The new Star Wars 9 trailer had some big reveals, including the sight of C-3PO with red eyes, so what's actually happening to the protocol droid? The new footage for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was released online yesterday, having debuted at D23 Expo this past weekend.
The Star Wars 9 D23 trailer is most notable for its ending, which includes a shot of an apparent Dark Rey wielding a double-sided red lightsaber, while there's also a tease of an epic lightsaber fight between Rey and Kylo Ren. In the midst of all that is a brief appearance from Star Wars stalwart C-3PO, although he doesn't look like normal, as he has two glowing red eyes. This has led to a number of questions about just what has happened to him, and even theories that he's fallen to the Dark Side himself.
While we can rule out C-3PO actively choosing the Dark Side, what does seem almost certain is that his red eyes are a sign of some tinkering with his system. In the old Star Wars EU, a droid with red eyes meant it'd been hacked, and it's not impossible that's what has happened to Threepio in Star Wars 9. As the battle between the Resistance and the First Order heats up, the latter being able to steal one of the former's key assets would be a useful tool, but it's not even necessarily the bad guys who have been working on C-3PO.
One of the prevalent rumors about Star Wars 9 is that it'll see C-3PO fighting with Chewbacca's bowcaster, which makes for a big change from the usually risk-averse demeanor we've seen ever since 1977's Star Wars: A New Hope. In the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, meanwhile, C-3PO is with Finn and Poe and looks very much to be in the thick of the action in a desert chase sequence, although it may be against his will of course. All of that suggests, however, that C-3PO will be taking a more active role in events during Star Wars 9, and it could well be that the Resistance themselves have re-programmed him: their numbers are drastically thin after Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and they need all the capable fighters they can get. Turning C-3PO into one, even as a temporary measure, isn't a bad idea.
There have been various protocol droids with dark tendencies in Star Wars Legends, but in new canon the most pertinent example is 0-0-0, a.k.a. Triple Zero. He's essentially a Dark Side version of Threepio, in a similar way to how BB-9E mirrored BB-8 in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He looks the same, except he's dark silver instead of gold, and he has a penchant for torture. In one story, he was even disguised to look like C-3PO, but he was given away by... his red eyes. It's extremely unlikely we'll be seeing Triple Zero in Star Wars 9, since it's an element of Star Wars canon most mainstream audiences won't understand, but it might hint at what's happening with C-3PO.
In Marvel's Star Wars comic series, it's been revealed that Threepio was charged with running the Resistance's spy network, which included using - and reprogramming - droids. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could even go as far as having C-3PO go undercover himself on a covert mission against the First Order. We might not know the exact reason for C-3PO's red eyes until Star Wars 9 is released, but it seems clear that he has been re-programmed, likely by the Resistance, and is being used as either a spy or a weapon (or both).
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019