by: Jay Carlson – Editor-in-chief
Over the past week there has been a lot of discussion about a deleted scene from The Force Awakens featuring Maz Kanata in the tunnels under her castle.
Collider posted a great interview with some of the TFA SFX team including Chris Corbould, SFX Supervisor at Industrial Light & Magic, who mentioned the scene.
CHRIS CORBOULD: There was a particular part of a scene that never made it, where they go underneath the castle and they’re going into the underground passageways, and stormtroopers are coming down the stairs and Maz uses her powers to collapse the ceiling.
From my point of view, [that] worked absolutely brilliantly because you had all the main actors running up and then Maz does her bit and then the whole ceiling collapses in front of them, but that never made it. That was a shot I was quite proud of, actually, it worked really, really well.
Slashfilm referenced this scene (as well as quite a few others) that didn’t make the final cut of the film in a great piece shortly after the film was released.
“In the original script, Maz Kanata had Force powers. After the First Order begins their attack on the castle, Maz used her Force powers to cause the ceiling to cave in on a group of stormtroopers that had them cornered. In the sequence, Han Solo was forced to stall the stormtroopers to allow Maz to concentrate. There was a funny back and forth between him and the trooper. Han runs out of things to say so he rats out Finn, revealing that he recognized Finn’s stormtrooper boots — this is how he knew he wasn’t Resistance.”
The long evolution of Maz wasn’t just in her unique look, but also in her backstory and place within the film. J.J. has spoken about how Maz initially left the castle after its destruction with Han and crew and went to the Rebel base and delivers the lightsaber to General Leia, but cut it because “it felt it unnecessary.”
Abrams explains the excision to Entertainment Weekly:
“That was a scene actually filmed, but we took out. At one point, Maz used to continue along with the characters back to the Resistance base, but we realized that she really had nothing to do there of value, except to be sitting around.”
In the film Maz tells Rey, “I am no Jedi, but I know the force.” So she confides to knowing the force but doesn’t tip her hand that she herself wields the ability to harness the force in the capacity described by Chris Corbould above.
Given this information it should be of no surprise that at one point the idea of Maz being a Yoda-like character in the new trilogy was considered. There is even a piece of concept art (below) that shows one of the early versions of Maz teaching a group of younglings including a young human female. Perhaps Rey/Kira in an earlier iteration of the story? (Also note the E.T. looking alien in the back).
Perhaps the idea of Maz having force abilities was jettisoned because they decided that that wasn’t the direction they wanted to take the character, OR perhaps Maz’s story was trimmed down in order for some of this to be explored over the next two installments. I’d personally bet the latter since the idea of Maz using the force was taken as far as completed shots and then cut so close to the release. To make it that far I have to believe that they still liked the idea. I think it would be telling if they end up including the scene as part of the 10-20 minutes of deleted scenes on the future Blu-ray release. If they don’t want the idea in people’s minds they’ll surely keep the scene in the vault and keep it out of viewers minds.
I’m also including another early piece of Maz concept art from the process that shows that, like Yoda in the Original Trilogy, they were exploring the idea of Maz being a puppet, rather than a completely CG character (something I think I would have preferred).
What do you think? Will we see Maz Kanata wielding the force in future installments of the Sequel Trilogy? Would you have preferred they keep her force abilities in The Force Awakens?