John Fuge of MovieWeb is quite right when he states that there are indeed fans that are a bit upset about how Admiral Ackbar, the Mon Calamari leader and general in Return of the Jedi, was treated during his brief time outside of the original trilogy. Though it might not matter to some, Ackbar ended up dying of old age in the EU, which is obviously a slightly better way to go than to be blown up by the First Order in a brief moment of recognition on screen that’s there and gone in an instant too quick to really capture unless one is going frame by frame through The Last Jedi when he’s blown up along with other Resistance leaders. It was the kind of moment in which a director appears to be saying “Oh, here’s one of your favorite characters, BOOM I blew them up, sorry not sorry.” Of course that’s not a direct quote but to many that enjoyed having Admiral Ackbar in Return of the Jedi it was the kind of insult to the character that didn’t really fly and could have been easily remedied if someone had been willing. Even Tom Kane, the voice actor that lent Ackbar his gravelly tone, had this to say:
“I’ve been Ackbar for about six years… and I was not really thrilled about how they blew him out the side of the ship. I’m like, ‘Who is this Holdo woman? Nobody knows her, no one’s invested in her – who is she? Why is she saving the fleet?’ If anyone was gonna save the fleet it’d be Ackbar [laughs].”
Let’s be fair and say that Holdo’s position in the Resistance was to be the uber-feminist plan to make the movie appear more ‘woke’ when in truth it nearly made Laura Dern’s character one of the most pointless and hated characters in the franchise. Heck, some folks might have even preferred Jar Jar Binks to be on board rather than have to listen to Holdo for another second. But it’s kind of true that a lot of fans would have rather seen Ackbar take on the role of saving the fleet since that’s the kind of character he’s been made out to be for so long. He’s selfless, he cares more about the Resistance than just about anything and its preservation is of great importance to him. To think that he was just wiped out that quickly and without any fanfare is kind of hard to take without offense since Rian Johnson trampled over Star Wars in a big way with his intentional foibles that he believed were better off than they might have been if he’d pandered to the fans. Yeah, good call, if the goal was to anger one of the largest fan bases around. Matt McGloin of Cosmic Book has more to say about this.
The question of how Ackbar rose through the ranks is pretty easy to go back and check since he was a personal aide of sorts to Grand Moff Tarkin and being an alien he wasn’t given much thought by the Moff at the time, who believed that Ackbar was more or less incapable of understanding half of what went on around him. That of course was the same arrogance that a lot of high-ranking officers in the Empire had and it was at one point their downfall since they didn’t plan for anything but victory and wouldn’t accept that their way or their ideals could be wrong. But it was because of this arrogance that Tarkin never really learned that Ackbar had been absorbing everything he heard until it was too late and the Rebels had really dug in their heels in an attempt to stop the Empire from continuing forward with their domination of the galaxy. If there are big plans for Ackbar in the Star Wars universe at this time it’s going to have come from well before Rise of Skywalker and The Last Jedi since his history does extend quite a ways throughout the original story and even fought in the Clone Wars, meaning that he’s been around for some time and done quite a few things in his life. Snuffing him out in TLJ wasn’t just a bad idea, it was a discredit to a character that’s been a part of Star Wars for some time and that fans have come to appreciate.
It would be great to see him on the big screen again but it would have to be a movie that takes place between the original trilogy or it might have to be a standalone movie that shows just how he rose to his position and how he was eventually enslaved by the Empire, where he learned even more and became even more astute at warfare. However it happens this character does need a better showing in the franchise than he’s been given thus far.