Let’s Talk About What Solo: A Star Wars Story Did to Its Best Character, L3-37
**Spoilers for Solo: A Star Wars Story ahead!**
Across the board, the women of Solo deserved better than what they got. I’ve already gone into my Val feelings and the criminal underuse of Thandie Newton. I found Emilia Clarke to be miscast, with little chemistry between her and Alden Ehrenreich, but even on paper, her character was a cookie-cutter femme fatale. Enfys Nest is a badass with a cool character reveal, but she lacked significant screentime.
But the character I can’t stop thinking about is L3-37, the outspoken droid voiced by Phoebe Waller-Bridge who, in the end, was just too much for this movie to know what to do with. When I first saw Solo, L3 was by far my favorite character. Her entire arc is a soul-searching, activism-driven adventure disguised as comedic relief. On top of that, she explodes the ongoing question of droid sentience in the Star Wars universe. After L3, how can we look at droids the same way? Where once they appeared to be basically just semi-conscious cute/funny/helpful metal pets and pals, now it’s hard not to see them as forced servants that have, at best, been brainwashed into contentment.
The more I think about L3, the more layers unfold, and the darker her story gets, especially when we think about her fate after the end of Solo. L3 is essentially killed during her Kessel droid rebellion. But when the gang needs the use of her advanced navigational system, they upload it into the Millenium Falcon. It’s a move that immediately drew comparisons to Black Mirror.
There’s a part of Solo that can be construed as the darkest, most Black Mirror thing to happen in all of Star Wars and I’m curious if anyone else felt that way.
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) May 25, 2018
We’ve seen this in a few Black Mirror episodes, like White Christmas and Black Museum, where a person’s consciousness is trapped inside some sort of machine, doomed to carry out a silent, eternal existence with the sole function of serving or amusing human beings. When I first saw the comparisons I waved them off as interesting but hyperbolic. While I was watching Solo, I thought the decision to upload L3’s systems into the ship was jarring and possibly callous, but I suppose I made some assumptions about a separation between her faculties (like her navigation system) and her full consciousness. Surely her fate couldn’t be that dark.
And then the official Star Wars Twitter account went and destroyed my assumptions by tweeting out this quote from C-3P0 first meeting the “MilL3nnium Falcon” in Empire Strikes Back:
— Star Wars (@starwars) May 31, 2018
So it’s not just L3’s data that lives in the ship. Her voice, and presumably, at least to some degree, her personality, also live on. I suppose we’re supposed to feel some sort of bittersweet satisfaction in the idea that she at least gets to live alongside her friend and partner Lando Calrissian, but then he goes and loses the ship to Han. So now L3 is forced to live inside a ship, forever serving this guy she barely knows.
What a terrible fate for a character whose entire goal was to liberate droids from servitude. I know they were in a dire situation, but did no one–not even Lando–think about how disrespectful and even downright cruel their decision to upload her was? Everything she fought for, everything she valued, is disregarded, and she’s treated as a soulless, inanimate object. By the end of the movie, L3 is living her worst nightmare, and she’s doomed to stay there permanently.
Ultimately, L3-37 has a deeper, more complicated story than maybe any other character in Solo: A Star Wars Story. It’s just that the movie doesn’t seem to know it.
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