With Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at hand, it would be easy to assume the strength of the Force and its most important secrets were known to both the characters and the audience. But the screenwriters, writer/director J.J. Abrams and co-writer Chris Terrio, reportedly have other ideas they’ve been eager to explore. When the ninth and final chapter of the Skywalker Saga hits theaters on Dec. 20, according to Terrio, it will have much more to teach us about what the Force can do in the fight against the First Order.
The Force is, of course, a central pillar of Star Wars lore, and nearly every film prior to Episode IX has added its own notes on what the mystical power can and cannot do. In the original trilogy, summoning a lightsaber to one’s hand with only a thought was considered impressive, and watching the Emperor shoot lightning from his fingertips one movie later stunned audiences. Subsequent movies, and more than a few pieces of expanded media, have given almost superhero-esque abilities to the Jedi, the Sith, and other users of the Force, and while both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi consciously tried to pull back on the idea of the Force as a superpower, audiences have never stopped expecting it to be used in a big, impressive way – or reacting negatively when it’s used in a way they hadn’t considered was possible.
Pushing that definition of the Force is almost a Star Wars tradition at this point, and it’s one of the things Terrio told Empire he and Abrams were most heavily interested in addressing. “‘How strong is the Force?’ It sounds a little simple, but actually when you get down to it, that is a sort of Zen Koan that [Abrams and I] would really meditate on.” The Argo screenwriter adds, “We would discuss, ‘What is the Force and how strong is the Force?’ Those two things were really important.” Understanding the answers to these questions, he says, was equally as important as understanding who the character of Rey is and what she can do – which is ultimately the second question driving the plot of The Rise of Skywalker, at least as far as Terrio is concerned.
“‘Who is Rey?’ […] is a question that people not only wonder about quite literally, but wonder about in the spiritual sense,” he says. “How can Rey become the spiritual heir to the Jedi? How will she find the courage and will and inner strength and power to carry on what she’s inherited?”
These questions will, no doubt, excite many fans while filling others with anxiety. Anyone who still feels a bitter taste in their mouth over the whole “midichlorians” debacle knows just how bad things can go when the Force’s “power level” is over-explained. Terrio gives no indication as to how he and Abrams explore the potential of the Force in their film, so one fan’s guess is as good as any right now. As for Rey, whose character has been both beloved and derided ever since The Force Awakens, reopening the question of her literal heritage might be a red flag for viewers who were happy with The Last Jedi’s “no one” twist, but could also signify the tying of a thematic link that some fans feel is missing between the previous two movies. Is Rey a Kenobi after all? What will she discover about the strength of the Force? Come December when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker releases, we’ll all know for sure.
Key Release Dates
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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