This Leaked Concept Art For The Rise of Skywalker Could Have Made a Much Better Star Wars Finale
Shortly after an allegedly leaked script breakdown from Colin Trevorrow's original vision for Star Wars IX set fans into a frenzy, early concept art for the film appears to show a very different version of The Rise of Skywalker. And it looks metal as hell. There's a painting of Chewbacca strung up in a torture chamber, his hairy arms shackled by a hanging metal chain. We see Kylo Ren sprawled out on a Sith throne with Rey, dressed in dark garb, standing at attention to his side. And there's even a rendering of Rey brandishing Kylo Ren's cross guard lightsaber, the blades positioned right around Ren's neck, ready to make the execution. What was this movie? I want to see this movie!
Though it's not been verified by Disney, this concept art looks too damn good to be fake. It reveals a vision for Episode IX that is every bit as dark and gutsy as the finale to the Skywalker saga ought to be. They look legit. And to make these even more curious, many of the details in the concept imagery correlate with the plot points that were leaked in Colin Trevorrow's (also unverified) Episode IX script breakdown. Which, by the way, was called Duel of Fates, and sounded fucking fantastic.
As the Trevorrow breakdown also described, rather than bring Palpatine back from the dead, the original concept for Episode IX was apparently centered around the main hero and bad guy–Rey and Kylo Ren. These leaked images don't show a single rendering of Palpatine, making the Duel of Fates leak seem even more verifiable now. And both the breakdown and this concept art depict an appearance from the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi. The white, bearded version of him. Which means they were thinking of doing some VFX magic to get Alec Guiness's likeness back on screen. Maybe they were planning on Irishmaning Ewan McGregor?
We have no way of knowing the order of events in these concept images. Since they match up pretty well with the Duel of Fates beats, it's fun to imagine these as illustrations from a story with a beginning, middle, and end. At some point in the original story, it looks like Rey and Kylo fought in a red throne room with red lightsabers. And Rey was going to go full-Jedi Master green too! But concept art doesn't always correspond with plot points. A lot of the brutalist, almost nightmarish imagery here could have just been ordered up to set the tone for Episode IX, which, when all is said and done, did amount to a fairly metal Star Wars movie.
So many things change in film production.When I spoke with Anthony Daniels, he told me that J.J. Abrams had been changing the ending of Rise of Skywalker up until the last few months prior to release. So we can't really look at concept art or loose script breakdowns and yell, "Where can I watch this version of the film?!" It doesn't exist. There is no Trevorrow cut. For all we know, many of these images in here could have been modified by the time production even started.
But boy, does this shit look pretty cool. Kylo Ren facing down some beastly Sith dogs in what appears to be Darth Vader's castle. Rey wielding her trusty long staff with short lightsaber blades sticking out of the ends. And before I forget–Oscar Isaac sporting a huge glorious, MLB-player-during-playoffs beard.
Now we just need an animator to give some life to these scenes.
This story originall appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by Esquiremag.ph editors.