The final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker features a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of a Battle Droid from the prequel trilogy, but why? The latest much-hyped trailer release was heavy in action but light on reveals, with perhaps the biggest moment coming in the form of an over-the-shoulder shot of Emperor Palpatine as he ominously advanced on Rey. Elsewhere, there was an emotional goodbye from C-3PO, the strongest sign yet that Rey and Kylo Ren will team-up and more footage from the ruins of the second Death Star on Endor.
The trailer was, however, mostly lacking in references to the Star Wars prequel trilogy, and this is consistent with the modern films as a general rule. Back in 2015 when The Force Awakens was in production, the reputation of the prequels was lower than Jabba the Hutt's hygiene standards, and J. J. Abrams seemed to deliberately omit elements of those films while simultaneously taking plenty from the original trilogy. That trend mostly continued with The Last Jedi, but public attitude towards the prequels has shifted somewhat in recent years, as fans start to realize that the trilogy perhaps didn't deserve to be the butt of quite so many jokes.
Accordingly, the latest Star Wars 9 trailer suggests that more references to the prequels are incoming, and one moment features the iconic silhouette of a Battle Droid in the background. While C-3PO makes his typically dramatic farewell speech, the Battle Droid can be seen to the far right of the shot. These mostly hapless droids were used as fodder enemies throughout the prequel trilogy, and especially in The Phantom Menace, but they failed to catch on in quite the same way as the Stormtroopers had previously, and were played for laughs more than they were presented as an actual threat.
The Battle Droid in Star Wars 9 looks to be very much out of commission, with the scene taking place in some kind of droid workshop or graveyard. Consequently, it's perhaps safe to assume that this appearance is intended as an Easter egg, and a reference to the previously-maligned prequel trilogy, rather than any sort of indication Battle Droids could be returning to the frontlines in Star Wars 9.
Still, Battle Droid theories have begun to circulate following the release of the final Star Wars 9 trailer, suggesting a more prominent role for the Confederacy's old infantry. Some claim that a Droid Control Ship can be spotted during the scene where the Millennium Falcon joins an array of ships from Star Wars mythology and, if true, this might hint towards a rediscovered battalion of Battle Droids called up by the Resistance to help compensate for their own dwindling numbers.
Whether this proves to be the case or not, the presence of the retired robotic foot soldier is yet another symptom of the ever-softening fan opinion towards the prequel trilogy. If a Battle Droid had been spotted in the first trailer for The Force Awakens, the fandom probably would have let out a collective groan and there might've also been concerns that Abrams would make the prequels a vital part of the new trilogy. In 2019, however, reactions towards this subtle reference have been largely positive, as fans remember these remarkably fragile droids in a fonder light. It'll be interesting to see what other prequel delights Star Wars 9 has in store, now that the topic is no longer taboo.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019