the novel and comic series, I am otherwise just flat out tired of investing the time and emotional energy into this character….and I guess I will just leave it at that.


  1. I don’t think it was misuse as much as misdirection. I think (and I hope) that the underselling of Phasma and her multiple brushes with death will be addressed in Episode IX. Up to this point she has only been a foil for Finn (who was up to this point a less than serious character), by the end of The Last Jedi Finn elevated to a more serious character through his would-be sacrifice and his possible love connection with Rose. What better way to solidify his new found seriousness than to have him fight Phasma again and to possibly see her for who she is under the armor.

    Just a thought. I agree with you 100%, I hate that she has been reduced to a joke. But hey, I still love Boba Fett…what do I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If it is intentional misdirection I’m gonna be even more annoyed in the long run. I’m not against misdirection as a tool in building a narrative, but at this point it just feels like there is no ground beneath her character. Are we supposed to just go on believing that she *might* be alive no matter what happens to her. Will she just be he Giant Chicken from Family Guy who *killed* by Peter just to immediately open its eyes after the fight ends? I really hope not…

      …here is what I will say: if she returns in IX, just keep her alive. Don’t kill her off. Hell, whether the First Order crumbles or wins, I think IF she is alive she should just remain that way through the end of the film. Knowing that this badass woman survived would be a far better use of her, planting the seed that “she is out there somewhere.” That would be more profound than yet another flirtation with death.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. As for my use of the word misuse, I believe they missed a really good opportunity to have her kicking ass in battle against the Resistance. I get why you say it is misdirection, I just think that through two movies now they have used her ineffectively within the plot of these films.


      1. I understand your use of the word and I agree. I was more speaking from hope as well my friend. We have seen so many characters suffer from looking cool only to sell toys and be little more than that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. As a pessimist, I think Phasma’s misuse in TLJ stems from the theatrical creators not being informed of the greater Star Wars story coupled with having to deal with the directive that the character be included even though there’s really no place for her in the story they’re crafting. I think Phasma surviving Starkiller was an afterthought that probably shouldn’t have happened. Her dying an unseen death in a trash compactor could have served as an homage to equally cool-looking but minor character Bobs Fett’s accidental death. Personally, I’d rather her part have been played by one of the Executioner Stormtroopers because those guys are super rad and were also unfortunately, in my option, underused.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think Rian Johnson just likes killing off characters that he doesn’t find interesting. 🙂 I don’t think he’s as much of a character-driven director as Abrams was/is. In the Johnson movies I’ve seen, he likes messing with the audience and making you think more than giving you deep development. So with a character like Phasma, that did so little in TFA, I feel Johnson was thinking, “Let’s get characters out of the way that no longer serve my storyline.” He clearly wanted to focus on the Force and the light/dark side of it, which is why we see Leia floating weirdly, why we focus on Luke and Kylo and Rey as well. Snoke and Phasma die (yes, I believe she’s dead) because he didn’t think they served the larger story.

    I do agree with you though. I think that if we did have to kill her off, I think it could have been done a lot better. She was created as Finn’s foil but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we need a huge standoff between them alone on the ship. I agree that her leading the stormtoopers into battle on Crait could have been very interesting and worthwhile, perhaps with a showdown there.

    I think one of the problems with her and Poe is that Disney could have been surprised at how much the audience reacted and loved them. They kept Poe alive in TFA but now they had to create a new storyline for him, which I felt on and off about. Phasma they kept alive, though I think she should have died on Starkiller, but because of that, they now had to kill her off.

    My two cents.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A welcome two cents it is. I know little about Johnson as a director (I haven’t watched Looper and really have no plans to do so anytime soon). I submit to your notion that he may have killed her off because she was just there, and he didn’t really have a plan or need for her. Hardly a satisfying answer to her demise but one that would fit with ones directorial outlook.

      And I would agree with you that Disney didn’t seem to fully understand the reaction to Phasma leading up to/after The Force Awakens. I get the impression that she wouldn’t have come back in The Last Jedi had it not been for the audience wanting more, the same being said about the novel and comic as well. Still, given her insanely brief moments in The Last Jedi, I would have rather they hadn’t given us the novel/comic, and that she would have just met her end in The Force Awakens. Now, if Abrams brings her back for IX, it is going to look forced unless he does so carefully while also elevating her as a character. Otherwise, she is just this 2nd (or 3rd?) tier character being brought back to life for…what?


  4. Snoke was equally poorly handled. You can’t set a character up as the primary antagonist for two out of three movies, tease in interviews that he’s an ancient being who lived through the Clone Wars, and then proceed to reveal NOTHING about him or why he created the First Order before unceremoniously killing him off.

    Maybe they give him more bg in the Expanded Universe, but I’ve not followed that. And I shouldn’t have to. Treating story relevance and character development as optional in the movie because people could look at the secondary sources is simply bad storytelling.

    I have a fair few reasons I thought TLJ wasn’t actually a very good movie. Phasma and Snoke were right at the top of my list, along with Holdo (another character so ineptly handled she’s killed off in the same movie she was introduced without a single thing being revealed about her other than she knows Leia and keeps secrets for no good reason)! Glad to see I’m not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I really love a good SW debate and I honestly don’t believe Phasma wasn’t wasted at all. She wasn’t even hyped by JJ or Rian or Disney but more so it seems like her appearance was brought more attention to by fans. If you look on TFA poster her figure is a hardly a significant portion of the image. Rey, Kylo, Finn, Han, and Leia were the largest figures with everyone else being quite small relative to them; consequentially they had the largest roles. BB8 is even quite large in comparison to her. I don’t know how someone could be wasted is she was clearly not promoted to be that impactful – as supported with her size on the poster.

    To tackle all the Snoke haters out there, he was never set as a mystery in TFA but fan speculation made it seem that way. Rey’s parentage asked us to be speculative because of that whole force vision and in TLJ we got answers. There was no character in the film that questioned who or what Snoke was so I was unsure why people felt obligated to question who he was too if the film never explicitly qued us to do so. We’re all fans of the franchise and it’s awesome to be speculative and theorize as that’s what the fandom is all about, but sometimes we hype ourselves too much and misinterpret the intentions of the filmmaker and set ourselves up for disappointment.


  6. The part that rattled me most during The Last Jedi was Phasma’s death, so I’m hoping with all of my being that she’ll be back. Such an awesome character with so much potential, but so painfully underused! I’m also hoping that she doesn’t execute General Hux, because personally he’s my favorite Star Wars character…


    1. Thanks for the comment! I really like Hux as well, although he doesn’t have the same cold, calculating gravitas that Tarkin has in A New Hope. Still, he is an intriguing character, especially since his devotion to the First Order exceeds both Kylo and Phasma.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Completely agree! His dedication is obvious and I thought was established quite effectively in The Force Awakens (I wrote a piece on here two years ago about his speech before Starkiller Base destroys the Republic). I would really enjoy a novel that explores his backstory even more, specifically his backstory as it relates to the birth of the First Order and his uneasy relationship with his father.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve been thinking about how amazing a novel about Hux would be! His backstory was revealed in Aftermath: Life Debt, I think (haven’t read that one yet), but it would be fantastic if he got an entire novel to himself. Fingers crossed that he gets one. Phasma has a novel, so why not Hux in the (hopefully near) future?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I could definitely see a Hux novel on the horizon, not only since Phasma got one but also since Tarkin has a nice as well. I would be quite pleased if James Luceno tackled the Hux family. That said, I also think Delilah Dawson should do a novel about Rae Sloane and her role within the early days of the First Order. Dawson even agreed with me when I tweeted the idea at her…perhaps it will happen! Fingers crossed!

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