Will we see Leia swing a lightsaber in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker? It doesn’t seem too likely, but Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s brother, recently revealed that the original intent was to have Episode IX be the movie in which Leia becomes “the last Jedi.” Because Carrie sadly passed away in 2016, we’re probably not going to see that happen. But is Leia still a Jedi in The Rise of Skywalker?
On Wednesday, Yahoo published a video interview with Todd Fisher, where he outlined the ambitious plan that was in place for Leia in the original concept for Episode IX. “She was going to be the big payoff in this final film. That’s what the intent was… she was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak,” he explained.
He then insinuates Leia would have busted out a lightsaber at some point, mostly because she was the same age Alec Guinness was when he played Obi-Wan in the original Star Wars film. He also says that J.J. Abrams has taken “great care in moving this concept along.” Presumably, this means, that in some way, shape or form, Leia will, like in The Last Jedi, demonstrate some Jedi-like powers and command over the Force in The Rise of Skywalker.
There are only eight minutes of Carrie Fisher footage
On some level, Todd Fisher’s revelation about Leia using the Force isn’t that nuts; we hear Leia speaking through the Force to Rey in the latest trailer, after all. But, his comments do make Leia’s role in The Rise of Skywalker seem very specific. In the same new interview, he says they are only eight minutes of unused Carrie Fisher footage that Abrams and company are using in The Rise of Skywalker.
Now, we all know a lot can happen in eight minutes in a Star Wars film, but if this footage comes from The Force Awakens, and not The Last Jedi, it’s hard to imagine Leia doing any Force-related Jedi stuff. In The Force Awakens, other than feeling Han’s death through the Force, Leia did not demonstrate the same kind of powers she had in The Last Jedi (i.e. flying through space). This isn’t to say that Leia didn’t have those powers at the time, but instead, that it seems unlikely that among the 8 minutes of unused Force Awakens footage, one of the scenes J.J. cut was called “Badass sequence in which Leia whips out a lightsaber and goes to town.”
Back in 2017, Rian Johnson told Inverse specifically that “the truth is, there isn’t a ton of her that we shot that we didn’t use in this movie.” At the time, Johnson also told me: “There were smaller scenes that, structurally just ended up falling away. Same as there were with any of the other characters. But there wasn’t any big and significant.” He also said he’d given everything to J.J. Abrams, so, in theory, some of these 8 minutes could come from The Last Jedi, but it doesn’t feel likely, and based on what Johnson actually said, none of these scenes would involve Leia using the Force.
Okay, so is Leia a Jedi or not?
In the old EU/Legends canon, Leia became a Jedi Knight kind of on the fly. Like her brother (and Rey) Leia kind of crammed in her Jedi training whenever she could. By the time of the comic book series Dark Empire, it’s established that Leia was basically a Jedi, and in that series she busts out a lightsaber and takes on not only a Dark Side Luke, but a clone of Emperor Palpatine, too. These days, it seems the proxy for a similar showdown is happening with Rey, but that doesn’t mean Leia isn’t a Jedi.
Some rumors have suggested The Rise of Skywalker will contain a flashback scene in which Luke training Leia formally will be revealed. If so, Abrams might be able to get around the whole limited footage thing, if somehow this flashback was a younger Leia, kind of like what we saw digitally recreated in Rogue One. Lucasfilm has previously said there wouldn’t be a digital Carrie Fisher in Episode IX, but that it’s not clear if that only applied to contemporary Carrie. After all, there is a precedent for a digital, younger Leia, and apparently, Fisher herself was fooled by the footage when she saw Rogue One and believed it was a scene she shot for A New Hope.
So, will Leia have a lightsaber in The Rise of Skywalker?
Intriguingly, Todd Fisher’s comments suggest there was some kind of plan in place for Leia prior to her death. Now, it’s unclear if he’s referring to a general plan created by Kathleen Kennedy, a suggestion from Abrams during the creation of The Force Awakens, or an unused script from Colin Trevorrow, back when he was still writing and directing Episode IX. Right now, we simply don’t know.
Todd Fisher says The Rise of Skywalker is a “payoff” and the film is “Carrie talking to us from beyond,” which seems to imply Leia may spend a chunk of the movie as a Force spirit. And, that seems to imply that the contemporary Leia, won’t swing a lightsaber. But, that certainly doesn’t rule out flashbacks. And, it still feels very possible that Leia’s Force-badass status could be preserved if she becomes Rey’s Jedi master.
Star Wars: The Rise of LEIA Skywalker is out everywhere December 20, 2019.