‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Did This 1 Thing Right For Leia
Carrie Fisher’s passing in 2016 was a devasting moment for all of her fans and anyone who ever looked up to Princess Leia growing up. Subsequently, Leia’s arc changed for The Rise of Skywalker, and they used unreleased footage instead. Even though her story had a different ending than initially planned, Episode IX was still able to deliver this one thing for Leia. It respected Leia’s and Fisher’s legacies and gave fans a fantastic send-off for this character. MAJOR spoilers ahead for The Rise of Skywalker.
Before Carrie Fisher passed, this movie was supposed to be hers
Billie Lourd, Fisher’s daughter and Lieutenant Connix in the sequel trilogy, opened up about her mother’s legacy, along with what it was like having Princess Leia as a “third parent.” She wrote about working with her as well, and how Episode IX was finally going to focus on Leia. “One of the last times we spoke on the phone, she talked about how excited she was that the next movie in the trilogy was going to be Leia’s movie. Her movie,” Lourd wrote about her late mother.
Before that essay, Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher’s brother, told Yahoo that this final movie was always going to be a “big payoff” in the form of Leia. “She was going to be the last Jedi, so to speak,” Fisher said about his sister. “That’s cool, right? People used to say to me, ‘Why is it that Carrie never gets a lightsaber and chops up some bad guys.’ Obi-Wan was in his prime when he was Carrie’s age!”
Despite Fisher not getting a lightsaber before her death, Leia finally got her own in the movie
Leia never getting a lightsaber in Star Wars was a bummer for fans. In Star Wars Legends, Luke trains Leia, and you get to see her come into her inherited Jedi powers and the Force. However, those books aren’t canon, so the Leia you saw on screen only got to use the Force a few times.
But The Rise of Skywalker delivered an amazing backstory where Leia does finally get her saber. Rey is about to become a hermit on Ahch-To to escape her Palpatine lineage when Luke shows up as a Force ghost. He gives her Leia’s lightsaber and reveals that she trained with him after the battle on Endor. Leia was nearly done with her training when she had a premonition that her son would die if she finished. Ben does eventually give his life, but maybe it would have been more tragic if she had become a full-fledged Jedi.
Regardless, Leia became General Organa and continued to focus on politics like her adoptive father, Bail Organa, and birth mother, Padmé Amidala, before her. But fans got to see Leia, one last time, finally wielding a lightsaber like her father and brother.
Leia was still at the heart of ‘The Rise of Skywalker’
And even though director J.J. Abrams included only eight minutes of unused footage, Leia was at the center of The Rise of Skywalker. Her last sacrifice forced Ben back into the Light and allowed him to have one more moment with his father, Han Solo. She’s the reason Rey lived, and the Resistance won.
Lourd shared that she and Abrams knew it was essential to include Leia/Fisher in this movie as much as possible. “We both agreed she was too important to be written off in the classic Star Wars introductory scroll,” she wrote. “This last movie was supposed to be Leia’s movie, and we wanted it to remain that, as much as possible.”
And as Lourd wrote, Leia saw a new era in Star Wars where she was the hero. “With each new Star Wars movie, the all-boys fantasy started to become a boys-and-girls fantasy. She was no longer a part of a fantasy, but the fantasy herself,” her daughter said. “Leia was not just a sidekick one of the male leads had on his arm or a damsel in distress. She was the hero herself. The princess became the general.”