Star Wars: The Truth of Chewbacca’s Medal Explained By Comics
Warning: SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The closing scenes of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker deliver plenty of fan-service moments, and scenes bringing decades-long storylines to a conclusion. That includes the delivery of a long overdue medal to Chewbacca… but the scene may not mean what some viewers think.
As every fan of the saga knows, the Rebel Alliance’s Medal of Bravery was awarded to both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in Star Wars: A New Hope, for their incredible victory during The Battle of Yavin. But ever since, fans have noted that someone else was just as instrumental: the mighty Chewbacca, co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon, who didn’t receive one. The simplest reading of the scene in Rise of Skywalker corrects that mistake… but it’s also misleading, if not completely wrong.
The truth is explained in the pages of the comics. And while most of the incredible moments in Star Wars comics may be ‘bonus’ material, as opposed to plot critical for understanding the films, Chewbacca’s lack of a medal — and the significance of Leia’s gift — is a major exception fans won’t want to miss.
Chewbacca Got His Medal (and Gave It Away)
While Chewbacca didn’t get a medal during the ceremony, it’s revealed in the Marvel Comics Chewbacca miniseries that he did get one at some point after the Battle of Yavin. After some adventuring with a young girl named Zarro, he gifts her with his own Medal of Bravery. Apparently, the medal clashes with his ‘warrior vibe.’ This moment from the comics also tracks with an explanation from George Lucas himself. Back in 1977, Lucas explained why Chewbacca didn’t get a medal in the original Star Wars by revealing Wookies don’t put much stock or credence into medals, and that a different ceremony was held with Chewbacca’s own people as a way to honor his heroic act along with the Rebel Alliance (explaining why he freely gifts his own medal away).
Several battles and decades later, peace has finally come to the galaxy at the end of The Rise of Skywalker. While the Resistance celebrates their hard-earned victory, Maz Kanata comes to Chewie, offering him a Medal of Bravery that Leia apparently wanted him to have. At first glance, this seems like it would be a tender moment: a gift from Leia that should have been given years ago. However, when you consider the context from the comics and the comments from Lucas, it seems like a potential contradiction. Or at the very least, the moment doesn’t seem as meaningful… unless it’s a specific medal with a certain prior owner.
The Medal Isn’t Chewie’s, It’s Han Solo’s
If the medal was the one that was awarded to Han Solo in A New Hope, then the scene makes sense — and would certainly mean more to Chewie than if the medal was new, a replacement, or his own being returned to him (somehow). While the medal in question isn’t outright said to be Han’s, the fact it was in Leia’s possession earlier in the film seems to indicate it was her late husband’s. Maz giving Han’s medal to Chewie on Leia’s behalf communicates volumes, and would certainly be considered by Chewie to be an honor worth keeping. Furthermore, with the deaths of the entire Solo family, the medal helps give Chewie a sense of peace, as well. His life debt to Han Solo and his subsequent family is now fulfilled.
When all is said and done, the gifting of a medal to Chewbacca seems like a small moment in a film that has several seemingly larger ones. However, it’s worth talking about as it shows detail and a desire to close arcs for one of the Star Wars galaxy’s oldest and most beloved characters.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019