Brian Wood Talks ‘Star Wars’ and Why Some Fans Are Angry About His Princess Leia


I’m a huge fan of Brian Wood, and I’ve been reading his Star Wars comic via the Dark Horse iPad app (Great comic app, by the way) and eagerly awaiting each new issue. In this short interview, we talk about the new series, and why some people have been angry with him about his portrayal of Princess Leia.

How did you get attached to this project? Were you nervous at all going into this? This is an American mythology as much as it is a popular movie franchise, and characters like Luke, Leia, Han and Chewbacca are near and dear to many people’s hearts.

_w_300 I was asked… I believe Lucasfilm asked for me, I’m told, and I already had a relationship with Dark Horse so it really was that simple. It’s funny… I never would have pitched a Star Wars project on my own, for some reason that franchise was never on my radar as a career option. But once asked? Of course I wanted to do it. I’m a guy in my 40’s – Star Wars has been a part of my life for the last 35 years.

I like that you’ve portrayed Leia in such an active role. She’s leading an important secret mission and is a seriously skilled pilot. How did you choose to go in this direction?

This has been a source of some minor controversy and some angry emails sent my way, and to be honest it surprised me. I can’t see how anyone can watch those original films and not see a Leia that is not just capable, but totally likely to do everything I have her doing in my series. Look at A New Hope: the first overt action she takes is to shoot a stormtrooper. She goes face to face with Vader and doesn’t blink. She successfully resists torture. She bluffs Tarkin and watches the genocide of her own people as a result. She takes over her own rescue, brandishing a blaster rifle. She helps fly the Falcon. She runs the Yavin mission briefing. What is she, twenty years old?

I wrote what I felt was inside her, based on all that and what she goes on to do in Empire. It just made logical sense, and I was looking for a reason to do it. I felt that, post A New Hope, she was probably hurting the most out of the whole cast, and would therefore be the most gungho to continue the rebellion against the empire.

I’ve also enjoyed your storyline involving Vader and Palpatine, with the former being called on the carpet for the massive failure to protect the Death Star.

Again, I was looking at the first film and seeing a lot of stuff happen and then no follow-up. First, Leia and Alderaan, Luke having lost the only family he knows, plus Ben, Wedge having lost all his pilot comrades, and Vader having failed, really really failed, to stop the destruction of the Death Star. Lots of stuff to come to terms with, and to answer for. For issues #13 and 14, we have a great little story about how Vader climbs back on top after his demotion and humiliation. It’s a brutal story. A path of blood from point A to point B and C and so on as Vader does what he needs to do.

Do you see any parallels between Star Wars and any of your other works, like DMZ or The Massive?

I write about four or five books a month, and so the only way I can stay sane and organized is to compartmentalize everything, both physically and mentally. I build stone walls around each project and very rarely anything crosses over from one to the next. So probably not, but maybe something very minor got through on the subconscious level. Tell me if you find something.

Were there any scenes that you left on the “cutting room floor”? In other words, something that didn’t make the final cut? Can you share one, if so?

It wasn’t even at all obvious, but I had a hint at a physical relationship between Luke and Prithi, his object of affection in a few of the issues. I felt it was necessary to give Luke some sort of relationship to steer him away from Leia… walking that fine line between the contact they had in the films and the fact that, ya know, INCEST. But I couldn’t show them even standing up in the vicinity of an unmade bed. Aside from that, the only edits to my script have been factual ones – place names, names of ships, and so on. It’s been a very smooth ride, this job.

Anything else you want to share with our readers?

This first story, the first twelve issues, has been long and very heavily focused on the rebel side of things. That Vader story that starts in #13… read that, its an entirely different angle on things and definitely shows a side of Vader that most haven’t seen. I’m very proud of it.