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The Star Wars franchise has been greatly expanding over the past few years, thanks to Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. New ground has been broken in the form of standalone films and the upcoming Mandalorian TV series, but the real focus is still on the main franchise. J.J. Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker will conclude the nine-film narrative that started with A New Hope, and the pressure is on to deliver a threequel that serves multiple purposes.
Fans are especially intrigued to see how J.J. Abrams will follow up on the subversive choices Rian Johnson made in The Last Jedi back in 2017. One of the biggest twists revolved around Rey's parents. Her lineage was one of the biggest mysteries going into The Last Jedi, but Kylo Ren revealed she wasn't related to any of the Jedi we knew and loved; she was no one. But Abrams is teasing that the story might change in Episode IX, recently saying:
I will say that we knew, going into this, that this movie, it had to be a satisfying conclusion. And we were well aware that that’s one of the things that’s been out there. I don’t want to say that what happens in Episode VIII [didn’t happen]. We have honored that. But I will say that there’s more to the story than you’ve seen.
Well, that's cryptic. While not revealing anything concrete about the contents of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, it doesn't look like J.J. Abrams is going to let the story of Rey's parentage end with Kylo Ren's reveal in the last movie.
J.J. Abrams' comments to ABC News are sure to illicit a mixed bag of emotions from Star Wars fans. One one hand, purists might believe that Abrams retconning Rian Johson's creative choices is a cop out. After all, it ruins the emotional response Daisy Ridley gave in the scene, and cheapens one of the more significant moments in The Last Jedi.
But Rian Johnson's Star Wars sequel was extremely divisive, and his various plot twists weren't all well received by the fandom. Luke became a jaded recluse, Leia manifested her Force abilities, and Snoke was unceremoniously killed off before his origin was revealed. But the handling of Rey's parentage is perhaps the biggest sore point among certain fans.
In the year between The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, fans theorized endlessly about who Rey's parents might be. Luke, Obi-Wan and Leia were all tossed around, which is why Kylo Ren's explanation was so disappointing. She was no one, and her parents were smugglers who sold her off. But now it appears that there's more to the story, so it should be fascinating to see if/how J.J. Abrams adds to his hero's origin.
There's still quite a lot to unpack about Kylo Ren's admission in The Last Jedi, for both moviegoers and Rey herself. Because once the lights came up on Rian Johnson's Star Wars debut, fans were left wondering if Kylo was telling the truth. After all, Adam Driver's character was desperately trying to convince Rey to join him and rule the universe, so he'd say anything to try and emotionally manipulate her.
Throughout The Last Jedi, Rey and Kylo Ren connected through The Force, and lamented their fates. Rey was convinced hat she could bring Ben Solo back into the light, and his murder of Snoke originally seemed like just that. But he refused to back down, and asked her to join him as they let the past die. Rey ultimately refused, and Kylo Ren revealed that she was the daughter of unnamed smugglers and thrown away like trash on Jakku.
But one has to wonder how exactly Kylo Ren is privy to this information, given that not even Rey knows where her parents ended up after leaving her. He presumably learned it from Snoke, but he didn't mention it to Rey until The Last Jedi's third act. What's more, he doesn't actually make the revelation himself. He forces Rey to admit her deepest fear: that her parents were nobody. Then he just confirmed it in an attempt to get her to join the Dark Side.
As a reminder, you can check out the scene in question below.
Upon re-watch, there certainly does seem to be some wiggle room for J.J. Abrams to play with in The Rise of Skywalker. No proof was presented in the revelation about Rey's parents, and she was too busy for the rest of The Last Jedi's runtime to bring it up to anyone. As such, her parentage should be one of the many big questions that is ultimately answered when Episode IX finally arrives in theaters.
Of course, the fandom has had well over a year to process the events of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. So once again flipping the canon on its head might elicit some negative reaction from moviegoers. Star Wars has always been a franchise that relied on twists, but doing an aboutface in regards to Rey's origin is a bold move. And we've already seen how the fandom negatively reacted to Rian Johnson's bold directing choices.
If J.J. Abrams doesn't retcon Rey's lineage in The Rise of Skywalker, his comments did tease that there may be more to the story than we're aware of. Perhaps he found a way to change up her backstory without totally ignoring the narrative Rian Johnson brought to theaters with The Last Jedi. Clearly Disney was happy with his work, as Johnson is developing his own Star Wars trilogy.
J.J. Abrams will be able to wrap up the story he began back with The Force Awakens, and hopefully give his characters some satisfying conclusion. He also has the added pressure of ending the Skywalker Saga forever, so there is a ton of pressure about bringing Episode IX to theaters. But the first trailer was powerful, and teased the group of heroes finally all together for one final adventure.
Answers are coming shortly, as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.