Star Wars: Episode IX has been dealing with a Leia problem since the tragic passing of actress Carrie Fisher back in December. This, of course, is hardly a secret and reports even surfaced back in January depicting formerly prospective Episode IX scenarios in which Fisher’s Leia was to be placed. While the extent of Leia’s role in the 2019 Sequel Trilogy closer was never specified, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy offers somewhat of an idea with a recent comment.
With the unveiling of the summer issue of Vanity Fair serving as a bountiful bonanza of preview photos from Annie Leibovitz for this December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kennedy – still reeling in the seismic disruptions from Carrie Fisher’s death – provides comments on the her unrealized Star Wars: Episode IX plans, which seemed set to be dominated by Fisher’s evolving role reprisal of her iconic character Leia Organa after Harrison Ford’s Han Solo took center stage in Sequel Trilogy kickoff Star Wars: The Force Awakens (VII) and Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker set to do the same in The Last Jedi (VIII). As Kennedy explains:
“She was having a blast. The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”
Based on what we’ve seen at this point, the arc of secret Skywalker twin, former princess of the destroyed planet Alderaan and current general in the First Order-fighting Resistance Leia Organa was destined to fulfill a pattern of Star Wars Original Trilogy primary characters handing the proverbial baton to the new generation of heroes; an act for Han Solo that resulted in him being killed by Ben Solo/Kylo Ren – the son he sired with Leia – in a Dark Side-fueled tantrum. Indeed, while Leia’s role in The Force Awakens was in a supporting capacity, the big moment(s) justifying her presence in the Sequel Trilogy was clearly set for Episode IX; something that Kennedy’s comments seemingly affirms.
The January report depicted two major beats for Leia’s arc, one that would reunite her with (her twin brother,) Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker – evidenced by the latest crop of Vanity Fair photos – and the other implying that Leia would have a fateful final confrontation with her patricidal son Ben/Kylo. However, it was never specified if those scenes were set to occur in The Last Jedi, which has been confirmed to contain a completed performance by Fisher, or that the latter scene in the final confrontation with her Dark Side-addled offspring was to be Leia’s culminating moment in 2019’s Episode IX. Nevertheless, meetings have been held and plans have undoubtedly been altered, designed to work around Fisher, minus the usage of the morbid/fascinating CGI techniques utilized in last December’s “Anthology” standalone film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
The distributive effects of Carrie Fisher’s passing will undoubtedly be revealed after Star Wars: The Last Jedi arrives at theaters on December 15, showcasing her final performance as Leia. However, it still may not necessarily be the last we see of Leia, since plans to utilize existing footage of Fisher could still allow her to play a role of some kind in Star Wars: Episode IX, which arrives on May 24, 2019.