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The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker reveals the movie’s Rey Skywalker twist at the end was planned back before The Force Awakens released. Star Wars planned The Rise of Skywalker’s Rey Skywalker twist before The Force Awakens released. In the film, Rey concludes her journey by taking on the Skywalker name, symbolically…
The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker reveals the movie’s Rey Skywalker twist at the end was planned back before The Force Awakens released.
Star Wars planned The Rise of Skywalker’s Rey Skywalker twist before The Force Awakens released. In the film, Rey concludes her journey by taking on the Skywalker name, symbolically rejecting the dark side in her blood and embracing the light. Like many creative choices in The Rise of Skywalker, this proved to be extremely divisive. Some people felt Rey’s choice marked the Skywalker family’s ultimate victory over Palpatine, definitively ending their decades-long conflict. Others thought the scene played as heavy-handed fan service that closed the saga out on a whimper, rather than a triumphant note.
One of the more common criticisms lobbied against the sequel trilogy is that the narrative wasn’t planned out in advance. While there are benefits to giving directors creative freedom on their films, Lucasfilm’s approach arguably led to a series of movies that were seemingly at odds with each other (see: the number of perceived Last Jedi retcons in The Rise of Skywalker). The studio’s habit of using tie-in publications like official novelisations to clear up muddled plot points like Emperor Palpatine’s return is also seen as proof of a lack of a plan. However, one of The Rise of Skywalker’s most notable twists was established well before the Star Wars renaissance kicked off.
The book The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker details a Lucasfilm story group meeting taking place in May 2014, roughly a year and a half prior to The Force Awakens’ premiere. Pablo Hidalgo had this to say about Rey’s role in the saga and how she could still be a Skywalker even though she wasn’t born into that family:
“I like the idea that she’s going to be our Skywalker, but she’s not a Skywalker. Then, for our purposes, ‘the Skywalker’ is really a metaphor. It doesn’t have to be something that’s directly connected to blood.”
From this, it sounds like the sequel trilogy was always going to build up to the Rey Skywalker scene. Lucasfilm was apparently thinking ahead and establishing a foundation for the new films early in their development. It’s unknown if the plan was for Rey to be Emperor Palpatine’s granddaughter at this stage (Abrams initially wanted to bring the classic villain back in Force Awakens), but based on Hidalgo’s quote, she was never going to be a biological Skywalker or Solo. That’s interesting to consider, and it shows the studio was designing ways to expand the franchise’s traditional concepts. Obviously, a Skywalker was always the protagonist in the Skywalker saga instalments, but this idea takes it a step further by revealing one doesn’t need Skywalker blood. To become a Skywalker, one only has to choose a specific way of life. In a way, it connects to The Last Jedi’s core theme that a hero can come from anywhere.