Will this Star Wars character die in Rise of Skywalker?

The signs aren’t good for one of our heroes…

John Boyega and Kelly Marie Tran in Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Lucasfilm, HF)

While there are an awful lot of big mysteries surrounding upcoming Star Wars sequel The Rise of Skywalker (will Rey turn evil? How has the Emperor returned?), one smaller puzzle also remains unanswered – what happens to Rose Tico?

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After all, Kelly Marie Tran’s engineer-turned Rebel hero was a huge part of 2017’s The Last Jedi, teaming up with Finn (John Boyega) for a special mission and later playing a crucial role in the Battle of Crait – but in the run-up to the release of Episode IX, she’s nowhere to be seen.

Two trailers have been released with nary a shot of her, despite including new characters like Naomi Ackie’s Jannah. That’d be enough to have us concerned, but when you look at the new toy and merchandise lines released for the upcoming movie (revealed at a special event attended by RadioTimes.com in Pinewood Studios), her absence is even more notable.

While many of the main characters have action figures released, Rose apparently does not, and she doesn’t appear in any of the announced Lego sets either, or a boxed figurine set that does include Chewie, C-3PO, Lando, Finn, Poe, Rey, BB-8 and new droid D-0, R2-D2, and new characters Jannah and Zori Bliss (Keri Russell).

She’s not completely absent – Rose has a Pop Vinyl Funko figurine and appears on a t-shirt and one or two other pieces of merchandise – but when combined with her lack of visibility in the trailers, it begins to look a little bit suspect.

Because you see, we do know that Rose is in the movie. Also at the Triple Force Friday launch event Kelly Marie Tran’s costume was on display, and a caption suggested a change in circumstances for Rose in the new movie.

“Rose has risen through the ranks from lowly engineering support crew to military commander,” the caption reads.

Rose's costume (front centre) from Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (Picture - Huw Fullerton, Disney)
Rose’s costume (front centre) from Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (Picture – Huw Fullerton, Disney)

“She leads the Engineering Corps in making the necessary modifications to keep the Resistance’s gear operational, as well as countering new advancements in First Order technology.”

So how do we square her confirmed presence in the film with the lack of fanfare around her? Well, it could suggest that Rose has just been written out to a largely off-camera role (like Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata in The Last Jedi), only appearing briefly in the movie near the beginning and not playing a major part in the heroics this time around.

But given Tran’s importance in the last movie and what appearances she does make in the merchandise, we have another theory – what if Rose dies fairly early in the film?

After all, why exclude her from the trailers unless her scenes were a shocking spoiler? If she played a small part in the film, they could have just included her and no-one would have batted an eyelid. Instead, they’ve notably kept her hidden, which suggests the scenes she is a part of are both few in number and rich in detail the filmmakers don’t want to reveal – and to us, that implies a shocking death.

And her relative absence from the toy lines? Well, she’s not a part of them as much because she’s not a huge part of the story this time, especially when compared to the characters who have been included. Yes, she appears as a Funko figure and yes, it’s possible that LucasFilm are holding back some toy sets she could be included in – but they make Funkos for all sorts of small or one-scene characters, and frankly there’s no reason they’d hold figurines and other toy sets back unless there was something to hide.

Of course, we could be reading far too much into this whole thing, and it could be that Rose is an important part of the film who just hasn’t been included much in the promotional materials and merch.

After all, we know the late Carrie Fisher’s Leia will appear, and she doesn’t feature much in the merchandise, while Mark Hamill’s confirmed-to-return Luke Skywalker has also been absent from toys and footage (though his voice and Leia’s image do appear in the trailers).

Kelly Marie Tran is Rose and John Boyega is Finn in THE LAST JEDI.
Kelly Marie Tran is Rose and John Boyega is Finn in THE LAST JEDI.

With that said, there are mysteries surrounding Luke’s return following his apparent death in The Last Jedi, so his absence makes sense – Rose’s doesn’t. And we also know that Leia’s presence will be limited given that Fisher is only appearing from leftover footage from 2015’s The Force Awakens. Unlike these two characters, Rose has no reason (that we know of) for elements of her storyline to be kept mysterious, or for her role to be cut back – unless her days in a galaxy far, far away are numbered.

Alternatively, it could be that following the unpleasant backlash from some fans towards Tran’s character (which led to her quitting social media and Last Jedi director Rian Johnson coming to her defence alongside Mark Hamill), LucasFilm are just trying to avoid more uproar in the run-up to the film, even possibly limiting her appearances in merchandise out of a belief they won’t sell well.

Still, you would hope that LucasFilm and Disney would be a bit less nakedly cynical than this, especially given that they are introducing new female characters like those played Ackie and Russell, who are likely to receive similar attention to Tran’s Rose and have a pretty strong presence in the merchandise.

No, our money’s on Rose Tico becoming an early victim of the First Order, a tragic end that will spur our other heroes onto their quest. And if we’re right, we may have to ask ourselves some difficult questions as to why the filmmakers really felt she had to go…

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Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is released in UK cinemas on the 19th December