Carrie Fisher is back as Princess Leia in Star Wars 9 thanks to repurposed footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens - a shocking development that may actually reveal a lot more about Episode IX than Lucasfilm realizes.
When Fisher died in December 2016, it posed a major problem for the in-development Star Wars 9. Leia was set to a principal player in the trilogy-capper (we now know she is the only surviving member of the original trio following the deaths of Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Last Jedi), but now that couldn't be. Various possibilities were speculated - including a digital recreation a la Rogue One: A Star Wars Story or a recast - but denied. The process led to major changes to Star Wars 9's story, with Colin Trevorrow and Jack Thorne working on various drafts until J.J. Abrams took over as writer/director in September 2017.
Now, we know how Abrams will be dealing with General Leia: Carrie Fisher will be once again playing the role using deleted footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. But while the question of if and how Leia will return is answered, the question of what her role will be begins. And, because of Lucasfilm's trademark secrecy, what was cut from Episode VII bar a handful of deleted scenes available on the Blu-ray is an absolute secret.
Or is it? While Disney keeps a tight grip on its productions, there were still substantial leaks on Star Wars: The Force Awakens - most plot points bar Kylo Ren's Skywalker connection were teased - that in May 2015 (seven months before the film released) MakingStarWars was able to put together a detailed plot summary that bears a striking resemblance to the released film. What's most noticeable in comparison is an entire subplot involving Leia and the Resistance wasn't in the finished movie - but was confirmed subsequently by concept drawings in The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Could this be what Abrams is using for Star Wars 9? If so, it may reveal a lot about Leia's role to play in the finale to the Skywalker Saga.
Before we begin, two notes. The first is a spoiler warning: while this is a rumored subplot from a movie released three years ago, as Abrams is going back to The Force Awakens that means anything relating to Leia could come around in Star Wars 9 - and what's included her covers her full arc. Secondly, as a counterpoint, the specifics of the arc are just rumor and so could easily be somewhat inaccurate. With that said, at this point it's the best information we have on Leia's role.
- This Page: Leia's Original Force Awakens Role
- Page 2: What This Reveals About Leia's Role In Star Wars 9
Leia's Original Role In Star Wars: The Force Awakens
In the released Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Leia has a minor role: she's head of the Resistance and oversees the attack on Starkiller Base for afar, while also reconnecting with estranged husband Han. However, originally Leia had a full subplot involving a Resistance superweapon.
Just as the First Order has Starkiller Base (in the early rumors known as The Catapult), the Resistance has The Warhammer (originally The Sledgehammer). This is a secret project, something Leia takes pride in (thus possibly explaining why the Resistance was conceived as being viewed as radical by the Republic and existed separately).
The Warhammer was reportedly going to be a key part of the attack on Starkiller in the finale; while Poe led the fighter attack on the base itself, the superweapon attacks in space. This led to a repeatedly-described sequence where it was used to "crush through Star Destroyers as if they were tinker toys". It didn't last, however, with the First Order destroying the weapon and forcing Leia's into a retreat. Here, Poe's squadron, the last remaining group, defy odds and orders to destroy the base.
There were other parts of Leia's story rumored that didn't make it into the finished film, most of them relating to Luke's lightsaber which was long believed to be the MacGuffin rather than the map to Ahch-To (this is believable given the still-unanswered mystery of how Maz got the Skywalker saber and general choppy editing around the map). This includes the trailer shot of Maz handing her the weapon. Whether these would be repurposed or not depends on the dialogue, but we're interested in the nonexistent Warhammer arc.
Page 2 of 2: What This Reveals About Leia's Role In Star Wars 9
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019