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Colin Trevorrow Star Wars Script Leaks: Was It Better Than Rise of Skywalker?

Oscar Isaac and John Boyega in Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker (2019)

While Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker just passed one billion dollars at the global box office, it wasn’t, let’s say, a runaway hit with fans of the franchise. We’ve talked a lot about what went wrong and right with the movie (mostly, things went wrong) but much of the shoddy, unsatisfying nature of the final product could be pinned on the fact that J.J. Abrams and screenwriter Chris Terrio were working on a truncated schedule to write it after original writer and director Colin Trevorrow was fired from the film.

Well, now thanks to leaks of his original script, we know what Trevorrow’s film might have been. These leaks appeared earlier this week on the StarWarsLeaks subreddit of Reddit, a place that’s been pretty good with getting legitimate information and since then, the legitimacy of the script and details have been confirmed by /Film and The AV Club.

This early draft of the film was titled Star Wars: Duel of the Fates, a reference to the iconic piece of music (and best sequence) from The Phantom Menace. The opening crawl wouldn’t have started with “THE DEAD SPEAK!” so that’s already an improvement. In general, the purported opening text was pretty straight forward:

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 …

There’s no Palpatine, but he is sorta part of the plot. Kylo Ren finds a message from the dead Emperor to Vader. It directs his apprentice to find Palpatine’s sith master or teacher, a guy named Tor Valum, in the event of Palpatine’s death. This seems weird since I thought Darth Plagueis was Palpatine’s master, but … yeah.

This version of Episode IX does seem to build a lot more on the promises and ideas in The Last Jedi than the movie we got. As Kylo searches the galaxy for power, he’s haunted by Luke’s force ghost who attempts to sway him to the light, paying off on Luke’s “See ya around, kid,” in The Last Jedi. It also doesn’t change Rey’s parentage: she remains a “nobody” and is pretty angsty about it and everything about being a Jedi.

Luke’s ghost also hangs around Rey. In a moment where Luke appears to Rey, she directly calls out how the idea of “Balance” in the force is foolish if that means obliterating the dark side or vice versa. “Balance? The dark suffocates the light, light extinguishes the dark. Over and over and over again. How is that balance in the force?” Rey says. And that’s pretty interesting.

The Resistance is handicapped by no weapons and no communication, but they manage to steal a Star Destroyer and discover a Maguffin under the Jedi temple, a “Force Beacon” which they could use to signal other planets. It’s just on Coruscant—which the First Order has taken over. That’s fine though, Rose, Finn, R2 and C-3PO go to light it and Rey gets a pep talk from Leia: “You’re not like my father or my brother. You’re new. Whatever happens, remember the force choose you Rey. Your story isn’t written by anyone else.”

Again, love that as a message the builds on Last Jedi. And it continues to subversions. Like Luke trained with Yoda, Kylo trains with Tor Valum and goes into a cave to confront his light self—the part of him that felt love, just like Darth Vader did. Kylo fights Darth Vader and loses (uh, yes please?).

Eventually, Kylo and Rey end up fighting on a planet called Mortis and the force ghosts of Luke, Yoda and Obi-Wan try to get Kylo to turn back … and he doesn’t. He’s defeated and dies unredeemed. So is the First Order, after Finn, Rose, and company start a people’s uprising on Coruscant. Chewie flies an X-Wing. Lando rallies the smugglers. Leia lives I think, but Han also reaches out to his son.

It’s also revealed that at some point Kylo found Rey’s parents and killed them, but it’s unclear where or how—or even why, since they remain “nobodies.” It’s very clear the Kylo is meant to be a completely unredeemable villain, but I’m not sure how that works into the balance of the force or the end of the Jedi.

I like a lot of this actually. It’s much more of a logical extension of The Last Jedi and the populism of it sounds really interesting. But it lacks some of the things that were actually really good about The Rise of Skywalker: the core trio together as a group, an important role for Poe, and the Redemption of Ben Solo. But I also would have loved to see a stolen Star Destroyer and Kylo v. Vader.

I think a perfect movie would have fused some of these ideas, and I really wish that instead of throwing this script out completely, Terrio and Abrams had built on it and incorporated their better ideas. Of course, who knows how that would have turned out or how a Trevorrow-directed Duel of the Fates would have worked on screen. At least we’ll always have Babu Frick.

(via /Film, image: LucasFilm)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.