Coulda, woulda, shoulda. Hindsight is 20/20. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Insert all the appropriate platitudes. Whether it is logical, scientific, or absolute hogwash, we all want to believe in alternate realities. Across some dimensional barrier, Buckaroo Banzai had his sequel and went against the World Crime League, Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz met box office glory as a couple of Bad Boys, and J.J. Abrams never put his mitts on Star Wars again after living out his fantasy with The Force Awakens.
I’m sorry kiddos, but that Fringe universe is a fiction, and the quicker you let it go as well as your disappointment regarding The Rise of Skywalker, the healthier and saner you’ll be. The movie is not what you wanted. You were expecting an epic conclusion to the adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe, and what you got was a temper tantrum argument between two filmmakers. Fair enough. Let it lie. Move on.
Ah, but you can’t. You’re like me. You gotta know. What if The Book of Henry was a rip-roaring success. What if The Last Jedi had not unleashed a swarm of online hatred? What if Colin Trevorrow was allowed to build from Rian Johnson the way Rian Johnson had built — well, ok — pivoted from J.J. Abrams?
What if, what if, what if?
The questions nag and they itch in the worst way. You can’t let ’em go. I can’t let them go.
Matters were made worse when Trevorrow’s script for Star Wars: Episode IX, entitled Duel of the Fates, leaked online, and word got around that it was pretty darn good. Huh. Say what? The Book of Henry guy made good? The same guy who can’t escape the unceasingly bloated Jurassic World franchise? That seems unlikely. And yet…
It’s true. The Force, the Jedi, Kylo’s Mandalorian-metal scarred face. All of it.
The Mr. Sunday Movies YouTube channel, along with animator Ethantaylart, have dragged Trevorrow’s script into our reality — or at least as best they could with the budget they have and the humorous cynicism they cannot resist. Here you find a narrative that feels much more aligned with what Johnson established while also offering a few surprises and plenty of fan-service moments that one would think even Abrams would have approved. You’ll even uncover the crazed cackle of an Emperor and the mad Millennium Falcon skills of Lando Calrissian. It’s a quick 10 minutes. Press play and meet me on the other side.
Chewbacca piloting an X-wing fighter?!?! Sold!
Kylo Ren haunted by the ghost of Luke Skywalker makes absolute sense, as does Rey’s quest to bring balance to the Force after decades of squabbles between the Light Side and the Dark Side. Was that not the prophecy foretold in The Phantom Menace? Clearly, the Jedi and their stringent adherence to their code have caused nothing but trouble. If they were unable to perceive a threat as vicious as Darth Sidious and Anakin Skywalker under their noses, not to mention acting as puppets in a fabricated war, then they certainly have no business expecting Rey or anyone else to follow in their footsteps. The idea that Episode IX ends with Rey taking on the Skywalker mantle and carrying on with Jedi business-as-usual makes her look almost as big of a chump as the rest of those Light Side schmucks.
Of course, the only reason I adore this animated short as much as I do is a result of my deep disappointment in The Rise of Skywalker. What we see here are merely ideas that appear sympathetic to my own. We don’t know what Colin Trevorrow would have produced, especially considering how his screenplay does not need to reconcile with the passing of Carrie Fisher or the perceived outrage over The Last Jedi.
Trevorrow has only directed three feature films: Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World, and The Book of Henry. One of those is not too shabby (pssst: it’s the one I haven’t already taken potshots at). There is a chance that he could have knocked a Star Wars outta the park — well, no, there is no chance. He had it and lost it.
We’ll never really know what Trevorrow’s Star Wars would have looked like; we can only imagine, for whatever that’s worth. I love a good Marvel What If…? comic book as much as the next geek, but “What If Conan the Barbarian was stranded in the 20th century” is not as good as the classic Conan the Barbarian adventure. What ifs are fantasies, best left for one-shots, side quests, and think pieces.
The movie we got was The Rise of Skywalker. I don’t have to like it, but it is what it is, and there is no changing it.