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Rey's lightsaber battle with herself

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It's still hard to believe it, but the nine-film Skywalker Saga has finally come to an end. Moviegoers have been captivated by the galaxy far, far away for decades, since A New Hope changed the industry in 1977. J.J. Abrams completed the story with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which wrapped up the overarching narrative, as well as the sequel story he began with The Force Awakens. The last installment covered a ton of narrative ground, including a glimpse at Dark Rey. And it turns out that sequence almost went full Empire Strikes Back.

Around halfway through The Rise of Skywalker, Rey finds the Sith Wayfinder, and has a vision of battling a Sith version of herself who wields a double-sided red lightsaber. It's a sequence that was teased in the movie's earliest trailers, but an early version of it would have paid a special homage to Luke's dark vision on Dagobah in Empire Strikes Back. Check out the concept art for Episode IX below,

FOMO alert. J.J. Abrams made sure that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was deeply connected to the previous installments in the franchise, including Rey's dark vision of herself. Her journey already mirrored Luke's from the originals, although this specific nod to Empire Strikes Back would have made fans particularly happy.

This piece of concept art comes to us from Adam Brockbank. He's an artist who helps studios visualize their movies during the development and writing stages, and is therefore privy to plenty of concepts that ended up on the cutting room floor. Brockbank worked on the Star Wars franchise before, contributing to the concept art of Rogue One, Solo, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He helped bring Rey's dark vision to life, which could have included a shot of Rey in Kylo Ren's helmet. This is almost an exact remake of an iconic shot from Empire Strikes Back.

Star Wars fans can re-watch the entire Skywalker Saga on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

During his training on Degobah in Empire Strikes Back, Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker has his dark vision. He sees Darth Vader suddenly coming to him, but after striking down the villain he sees his own face in Vader's smoking helmet. It's a lesson about how the Dark Side corrupts, and one that Rey needed as well during The Rise of Skywalker. As a reminder, you can check out the scene in question below.

Honestly, who doesn't love Empire Strikes Back? Its a dark expansion of the universe, and remains the fan favorite installment in the Star Wars franchise. Plenty of sequels have striven to have the same strong sophomore outing, but it's a tall order. And it's that reverence for George Lucas' second installment that likely inspired J.J. Abrams to give Rey her own mask reveal.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker may have hit theaters back in December, but it's continued to dominate the news cycle in the months since its release. New revelations about Episode IX are constantly arriving courtesy of supplementary material like comics and the movie's novelization. Additionally, interviews and concept art helps to peel back the curtain on the movie's development and production.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently available on DVD and Blu-ray, as well as streaming on Disney+. Check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

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