‘The Rise of Skywalker’: Fans Are Furious at How This Former Star Was Treated

“Release the (fill in the blank) cut “has become a rallying cry on social media and Reddit. First, it happened to Justice League, and now it’s happened with The Rise of Skywalker. Some fans contend the new film left old stars in the lurch. 

However, the existence of the so-called “JJ cut” that reflects director JJ Abrams’ true vision has not been credibly verified. We may eventually get to see deleted scenes or some kind of “Special Edition” down the line, but a Star Wars expert flat out doesn’t buy the idea that Disney wrestled the new movie out of Abrams’ hands. 

J.J Abrams at the 'Star Wars' premiere
J.J. Abrams | Dave J Hogan/Getty Images

What is ‘The JJ Cut’?

When The Rise of Skywalker came out last month, its reception was decidedly mixed. Some people loved the movie, but others complained Rise of Skywalker tried too hard to undo the divisive Last Jedi, and as a result, the movie couldn’t get out of its own way.

Someone even created a joke title card in the Star Wars credit font that Episode IX was “written and directed by Reddit.” 

Reddit was the source of a leaker who claims that Disney pushed for edits and other changes that Abrams didn’t really want. Spoilers ahead. 

As the movie plays in theaters, Rey hears the voices of other Jedi speaking to her at the climax. The voices heard included Hayden Christensen, Samuel L Jackson and Ewan McGregor. However, those actors were supposed to do more than just voices, the leaker contends. 

“Older actors were included like Hayden, Ewan and Samuel and anyone who wasn’t animated. The force ghosts weren’t meant to be voices because they shot that footage on camera. The actors were in costumes. Rey was supposed to be surrounded by the force ghosts to serve as sort of a barrier between her and the Sith surrounding them.”

The leaker further states that Abrams’ original cut of the movie was a little over three hours but that we’ll probably never see it. 

This sprang from ‘Release the Snyder cut” 

“Release the JJ cut” was almost certainly named to reflect “Release the Snyder Cut,” referring to Zack Snyder’s original version of Justice League. Snyder had started work on that movie, having already made Batman v. Superman and being the lead creative force on the DC Extended Universe. 

But then Batman v. Superman came out, and the movie was considered a major disappointment, so concern arose about the direction of Justice League. Eventually, Snyder stepped away from the picture, saying he was coping with the tragic death of his daughter. Joss Whedon, who had made the first two Avengers movies, came in and significantly reworked and reshot the film. 

But even that led to controversies, with the infamous digital erasure of Henry Cavill’s mustache that made the reshoots all too obvious. It was later revealed that Snyder had a rough assembly of the movie with no Whedon-shot footage, although this version did not have a completed score or effects.

Nevertheless, a movement has been afoot to “Release the Snyder cut,” a sentiment that has been backed by Gal Gadot and Ben Affleck. In an interesting coincidence, Chris Terrio contributed to the screenplays for Justice League and Rise of Skywalker. 

Why the “JJ cut” probably doesn’t exist

While there almost certainly was a longer cut of The Rise of Skywalker, it was because early assembles almost always run long. Inverse spoke to a Star Wars leaker, Jason Ward, who has often been right about his leaks, and he says the JJ cut leak on Reddit is “bull****, from top to bottom.”

Inverse points out that Abrams and other personnel on the film rushed through production because they had a shorter shooting schedule than on Force Awakens.

Actors, including Kelly Marie Tran, have made references to scenes that were shot but not included. So while the version playing in theaters now may be different than intended, it doesn’t rise to the level of Disney taking over the movie. 

That scene with Christensen and the other actors might exist, and if it does, we’ll probably see it when the film hits home video later this year. Moreover, Star Wars films are infamous for never being quite finished – witness George Lucas’ seemingly endless tinkering with the original trilogy. So maybe someday there will be a Special Edition of The Rise of Skywalker – but it won’t be “the JJ cut.”