A long time ago, in a movie theater not too far away… a series of films came out that captured the imagination of movie fans everywhere. The Star Wars franchise has been a giant among the most loved movies ever made. The original trilogy has been held up as sacred. When it came time for the Prequels, original fans were a little let down, but young fans embraced them. They have finally aged into their place in Star Wars canon.
When Lucasfilm was sold to Disney for a staggering $4.5 billion, fans knew it was only a matter of time before we finally got some films with some of our favorite characters returning to the big screen. The first two divided audiences, but the third may have been the one that really made fans wonder what was happening behind the scenes. There didn’t seem to be a plan for the new films, and every director went by the seat of their pants. Originally, director Colin Trevorrow was supposed to come in and direct the final film, capping off this trilogy and paying off on storylines from the first two films.
When The Rise Of Skywalker was released, fans began to wonder what the original plan for the film was back when it was titled Duel Of The Fates. Why did Trevorrow leave? What was the actual plan for the film? Let’s find out all that and more here on What The Fuck Happened To This Unmade Film?
In 2015, it was announced that Trevorrow would be directing the last film in the sequel trilogy. JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson had done the first two films, and now Trevorrow would get to come in and tie everything up for this series of films. He began working on the script with Derek Connolly.
In the first two films, Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren were introduced as the leading characters for the new series, along with returning classic characters like Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa, and Han Solo. Rey was an abandoned junker who had dreams of flying in the stars. Finn was a Stormtrooper who decided he didn’t agree with the First Order and defected to the Resistance. Poe was a pilot working with the Resistance. Kylo Ren was actually Ben Solo, who had turned to the dark side of the force and now idolized his grandfather, Darth Vader.
In The Duel Of The Fates, we would have seen The First Order winning the battle against the rebellion. General Hux has appointed himself Chancellor. They have taken control of Coruscant, and they publically execute anyone who helped the Resistance. Finn Rey Poe and Rose steal a ship and reconnect with the rebellion led by Leia.
Meanwhile, Kylo Ren has been hanging out in Darth Vader’s old castle on Mustafar. There, he finds a holocron which leads him to seek training from the 7000-year-old Sith Tor Valum. He is known for training the Emperor’s master, Darth Plagueis. Kylo learns the ability to absorb life energy from another being. He uses this technique to kill Tor Valum.
Rey studies the old Jedi texts to learn that in the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, there is a device that they can use to restore the galactic communications system, which The First Order had blocked. Leia can use this to plea to the entire galaxy to stand up to the First Order. Rey keeps having visions of herself fighting Kylo Ren on the planet Mortis. The group decides to split up, and Finn Rose R2-D2 and C3PO head to Coruscant to find the device while Rey seeks out Mortis with Poe and Chewbacca. Leia reaches out to Lando Calrissian to see if his network of smugglers can help them with their battle against The First Order.
Finn and Rose find the communications device and activate it. Rose ends up getting captured, but Finn can get away. He runs into stormtroopers, and after some fighting back and forth, he can convince them to defect to the rebellion. They agree to help him rescue Rose.
Just as Rey discovers Mortis’s location, her group is attacked by the Knights of Ren. During the battle, Rey remembers that they were responsible for killing her parents. As her hatred rises, she kills one of them with force lightning. Sith are typically the only ones who can wield that power. She fears that she is falling to the dark side and leaves her friends to travel to Mortis alone.
Finn leads a resistance to overthrow the First Order on Coruscant. His group consists of former stormtroopers, droids, and fed-up citizens. Lando Poe Chewbacca and the Resistance army show up to join Finn, and they can overtake The First Order troops. General Hux ends up committing suicide to avoid capture by using a purple lightsaber. When Rose is released, she rewires part of the First Order’s capital ship. When it tries to leave Coruscant, it crashes above the planet.
