With some significant time having passed since the release of The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams' first Star Wars film was an even more highly ambitious undertaking than we probably realize. With the movie having the massive weight of passing the torch of the Skywalker Saga, it had to bring in a mixture of nostalgia and newness to the series. There were a whole lot of storylines that were set up, though Star Wars novelist Alan Dean Foster is speaking up about one that didn't make the cut.
Alan Dean Foster was a ghost writer on the original novelization of Star Wars, which was initially credited solely to George Lucas. Foster also wrote the first Star Wars novel to not be based on a movie in 1978, Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, a prequel-era novel called The Approaching Storm and the novelization for The Force Awakens. While discussing his involvement with a galaxy far, far away on Midnight’s Edge, Foster spoke about the Force Awakens novelization and confirmed a scrapped storyline:
There were a couple of things in there, and a couple of things that happened subsequently that bothered me. I'm going to tell you one thing they made me take out because enough time has passed, I don't think it matters. There was obviously the beginnings of a relationship between John Boyega's character and Daisy Ridley's character. I expected to see that developed further in Episode VIII [The Last Jedi], and zero happened with it.
As we know, The Last Jedi changed the course of much of the ideas established in Force Awakens, some of which were explored again (and once again retconned) in J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker. In Force Awakens, we certainly sensed some chemistry between Finn and Rey and perhaps expected some development in their relationship as the films progressed but, by the end of the sequel trilogy, it didn’t amount to much.
Alan Dean Foster certainly sounded a bit frustrated about how the sequel trilogy played out, also throwing some shade at The Last Jedi during the conversation, calling it a “terrible Star Wars movie.” The author actually wrote a treatment for Episode IX that involved the realization that Rey had a partial droid brain to explain how quickly she could pick up things, such as flying the Millennium Falcon. His version was never placed under consideration.
By the time Rise of Skywalker ended, there was a looming question about Finn that was left to the imagination and pertains to the life or death confession he wanted to make to Rey. As Abrams confirmed at a panel, he was going to tell her he was Force-sensitive, but this being left out of the film robbed the character of a big moment. Finn’s diminished role in Star Wars has certainly been a huge topic of discussion since the release of Rise of Skywalker and one that John Boyega spoke out about candidly this year:
What I would say to Disney is do not bring out a Black character, market them to be much more important in the franchise than they are and then have them pushed to the side. It’s not good. I’ll say it straight up.
Finn’s relationships with many of the other characters in the films was left quite open-ended, with Boyega teasing he was involved in a “love pentagon” prior to the release. Many were hoping for Poe/Finn, but there were all sorts of pairings within the sequel trilogy that were simply thrown out by the time the Skywalker Saga ended.
The sequel trilogy may never live down heated debates of what could have been, but Disney does have a massive line-up that will give fans an espresso dose of Star Wars, including Patty Jenkins’ exciting Rogue Squadron movie coming in 2023.