Who is the only Star Wars actor appearing in The Rise of Skywalker who has previously been in every single episodic Star Wars film? Yep. It’s Anthony Daniels as C-3PO. From Episode I: The Phantom Menace to Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker, C-3PO is the only character with speaking lines who has appeared in every single film. And now it looks like the skittish protocol droid could be way more pivotal to the ending of Skywalker saga than anyone thought. New comments from Anthony Daniels suggest that C-3PO will change the new movie in unexpected ways.
Here’s what’s going on, why it matters, and why a C-3PO-centric storyline in Rise of Skywalker actually makes a ton of sense.
Speculative spoilers and some rumored Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker leaks are discussed below. You’ve been warned.
“That was so weird, because they had rigged me up with a special thing, and to look at myself in the mirror, it was scary! It’s a magnificent piece of storytelling that really took me by surprise.”
Other sources are also reporting that Daniels has said that C-3PO is “front and center” in the film. Okay. So, let’s break this down a little bit. Is C-3PO really going to be a big deal in the movie, and if so, will it secretly be awesome?
C-3PO hasn’t been important since Revenge of the Sith
Let’s face it, up until this point, C-3PO has been in post-2005 Star Wars movies as a humorous cameo. Along with R2-D2, you get the sense that all appearances of C-3PO in the newer films are contractual. It’s Star Wars, so they feel like C-3PO is required. His most memorable moment in The Force Awakens is a gag about having a red arm, and he’s barely in The Last Jedi. So, from a storytelling perspective, he hasn’t done much since the prequels and the classic trilogy.
When you contrast C-3PO action from those first six films with more contemporary Star Wars movies the difference is striking. I’m not saying the C-3PO scenes in the prequels are anybody’s favorite part of those movies (ahem remember the battle droid factor?), but he does a lot more in those films than he does in the newer ones.
It’s also worth noting that George Lucas modeled C-3PO and R2-D2 partially on two peasants characters — Tahei and Matashichi — from the Kurosawa film The Hidden Fortress. As in that film, the audience learns about a grander epic from the perspective of two humbler characters. In the first six episodic Star Wars movies, C-3PO more or less fulfills this philosophical parallel, but in the newer movies, he doesn’t. At least not yet.
Rise of Skywalker could use C-3PO to “Unite the Trilogies”
Back when J.J. Abrams was first tapped to direct and co-write Episode IX, he mentioned the film will “unite the trilogies.” But how? What is one piece of that story that is consistent? It’s tempting to say Luke or Anakin Skywalker, or even Leia, but from a practical standpoint, C-3PO and R2-D2 are the real constants throughout the saga. True, C-3PO has his memory wiped at the end of Revenge of the Sith, but it seems feasible there’s more too it than that. Plus, if R2-D2 didn’t have his memory wiped, and he talks to C-3PO all the time, then it stands to reason C-3PO is totally aware of everything that has happened in the galaxy, at least by the time before Luke checks out prior to The Force Awakens. In other words, combined, C-3PO and R2-D2 are like a living record of actual Star Wars history. And considering the bad reputation Star Wars has for keeping track of historical facts, that’s a pretty big deal.
Why has no one thought to ask C-3PO or R2-D2 about various galactic secrets? Well, that kind of ties back to the theme that the droids are representative of the working class, and that nobody even thinks to ask them their opinion. And, if C-3PO has some dirt on certain people, he isn’t going to drop a bunch of truth bombs about Kylo Ren or Darth Vader, mostly because it’s impolite. He was programmed for “etiquette,” after all.
C-3PO could be the MacGuffin of Rise of Skywalker
Okay, so back to the red eyes. Combined with the new comments from Anthony Daniels and that strange “leak” from earlier in the week, it’s looking more and more likely that C-3PO does have some kind of hidden programming or deeply buried memory that is central to the plot of the movie.
Several rumors suggest that the good guys and the bad guys both need a “wayfinder device” to locate either the wreckage of the Death Star, the Sith Fleet, or some other important object. What if C-3PO is that wayfinder device?
In The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams had R2-D2 contain the final piece of the map to Luke Skywalker, so what if C-3PO serves a similar role in The Rise of Skywalker? Making Star Wars claimed that C-3PO’s red eyes happen when he’s forced to read creepy writing off an ancient Sith blade. It sounded outlandish a few days ago, but now that Daniels is saying he’s a big deal in the movie, who knows, maybe that rumor is legit.
From a certain point of view, the entirety of Star Wars began with secret data stuffed into R2-D2, and that secret data dipped the balance of power in the entire universe. Back then, C-3PO was basically R2-D2’s translator and comic relief. But what if it’s flipped now? If C-3PO is really central to this story, then he could somehow be the new R2-D2. Is the protocol droid built by Anakin Skywalker himself carrying secrets vital to the survival of the Resistance? If so, it would be a fitting end to the Skywalker saga.
Plus, if C-3PO was built by Anakin, does that techincally make him…a Skywalker?
Star Wars: The Rise of
C-3PO Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.