Rey and Kylo Ren confront each other on Mortis. He blinds her, and she nearly dies. The Force Spirit of Luke Skywalker arrives to support Rey, and she recovers. She and Kylo battle once again, and she tells him that their masters were wrong before. They should embrace both sides of the force to balance themselves.
Rey defeats Kylo, but he starts to drain her life energy. Leia feels this disturbance in the force and reaches out to Kylo Ren. She convinces him not to kill Rey, and instead, he transfers his life force into her. Just before he dies, he tells Rey that her last name is Solana. Rey is on the verge of death when Luke Yoda and Obi-Won Kenobi appear before her. They offer her a choice to continue living or to cross over. We don’t see her decision.
We jump ahead and learn that Finn and Rose are settling down on a small planet. The children they have show signs of being force-sensitive. Rey then appears on their doorstep and says she will train their children in a balanced use of the force.
Some of the big changes included more of Luke’s Force ghost playing a bigger part in the story and that Kylo Ren would have died without being redeemed. R2-D2 apparently would have been badly damaged, but after the script leaked, Trevorrow commented that he would have been repaired by the film’s end. Emperor Palpatine would have only appeared in one scene. He would have been a holographic image with the Holocron that Kylo Ren discovers at Vader’s castle. Thankfully, he wouldn’t have been resurrected during the crawl at the film’s beginning like we ended up getting in.
Lando would have been portrayed as still living the life of a smuggler. He would have been living in lavish accommodations on a casino planet. Probably the same one we saw in The Last Jedi. He comes to Leia’s aid because of their past history in the resistance. We would have seen that he hates the First Order but has made the best out of a bad situation for himself to live a luxurious life. Billy Dee Williams has said he liked the Duel Of The Fates version of Lando more than what we ended up with in Rise Of Skywalker.
Online critics have lauded the script as it gives characters like Finn and Rose more to do. One of the big complaints about Rise Of Skywalker is that all the minority characters get pushed to the side. They do nothing of consequence and are mainly reduced to background characters. It became such a problem that John Boyega spoke out about how Disney sidelined all the minority characters and did very little to help the actors when they began to receive death threats. Duel Of The Fates gave the characters more agency and actual things to do rather than support Rey.
It also followed through with some of the plot threads put forth in the previous two films. Rey remained a nobody who happened to be force-sensitive rather than a direct genetic link to the use of force lightning. Kylo Ren remained unredeemable because of his past actions.
The biggest thing that would have had to change was Leia’s involvement with the film. After the death of Carrie Fisher, her character would not have been able to be as involved with the story as she was. This could have seen Lando step up to a bigger role or another character (Poe, anyone) to take her place.
Why did Trevorrow end up leaving the film? The official response given is the dreaded “Creative Difference,” which could really mean anything. When asked about it, the director himself has only said he likes to remember his positive experiences working on the film as these films are magic to fans. When the directors start to talk about how they are made, he believes they begin to lose that magic.
Other unconfirmed reports have revealed that Kathleen Kennedy didn’t like his script and didn’t like working with him. Some say that he had a very big ego after his Jurassic World film blew up as big as it did. Trevorrow himself has stated that most directors have to have an ego as part of the job. When his film The Book Of Henry flopped upon release, it was thought Kennedy used that as a reason to part ways with the director.
She was much more diplomatic when asked about it during an interview, saying she felt he was at a disadvantage from the start. He hadn’t been involved with the production meetings on the other two films, and with a deadline approaching, she felt he didn’t have time to catch up. Instead, JJ Abrams was brought in, and the script was re-written.
While nothing official has ever been made of the unmade script, graphic artist Andrew Winegarner decided to draw it as a comic. He released the whole thing for free on his website. While promoting it on his Twitter profile, both writers Colling Trevorrow and Derrek Connolly liked the tweet, seemingly signing off on using the material.
We’ll never know how fans would have responded to this unmade film. Maybe it would have been the film they were looking for or even been more hated than Rise Of Skywalker. At least we had a chance to see into another reality and wonder, “What If . . . ?”