It’s fair to say that Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker divided fans, with many enjoying its sense of nostalgia and spectacle while other criticised its storytelling and apparent “rewriting” of previous movie The Last Jedi.
all the chatter has led some to wonder what version of the movie we would have had if original writer/director Colin Trevorrow (who departed the film in 2017) had stayed onboard, and now we may have our answer – because a script outline has appeared online claiming to be what Trevorrow and co-writer Derek Connolly were planning, sparking great interest among Star Wars fans.
Is the script genuine? Disney and Trevorrow are keeping quiet, though outlets including The AV Club and Playlist claim to have independently verified that it’s real – but if it is true, it tells a remarkably different story to what we ended up getting from Rise of Skywalker.
To begin with, there’s no return of Emperor Palpatine (bar for a cameo appearance in a recorded hologram), there’s a new title – Duel of the Fates – and an entirely different mission for Finn, Poe et al. The leakers even claim to have access to the script’s opening crawl, which reads as follows:
The iron grip of the FIRST ORDER has spread to the farthest reaches of the galaxy. Only a few scattered planets remain unoccupied. Traitorous acts are punishable by death. Determined to suffocate a growing unrest, Supreme Leader KYLO REN has silenced all communication between neighboring systems. Led by GENERAL LEIA ORGANA, the Resistance has planned a secret mission to prevent their annihilation and forge a path to freedom…
Following on from this, the main story for Finn (John Boyega), Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) and a couple of the droids was to head to the opulent space-city world of Coruscant well known from the prequel movies, now largely a shanty town built on the original grand structures but hiding a massive “Force Beacon” that when activated would call allies to their side.
Later, Rose is captured and tortured, while Finn manages to raise an army from disaffected stormtroopers like himself on Coruscant. Oh, and early in the movie they steal a whole Star Destroyer, which comes in handy for the final battle.
Meanwhile, Rey (Daisy Ridley, already sporting a double-bladed lightsaber forged from her staff and Luke’s broken saber), unsure about whether she should take up the mantle of a Jedi (or whether the Jedi should even exist), heads to a distant world with Poe (Oscar Isaac) and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) to, er, discover… something… about her powers.
Elsewhere in the script Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) heads to Darth Vader’s fortress on Mustafar where he encounters a hologram of the Emperor left for Vader, which suggests he track down a “Lovecraftian” alien Dark Side figure called Tor Valum. The Sith holocron also explodes and injures his face, which he (oddly) tries to fix with “smelted Mandalorian armour” apparently, before eventually finding and training with this mysterious Sith Master.
Throughout Kylo’s quest, Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker appears to him as a Force Ghost, trying to get him to turn back to the Light at the same time as Luke tries to encourage Rey to accept the ways of the Jedi.
In the end Rey and Kylo battle on the planet Mortis while the Force Ghosts try (and fail) to save the soul of Ben Solo, with Supreme Leader Kylo Ren “extinguished” at the end of the battle. Meanwhile the First Order, the Resistance and the new allies summoned by the Force Beacon (and Finn’s stormtrooper pals) battle in and around Coruscant, with the Resistance eventually claiming victory there.
So yeah, there’s a lot going on here – for a more in-depth picture you can check out this Reddit thread – with plenty of key differences from Rise of Skywalker. Yes, Kylo dies in both but in the actual Episode IX he’s redeemed first, reclaiming his identity as Ben Solo. In the Duel of the Fates version, he dies a villain still, and is actually revealed to have killed Rey’s parents many years before (presumably while pretty young, no?).
Speaking of, despite Rey finding out more about her parents in both versions of the story, this supposed Trevorrow/Connolly draft has no trace of Rise of Skywaker’s big revelation that she’s the granddaughter of Emperor Palpatine – who (as noted above) doesn’t appear in the story.
It’s also worth noting that Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico (who many believe was unfairly sidelined after episode VIII) plays a much larger and more significant role in this hypothetical version of the script, John Boyega’s Finn has more to do and even Hamill’s Luke Skywalker plays a more central part in the story. (No Lando, though.)
But would this version, if it was ever an option in the first place, actually be a better movie? Well, it’s hard to say. While a lot of the differences listed above do seem to counter some of the decisions that were criticised in Rise of Skywalker (Rose’s sidelining, Rey’s new backstory), it’s very different to read something in a script to seeing it on-screen, and it’s possible that a lot of story elements that might seem exciting in a leaked outline would go down like a lead balloon in the cinema.
And we would never have even heard of Babu Frik, if you can imagine such a world.
Still, it’s an interesting exercise in what-if filmmaking that we’re sure fans will be talking about for a very long time – with an emphasis on the “if” given that, once again, we don’t actually know for sure if this is real.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is in UK cinemas now