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With The Rise of Skywalker, J.J. Abrams has the daunting task of concluding nine films spanning 42 years, so naturally there are things along the way the writer-director might wish he had been done a bit differently.
Speaking to IGN Japan, Abrams discussed trying to keep the saga cohesive despite changing visionaries along the way — particularly with Rian Johnson’s 2017’s Episode VIII taking the story Abrams launched with 2015’s The Force Awakensinto some unexpected directions.
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Seemingly asked if he had any regrets about how the process panned out, Abrams said there are things he wished he had done differently with Force Awakens, and cited one moment in particular.
“I always look at what I have done and see things that I wish I had done better or differently,” Abrams said. “I wish that Chewie hadn’t walked past Leia in the third act of The Force Awakens after Han died. There are things all over the place I always know I could have done better, but that’s part of learning, I guess.”
Abrams is referring to the scene where Rey returns from Starkiller Base after having witnessed Solo’s murder. Leia embraces Rey as Chewbacca walks on by despite the general’s decades-long relationship with the lovable “walking carpet” and barely knowing Rey.
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The director has previously explained his thinking behind that moment. “My thinking at the time was that Chewbacca, despite the pain he was feeling, was focused on trying to save Finn and getting him taken care of,” Abrams told Slashfilm. “So I tried to have Chewbacca go off with him and focus on Rey, and then have Rey find Leia and Leia find Rey. The idea being that both of them being strong with the Force and never having met, would know about each other — that Leia would have been told about her beyond what we saw onscreen and Rey, of course, would have learned about Leia. And that reunion would be a meeting and a reunion all in one, and a sort of commiseration of their mutual loss … Had Chewbacca not been where he was, you probably wouldn’t have thought of it. But because he was right there, passed by Leia, it felt almost like a slight, which was definitely not the intention.”
That said, don’t expect Abrams to literally make any changes to the movie. During the Rise of Skywalker promotional tour, he was also asked about George Lucas making changes to the original trilogy and noted he wasn’t generally a fan of ongoing tinkering to films. “At a certain point, you have to say, ‘This is what it is,'” he said to NowThis. “And, for me, the idea of going back and making an incremental change or an adjustment to this or that, it just doesn’t — it’s not interesting to me.”
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Rogue One takes place about two decades after the events depicted in Revenge of the Sith and just before those in A New Hope — which means 11 years after the Gorse Conflict and four before Operation Cinder. Yes, the Star Wars timeline is complicated, but, ahead of The Rise of Skywalker, we’ve plotted the essential points for you here, using the Blockade of Naboo as Year Zero.
Qui-Gon Jinn, Jar Jar Binks, astromach droid R2-D2, and Princess Padmé Amidala (ruler of Naboo in disguise) land on the planet Tatooine to repair their ship after escaping the Federation's blockade. They meet a young boy named Anakin, whom Qui-Gon believes is the prophesied “Chosen One” who will bring balance to the Force. —As seen in The Phantom Menace.
In an effort to regain control of Naboo, Padmé aligned herself with the Gungans to face the Trade Federation’s droid army in battle, while she and the Jedi fought to capture Viceroy Nute Gunray. Though the fighting claimed the life of Qui-Gon, Anakin, piloting a fighter ship with droid R2-D2, is able to destroy the Federation’s ship from within, dismantling the droids on the battlefield. —As seen in The Phantom Menace.
Under the supervision of his master, Sidious, Count Dooku (Darth Tyranus) stirs up discontent and sets the stage for the Separatist Crisis by creating a competing government: the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
The Senate votes to give Palpatine emergency military powers, which he uses to build a clone army, created from the DNA of the mercenary Jango Fett. —As seen in Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones.
The Republic’s clone army, under the leadership of Jedi generals, faces off against the Separatists’ drones. The relationship between the clones and Jedi, who are used to working independently, slowly sours. —As seen in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Anakin Skywalker discovers Palpatine’s true identity as a Sith Lord and backs him instead of the Jedi Masters who intended to arrest the duplicitous chancellor. —As seen in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
Palpatine announces he has uncovered a plot by the Jedi to overthrow the Senate and activates Clone Protocol 66, an order implanted in the clone troopers to shoot down their Jedi commanders, including the young Padawan. —As seen in Revenge of the Sith.
Padmé Amidala dies in childbirth after delivering twins fathered by Anakin (now Darth Vader). Bail Organa adopts the girl, and Obi-Wan Kenobi takes the boy to Tatooine, where he is raised by Anakin’s stepbrother Owen Lars. —As seen in Revenge of the Sith.
Cal Kestis, a young padawan who survived Order 66, is exposed on the planet Bracca. Hunted by the Inquisitors, Cal joins forces with former Jedi knight Cere Junda, pilot Greez Dritus, droid BD-1, and Dathomirian Nightsister Merrin on the Mantis ship. Together, they hope to rebuild the Jedi Order by locating a hidden holocron containing the names of Force-sensitive children. —As seen in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
The leader of the Twi’lek Resistance, Cham Syndulla, tries and fails to kill Vader and the Emperor after luring them to the planet Ryloth.
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The ex-Republic Intelligence agent Berch Teller attempts to betray the Empire from within but is foiled by Tarkin, whom the Emperor rewards with a promotion to Grand Moff and a new role supervising the construction of a superweapon above Geonosis.
A young Han and his childhood friend Qi’ra attempt to escape Corellia and their servitude with the White Worms criminal organization. Qi’ra is left behind, but Han, buying his way on an outbound transport, inevitably enrolls in the Imperial Navy and adopts the name “Solo,” being that he has no family. —As seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Unsafe conditions in the mining world of Gorse and its moon Cynda force Kanan Jarrus (a Jedi survivor of Order 66) to take a stand against the Empire. He teams up with the pilot Hera Syndulla, daughter of Cham. —As seen in Star Wars: Rebels.
