Rey’s Lightsaber in ‘Star Wars Episode IX’ May Be the Movie’s Biggest Twist

'Force Awakens' and 'Last Jedi' both hid lightsaber twists from the audience. 'Episode IX' should too.

Just like the ending of The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi left audiences on a lightsaber-related cliffhanger: How will Rey get a new lightsaber after the one she borrowed from Luke was blown-up? The answer will be revealed in Star Wars: Episode IX, but if this movie is going to be really off-the-chain, Rey’s new saber not only needs to be radically different, it needs to remain a complete secret until the movie comes out.

The importance of that lightsaber is the first major argument for both changing it up and keeping it a secret, and if you think about it, lightsabers are what really set Star Wars apart. Plenty of other sci-fi franchises have spaceships, super weapons, and dudes in capes who can levitate giant boulders, but not the lightsaber.

Despite being the most generic-seeming thing in Star Wars, its simplicity and elegance are what give the franchise an edge. Despite the gripping space battles, the thing audiences really love is the lightsabers. With the prequels, George Lucas knew this, which is why, on a purely visceral level, even the biggest prequel hater can’t hate the many lightsaber fights packed into those movies.

While not as acrobatic as the prequel trilogy, the sequel films have tried to do something a little different with lightsaber battles. In The Force Awakens, the trailers made us believe Finn would wield the blue-bladed Skywalker lightsaber for most of the film, only to have the best and most satisfying moment come when that saber flew into Rey’s hands at the very end of the movie. Yes, a few of us predicted this would happen, but it was technically a secret — and it was a secret that worked.

Rey with Kylo Ren's lightsaber.
Rey with Kylo Ren's lightsaber.

Ditto for The Last Jedi. Some posters showed Luke holding a lightsaber. Some showed Rey holding it. None of the trailers depicted Luke fighting with a lightsaber. And so, when the film came out, the biggest twist again relied on lightsabers. Luke did fight with his old saber, but it was all an illusion. Yes, one trailer showed Rey briefly fighting with Kylo Ren’saber, but that moment in no way detracted from the huge twist of Rey and Kylo teaming-up after Snoke’s death. In fact, you could say, that all the bests twists in The Last Jedi involve lightsabers: Luke’s near-murder of Ben Solo in flashbacks, Kylo killing Snoke, Luke’s fakeout duel with Kylo at the end of the movie.

So, what does this mean for Episode IX? Well, because J.J. Abrams is back, it seems reasonable he’d want to button-up the plot ideas he planted with Force Awakens. And while many Rey haters claimed her instant prowess with a lightsaber made no sense, it totally did, and still does. Throughout that film, we saw her beating-down baddies with a sick staff, meaning she already had pretty great fighting skills. So, without a doubt, the best option for Rey’s new lightsaber in Episode IX is for her to fulfill a destiny teased back in The Force Awakens: Give her back her staff, but make it a double-sided lightsaber!

rey star wars staff
Rey practicing with with staff.

I am, by no means, the first person to suggest this idea, but I will say this: if Rey does get a cool saber staff in the style of Darth Maul, the only way for it to work is if we don’t see it coming. In other words, if Lucasfilm puts Rey’s new lightsaber in the trailer, and shows us it’s a double-bladed staff thingy, it will ruin everything. For those too young to remember, the very first trailer for Episode I: The Phantom Menace revealed Darth Maul’s two-bladed lightsaber. In the narrative of the film, the characters (Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon) don’t discover his saber has this ability until the very last act of the movie.

In other words, just like with the newer movies, lightsaber shit is better when its a secret. Yoda’s lightsaber was kept out of the Attack of the Clones trailers in 2002, which made that moment way better in theaters.

Even Return of the Jedi has an accidental version of this lightsaber twist phenomenon. All the early posters and trailers showed Luke with a blue lightsaber, but George Lucas decided to change it to green at the last minute for aesthetic reasons. Apparently, the blue looked bad against the backdrop of the tan desert landscape in the first act of the movie, while the green blade looked great.

The point is, that audiences are the happiest when we don’t know exactly what’s going on with the new lightsabers. The Phantom Menace gave us too much in the trailers. The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi, and even Attack of the Clones did it just right. Hell, even Solo and Rogue One hid their lightsabers in the trailers.

So, if Rey does decide to fix the broken Skywalker saber and do something amazing and different with it in Episode IX, it will be better for everyone if we don’t know anything about it until we’re actually sitting in the movie theaters, waiting for the movie to start. All the best surprises about Star Wars have somehow been connected to this trope, meaning Rey’s new lightsaber will be best if it’s kept in the dark.

Star Wars: Episode IX will be out in one year, on December 20, 2019.