The Colin Trevorrow script for Star Wars: Episode IX has reportedly leaked online, and with multiple outlets having independently verified the story beats, the details sound legitimate. They also sound like a nice time at the movies.
Trevorrow was originally set to direct the final Skywalker Saga film, but left the project in 2017. Later that same year, Disney announced that J.J. Abrams would return to the Star Wars universe to direct Episode IX. Abrams’ Rise of Skywalker turned out to be a disappointment for many. The leak makes clear that Trevorrow’s Episode IX was at least set to go in a very different direction.
The leak comes by way of a thread on the Star Wars subreddit, r/StarWarsLeaks — which had accurate info on Rise of Skywalker months before its release. The post on the subreddit links to a YouTube video created by filmmaker Robert Meyer Burnett who breaks down the entire script in a video that stretches on for well over two hours. Since the video was published, both The AV Club, and The Playlist have cited their own sources that verify the authenticity of the story.
This version of the script was written by Trevorrow and his frequent writing partner Derek Connolly. Despite the fact that both writers received story credits on the final version of The Rise of Skywalker, the Trevorrow and Connolly version of Episode IX was titled, Duel of the Fates, inspired by the Phantom Menace music cue by John Williams, and took an entirely different approach to ending the series.
What would the Trevorrow Cut have reportedly looked like? The film’s opening crawl explains that, after the events of The Last Jedi, the First Order has continued to spread throughout the galaxy. In hopes of cutting off the Resistance, Supreme Leader Kylo Ren has blocked communication between neighboring systems. Early in the film, while Rey continues her Jedi training and attempts to figure out what the future of the ancient order will look like, Leia formulates a plan to save the Resistance.
As the script rolls along, Rey continues her Jedi training and explores the galaxy with Poe and BB-8 to search for answers on how to fix the Jedi order. Kylo still goes to Mustafar, just like in Rise of Skywalker, but in this version he finds a Sith Holocron with a hologram of Palpatine — the only time he appears in the film. The hologram was originally intended for Darth Vader, and sends Kylo to train with Palatine’s former master, Tor Valum. Tor Valum — a ripped, 7,000 year-old Lovecraftian alien — trains him briefly, but Kylo leaves to find Rey when he’s defeated by a vision of Darth Vader in a Force cave, similar to the one on Dagobah.
Kylo and Rey eventually cross paths on a planet called Mortis and begin to fight. Rey believes some part of Ben still exists in Kylo, but she falters when he admits that he killed her parents on the orders of Supreme Leader Snoke. Near the end of the fight Force ghosts of Luke, Obi-Wan, and Yoda appear in hopes of saving Ben Solo, but he’s too far gone he is “extinguished.”
This storyline shares a few similarities to the Rise of Skywalker story Abrams put on screen. It’s not hard to imagine how the director and his writing partner Chris Terrio could have morphed Tor into Palpatine to avoid introducing a new character, but bringing back an almost certainly dead one wound up being a whole lot more confusing. It’s also worth noting that in Trevorrow’s version, Ben Solo isn’t redeemed and dies as Kylo Ren, essentially the same place he was in near the end of The Last Jedi.
Reportedly running in parallel, Finn and Rose head to Coruscant to light an ancient beacon hidden under the old Jedi temple to signal the galaxy that it’s time to rise up and fight the First Order. After they light the signal, Finn rallies an army of defected stormtroopers and oppressed citizens — finally showing us that he’s embraced his role as a Resistance leader — and they fight the First Order in the streets of Coruscant while a space battle rages above with ships from all over the galaxy arriving to aid The Resistance.
Finally, just as Rey defeats Kylo, the Resistance and its allies triumph over the combined might of the First Order, bringing down their ships and armies over Coruscant and ending its rule of the galaxy.
Of course, had this script actually been filmed, there’s no telling how it would have turned out. Trevorrow’s Jurassic World blew up at the box office but didn’t sit well with critics; his passion project Book of Henry went over so poorly that it’s the reason many believe he exited Episode IX. At the time, the studio’s statement was that Lucasfilm and Trevorrow had mutually agreed to part ways. However, in 2018, Collider reported that Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy had been unhappy with Trevorrow’s script for the film.
But even with the lingering doubts about whether or not Trevorrow could have pulled it off, for fans who were disappointed in The Rise of Skywalker, this Duel of the Fates script is a nice glimpse at what could have been.