SPOILERS ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker almost cut a major moment between Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). I don't mean their battles -- like Cap, they could do that all day. No, I mean that k-i-s-s-i-n-g scene that thrilled Reylo fans (for about three seconds, then they were mad) and sent some others groaning.
It wasn't the most controversial kiss in cinematic history. It may not have even been the most controversial kiss in Episode IX, since those two women we never knew kissed and got some people riled up. But still, it was a definitive statement about dynamic between Rey and Kylo/Ben and there were versions of the film without it. Do you think there would be more or less backlash without that kiss? Or maybe no change? Hard to gauge what casual fans think. Not everyone cares about Rey and Kylo's platonic-or-not relationship.
Kylo Ren/Ben Solo brought Rey back to life and she went in for a kiss. It was either so good or so bad, it killed him. (OK, it wasn't the kiss that killed him -- and I shouldn't just about Ben Solo dying or I'll face this kind of wrath.)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker editor Maryann Brandon has been joining co-writer Chris Terrio and director/co-writer J.J. Abrams in interviews explaining some of the choices made for the film. In the same interview with HuffPost where she talked about fans not needing to know how Palpatine returned, Brandon explained how she and J.J. went back and forth on whether the Rey and Kylo kiss scene should happen.
Maryann Brandon told HuffPost she cut different versions of "should they/shouldn't they."
I always said, ‘The movie will tell us whether they should kiss or not. We will know by the time we get to the end of our process, if it should happen.’ And I felt it should, and [director J.J. Abrams] agreed with me, and other people who saw the film agreed.
Maryann Brandon singled out the moment Adam Driver smiles as Kylo Ren, noting that it's the first time we get to see him smile across three movies. She loved that, and of course Reylo fans were briefly happy. Brandon said she knew that kiss scene wouldn't please all Star Wars fans.
I know it’s not for everybody. I know there will be people who wish they hadn’t, but this is a film that was never going to please everyone, and I think that the reviews are kind of reflective of that. The things that certain people love, other people hated. And that’s the phenomenon of Star Wars.
Well, that's certainly true. Some fans were wondering if Rey would end up a biological Skywalker as opposed to one by choice. That didn't happen, since she's a Palpatine, although some fans have been trying to use this argument to say the Emperor is Anakin's father and then Rey and Kylo would be blood relations.
There was a video that was working the rounds showing J.J. Abrams talking about how he saw Kylo and Rey as brother and sister, but that was clarified to be Abrams discussing their dynamic in The Force Awakens, before he knew how the relationship would develop.
Not everyone is happy at the idea of Rey and Kylo being romantic; John Boyega upset some fans by pointing out the violence of their relationship, among other things. But that kiss -- plus everything that came before it (wanting to take his hand, etc.) and Rey choosing his family as her own -- was tied to their deep connection. A Force Dyad, for whatever that means.
Maryann Brandon also defended Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from complaints about fan service. Not that everything is about complaints -- many, if not most, fans seemed happy with Rise of Skywalker. I do think we have to pick our battles, and we're not all going to agree about the most important ones. That Rey and Kylo kiss, for example, was huge validation for some fans and the characters' entire dynamic would've changed without it. That would mean nothing to some viewers but a great deal to others. A choice was made. Would you have made the same one?