Han makes the Kessel Run in approximately 12 parsecs to avoid Imperial forces after stealing unrefined coaxium from the mining planet for the Crimson Dawn crime syndicate, which counts Qi'ra as a member. —As seen in Solo: A Star Wars Story.
A cell of Resistance fighters on the Outer Rim planet Lothal bands together and calls itself the Spectres, operating out of Hera’s Ghost ship. Kanan Jarrus leads Jedi apprentice Ezra Bridger, the Mandalorian Sabine Wren, and the Lasat warrior Garazeb Orrelios in various plots against the Empire. —As seen in Star Wars: Rebels.
A strike team of Rebel forces, led by Jyn Erso (daughter of Galen Erso), infiltrates a key Imperial military base on the tropical planet Scarif and steals the blueprints for the Death Star. The team is killed in a massive explosion, but they are able to transmit the blueprints to Princess Leia Organa, giving the Rebels an edge in the coming war. Darth Vader pursues and commandeers Leia’s ship, but not before she hides the Death Star plans with R2-D2, sending the droid and its companion C-3PO to Tatooine. —As seen in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The Empire tracks down Rebel forces to a secret frozen base on the ice planet Hoth. Han, Luke, and Leia are forced to split up in the aftermath. —As seen in Star Wars: Episode VI - The Empire Strikes Back.
Darth Vader lures Luke to the mining installation of Cloud City by using Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca as bait. During a lightsaber duel, Darth drops the ultimate truth bomb on Luke: “I am your father.” —As seen in The Empire Strikes Back.
As the Imperial Fleet and the Rebellion dogfight in space, and Han, Leia, and Chewie battle Empire forces on the ground, Luke and Vader duel on Death Star II. But when the Emperor tortures Luke for rejecting the dark side, Vader musters up his last shred of humanity and kills his former master to protect his son. Before the two Skywalkers can escape the exploding Death Star, what is left of Anakin Skywalker dies. —As seen in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi.
The death of Emperor Palpatine sets off a series of disasters on his home planet of Naboo and at least a dozen other worlds, one final act of terror from the late Sith Lord.
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The fleet of the Rebellion, now calling itself the New Republic, routs the Empire in the largest battle since Endor. After a Star Destroyer crashes onto Jakku’s surface, the two militaries sign a historic peace treaty: the Galactic Concordance. —As seen in Star Wars: Battlefront II videogame DLC Battle of Jakku.
The fleet Senator Leia Organa discovers a new danger stirring in the galaxy: the First Order. Once the New Republic learns that Leia and Luke’s father was the deceased and war-hungry Imperial Darth Vader, the New Republic refuses to rearm. Leia quietly begins to gather like-minded individuals to her side.
Luke agrees to train Leia and Han's son in the ways of the Force, but his fear over Ben turning to the Dark Side prompts an unspeakable act: Luke tries to kill Ben in his sleep, but the padawan stops him. The betrayal ends up leading Ben towards the Dark Side, while Luke, consumed with shame and guilt, goes into self-imposed exile. —As seen in Star Wars:Episode VIII - The Last Jedi.
Under the tutelage of Snoke, Ben, taking the name Kylo Ren, took leadership of The Knights of Ren, a group of Force-wielding warriors who were neither Jedi nor Sith. —As seen in Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakensand The Last Jedi.
Snoke, supremely skilled in the ways of the Force and the Dark Side, emerged as the leader of the First Order. Fascinated by the lineage of the Skywalker bloodline, he took Ben Solo as his apprentice. —As seen in The Force Awakens.
First Order Stormtrooper FN-2187 decides to defect after watching Kylo Ren command his forces to massacre civilians in the village Tuanul in pursuit of information to Luke Skywlker’s whereabouts. Aboard the Finalizer, FN-2187, taking the name Finn, helps captured Resistance pilot Poe Dameron escape to the planet Jakku, where Finn meets Rey, a scavenger unknowingly skilled in the Force. When First Order troops pursue, they escape in the Millennium Falcon, which had been stationed there after Han and Chewbacca lost it. —As seen in The Force Awakens.
While the Resistance fighters lead an attack on Starkiller Base, the First Order’s planet-sized weapon of mass destruction, Finn leads Han and Chewie inside the station to destroy it from within. Before that happens, Kylo kills his father and loses a lightsaber battle against Rey, who is now awakened to her Force abilities. —As seen in The Force Awakens.
After the Resistance finds all the pieces to a map, Rey follows its path to Luke Skywalker's location. After much resistance from the Jedi master to take on another pupil after Ben, Luke agrees to train Rey in the ways of the Force... at least while their growing tensions were bearable. —As seen in The Last Jedi.
After leaving Luke, hearing what he tried to do to Ben, Rey is taken before Snoke. The Supreme Leader wants to convert her to the Dark Side, feeling her power greater than Kylo's. But, Kylo, feeling a connection through the Force to Rey, kills Snoke. When Rey still rebuffs his offer to join the First Order with him, Kylo assumes the role of Supreme Leader. —As seen in The Last Jedi.
Resistance forces take refuge on the planet Crait after the First Order use their lightspeed trackers to chase them down. They are able to survive because Luke, using the last of his powers, astral projects himself across the galaxy to the battlefield. The act costs him his life, but it allows the Resistance to flee. —As seen in The Last Jedi.
The Resistance, led by General Leia Organa, regroup on the garbage planet Anoat, while Finn and Poe go on a secret mission to retrieve a weapons cache to increase their dwindling arsenal. Rey, continuing her Jedi training under Leia, seems to have difficulties accessing her Force abilities while grappling with a creature on Anoat, which has a unique sensitivity to the Force. —As seen in the Star Wars: Allegiance comics.
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