Imagine what could’ve been if Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was done differently (maybe even better, we might add). As it turns out, we may have a lead on such a case.
It appears that an early draft of a script of Star Wars Episode IX written by Colin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly was leaked online recently, and was discussed and broken down in detail by Robert Meyer Burnett on YouTube.
Compiled into text by a hardworking Redditor on r/StarWarsLeaks, Burnett explained that the early script by the Jurassic World writers reveals that the original title for the final episode of the Skywalker saga was to be Star Wars: Duel of the Fates, and oversaw a completely different story than what was presented in The Rise of Skywalker.
What’s interesting is that Burnett reveals that Trevorrow’s draft was dated 16 December 2016, barely a week before Carrie Fisher’s death. While this doesn’t immediately strike us as anything alarming, we do know that this was also the period where Trevorrow and Connolly were both shoved off the project by Kathleen Kennedy and company in favour of J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, who would eventually write TRoS. Food for thought here.
Anyhow, here’s what would’ve been the opening crawl of Duel of the Fates:
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…
Sounds pretty epic, huh? Note how that while it doesn’t sound too different from that of TRoS, it doesn’t include the divisive “the dead speak” phrase that implied Palpatine’s survival. More importantly, paints Kylo Ren in a totally different light, and sets him up as a more enigmatic villain.
The excerpt of the script itself, as described by Burnett, highlights how many characters across The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi were used at various points in the story.
The story for Duel of the Fates opens proper with Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico accompanied by BB-8 on a heist mission of a First Order Star Destroyer. Rey eventually arrives and is then shown to have crafted her own makeshift dual-bladed weapon featuring Luke’s lightsaber fused with her own staff, and is later shown to doubt her ability to become a Jedi and struggles in dealing with that throughout.
Kylo Ren/Ben Solo is shown to be looking for an artifact of great power, while struggling to deal with Luke’s force ghost as he tries to persuade the wayward Solo into ditching the dark side of the Force. Palpatine still makes an appearance, but is reduced to a cameo role and a mere stepping stone to establish Kylo Ren as the Sequel Trilogy’s main antagonist. Eventually, Rey’s and Kylo’s paths converge in a final confrontation in the ethereal Force plane of Mortis, where Kylo/Ben is eventually slain, despite Rey’s and Luke’s attempts at bringing him back to the light side.
The characters in TRoS appear to all be present in Trevorrow’s Duel of the Fates, but the way they were all used is pretty different (including the Knights of Ren, who were given much more screentime here and a much more prominent role). It does spark the imagination as to how the entire closure to the Skywalker saga would’ve been had Trevorrow and Connolly not been fired from the project.
But of course, it would be wise to take this “leak” as a grain of salt, as neither Disney nor Trevorrow and Connolly have confirmed nor denied the existence of such a script. In any case, it still would’ve been a pretty awesome alternate conclusion to the Skywalker saga.
Marion has a serious RPG addiction. Sometimes it bleeds into real life; he forgets to sleep because he thinks he has a Witcher’s body clock. Forgive him in advance if he suddenly blurts out terms such as “Mind Flayer” and “Magic Missile”, because never once does he stop thinking about his next Dungeons & Dragons game.