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J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker might have hit theaters back in December, but the blockbuster continues to dominate conversations in pop culture. The Star Trek director had a ton of narrative ground to cover throughout Episode IX's runtime, so plenty of concepts ended up on the cutting room floor. One of which would have brought back an iconic Star Wars species: Tusken Raiders aka the Sand People of Tatooine.
Tusken Raiders have a long history in the Star Wars franchise, dating back to George Lucas' original movie A New Hope. It turns out that was the potential connection to The Rise of Skywalker, as Rey traveled to Tatooine in the movie's final moments. That's where the Raiders could have appeared if those plans came to fruition. Check out the concept art of that sequence below.
FOMO alert. It looks like Rey's final moments in The Rise of Skywalker could have featured a not so subtle nod to the original movies, as well as the prequels. Let's break down exactly what we're being shown, and what the Tusken Raiders could have brought to Episode IX.
The above image comes to us from Twitter, and features the work of concept artist Adam Brokbank. In it we see Daisy Ridley's Rey back on Tatooine, on her way to bury Luke and Leia's lightsabers in a memorial service of sorts. And when touring the moisture farm that Luke once shared with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru.
When touring the place and feeling Luke's presence, Rey would have run into some Tusken Raiders who were scavenging for equipment within the moisture farm. Although after she lit her lightsaber, the creatures would have quickly run away. Who can blame them?
While this sequence ultimately didn't make it into Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's 142-minute runtime, I personally wish it was included. Namely, because it would have been a smart reference to the previous two trilogies of movies. Obviously including the Tusken Raiders most closely associates with A New Hope, as they appeared as antagonists in the movie's first act. But they've also got a pivotal role in the Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
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In Episode II, Anakin travels home to Tatooine to rescue his mother Shmi from a camp of Tusken Raiders. She ultimately dies in his arms, which moves Anakin one step close to becoming Darth Vader. His hate and grief fueled him as he slaughtered the entire camp of Raiders, including women and children.
If Rey encountered the Tusken Raiders on The Rise of Skywalker and merely scared them off with her lightsaber, it would be in stark juxtaposition to way Anakin Skywalker handled his own conflict with the aliens. It could symbolize how Rey succeeded where Anakin did not, as she failed to ever fall to the Dark Side during her tenure in the galaxy far, far away.
But in the end J.J. Abrams had too much storytelling to cover in The Rise of Skywalker, and plenty of concepts ended up on the cutting room floor. The final sequence on Tatooine would end up being brief, although still powerful. Because after giving Leia and Luke's lightsaber a sand burial, Rey declares herself as a Skywalker.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray and Disney+. Check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.