This is a guest post by Tom Reynolds, a lifelong Star Wars fan and part-time online freelance writer. In his downtime, he’s been playing perhaps too much Fallout 4.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been out for a few weeks now, and the consensus is that it has been a resounding success. Fans are delighted, critics are appreciative, and it feels safe to say that this has become one of the rare cinematic projects with through-the-roof expectations to actually live up to them.
But while many expected (and all hoped) that the film would enjoy this level of success, no one knew quite what to expect specifically on screen. In the last few years, and particularly in the final months leading up to the release, there was a wild whirlwind of rumors about what J.J. Abrams and company would do with the franchise, and what exactly would happen in The Force Awakens. So just for fun, here’s a look back at some of the most popular rumors and whether or not they came to fruition.
Needless to say, SPOILERS follow.
Seriously, I don’t want to be that guy who ruins Star Wars. Don’t keep reading if you don’t want to see SPOILERS.
Rumor No. 1: Chewbacca Will Die
I’m not sure how everybody jumped on board with this one. Based on some of the footage from the trailers, some believed that we glimpsed a dead Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew), simply because Rey (Daisy Ridley) was looking very upset and leaning over something on the ground that looked vaguely hairy. The theory was made slightly more credible by the observation that Mayhew has struggled with health and mobility, so it might make sense to kill off his character early in the new trilogy. But come on, people. J.J. Abrams is more notorious for misleading teases and carefully guarded mysteries than just about any other director in the business. Did we really think he showed us a major character death in a trailer? As it turns out, he did not. Verdict: Wrong.
Rumor No. 2: Luke Went To The Dark Side
The idea of one of the most iconic heroes in film history breaking bad should have been off-putting and easily dismissible, but frankly this one was pretty appealing. The theory was that Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) actually went to the dark side right before our eyes in the original trilogy. People argued that he gave in to hate by attempting to strike down Emperor Palpatine (at the Emperor’s own insistence), with hate being a known path to the dark side. People also pointed out that by the end of The Return Of The Jedi Luke was clad in similar dark, Sithly (totally a word) garb to what Anakin (Hayden Christensen) wore in Revenge Of The Sith, rather than the more traditional brown-and-tan Jedi cloaks. Because of all this, some believed Luke might be behind Kylo Ren’s (Adam Driver) mask, with Driver only depicting the character in costume. As it turns out, however, we were all overthinking this one a little bit. Luke appears in those same brown-and-tan robes at the end and appears very much the Jedi master. Verdict: Wrong.
Rumor No. 3: Rey Is The Real Jedi
As mentioned, J.J. Abrams is known for misleading hints and trailers, so it felt a little bit suspicious when Finn (John Boyega) was pretty much revealed as a new Jedi in the trailers, and even on the film’s main poster. We all got used to the image of Finn toting a blue lightsaber. But many believed that Rey would be the main protagonist of the film, as well as the real new Jedi on the scene. For some this was kind of just a gut feeling, but the icing on the cake was when J.J. Abrams openly stated he wanted to make a film mothers would take their daughters to. He argued that the franchise had always been more of a boys’ thing, but that he hoped to change that. And he did just that. Rey, as we now know, is a budding Jedi, an exceptional pilot, and seemingly the new co-owner of the Millennium Falcon (alongside the totally-not-dead Chewbacca). Verdict: Right.
Rumor No. 4: The Dead Will Reappear
At the end of Return Of The Jedi, we saw ghostly appearances of the spirits of significant dead characters. We’ve also heard the disembodied voices of the dead before in this series. So a lot of people believed the likes of Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader (or Anakin Skywalker) and others might make appearances in one way or another. In fact, there were even odds offered for deceased characters making cameos, with Yoda, Obi Wan, and Anakin in particular singled out. Frankly, it would have been a pretty easy way for Abrams to invoke the old films – perhaps a bit obvious, but harmless and fun. In the end though, no such reappearance occurred – at least not visually. We have however heard rumors that Hayden Christensen was considered for an Anakin cameo, but more importantly Abrams has admitted that both Yoda’s and Obi Wan’s voices are present in Rey’s epic flashback scene. Verdict: Kind of.
Rumor No. 5: Jar Jar Binks Is A Sith Lord
This has to have been the most fun rumor out there, and while it sounds ridiculous, it was presented on Reddit in shockingly convincing fashion. If you haven’t happened upon it yet, you really should check it out. I’m not going to get into all the details, but suffice it to say there’s some legitimate evidence that everyone’s least favorite Star Wars goon was meant to be a sort of undercover super-Sith. More specifically, many speculated that Jar Jar was meant to ultimately become Supreme Leader Snoke, who is depicted by Andy Serkis via motion capture in The Force Awakens. Alas, Snoke doesn’t really look like Jar Jar… but then, Vader didn’t look much like Anakin either. Verdict: Wait and see… but probably wrong.