Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge’s TIE Echelon Was Designed for Colin Trevorrow’s Episode IX

It seems that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge preserved a concept from Colin Trevorrow’s tenure as Episode IX director.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is, by most accounts, a sublimely surreal ephemeral experience, but it seems that the Disney Park attraction – which opened doors on May 31 in Anaheim’s Disneyland, and will do so again on August 29 in Orlando’s Disney World – has the thus-far-understated distinction of preserving a piece of a lost Star Wars film. The entry in question is director Colin Trevorrow’s nixed vision of Star Wars Sequel Trilogy closer Episode IX, now known under the purview of his replacement in a returning J.J. Abrams, titled The Rise of Skywalker.

With the grandiosity of Galaxy’s Edge requiring years of advance planning, the conception of park features date back to the days of Trevorrow’s tenure as director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Consequently, in a recent interview with Collider, Trevorrow confirmed that one of the life-sized ships now on full display at the attraction, the First Order’s TIE Echelon, was originally intended as a sneak preview of something we were meant to see in his rendition of Episode IX. As Trevorrow explains:

“[The TIE Echelon] was part of an upgraded First Order fleet. An armed troop transport—the equivalent of a Blackhawk stealth helicopter. We wanted it to evoke memories of earlier ships while still being its own thing. If you look at the elements, it’s kind of a hybrid of designs from VII and VIII, with some familiar elements from OT [Original Trilogy] Tie Fighters like Vader’s Advanced x1. There’s a lot of history in it.”

Indeed, the TIE Echelon isn’t just at Galaxy’s Edge to inspire awe, it’s actually part of a live show (seen in the video above, via Blog Mickey,) in which a First Order officer, joined by Stormtroopers, lands on the planet Batuu (the storyline setting of the attraction), and berates the audience before Kylo Ren himself is introduced, making an epic entrance from the vehicle. As Trevorrow also explains of how the vehicle’s conception came about:

“It was just a natural part of the process. The Imagineering team asked us to develop a new ship for the park while we were designing the film. I took it pretty seriously—it’s not every day you get to be a part of something like that. They let me see what they were working on, so I got to see what Galaxy’s Edge was going to be. I think what they’ve created is incredible. It’s such an immersive experience.”

Further reading: Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker Trailer Breakdown and Analysis

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However, Trevorrow still clearly had to remain mum in the interview when it came to the inevitable question about the possibility of the TIE Echelon still appearing in Abrams’s The Rise of Skywalker. Indeed, Trevorrow – riding industry buzz, having successfully revived a franchise with 2015’s Jurassic World – had what was arguably the most coveted creative job in the film industry as director of Star Wars: Episode IX. Yet, the dream gig came to an abrupt end back in September of 2017, when it was revealed that the Disney/Lucasfilm coalition was opting to put the closing of the Trilogy in the more experienced hands of The Force Awakens franchise relaunch director J.J. Abrams; purportedly the result of creative clashes between Trevorrow and the company, and a number of unsuccessful rewrites.

Regardless, it’s nice to see that, in the very least, a piece – however small – of Trevorrow’s lost rendition of Star Wars: Episode IX will remain preserved in the proverbial pop culture carbonite, as part of Galaxy’s Edge, for posterity to enjoy.

Joseph Baxter is a contributor for Den of Geek and Syfy Wire. You can find his work here. Follow him on Twitter @josbaxter.