If there is a story behind the story of the Star Wars franchise under Disney, it is one of creative turnover. Writers have been replaced, directors have been fired, and inevitably and undoubtedly, the creative direction of multiple films has been changed. This creative turnover has led to a myriad of ‘What if?’ scenarios centered on the Star Wars talent that ultimately didn’t work out.
One of those names that didn’t work out is director Colin Trevorrow. We are rapidly approaching J.J. Abrams’ Episode IX, but it wasn’t originally intended to be J.J. Abrams’ Episode IX, it was supposed to be Colin Trevorrow’s. Announced as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX in 2015, Trevorrow was later removed from the project and eventually replaced with Abrams. But what if he wasn’t?
When you come to the end of any journey it is a worthwhile exercise to look back and reflect on where you’ve been and ponder the paths not taken. One of those branching paths is Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX. In lieu of a time machine, lets look at what we know, what we don’t and try to imagine where that path would have led.
What if Colin Trevorrow had directed Star Wars: Episode IX?
Why He’s No Longer The Director
Before diving into what Colin Trevorrow’s vision for this trilogy and saga-capper might have been, it’s worth taking a look at how we got to this point, where J.J. Abrams and not Colin Trevorrow is doing press rounds as the director of Star Wars: Episode IX.
Colin Trevorrow made his feature debut in 2012 with the indie flick Safety Not Guaranteed before diving headfirst into the blockbuster realm with Jurassic World. When Colin Trevorrow boarded Episode IX in 2015, he was coming off the massive success of the dino franchise revival earlier that year. But that juice would not carry him to the finish line of the Sequel Trilogy’s closing chapter.
As with all of the talent removed from Star Wars in recent years, the exact reasons for Colin Trevorrow’s exit are opaque, but there are rumors and speculation to sort through. With Colin Trevorrow, there was talk the director’s brash personality impacting things. There were also reports that he simply wasn’t getting the job done in the way Lucasfilm wanted and that he had produced an unsatisfactory script.
When his movie The Book of Henry flopped and was positively lambasted, that seemed to be the equivalent of Palpatine executing Order 66. Whatever the reason, ultimately Colin Trevorrow was fired from Episode IX. But what if he wasn’t?
What Did His Episode IX Look Like?
We don’t know for sure what Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX would have looked like because like most of the directors who have departed Lucasfilm ahead of schedule, he isn’t laying out his vision. Not to mention the fact that we haven’t even seen Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker yet to establish where J.J. Abrams’ vision differed. For his part, Colin Trevorrow has not talked much about it, saying that he doesn’t want the behind-the-scenes creative stuff to detract from the magic of these films.
But a few nuggets about Colin Trevorrow’s vision have slipped out, giving us some small insight into his vision that we can speculate on. First though, Colin Trevorrow has said that Princess Leia was going to be a major character in his Episode IX. But like J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker, even if he would have stayed on as director that would have been changed in some way. Whether he would have handled it the same way J.J. is, we don’t know.
We’ve also known for a while that Colin Trevorrow had Rian Johnson shoot a scene for Star Wars: The Last Jedi to help set up Star Wars: Episode IX, but until recently we didn’t know what that scene was. In an interview with Empire, Colin Trevorrow confirmed that he asked Rian Johnson to include a moment where Rey and Poe meet for the first time, saying that he wanted these two beloved characters to have some history heading into his film.
That makes sense considering that Rey and Poe did not meet in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and if there was any sort of time jump for Episode IX that would pick up with Rey and Poe knowing each other, seeing their first meeting would help set that up. The way the scene plays out in The Last Jedi, you could definitely interpret it as setting up a potential romance between the two. Whether that was Colin Trevorrow’s intent or if that’s just the way Rian Johnson directed it, we don’t know.
But considering that this is the one thing Colin Trevorrow asked Rian Johnson to include, we can surmise that Rey and Poe would have had some major interactions in Episode IX, be it a romance, a team-up or something else.
