SPOILERS AHEAD for the Star Wars: The Force Awakens
I’m not going to waste too much time explaining how bad Phasma was in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. She was an overhyped, over-marketed character attempting to take the place of a silent scene-stealer like Boba Fett—and she failed abysmally at fulfilling that role.
There’s only two things that Star Wars VIII should do with Captain Phasma—completely drop her (see the related article, 4 Reasons Boba Fett’s in VIII), or completely reassess her responsibilities. If they want to keep her, Phasma has to recover from her weaknesses in The Force Awakens. To understand how she’ll recover, however, we need to know her weaknesses by understanding the two simple fixes that the producers and writers of TFA overlooked—using roles that were already in the film:
- Competence: Replace Phasma with Hux
The only time Phasma had any confidence was when she expressed misplaced arrogance in her own troops: she disables the shields on Starkiller Base and then tells Han Solo her soldiers will get the shields back anyway. But this pride only allows the entire base to be completely destroyed, and Phasma’s left looking stupid and incompetent.
So, to keep the shields down for the story’s plot, but avoid making Phasma look inept, Hux should have taken her place in that scene. Removing Phasma from the shield-disabling role would have retained more mystery and respect for her, and it would have also given us a better look at Hux. He’s already shown to be a confident but somewhat imperfect commander; this would have created ample opportunity for Hux to reprimand his enemies while further displaying his unrestrained hatred for the Resistance and undying confidence in the First Order. But it would have also removed any hint of Phasma’s incompetence from our minds, allowing us to believe she’s a villain we should actually root for.
- Intimidation: Replace TR-8R with Phasma
The Z6 baton-wielding Stormtrooper above, dubbed by the internet as TR-8R, was exactly what we’d expected when looking to Phasma: a quiet, single-line character who shows no mercy and commands respect. Boba Fett fulfilled a similar role—he had three lines in Empire Strikes Back and none in Return of the Jedi, but still managed to become a fan favorite because of how awesome he looked and how intimidating he was.
But Phasma did nothing to intimidate the characters or the audience. All she did was tell Finn to put a helmet on and gave an unfulfilled, empty threat to Han Solo about her troops. For The Force Awakens to have satisfied our expectations for her, Phasma should have taken the place of TR-8R—confronting Finn, destroying him even though he’s wielding a lightsaber, and then only momentarily being subdued by Chewbacca’s bowcaster. By absolutely decimating Finn, Phasma would have retained few lines and just as much mystery—but still become the intimidating villain we’d hoped for.
With those two changes in The Force Awakens, we would have seen a more intimidating, competent Captain Phasma. Obviously, it’s too late to change Episode VII, but that’s the point: now, to keep Phasma in the trilogy, the writers have to implement some corrections in Episode VIII. And, unless they completely replace her, they have to make her a bounty hunter:
- Competence: Make Phasma Hunt Finn
By having Phasma successfully track down Finn, the writers of Star Wars will build our respect for Phasma’s intelligence without having to spell it out—much like when we see Boba trail behind the Millenium Falcon in Episode V.
Plus, Captain Phasma is one of the best-equipped characters in the galaxy to track down Finn: she trained this high-profile traitor to be the warrior he was, and much like Finn offered invaluable insights to the limitations of the Stormtroopers in TFA, Phasma should be able to accurately deduce the location or motivation of her previous subordinate by the end of Star Wars: Episode VIII. And doing so will finally make the audience respect Phasma’s ability to intelligently get a job done.
- Intimidation: Have Phasma Destroy Finn
Once Phasma finally meets Finn, she’ll need to recover from her complete failure in their last encounter—and the best way she can do this is by beating Finn to the ground. Hopefully, this will involve some sort of cool fight scene or new weaponry, much like TR-8R’s encounter with Finn, but Phasma’s attack will also be more emotionally gripping—this is Finn and Phasma fighting, after all: master and student, captain and subordinate. Finn showed a particular dislike for Phasma in TFA, and their showdown would give us new angles on how much Phasma despises traitors and how much Finn dreads the First Order. Because of that, if Phasma destroys Finn in VIII, we’ll be both impressed and emotionally wrought, instead of surprisingly disappointed like we were from TFA.
Star Wars: Episode 8
Phasma was weak in TFA mainly because she lacked any competence and intimidation. However, if we get to watch Phasma track down Finn and absolutely annihilate him—basically becoming a bounty hunter for the new Star Wars trilogy—then she’ll at least somewhat recover from her embarrassing role in The Force Awakens. Unless the writers completely abandon Phasma, she has to transform into the hard-core villain we were all hoping for and essentially become the newest bounty hunter of the Star Wars universe.