It’s probably safe to say that if you haven’t seen The Rise of Skywalker by now, you’re not exactly clamoring to. Maybe you don’t care about spoilers, maybe you’re not a big Star Wars fan, maybe you just heard it stinks and would rather wait for it to it Disney+.
Regardless of your reasons, if you do care about spoilers, turn back now. Because while we’re here to talk about a version of TROS that doesn’t exist, we can’t do that without talking about the one that does. And yes, to many people, that one sort of stinks.
The controversy surrounding the production of a Star Wars film isn’t exactly new. Rogue One was largely reshot, Solo ditched directors midway through, etc. Similarly, the divisiveness of Star Wars movies isn’t new. For every person who loves the Ewoks and hates midichlorians, there are two that feel the opposite way. For all the people that love The Last Jedi, there’s a petition asking it to be stricken from the record.
The Rise of Skywalker has been plagued by both issues. The original writer/director, Jurassic World’s Colin Trevorrow, was dumped before filming began and replaced with JJ Abrams, and the movie hasn’t been met with the same acclaim, or booming box office, the studio surely anticipated for the final film in the Skywalker Saga.
But it turns out things could have been different. At least, according to an early version of the script, a review of which originally appeared on YouTube and was soon followed by a breakdown on Reddit. Shortly thereafter, the AV Club verified that the script was indeed Trevorrow’s draft that was jettisoned when he was booted off the flick. (The script was written before Carrie Fisher’s death, so there’s no telling how much that would have impacted its storylines.)
There are many significant changes, starting with the title, Duel of the Fates (fans may remember that this is the name of the song that scores the Darth Maul fight at the end of Phantom Menace). Rose, The Last Jedi’s most polarizing character, has a bigger role, again teaming up with Finn, this time to light a beacon to restore communications the First Order has cut off to stunt the Resistance’s… resistance. Poe and Chewy accompany Rey on a mission to a distant planet, where she wrestles with her, and the Jedi’s, future, while Kylo Ren is tortured by Luke’s force ghost while on the hunt for an evil Holocron.
As for the Emperor? In what is perhaps the biggest difference between the two movies, the original Big Bad does show up, but only as a hologram who tells Kylo to seek out his old master, an enormous “Lovecraftian” monster who trains Kylo and further seals his fate as a Sith, despite Luke, Leia’s and Rey’s attempts to redeem him.
There are a lot more differences – from other Jedis actually appearing as force ghosts rather than just in voice-over, the reveal that Kylo had killed Rey’s parents on Snope’s orders, etc. – and whether they’re better than the movie they made is in the eye of the beholder.
At the very least, the Reddit breakdown makes for an interesting read – at the very least, the opening crawl is better – and adds fuel to the fire to any fans who want to start another petition.