Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Star Wars blockbusters can be quite the divisive cinematic experience. Arguably no other mainstream movie franchise in recent history has proven as polarizing as a galaxy far, far away. That stands especially true for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, co-written by J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio and directed by Abrams as the final installment in the sprawling episodic Star Wars saga. The movie wound up earning both the lowest box office total ($1.05 billion) and Rotten Tomatoes score (52 percent) among the Disney-era sequel trilogy. While the months after its December release have been devoted to nitpicking and analysis, what may divide fans even more than what made it into the final product is what didn’t.
On March 31, Lucasfilm creative art manager Phil Szostak released The Art of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, a new book that covers the concept art and storylines that were ultimately cut from the film. Polygon did a deep dive into the major plot points that weren’t included and we’re here to highlight some of the juiciest among them. For example, did you know that Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) were originally set to embark on their own adventure together in order to find a code-breaking machine that would reveal plans to bring down the First Order? This would have segued into the introduction of Keri Russell’s character.
According to Polygon, “The top-secret technology would have been put at risk early on in the film when stormtroopers raided a pub on a snowy planet. The city where it all took place would eventually become Kijimi, the location in the final film where our heroes meet up with Zorii Bliss.”
One fair criticism a fan can lob at the sequel trilogy is that the character development of both Finn and Poe stalled out after Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi. In that film, Finn came to understand the importance of fighting for a cause greater than oneself while Poe received a crash course in the difference between heroics and leadership. In The Rise of Skywalker, these themes remain relatively static. Poe, in particular, was deployed more for comic relief in his final appearance.
One idea to juice Finn’s story up a bit was to reveal “a long-lost sibling that was stranded on a garbage planet” who had crucial information that could lead to the First Order’s downfall. As for Poe, there were several ideas floated to give his sub-plot more depth and relevance. These included an Apocalypse Now-inspired trek up-river on a swampy pirate world and a Guardians of the Galaxy-esque turn where he is abducted by the band of drug dealers that raised him. Neither ultimately made the cut.
Ahead of The Rise of Skywalker‘s release, former Disney CEO Bob Iger announced that the Star Wars movies would take a brief hiatus. Soon after, it was announced that the Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss would launch a new Star Wars film series beginning in 2022, providing a three-year window between major big screen releases. However, that project has since been scrapped, leaving no official word as to what the next Star Wars movie will be or when it will arrive. (We have our own suggestions).
In the short-term, Disney+ will be the home of new Star Wars content thanks to Season 7 of the animated series The Clone Wars, Season 2 of The Mandalorian (arriving later this year), a Rogue One prequel series starring Diego Luna’s rebel spy Cassian Andor, and Ewan McGregor’s long-gestating Obi-Wan Kenobi spinoff series.