As we get closer and closer to the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans will invariably start going back to the previous films to try to find connective tissue to help explain why this “final” movie in the Skywalker saga plays out as it does. And though it makes a lot of sense to focus on re-watching Episode I thru VIII, it’s possible that the biggest twist in the movie is connected to something that happened in one of the so-called “standalone” Star Wars films. In other words, because Solo: A Star Wars Story retconned the origin of Han Solo’s last name, it seems possible that the name Ben Solo, much like Kylo Ren, is pretty much bogus. So, what does it mean for The Rise of Skywalker? The short answer is maybe this: CLARITY. And it might also confirm a big leak about Episode IX’s ending.
Speculation ahead for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. No “leaks” or spoilers are discussed below.
In Solo: A Star Wars Story, we learned that we never actually knew Han Solo’s “real” last name because the moniker “Solo” was something that an Imperial officer just came up with as Han was processed at a recruitment facility. And while some fans really hated this particular retcon, it does feel really pointed when you consider Kylo Ren and his previous identity as “Ben Solo.” In The Last Jedi, Luke refers to Kylo as “Ben Solo,” but for the most part, his first name is what everyone focuses on, specifically Rey.
Now, it’s possible that Rian Johnson was unaware of the script for Solo when he wrote The Last Jedi, but then again, because those Millennium Falcon dice are a huge deal in both films, it seems there was at least some communication between the two movies. The point is, the retcon of the last name “Solo” very neatly suggests that Kylo Ren’s old name never really was “Ben Solo,” but instead, “Ben Skywalker.” In fact, you could even create a little headcanon that invents a scenario in which Ben’s early obsession with Darth Vader was a little more innocent. We know that Ben must have started his Jedi training with Luke when he was pretty young, and that newly released cover for a Kylo Ren mini-series certainly suggests Ben was probably at least a tween when he first started hanging out with Luke full-time in Jedi boarding school.
So, here’s a new theory: Once Ben started getting serious about becoming a Jedi, he decided that he didn’t really like or need the last name “Solo.” This was probably for two reasons. First, it’s very likely he had some kind of falling out with Han unrelated to the Jedi stuff. Second, because Luke Skywalker was his master, and he was the son of Leia, that meant, in Ben’s head, that he was basically the best Skywalker ever. Imagine being a kid at a school and your uncle is the principle there but your grandfather was, like, Jesus Christ. Ben probably decided he liked the last name Skywalker better than Solo, and once he found out Solo wasn’t even a real name, he probably liked being Ben Skywalker even better.
But that’s just one way to look at it. Because the other way to think about it is this: What if “Ben Solo” is just what Luke and others called him after the turn. What if Leia and Han called him Ben Skywalker from the very beginning? It’s a little far-fetched, but you could make the argument that not everyone in the New Republic were even aware that Han and Leia had a son. In the in-canon novel Bloodline, it’s clear that Leia’s political career is pretty much destroyed when people find out she was related to Darth Vader. Notably, no one in the new films calls her “General Skywalker”; they call her “General Organa” because that’s her legal last name. (Her adopted father was Bail Organa.)
Leia almost certainly didn’t disown Ben, but what if in an effort to protect him, she distanced herself a little bit from him publicly. If Ben was being called “Ben Skywalker,” it might have been a political move on the part of Leia, and one that Luke kind of went along with. But once Ben starts to act like a punk, Luke is kind of like, fuck this, this kid is clearly Ben Solo.
Again, all of this is just pure speculation, and none of it needs to be confirmed in The Rise of Skywalker to be spiritually true in the final film. But one thing is clear. We don’t know for sure if Ben always went by Ben Solo. And, because he is the direct heir to the legacy of Anakin Skywalker, it would make a lot of sense if he decided to go by Ben Skywalker in The Rise of Skywalker. Some people have speculated Ben could turn back to the good side of the Force in this movie, and you don’t need to read a lot of crazy fan theories to work out that one in your head. It’s very possible. It’s even been likely since The Force Awakens.
If Ben does end up being the villain-turned-hero, just like his grandfather, then the rising Skywalker in that subtitle just became really, really obvious.
Star Wars: My Name Isn’t Solo The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.