In 2019, the Skywalker Saga, which began in 1977 with the world’s first blockbuster “Star Wars: A New Hope,” ended with “The Rise of Skywalker.” Unlike Disney’s other big 2019 wrap-up, “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Rise of Skywalker” did not see much love from fans or critics. While the lukewarm reception to the last three entries in the series is surely due to a tremendous web of factors, sleuths have honed in on one bump in particular: the lack of a “plan,” or creative coherence going into the series.
Following the even more contentious reception to the early 2000’s Prequel Trilogy, George Lucas sold Lucasfilm, and by extension “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones,” to Disney. After years of development, “Lost” and “Star Trek” alum JJ Abrams helmed “The Force Awakens,” with Rian Johnson and Colin Trevorrow slated to helm the other two sequels. Trevorrow later dropped out, with Abrams returning shortly before filming began to finish the trilogy.
Early in 2020, a script for Episode IX (then titled “Duel of the Fates”) leaked online. While it’s not certain whether or not this version was Trevorrow’s story, or one of the rewrites ordered by Lucasfilm between Trevorrow’s exit and Abrams return, it’s generally trusted as a legitimate script for the movie. This version featured Carrie Fisher’s Leia front and center (this draft was written shortly before her 2016 passing), as well as larger presences for Rose and Finn, no redemption arc for Kylo Ren, and an ancient, Lovecraftian Sith Lord named Tor Valum.
Obviously, this version is tremendously different from what we got in “The Rise of Skywalker.” Recently, however, it came out that before the Disney sale, George Lucas had his own plans for a sequel trilogy. In this trilogy, Darth Maul would return as the villain, with an apprentice named Darth Talon. Just like in the “Clone Wars” animated series, Maul would return sporting robotic legs. And, like Trevorrow’s “Duel of the Fates,” Leia would be the story’s central character, being described as “The Chosen One.”
So, where does that leave us? What ended up being made into the last three Skywalker films certainly divided fans. However, the other projects wouldn’t necessarily have been any better. Also, these films fell apart for a reason. Trevorrow was preoccupied with other projects, namely his “Jurassic Park” reboot series (which is hugely successful on its own), and Lucas decided to shelve his own reboot to instead raise his newborn daughter, and he hasn’t yet returned to directing since 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith.”
Any movie is incredibly tough to make, and a film trilogy on the level of “Star Wars,” with the involvement of thousands of people, years of time, and literal billions of dollars even more so. Frankly, it’s a miracle that these movies are watchable at all, and more than a little crazy that they are as good as they are.
Regardless, if the sequel trilogy we got wasn’t your cup of tea, it’s not like there isn’t plenty more “Star Wars” content coming to keep you entertained.