As with any teaser, the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker saved the best for last. The final scene of the two minute trailer shows Rey, Finn, Poe, and the others coming upon the half-sunken ruins of a Death Star. Then the screen fades to black and we hear a hauntingly familiar cackle to confirm Emperor Palpatine’s return. But where are they, and why are the seeking out the Death Star wreckage?
As it turns out, the Death Star’s appearance in Star Wars: Episode IX may very well be a leftover from the original script for The Force Awakens. As Polygon reminds us, Lucasfilm was contemplating the Star Wars sequel trilogy before George Lucas ended up selling the franchise to Disney. In fact, screenwriter Michael Arndt had already penned a draft of a script for The Force Awakens. However, as we know, Lucas later parted ways with Lucasfilm and the project was turned over to JJ Abrams.
Death Star in The Rise of Skywalker a Leftover Idea from The Force Awakens
Returning to the Death Star was an idea from the very beginning of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Arndt, in speaking to Entertainment Weekly back in 2015, noted that two proposed themes for The Force Awakens “were a search for Darth Vader’s remains, or a quest to the underwater wreckage of the second Death Star to recover a key piece of history about sacred Jedi sites in the galaxy.”
The idea was solidly considered, so much so that there was even art prepared to illustrate the concept. That concept art is featured in The Art of Star Wars: the Force Awakens. Granted, The Force Awakens obviously took the story in another direction. Notwithstanding, it’s very common for unused concepts from prior films to find their way into the sequels.
Given the confirmation of Palpatine’s presence in The Rise of Skywalker, there’s a good chance that the Death Star carcass at which Rey and the others arrive is the second Death Star from Return of the Jedi. Endor may have been a forest moon, but images from ROTJ clearly show large bodies of water on the moon’s surface. Perhaps the Skywalker saga is coming full circle, after all.
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