It’s fair to say that new Star Wars movie The Rise of Skywalker bid fond farewell to many beloved characters, from Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren to all the other Skywalker saga characters who, while still living at the end of the film, would seem to have waved goodbye to audiences after years (sometimes decades) onscreen.
However, one exit that didn’t make such an impact is causing a bit of controversy. A few days ago it was apparently revealed that Original Trilogy character Nien Nunb – an alien from the planet Sullust who co-pilots the Millennium Falcon in 1983’s Return of the Jedi – had perished in the final battle of Rise of Skywalker.
Replying to a fan on Twitter, Rae Carson (who wrote the tie-in novel for Rise of Skywalker) apparently confirmed what many fans had already theorised – that Nien had finally met his maker in the Battle of Exegol, his ship going down in the fiery confrontation.
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
“Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear from the movie (upon careful watching), so I feel comfortable confirming,” Carson said. “Props to you for noticing!”
In the battle, the armada of small ships is led into battle by the Tantive IV, the Corellian corvette flown by Leia and a crew of Rebels in the iconic opening scenes of the original 1977 Star Wars movie. Nien Nunb, transferring from the X-Wing he flew in 2015’s The Force Awakens, is at the helm.
However, like many other ships the Tantive IV is disabled by the Emperor’s super-sized Force lightning, and it’s at this point that Carson suggests Nien and his crew perished. At this point, we’d be saying RIP to a Star Wars legend – but suddenly, the dead speak!
Well, the actor who has played the character in all his movie appearances does anyway. Mike Quinn, who first donned the Sullustan prosthetics in Return of the Jedi took to Facebook to debunk the rumours of Nien’s death, noting that reports of the Tantive IV’s destruction had been greatly exaggerated.
“Yes he survived,” he wrote. “They would have shown the ship exploding. You see the Tantive IV coming into land at the end as they are celebrating.”
“When someone dies – you see the ship explode right?” he added in another comment.
“The Tantive IV didn’t explode but is seen landing above the trees when others are celebrating.
“The reason he’s not seen celebrating with the other guys is that it was filmed out of order (those scenes were filmed barely half way through the shoot). The script evolved as we went along and little things changed. So Nien did actually finally officially survive.”
If it turns out that he lives, we will all celebrate!— Rae Carson (@raecarson) January 9, 2020
However, Quinn also admitted that in the original cut Nien was supposed to go out in a blaze of glory, only for these scenes to go unused – so arguably Carson wasn’t wrong exactly, and given that we don’t see him again onscreen there’s nothing to say the death didn’t happen out of sight.
In the end, it’s all a bit confusing and an insight into how divided Star Wars fans are right now. We can’t even agree on which characters are alive or not…
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is in cinemas now