‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’: How Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron Is Really His Own Worst Enemy

Just as Oscar Isaac’s career was about to explode, he landed a gig most of his peers could only dream of. As Poe Dameron in the Star Wars sequel trilogy, Isaac channeled a similar rogue-ish attitude as Harrison Ford’s Han Solo. But over the past few years, Isaac has appeared frustrated by the course of the trilogy itself. Much like Ford, he seems ready to move on to other things.

Although Poe has evolved significantly from one installment to the next, the “Disney overlords” — Isaac’s words, not ours — have held the character’s story back from reaching its full potential. So Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker feels largely like the actor’s last hurrah as the character. Good thing the movie finally tries to resolve Poe’s story arc.

Oscar Isaac at the 'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' European premiere
Oscar Isaac at the ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ European premiere | Mike Marsland/WireImage

Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron almost got killed off in ‘The Force Awakens’

Early in the development of The Force Awakens, Poe wasn’t expected to make it too far into the story. In fact, the crash-landing he and Finn (John Boyega) make on Jakku was supposed to be the end for Poe. Alas, production changes meant Isaac could re-emerge in the third act. So, rather than dying early to build stakes, Poe leads the assault on Starkiller Base.

His cocky attitude and rebellious streak positioned Poe as the sequel trilogy equivalent to Han. But in many ways, Poe’s more like a combination of Han and Leia (Carrie Fisher). Whereas Poe has the former’s pilot skills, he is deeply entrenched in the Resistance. In fact, Poe ultimately becomes a pivotal figure in its leadership by the end of the sequel trilogy.

‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ taught Poe Dameron about true leadership

Poe’s story in The Last Jedi serves as a deconstruction of sorts on his flyboy attitude. Filled with hubris and an impulsive need to prove himself, the character even leads a mutiny against Vice Admiral Holdo (Laura Dern) in Leia’s absence. But by the end, Poe begins to realize his own character flaws. As such, he finally starts to grow into the leader the Resistance needs.

Rae Carson — an author who most recently penned the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker novelization — recently spoke about where the third chapter finds Poe. While Carson’s novel is based on the film, she has the opportunity to include details that would never make it into the film. As she sees it, Poe’s true struggle isn’t against the First Order but lies within himself.

“Poe is still struggling with the mistakes he made in The Last Jedi, and a little baffled at how easily General Leia and others in the Resistance have accepted and forgiven him,” Carson told StarWars.com. “But his continuing journey in the final episode is learning to forgive himself.”

But ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ actually forces him to put it into practice

Because Leia teaches Poe what leadership truly means in The Last Jedi, Poe views himself through a different prism. As a result, he becomes more self-aware of his own opportunities for growth. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker highlights exactly how far Poe has come, revealing he has a past as a spice runner. And as Carson points out, he’s already less judgmental of his peers.

“Something I found particularly admirable about Poe is how he extends that grace to others,” Carson told StarWars.com. “For example, when Rey believes she might have caused Chewie’s death, he does not offer even a hint of condemnation but rather pushes on with the mission.”

Over the course of the sequel trilogy, Poe evolves from a thrill-seeking Resistance pilot who relied solely on instinct to its new leader. He ultimately spearheads the assault and destruction of the Final Order’s fleet. And while it doesn’t seem likely Isaac will return to the role, fans are already curious where Poe’s story goes after The Rise of Skywalker ends.