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Will there be a director's cut of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker bore the Herculean task of concluding a nine-film saga that stretched over 42 years, one that means a great deal to legions of fans all over the world. As such, it was never going to satisfy everybody — but the film has proven oddly divisive, splitting fans and critics alike right down the middle. 

Perhaps because the concept of the director's cut has recently been looming in the pop culture consciousness due to the controversy surrounding the 2017 film Justice League, some fans have begun to wonder if there isn't another version of Rise of Skywalker out there, one with a slightly more consistent and coherent artistic vision. Recently, a long post appeared on Reddit that lit an absolute fire under fans prone to this type of speculation, as it asserts that not only is there indeed a different cut of the flick which was assembled by director J.J. Abrams, but that it represents a very, very different vision from the cut that made its way to theaters.

It must be said that the post, courtesy of Redditor egoshoppe, has not in any way been verified to contain accurate information. Taken in the context of post-release comments made by some key parties, however, we are tentatively of the opinion that egoshoppe's claim is true: that they have been in contact with an anonymous source who worked on the film, and is intimately familiar with its road to the screen, a far rougher road than Lucasfilm parent company Disney would like its audience to know.

So, is there a director's cut of Rise of Skywalker? There may very well be — but if the winding narrative put forth in the Reddit post is even partially accurate, it's doubtful that it'll ever see the light of day. Let's take a look at some of the claims made about this alleged cut, as well as any corroborating information that's been made public. Please be advised that major spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker follow.

The Rise of Skywalker might have lost a great deal of Adam Driver's performance

Much of the criticism of Rise of Skywalker has centered on the seemingly haphazard character arc of Kylo Ren, portrayed by Adam Driver. Specifically, some viewers saw his turn away from the Dark Side of the Force and acceptance of his former identity of Ben Solo as abrupt, and the nature of his relationship with Rey (Daisy Ridley) was also a bit unclear, to the extent that Abrams attempted to publicly clarify their relationship after the film's release.

According to egoshoppe, there's a reason for this — namely, that a goodly portion of Driver's scenes were cut from the film. Among these were scenes leading up to his eventual rejection of the Dark Side that made his internal struggle much more plain (and which reportedly were "especially amazing because of Adam's performance and how he managed to portray that inner turmoil"). Additionally, the scene in which Ren/Solo died after transferring his life force to Rey was reported to be much longer — a whopping 4 minutes longer. While it's been speculated (including by us) that Solo may not in fact have been intended to die according to Abrams' vision, egoshoppe's source says that as far as they know, this is not the case. Solo, apparently, was always intended to die — it was Rey and Solo's kiss right before the latter's death that wasn't supposed to happen.

Allegedly, Abrams shot the kiss under mandate from Disney,which was eager to appease that subset of the fandom (the "Reylo contingent," as we like to call them) who wanted to see it happen. The source asserts that the kiss was not present in the last cut of the film that Abrams approved, but that it was essentially snuck back in when the film was re-edited without Abrams' knowledge.

A subplot involving Finn may have been dropped from Rise of Skywalker

Also the subject of intense speculation: just what it was that Finn (John Boyega) was attempting to tell Rey, but never got a chance to, for virtually the entire movie. Given the fact that the character wielded a lightsaber (and even held his own in a fight with Ren) during the events of The Force Awakens, a number of observers have put two and two together to arrive at the idea that Finn was being built up to be Force-sensitive, and that this is what he was trying to explain to Rey during Rise of Skywalker. According to egoshoppe's source, this is dead accurate — Finn was always meant to be Force-sensitive, and in Abrams' cut of the film, this is not only made clear, but he's actually seen using the Force ("and [acting] surprised when it happened"). In assessing the potential accuracy of the leak, this point is a big one, because it's reportedly been confirmed by Abrams himself.

According to Twitter user @ar1aster, Abrams said during an impromptu conversation with fans at a Q&A that this was indeed the revelation that Finn was trying to impart to Rey. Taken along with all the moments in the prequel trilogy which clearly implied Finn's Force-sensitivity, it's pretty obvious that the films were building to their own confirmation — one that mysteriously never happened.

Finn and Poe's true relationship may have been nixed from Rise of Skywalker

Likewise, the prequel films have always seemed to suggest that the relationship between Finn and Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) was destined to eventually go beyond friendship. Fans who held out hope that Rise of Skywalker would feature the series' first gay relationship between major characters saw those hopes dashed — but, again, egoshoppe's source claims that this was due to interference from Disney.

Abrams reportedly fought hard for the pair to admit their romantic feelings for each other — a fight that the source says he lost decisively. It's not known whether any scenes making these feelings clear were ever shot, but comments made by Isaac after the flick's release definitely bolster the notion that Abrams intended for it to happen, but that Disney shut him down.

Speaking with IGN, Isaac said, "I think there could've been a very interesting, forward-thinking — not even forward-thinking, just, like, current-thinking — love story there, something that hadn't quite been explored yet; particularly the dynamic between these two men in war that could've fallen in love with each other... but the Disney overlords were not ready to do that."

The Rise of Skywalker might have been much longer

If it seems like a lot of footage must have hit the cutting room floor in order for this leak to be accurate, well, that's a bit of an understatement. According to the anonymous source, the cut of Rise of Skywalker assembled by Abrams in November of 2019 ran a whopping three hours and two minutes — a full 40 minutes longer than the theatrical run time of two hours, 22 minutes.

Among other plot points allegedly covered by Abrams' cut: it was made explicit that Jannah is indeed Lando Calrissian's daughter; Leia's sacrificing her own life to redeem her son Ren/Solo was made much more clear; and, amazingly, the "voices of Jedi past" sequence in which Rey hears such departed Jedi as Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda urging her to defeat Emperor Palpatine was very different in that the characters actually appeared as Force ghosts. (This cut was allegedly made to appease Chinese censors, which don't allow depictions of ghosts on film.)

Our intrepid Redditor closed their post with their source's assertion that Abrams' cut of Rise of Skywalker exists, and "will always exist" — but that it's likely to never see the light of day, unless "someone... leaks it." It may not surprise you to know that in the wake of the post, #ReleaseTheJJCut began immediately trending on Twitter. Good luck with that, fans... may the Force be with you.