Escape Pod: Wedge Antilles

The coming sequel trilogy has put a lot of value on the presence of the older generation of heroes and on the impact they had. While it remains to be seen how the Rebellion/Alliance will fare in the new continuity, it’s a safe bet that a New Republic still exists even if it’s not necessarily by that name. In that new Republic the vested veterans of the Rebellion, the heroes of the original trilogy, will likely have influential positions, just as they did in the Legends stories. Leia will likely be a politician still, Han may be a military officer, and Luke a veteran Jedi Master, perhaps the head of a new Jedi Order. But they are not the only veterans of the war against the Empire.

Consider one Wedge Antilles.

The only veteran of the attacks on both Death Stars and only supporting Rebel character to appear in all three original trilogy films, Wedge is a favorite character even for film-centric fans. His survivor traits in the films became the cornerstone of a much more detailed and nuanced character in his Legends incarnation. Wedge became more than just a pilot who got lucky enough to survive through years of the Rebellion. He suffered from survivor’s guilt, he struggled with the rigors of command and the challenges of politics in the post-Empire years, he fell in love (twice), eventually married and became a father.

The lion’s share of characterization comes from Wedge’s appearances in the “X-Wing” novel series. Both Aaron Allston and Mike Stackpole gave him command of their fighter groups, Stackpole focused on Wedge’s sense of justice and willingness to do the unusual as he deftly led Rogue Squadron to help take Coruscant, then mutinied from the New Republic in order to pursue Ysanne Isard. Allston also built upon Wedge’s affinity for oddity by making him the leader of Wraith Squadron, where even the unorthodox was not outlandish enough. Through it all, Wedge progressed from a fighter pilot leading other pilots to a General able to maneuver through the political sphere as deftly as he’s able to shoot down TIE fighters.

“All I can see is my life flashing before my eyes. But that’s okay: I always skip the boring bits.”

After commanding New Republic fleets for many years, including winning decisive victories against the Yuuzhan Vong, Wedge retired, intending to live quietly on Corellia with his wife and young daughters. But galactic conflict called him back time and again, and though he was reluctant to heed the call to adventure, age did nothing to slow him down or hinder his piloting prowess. His last appearance, leading a private strike and rescue team against renegade Galactic Alliance forces to save his daughter and her comrades, the new Wraith squadron, highlighted that, while a new generation of pilots had arrived, the old one still had some tricks up their sleeves.

Wedge would be an ideal addition to the cast of the sequel trilogy, whether or not the new continuity would have him retired from active duty by the time of Episode VII or beyond. Retired, he could be a private contact for the prospective heroes, a source of information. If still active, Wedge could be a member of the Republic military’s power structure who aids the new heroes while providing a foil to their more madcap antics, especially if fellow Corellian Han Solo features heavily. And that’s without taking his more specific EU exploits into consideration. While we don’t yet know how much of Wedge’s post-Return of the Jedi resume will survive into the new continuity, referencing his time with Rogue Squadron and Wraith Squadron would be easy to do from both a writing and continuity standpoint. Wedge’s background as a commander of unorthodox missions and wrangling explosive personalities would factor well into supporting the new generation’s variety of characters.

“Here’s the truth: I kill the enemy so someone, somewhere—probably someone I’ve never met and never will meet—will be happy.”

Denis Lawson, the actor who played Wedge in the original trilogy, already turned down a small role in Episode VII because, like Alec Guinness before him, he’s bored of it and not impressed by the franchise. But there is no reason he could not be lured back for Episode VIII provided the paycheck is large enough. Even if Lawson did not reprise the role, it’s possible that they simply recast the role and bring on another actor of similar age or experience. Lawson is not the only actor to play Wedge in the OT, after all. And while the exact role Wedge himself would play in the new movies might be ill-defined at this point, the potential he has in a supporting role should not be overlooked.

Wedge may be a movie-originating character, but nearly all of his character comes from the Expanded Universe, and he would be one of the characters most hurt by discarding everything the novels and comics from yesteryear brought to the table. Wedge helped to define the IU years post-RotJ, especially in the Bantam era of publishing, and was a central character in the New Republic’s drive to take Coruscant away from the Empire. Using him to help define that era again would benefit the new films infinitely more than any title scroll would.