Star Wars 9 is likely to retcon the reveal of Rey's parents from The Last Jedi, but in doing so The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams is taking a huge risk. Due to her name simply being 'Rey', the lineage of the fledgling Force-user was a major talking point among Star Wars fans before The Force Awakens had even been released in 2015, with various theories ranging from her being a Skywalker to a Kenobi, a Solo or a Palpatine.
That only intensified following the release of Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which didn't confirm who Rey's parents are but did make some hints towards them being important. Given her close relationship to Han Solo and mission to find Luke Skywalker, it seemed likely that we were being primed for a big reveal later in Disney's Sequel Trilogy. Fans spent two years speculating on who it would be and contorting ideas to fit with established canon, but Rian Johnson had something very different in mind to what fans expected.
In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren tells Rey that her parents were nobodies. It was among the many decisions that divided Star Wars fans, but there is now a distinct possibility it'll be changed in Star Wars 9. If that happens, it'd most likely be a mistake.
Why Rey's Parents Reveal In The Last Jedi Was Great
Alongside the decision to kill off Supreme Leader Snoke without so much as a passing mention of his backstory, the reveal of Rey's parentage is the choice in Star Wars: The Last Jedi that really rankled with some Star Wars fans. Given the number of theories, the hints at her links to other characters, and her considerable Force powers, there was a strong expectation of her being someone. Instead, Johnson has Kylo tell her that she was sold off for drinking money and her parents are lying dead in an unmarked grave somewhere on Jakku.
It's bold, surprising, and the best decision Johnson could've made for that moment. In a film that, by George Lucas' old adage, should've rhymed with The Empire Strikes Back, we instead got the inverse of Darth Vader telling Luke that he's his father. Luke thought of his father as a hero, and it's revealed that he's the major villain. For Rey, she dreams of her parents being somebodies, who'll come back for her and lead her to great things and finding a place in the galaxy. But they're not. They're nobodies, and that's the most crushing thing she can possibly hear about them. That search for belonging had formed a huge part of Rey's journey, and that belief in her parents was the ray of hope she had clung on to. Knowing they're nobodies, she's able to let go of the past and begin truly moving forward.
It also ties directly into some of the biggest and most important themes of The Last Jedi. Namely, that anyone can be a hero. It isn't about where you come from, but who you are inside and what you do that defines you. We see it through Rose as well, and Broom Boy at the end, but it's most clear with Rey. In positioning her not as the latest in a long line of Skywalkers or some other special family, and instead making her a nobody, it takes Star Wars all the way back to its roots. Luke is someone fans invested in because he was so relatable. You could imagine being him. That got a little lost along the way as Lucas became more interested in Chosen Ones and midi-chlorians, but with this reveal Johnson fully restored an intrinsic part of Star Wars, and something Star Wars 9 can build on. Except it seems it won't.
Star Wars 9 Will Likely Change Rey's Parents
Almost ever since The Last Jedi was released, there have been questions about how Star Wars 9 would handle Rey's parentage. Rather than being a definitive answer to everyone, it hasn't stopped the slew of theories because of the backlash to Episode VIII and fans wanting a complete do-over, with even Johnson himself admitting that it was "still open". It could be that Kylo Ren was lying, or that we didn't get the full picture.
Those involved in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker haven't exactly been coy about their approach to Rey's parentage either. Although Abrams hasn't said he'll be completely changing what Johnson did, even noting that they've "honored" what's in Episode VIII, he has stated that "there’s more to the story than you’ve seen.” More recently, Rey actress Daisy Ridley has weighed in on the matter and further alluded to greater exploration of Rey's past, saying: "[Director J.J. Abrams] did say the question is answered. So at the end of the film, you do know what the dealio is."
Those comments don't come as much of a surprise, but rather fit with some of the rumors that have swirled around Star Wars 9's production. Keri Russell was speculated to be playing Rey's mother, Dominic Monaghan was slated as a possible contender for her father, and lately there's been an even bigger bit of scuttlebutt doing the rounds: that Han Solo is Rey's father. Not with Leia, but a different woman in the years they were estranged.
The timeline doesn't appear to match up, but it does fit with a lot of the conversation around where The Rise of Skywalker is headed in this part of the story. Even the title could be a hint at it, and the trailer might contain the same ship her parents were ostensibly on in The Force Awakens. Abrams created Rey, so he had - and still has - a vision for the character, and it wouldn't be much of a surprise to see him realizing that as much as possible in Star Wars 9, but that doesn't mean it would be a good thing.
Why Star Wars 9 Changing Rey's Parents Would Be A Mistake
With so much talk about Rey's parentage surrounding Star Wars 9, it leaves a few options for what J.J. Abrams might do. It could be that he adds more to the story of who are they, keeping them as "nobodies" but then fleshing them out into 'somebodies'. Alternatively, it might be while Rey's parents weren't important, her grandparents or some other ancestors are part of a well-known family. Abrams could go down the semantics route, with Rey being another Anakin type conception, and the people who were actually her parents are nobodies, but that she was willed into being by Palpatine. Or it could go full retcon and make her a Solo or daughter of the Emperor.
So there are plenty of avenues for The Rise of Skywalker to go down with Rey's parents, but it's hard to imagine any of them being wholly satisfying. The most palatable would be just revisiting who they were and why they left Rey, but again that brings risks. Rey was just a young child, so it's unclear just how much story there is there, and in a movie that already has so much to do it could feel like filler or overstuff it. What matters most at this point is the continuation of Rey's journey, and since it's already moved beyond Rey's parents and she's found her place, there's no obvious need to revisit them.
The other options would be even worse. Having her be the creation of Palpatine risks repeating too much of Anakin's story. Having her being Han's daughter is just really weird, especially as a capper to his and Leia's relationship. And in both cases, it would massively undercut the core Star Wars themes that Rey so strongly represents, and repeating much of what we've seen rather than doing something new. Star Wars 9 is going to change Rey's parents in some way, but it really doesn't need to. For where the story and character is, and where it needs to go, it already has everything it needs.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019