Chewbacca medal

It’s a question that’s haunted Star Wars fans for almost four decades now: why the hell doesn’t Chewbacca get a medal at the end of A New Hope? Luke gets one, and Han gets one, but Chewie, despite having been present for just as much of the action, gets overlooked. Did the medal store run out? Does Chewie have a principled stance against trophy culture? Is Leia secretly an anti-Wookiee racist?

Thankfully, the latest issue of the Chewbacca comic book series finally clears things up. Hit the jump to find out just what the deal with Chewbacca and that Medal of Bravery. 

Warning: Spoilers for Chewbacca #5 ahead.

The last issue of the Chewbacca miniseries, by writer Gerry Duggan and artist Phil Noto, puts an end to the Chewbacca medal debate once and for all. Near the end of the issue, Chewbacca prepares to part ways with Zarro, a young girl he befriended after crash-landing on her planet. The pair have spent the past few issues on an adventure against the Empire, and Zarro admits she wishes she had something to recognize her and Chewie’s valiant deeds.

Chewbacca (1)
[via io9]

… So Chewie gives her a very special gift.

Chewbacca (2)

Zarro might not know what the medal is, but any Star Wars fans should recognize it instantly. It’s a Medal of Bravery, just like the ones Leia put around Han and Luke’s necks on Yavin 4 after the destruction of the Death Star.

But why, if Chewie had a medal this whole time, have we never seen him wear it? Simple: it’s just not his style.

Chewbacca (3)
[via Tech Times]

It’s still unclear why Chewbacca didn’t get the medal at the ceremony, like his friends did, but at least Star Wars fans can now rest easy knowing he got one. And keep in mind that the Chewbacca miniseries, like all Star Wars comic books published after Disney took over Lucasfilm, is canon. Chewbacca has a medal now and no one can take that away from him. (Though giving it away, clearly, is another matter.)

Duggan and Noto are not the first to try and explain the Chewbacca medal mystery. Making matters more confusing is that, according to Wookieepedia, in the novelization published shortly before A New Hope hit theaters, Chewbacca actually does get a medal. But after fans wondered why he doesn’t in the movie, George Lucas hand-waved it away by claiming that Wookiees just don’t like medals.

Then, later on, Lucas said Chewbacca did get a medal, just not during the ceremony we saw in A New Hope — because, you see, Leia was too short to put it around his neck. A 1980 comic titled The Day After the Death Star! shows Leia giving Chewie his medal in a private ceremony the next day.

Chewbacca (4)

This would seem to contradict the notion that Wookiees don’t like medals, but Today I Found Out explains that the comic reconciled Lucas’ earlier assertion that medals “don’t mean much” to Wookiees by having Chewie reject the medal at first, and only accept it at Han Solo’s insistence.

In fact, for a guy who supposedly doesn’t care for medals, Chewie’s done pretty well for himself. He also picked up a MTV Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. At the MTV Movie Awards, Peter Mayhew — in full Chewbacca gear — went up to the stage to accept the prize, which was presented to him by Princess Leia (i.e., Carrie Fisher). The achievement award just so happened to look like a Medal of Bravery. You can watch the whole cute exchange here (via Mental Floss).

Of course, none of this is canon now. The A New Hope novelization, Lucas’ comments, and The Day After the Death Star! were thrown out of the official, Disney-approved Star Wars canon along with the rest of the pre-Disney Extended Universe, and it’s safe to say no one ever considered the 1997 MTV Movie Awards canon to begin with. But it just goes to show that even if Chewie never actually got to wear a medal in A New Hope, no one in our galaxy has ever forgotten his courage in the Battle of Yavin.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: