As if a comprehensive breakdown of a leaked script weren’t enough, concept art has now made its way on the internet that confirms what Colin Trevorrow (and co-writer Derek Connolly) were planning for Star Wars Episode IX, which was initially titled “Duel of the Fates.” The concept art, which depicts several elements of the breakdown such as Rey using a double-bladed lightsaber and the introduction of ancient Sith master Tor Valum, was dumped on Imgur earlier this week. And these stunning pieces give us our best look yet at what could have been.
Surprisingly, Trevorrow himself has confirmed the validity of the concept art leak (and the script leak in the process) on Twitter, saying, “Yes, this is from Duel of the Fates,” before referring to a concept image depicting C-3PO seemingly mourning a charred R2-D2. “But I’d never kill R2…he just took a bad hit. Happens to all of us.”
One of the things that stands out to me about Duel of the Fates is how much of its structure eventually made it into The Rise of Skywalker. Things like Kylo Ren’s search for an old Sith lord, a Palpatine appearance (a brief cameo here), and a climactic space battle can all be found in Trevorrow and Connolly’s script. But the concept art also gives us a better look at how Duel of the Fates might have been different.
The clearest difference is the seemingly postapocalyptic/dystopian Coruscant where much of the movie is set. The concept art shows images of crowds watching as a First Order traitor is beheaded by a “light blade guillotine” at a city square as well as Threepio and Artoo roaming the dilapidated streets of the once-great city. Other artists imagine this dystopia slightly differently, with a massive Star Destroyer looming over Coruscant’s tallest skyscrapers. The art does a great job of showing both the height of First Order power as well as the misery at the lowest levels of the former Republic capital, where the heroes must go to power a beacon in order to recruit allies for a final battle above the planet.
All of this official concept art is worth a look, including the ones imagining what the final duel between Rey and Kylo Ren would have looked like sans the Palpatine storyline. We’ll likely get even more of this concept art in the weeks to come as The Art of The Rise of Skywalker making-of book prepares to hit shelves this Spring.