'Rise of Skywalker' Leaks Suggests a 'Dune' Parallel. 3 Reasons It Works.

Is Rey the next Skywalker? Or is she secretly the Kwisatz Haderach?

The latest nutty rumor about The Rise of Skywalker will make a lot of hardcore fans of the epic sci-fi Frank Herbert novel Dune raise their eyebrows. One specific creature rumored to appear in the last episodic Star Wars movie seems like a direct lift from the mythology of Dune. Is this happening? Will Star Wars overtly borrow from Dune as it wraps up the Skywalker saga? In some senses, because Star Wars has already borrowed from Herbert’s landmark novel — and its various adaptations — it would almost be crazy if The Rise of Skywalker didn’t subtly rip-off Dune, even by accident. But, with these new rumors, it’s possible Rey will end-up less like Luke Skywalker and more like Paul Atreides.

Speculative spoilers ahead. You’ve been warned!

An entire series of essays could be devoted to the idea that Star Wars wouldn’t exist without Dune. From the preponderance of desert planets in Star Wars to the notion of religious “chosen ones”, to telepathic abilities that can influence others, to the soft-science fiction approach to world-building. Claiming that Star Wars is a big-old Dune rip-off is hardly a new hobby, and if you watch enough YouTube videos (or cleverly edited documentaries) you will probably find yourself believing George Lucas ripped-off Dune entirely.

The only problem with this line of reasoning is that he didn’t and it’s not true. Star Wars might resemble Dune if you squint, but thematically it’s not similar at all. If Lucas is guilty of anything it’s borrowing the aesthetics and plot devices of Dune; and, arguably, Lucas made that aesthetic more accessible to a mainstream movie audience. That’s not a dig against any and all versions of Dune (including future versions) but it’s just kind of how it is; Star Wars is more popular than Dune because it’s ideas a presented in a way that is much poppier than Dune. Having said that, if The Rise of Skywalker did overtly tip its hat to Dune, there would be a kind of symmetric beauty to that, which could, in theory, bring the larger nerd universe into balance.

On Sunday, the fan-site Making Star Wars published new rumors about The Rise of Skywalker which largely focused on the idea that Rey will eventually change gain the last name “Skywalker” more or less as a tribute to Luke and everything he stands for. The rumors also suggest that Rey will gain new powers including (but not limited to) the ability to heal people and also shoot lightning from her fingertips.

Let’s get into how these specific developments match-up with Dune. Here’s three parallels between that story and these Star Wars: Episode IX leaks, and what it might mean for the end of the Skywalker Saga.

'Dune' Sandworm versus Luke

Tor Books/Lucasfilm

3. Sandworms!

Did I mention the new rumors have a sandworm? There’s a sandworm in these rumors! The “leak” from Making Star Wars suggest that Rey, Finn, and Poe will face a sandworm in the movie. In Dune, giant sandworms guard a precious substance known as “the spice.” If you are really badass and at one with nature, you can learn how to ride a sandworm, not just avoid them. If Rey learns how to ride a sandworm, or make peace with one, she’ll be well on her way to becoming some kind of space messiah.

Run, Rey, run!


2. New Powers

The new rumors also suggest that Rey will gain new powers, including the ability to heal people and, possibly, Force lightning. In Dune, after drinking “the water of life,” Paul Atreides gains all sorts fo new powers, including, but not limited to: mind control, extreme clairvoyance, and creepy all-blue glowing eyes. The point is, gaining powers beyond what is considered “normal” is a pretty common sci-fi hero trope, and in Dune, Paul’s new powers and status as a messiah are presented as a double-edged sword.

Because so many people think Rey will become some kind of ultimate balance between light and dark, all of that is very similar to how the original Dune novel plays out. Paul becomes a being of immense power, but he’s also unable to keep his followers from going too far. In a sense, if you become a great Jedi (like Luke or Anakin or maybe Rey) it’s a similar problem. You can achieve balance and possibly even win a revolution, but then what?

Rey in the cave in 'The Last Jedi'


1. Name Change

The latest rumor suggests what many fans have been suspecting for ages: that Rey will voluntarily give herself the last name “Skywalker,” at the end of the film. The idea here is that Rey hasn’t taken on this name because she’s related to the family by blood, but because the name means something more and has become a kind of title like Sith or Jedi.

In Dune, Paul Atreides takes two additional names throughout the course of the story: Muad’Dib and eventually, the title of the Kwisatz Haderach. Obviously, words like “Jedi Master” and “Skywalker” are a little easier to handle, but for all intents and purposes, these words have similar story purposes. (Assuming, of course, that “Skywalker” becomes a term to describe someone and not just a revived family name.) The point is, though Star Wars has borrowed many, many hero’s journey tropes from myth, the idea of getting a new name (or two) is mostly something that has been available to the bad guys. So, if Rey does claim a new name or title in The Rise of Skywalker, the journey of Star Wars looking similar to Dune to being a story very much like Dune will be complete.

The only question left is this: If Rise of Skywalker does overtly reference Dune, how will Denis Villeneuve feel about that?

The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019. The first of the new Dune films is scheduled for release on November 20, 2020.

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