maz kanata in the last jedi

You may need Maz Kanata’s special glasses to get a glimpse the former smuggler’s role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

No, I exaggerate, though the news that Maz Kanata will get a reduced role in Episode 8 after her already minimal screen time in Star Wars: The Force Awakens suggests her appearance may barely be more than a scene or two. Which is bad news for all you Maz Kanata fans out there. Whoever you are.

Lupita Nyong’o‘s motion-capture character was a clear callback to the wizened, diminutive Yoda of the original series — except without the Jim Henson puppet eccentricities. And like Yoda, she was tasked with some clunky exposition in a scene in which she showed off her idiosyncrasies by wearing some funky glasses

While there was much anticipation — and merchandise — surrounding the character, to be honest, she did not capture audience imagination as much as Yoda did. While she offered pivotal information to Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) discovery of her fate and had a good rapport with Harrison Ford‘s Han Solo, her scenes felt like a waste of Nyong’o’s talents.

Still, her appearance was fairly brief, relegated to one exposition-heavy scene in which she gave Luke Skywalker’s long-missing lightsaber to the Force-sensitive Rey. But Maz Kanata’s already brief appearance, which amounted to about 4 minutes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, will be even smaller in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, according to director Rian Johnson.

During the magazine’s wave of Star Wars coverage last week, Johnson told Entertainment Weekly:

“She has a smaller part in this than she has in The Force Awakens, but it’s a really fun part, and Lupita is so awesome. I’m just happy I got to work with her.”

The only way her appearance could be smaller than in Star Wars: The Last Jedi is if it amounted to a cameo with a throwaway line à la Daniel Craig’s Force Awakens Stormtrooper.

Perhaps Johnson isn’t a fan of Maz Kanata, and I don’t blame him. She was a poorly written exposition device, and basically feels like Star Wars merchandise first, character second. Sure she looks cool, but aside from Nyong’o giving it her all in her mo-cap performance, did she really stand out?

Johnson did express admiration of Nyong’o’s mo-cap skills in bringing Maz Kanata to life, and I hope that his admiration could translate to giving the Oscar-winning actress a better role. A talented actress like Nyong’o deserves to shine on the camera, not behind a mo-cap suit. Or perhaps Nyong’o was busy filming her other tentpole role which actually showcases her talents and face on screen, Black Panther.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15.

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