What if I told you that Mace Windu is alive? You would probably remind me that he was blasted out of a window into the depths of Coruscant by Palpatine in Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. He died, of course.
In the films, we see the death of several main characters. We often watch them take their final breath. Anakin, Padme, Yoda, Qui-Gon, Count Dooku, and Jango Fett are all visibly depicted as being dead on camera. It would be absolutely impossible for these characters to return.
But what about the characters that we never see die? That we only presume have met their doom? Mace Windu, Darth Maul, Bail Organa, even Palpatine, all "die" off-screen, admittedly suffering what would appear to be mortal injuries. Indeed, Bail was blown up with Alderaan, right? Wasn't he one of the "millions of voices" that cried out? That's what we think. But for these characters, the lack of a body leaves a small window of opportunity.
Briefly, let us examine Mace Windu's death scene.
Did Mace really go through something that he could not survive? He took a blast of Force lightning to the face, sure. So did Luke Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. In fact, Mace gets hit with Palpatine's lightning for about 15 seconds - all at once - while Luke is lit up repeatedly, including for over 20 seconds straight during the Emperor's final attack. Luke appears to recover from the longer dosage rather quickly. Surely the Force lightning that hit Luke was not any weaker than what Mace received. Sidious intended to kill both Jedi with his attacks, after all. But we are to surmise that Mace Windu suffered through less and was killed almost instantly? The evidence doesn't quite add up. So, would the death of Mace come from his fall? True, Mace was quite high up when he was launched from Palpatine's room... but we see Jedi fall from impossible heights and turn out just fine many times! Mace could have grabbed on to a speeder like Anakin did in Attack of the Clones. Perhaps the biggest thing that would have doomed Mace would have been being unconscious when he fell. Not impossible, but certainly contradictory to the effects of Palpatine's lightning attack on Luke.
When making this argument, I have been presented with the idea that death is permanent in Star Wars. A return from the dead is unprecedented in George Lucas's canonical representation of the saga. A few years ago, that would have been a valid argument. But it is no longer true.
When creating a theory, I always think it is a good idea to look at the most recent Star Wars content that could be considered canon, because we know that content mirrors George Lucas's vision. What better source for insight into what can and can't happen in Star Wars than George? Regardless of how you feel about him, Lucas is the Alpha and Omega of the galaxy far, far away. If he says something is possible, it is possible - whether we like it or not. When I'm told that Star Wars characters stay dead and therefore the discussion of Mace's survival is folly, that forces me to pause. Our most recent history actually indicates the opposite!
George was directly involved in the final seasons of The Clone Wars, essentially creating the stories and giving his stamp of approval on the details. The tales that we see on The Clone Wars fall under Lucas's credit just as much as any Star Wars movie. What happened on that television show wasn't even a simple representation of George's universe - it was his universe. And George Lucas showed in his most recent venture in Star Wars that those presumed to have passed on weren't quite six feet under. Want to see some examples?
Darth Maul. He was cut in half. He fell down a shaft that was who-knows-how-deep. He was believed to be dead for twelve years. Despite all of that, George Lucas personally decided that Maul was actually alive during The Clone Wars. Bearing robotic legs and fueled by a desire for revenge, Maul made his mark on the series. Despite being a fan-favorite and considered one of the greatest parts of The Phantom Menace, Maul's return was a controversial plan, but one that Lucasfilm would deem as incredibly successful by the end of the series.
Admiral Trench, a Separatist leader, appeared in Season 1 of The Clone Wars. Despite making an immediate positive impression on fans as an intriguing villain, Trench's ship is destroyed at the end of an episode as torpedoes blast apart the bridge where he was located. Viewers deemed him to be dead and grieved such a quick loss of an interesting new character. To their surprise, Trench had miraculously survived the direct bombardment of missiles, and resurfaced in Season 6 of The Clone Wars, complete with a robotic arm and eye - but very much alive.
Aurra Sing. During her attempt to help Boba Fett kill Mace Windu, Sing crashed the Slave I and was presumed dead by the Jedi. Sing was salvaged from the wreckage and made future appearances on the show.
Echo, an ARC Trooper, was thought to have died during the Citadel Arc in Season 4. Echo appeared in several episodes throughout the series, and appeared to have a heroic end, battling to protect his comrades and putting himself at severe risk, a move that eventually resulted in him being caught in the explosion of a shuttle. Echo's helmet is shown after the explosion, signaling his death to his companions. And while Echo never returned on the show, concept art from Dave Filoni for unreleased episodes showed that, had the series not been canceled, a revelation of Echo's survival would have occurred.
Of these, Darth Maul is the most important example, simply because his apparent death appeared in a Star Wars film long before The Clone Wars was even conceptualized. But all of these examples are either George's ideas or were created under his oversight and permission.
I understand the criticism of bringing a character back when we all concluded was that they were deceased. The argument that it cheapens the story, lowers the stakes, and demolishes suspense are all very valid opinions. I'm not even saying that I disagree. But I am acknowledging that the standard has changed. The Clone Wars has shown that George Lucas's dead don't always stay dead. As we look at a evolving Star Wars film landscape with a need for spin-off films, it's hard to ignore the desire of an actor as renowned and respected as Samuel L. Jackson to return to the franchise. At the moment, I can't fathom a plot that could exist for Mace after Revenge of the Sith, even if he did survive. But what I can't rule out is the possibility.
Would a film audience be able to accept such an idea? Making it believable on a TV show is one thing, but is getting the movie-going population to buy in is totally different? No! No different. Only different in your mind. Films have long pushed the envelope on death, writing the obituary for characters only to have them appear an hour later. Did the resurrection of Gandalf kill the drama in The Lord of the Rings? A recent box office hit (that will remain nameless because of spoilers) presented a very strong case for an audience being able to handle, accept, and even enjoy the return of a character that had been perceived as dead. This plot point of resurrection, in various capacities, is one that I've seen many Star Wars fans worry will damage a film. Folks, the example I'm referring to was so damaging that the film was a hit with the audience's wallets and critics showered the film with praise. Lucasfilm and Disney could consider that a green-light to bring back a character like Mace Windu.
For the most part, I'm playing devil's advocate here. I don't think Mace Windu will return. But I can't discard the possibility that he could, and that George Lucas has revealed a recent affinity for restoring characters to life. How much power does his opinion now hold as a creative consultant on Episode VII and future Star Wars projects?
Declaring Mace Windu dead is all conjecture. We're forming that opinion based on incomplete information.
Mace Windu is not dead. Not if Lucasfilm doesn't want him to be.