In “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” history was made with the introduction of Val (Thandiwe Newton), the most prominent Black woman to exist in live-action “Star Wars” media up to that point. Introduced a clever rogue married to Tobias Beckett (Woody Harrelson), the character doesn’t last long in “Solo.” During a heist gone awry, Val is one of two close allies to Beckett that ends up perishing. Sacrificing herself to ensure that the mission can be finished properly, Val dies. The first major set-piece in “Solo: A Star Wars Story” isn’t even finished yet, and a promising character is already out the door.
Given that this development exists solely to motivate Beckett’s subsequent actions, the demise of Val can’t help but feel like a classic example of fridging. Fridging, as explained by Vox, is a narrative device that sees a female character die to motivate the story’s protagonist. This tiresome narrative staple feels especially out of place in a “Star Wars” movie, given how often this franchise has been all about subverting expectations rather than giving in to them.
The lack of other Black women in “Star Wars” also makes this death extra disappointing, with Newton commenting on this subtext in an interview with Inverse a few years after “Solo” hit theaters. Val could’ve been a landmark “Star Wars” character, but instead, she was a disappointing example of how little notice Black women get in this franchise.