Speaking of Rey, another thing we’ve heard about Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX is that actress Daisy Ridley had quite an emotional reaction to it. According to Book of Henry actor Bobby Moynihan, Colin Trevorrow told Daisy Ridley Rey’s fate in his version of Episode IX and upon hearing it she burst into tears.
Whether those were sad tears or happy tears, we don’t know for sure, but it sounds like the director, who was writing the film with co-writer Derek Connolly, had a very emotional end in mind for Rey’s arc. I think it’s safe to say that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will also have an emotional story in for Rey, but it seems unlikely that it’s the same or emotional for the same reasons as Colin Trevorrow’s story.
Earlier this week, there was a rumor that purportedly shed light on Colin Trevorrow’s vision for Episode IX and Rey. In it, Rey’s parents would have been nobodies, as established in The Last Jedi, but Rey and Kylo Ren had a past. Rey’s mother would have been a housemaid and cook in the Solo household and nanny to Ben Solo, so Rey and Ben would have grown up together.
According to the rumor, the film ended with a confrontation between Rey and Kylo in the Solo family home, concluding with, of course, Ben Solo’s redemption. Other details involved Leia dying, but not before getting a lightsaber; red stormtroopers and the First Order erasing memories and brainwashing people. These rumors were so wild that Colin Trevorrow actually spoke up, refuting that any of this was in the script that he and Derek Connolly wrote.
Making Star Wars has since apologized and clarified that these details pertain to the Jack Thorne script for Episode IX that would have been directed by Trevorrow (Jack Thorne was brought in to help with the script before Trevorrow’s exit). So, if true, this is a version of what Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX could have looked like, but not the version and certainly not his preferred one it would seem.
The Emperor Probably Wouldn't Be Back
Also in his interview with Empire, Colin Trevorrow, who is returning to the Jurassic World franchise to direct 2021’s Jurassic World 3, revealed that bringing back the Emperor was all J.J. Abrams’ idea and it’s something that he never even considered. Colin Trevorrow has admitted that the script for the end of the Skywalker Saga was a tough nut to crack and while it’s possible he would have eventually stumbled upon Sheev, his vision for Episode IX did not include Emperor Palpatine.
This has multiple implications and raises a few questions about Colin Trevorrow’s story for the movie. For one thing, J.J. Abrams has said that looking at the Skywalker Saga as a nine-part story, it would be weird if Palpatine didn’t show up. Whether he had this in mind when he was making The Force Awakens, we don’t know. It certainly seems possible, especially given his favorite Prequel Trilogy scene.
Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy has said that Palpatine’s return was always the plan, it was just a matter of figuring out how to do it. Colin Trevorrow’s comments about the Emperor’s comeback being J.J.’s idea seem to contradict that. If Lucasfilm indeed had an overarching plan for the Emperor to be the final boss, you would think Colin Trevorrow would have been clued in on that when he came aboard to write and direct.
So if Darth Sidious wasn’t in Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX, who would have been the big bad? After the events of The Last Jedi, there would seem to be really only two options. One, Kylo Ren would have ascended and the conflict would have been between his First Order and the Resistance led by Rey. Or two, Supreme Leader Snoke would have returned somehow to give someone for Rey and Kylo to unite against. It’s possible there is a third option, but who is anybody's guess.
He Still Contributed To The Rise Of Skywalker
Beyond who would have filled the Palpatine-sized hole in Colin Trevorrow’s Star Wars: Episode IX, there’s a lot we don’t know. We don’t know what the story would have been or what new characters would have been introduced and how he would have wrapped up the Skywalker Saga. That said, from our current vantage, we don’t really have answers to most of those questions for J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker either.
What we do know is that despite being fired as director, Colin Trevorrow is still receiving a “story by” credit for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, along with Derek Connolly and the two brought in to replace them, J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio. Trevorrow is going to donate his residuals from the film, but it would seem that his vision was not erased entirely.
At least some vestige, even a small one, of the story that Colin Trevorrow was working on when he was set to direct Episode IX made it into The Rise of Skywalker. I imagine that the exact story points he contributed, like the answers to most of our ‘What if?’ questions, will remain a mystery.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker blasts into theaters on December 20. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of what’s headed your way next year.
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Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.