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The Episode IX Rumor That Raises Some Serious Concerns

Not all Star Wars: Episode IX rumors are created equal. Some have a substantial amount of backing that could prove them true — like all those theories about the film unraveling the real truth of Rey's (Daisy Ridley) parentage and revealing her as a descendant of the Skywalker bloodline. Others are far too silly to take seriously — like the talk that Episode IX will take place five years after the events of The Last Jedi and see Rey discovering that one of her Jedi students is actually her child, which sends her now-lover Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) into a jealous rage. 

And then there are the rumors that raise serious concerns — like this new one that claims Episode IX will include a planet-destroying weapon reminiscent of the Death Star. 

According to a purportedly leaked scene description (via Express UK) from an anonymous and therefore unverified source, one Episode IX scene features Kylo sitting in his throne room, "assumed to be the headquarters of the First Order," and holding a device that projects a hologram in front of him. The new Supreme Leader of the First Order after slicing Snoke (Andy Serkis) in half in The Last Jedi, Kylo is said to be analyzing the hologram, which displays a yet-to-be-completed weapon ship that's flanked by other superweapons as it wreaks havoc on an unspecified planet. 

"Kylo appears to be examining three large superweapons that are in a cylindrical shape with an enormous engine on each side of each superweapon of this ship/weapon, destroying terrain on a planet," the description reads. "The engine burner is colored red and the blast from the bottom of these three massive weapons is colored blue, impacting a surface causing astronomical destruction. Parts of the weapon seem to be under construction and not finished."

As Express noted, this rumored weapon sounds strikingly similar to the World Devastators featured in the Star Wars expanded universe, particularly the Dark Empire storyline seen in the Star Wars Legends comic series. Designed by Imperial engineer Umak Leth, who was one of the chief weapons engineers who helped craft the original Death Star, and implemented during the Emperor Palpatine-ruled Galactic Empire, the World Devastators landed on planets and used employed tractor beam technology to rip the land apart, sweeping over cities and decimating everything in its reach. 

Where the Death Star was incredibly powerful in its ability to destroy target worlds, the World Devastators were highly efficient in making use of the rubble left after killing a planet. The weapon ships – armed with tractor beam projectors, gun towers, turbo-lasers, missile launchers, ion cannons, and more — would harvest a just-ravaged world's materials, which were then used to power the ships' engines and their internal foundries that created more cruisers, droids, and weapons of destruction. 

While the World Devastators aren't currently canon in the galaxy far, far away – apparently nothing from Star Wars Legends is at this time — there's nothing stopping Episode IX director J.J. Abrams from digging through the Star Wars history books and bringing a past element back into the fold. There aren't any rules against this (at least not that we know of, since Lucasfilm executives could have a fat stack of dos and don'ts they hands to each director that signs on for a Star Wars flick) and it's by no means the wrong thing for Abrams to do, but it does have fans worried about Episode IX

If the forthcoming film, the final installment in the Skywalker saga before The Last Jedi writer-director Rian Johnson rolls out his trilogy starring all-new characters, genuinely does feature Kylo Ren and the First Order using a superweapon to blow up planets for their own personal gain and take down their adversaries, it would feel remarkably like Return of the Jedi, which saw the Empire construct an even more powerful Death Star to dismantle the Rebellion. This could pose a problem for the success of Episode IX and the way fans and critics respond to it. 

People praised The Force Awakens, also directed by Abrams, for its ability to recall the franchise's "former glory while injecting it with renewed energy," and felt a rush of nostalgia while watching the moments that mirrored A New Hope. But plenty found issue with The Force Awaken's inclusion of the Starkiller Base — yet another superweapon that's essentially the Death Star 2.0. Having one hyper-powerful weapon (the OG Death Star first seen in A New Hope) is amazing. Having two (the Death Star and the Starkiller Base) is still pretty cool but definitely controversial. Having three, though? That could be overkill — and might be interpreted by some viewers as a sign of a lack of originality or creativity on Abrams' part. 

After the bedlam that befell and the controversy that clouded The Last Jedi — with audiences trashing Johnson's vision, harassing newcomer Kelly Marie Tran for her involvement in the franchise, and calling for a new writer and director to remake the movie and erase the original from the Star Wars canon — it's easy to figure that Disney and Lucasfilm might not want to do anything too shocking or potentially divisive with Episode IX. Perhaps the studios' brass, namely Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy, sat down with Abrams and came to the conclusion to stick to what has previously worked in the Star Wars franchise. Abrams may have gone off to write a script that truly does include a superweapon and a storyline that echoes Return of the Jedi, the 1983 closer to the classic trilogy fans have exalted as "everything it ought to be — glorious, exhilarating, exciting, absorbing, technically wondrous." 

It's clear that Disney and Lucasfilm (and Abrams, too) aim to end the current trilogy on a high note. But will the bang that Episode IX goes out with come the in form of a superweapon annihilating some far-off planet? Since this is just another Star Wars rumor, we can't make any judgement calls, but hopefully Episode IX can stand out as its own enjoyable entity and not just a Return of the Jedi rehash when it opens in theaters on December 20, 2019.