The inspiration behind the design of Rey’s lightsaber has been explained. The folding action was seen in the most recent trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the eye-catching moment instantly inspiring a thousand memes and humorous edits of the action, although opinion remains divided on how practical it is.
The basic design of lightsabers is as simple swords, but a number of variations on the design have cropped up over the years. The double-bladed variant is one of the most well known, first used by Sith lord Exar Kun in the Tales of the Jedi comics, but most memorably introduced in The Phantom Menace, when Darth Maul faced off with Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi, holding his lightsaber out sideways and dramatically revealing its second blade, then wielding the weapon like a bo staff instead of a sword.
The explanation behind the folding hilt design came from Ziro.hu, a Hungarian site dedicated to all things Star Wars. In an interview with Chris Glenn, who worked as a design and conceptual artist on The Clone Wars TV series, he revealed that the hinged handle came about due the character of Pong Krell, an unpleasant Jedi master. As one of the Besalisk, a reptilian-like race with four arms, his design had him dual-wielding two double-bladed lightsabers, and due to his size – the character was about seven feet tall and powerfully built – his weapons needed longer handles to be properly held in his large hands. This then led to the problem of them being too long to hang from his belt without getting in the way, meaning Glenn needed to design them to fold in the middle and thus take up less vertical space.
As well as double-bladed lightsabers, some other variations on the classic design include pike-like weapons with long handles and short blades; tonfa-style hilts with an extra handle at a right angle; shorter shoto lightsabers used by smaller creatures such as Yoda, or as off-hand weapons such as that used by Ahsoka Tano from about halfway through The Clone Wars; the blade/blaster combo used by Ezra in the Rebels TV series (which Glenn also designed); and of course, the greatsword design of Kylo Ren’s broadsaber.
As the description of the design’s simple genesis shows, it’s easy for ideas to be reused across all the Star Wars properties as they are needed, the details forming part of the overall canon in small but significant ways that tie everything together. There currently isn’t any way to know if there’s any significance behind Rey’s wielding of a double-bladed lightsaber, since we don’t even know if what we saw in the trailer was even reality, and not a dream or premonition as some are theorizing, and it’s unlikely we will know until the release of The Rise of Skywalker in December. However, the next time you see an amusing reworking of Rey spinning the second blade around, it might be even more entertaining to remember it exists because of a giant six-limbed frog.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019