Disney biennial fan convention, D23, happened over the weekend, and now the question is when Disney is just going to make this an annual event. This year felt like Comic-Con Part II, with an unending cycle of weekend news, including movies and TV shows that won’t be coming out for two or three years. I’m sure every other studio in town felt like Disney was slowly choking the life out of them as they witnessed the unstoppable IP parade put on in Anaheim. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I like a lot of what Disney puts out, but on the other hand, they are turning pop culture into a monoculture, and that’s not good for anyone. The cinematic revolution of the 21st century is not going to be digital, it’s going to be Disney and we are witnessing the beginning of the end and embracing it with adoring cheers and cosplay. Anyway, about Rey’s new lightsaber!
JJ Abrams brought a sizzle reel to D23, which includes clips from the OG and prequel trilogies, and new footage from The Rise of Skywalker. The new stuff looks cool: Rey, Finn, and Poe are actually together this time, Rey can boomerang her lightsaber now—I can already hear the fanbros fussing about Rey knowing a cool new trick she’s never seen a man do before—Rey and Kylo Ren duke it out in the rain, and C-3PO has red eyes which I don’t give a sh-t about because C-3PO sucks and I hope he falls into a volcano. Honestly, BB-8 is not that bad, C-3PO is the OG obnoxious droid who can’t let anyone have a moment before he is shoving his gold ass in and insisting on having all the attention.
We also see Rey using a double-ended red lightsaber while wearing a black cloak. Everyone is freaking out because red lightsabers are what the bad guys use, but all I can think about is how it looks like someone said, “A double neck guitar, but make it lightsaber.” It looks like Rey is about to make me listen to her new emo metalcore track. I’m not worried about Rey falling to the Dark Side, I’m worried she and Kylo Ren have teamed up to form a sh-tty death metal band.
I am firmly of the belief that “The Rise of Skywalker” refers to a new order of Force Warrior Rey will establish that better balances the light and dark sides of the Force. I don’t buy that she really will fall to the Dark Side at all. And the black robes, though Sith-ish, don’t strike me as that odd. Never forget Luke rocked up to rescue Han in a cool new black outfit. Also, how much do you want to bet the red lightsaber ends up being part of an undercover plot? Or she uses it to prove she has mastered her dark side without falling to The Dark Side. And she’s also using the blue lightsaber, it’s almost like the whole point is going to be about balance or something. Or, I don’t know, maybe this is all just about what looks f-cking cool on film. Mace Windu used a purple lightsaber because Samuel L. Jackson thought it would look cool. I’m sure there will be a sound story reason for Rey’s red lightsaber, and I am also sure it will look 100% totally rad on film.
One meta story to watch around Rise of Skywalker is how it factors into a potential award season run by Adam Driver. He’s coming off his first Oscar nomination for BlacKkKlansman, and he has two films on the fall festival circuit: Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, which faces resistance as a Netflix film, and The Report, which already won raves at Sundance. Driver will be wrapping up his Star Wars run in the middle of high Oscar season. If he has a viable campaign going, it will be interesting to see how Star Wars is incorporated into his narrative.