Episode X? That's the new rumor floating around the outer husk of Star Wars 9 as we enter the second week of production starting tomorrow. Leaks continue to drizzle out of the Lucasfilm base camp, and the latest is that J.J. Abrams and his team are aiming to have the longest film in the franchise with Episode IX. It might be so long, it gets chopped into two movies.
Watch as your eyes literally fall out of your head upon sitting down for Star Wars 9. It is bringing back as many legacy characters as it can fit, with only Han Solo being left out as far as we can tell. Already confirmed to return are Luke Skywalker, General Leia, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, C-3PO and R2-D2. We also have the main gang from The Force Awakens trilogy, including Rey, Finn, Poe, Captain Phasma, Kylo Ren and General Hux. Lesser characters such as Maz Kanata and Unkar Plutt are also said to be back. Then we have Yoda and Obi-Wan returning and it's heavily rumored that Anakin Skywalker will return in some form, either young or old, in the guise of real-life Hayden Christensen (to appease prequel lovers) or CGI motion capture Sebastian Shaw (to get old school fans pumped).
Comic books have offered a lot of insight into the world of Star Wars that we don't get in the movies, so J.J. Abrams is going to take some liberties with what fans know and what casual audiences think they know. This could mean we'll see various characters that are familiar to hardcore enthusiasts embedded in this world, but they'll come off as new to mom and pop matinee, who watch these things once on a rainy weekend and can barely remember what is supposed to be going on from movie to movie.
Artist story boards from the film indicate that most of the newer characters are getting a drastic makeover. We've seen Finn's new dreadlocks and tan vest. Poe will be climbing into a new flight suit, and Rey is going to shock everyone with her change of appearance. Luke is said to be getting a new blue robe. But Leia? With J.J. Abram's Plan 9 in place to recycle footage, she'll be wearing old hand-me-downs from The Last Jedi and the Force Awakens, unless animators plan on digitally altering her costumes, which we haven't heard yet, but is a possibility. With all these characters and new story arcs in place, Star Wars 9 is going to have to be really long.
Pro spoiler hunters don't have to gauge wide to guess a long runtime for Star Wars 9 is in play. It seems inevitable. But will that help or hinder the story being told here? J.J. Abrams is hellbent on addressing every plot hole and loose thread hanging in the Skywalker saga. This is the last chapter, and he wants to finish it accordingly.
Secrets from the set point to Star Wars 9 being so long, in fact, that Disney and Lucasfilm are reportedly considering a Hunger Games move, chopping this final sequel into two parts. That hasn't faired well for other franchises that have done that in the past. But perhaps Star Wars can get away with it? I'm not so sure. Though, with so many characters, it will be hard to give someone like Rose Tico, who was only just introduced in the penultimate chapter, a proper sendoff. Which we know will make some dingbats upset. But perhaps a character like Rose will return at a later date in a future movie.
We have heard before that Rey, Finn and Poe will return somewhere down the line. Which makes sense. As far as we know, none of them are Skywalkers. When the subject came up, there was no mention of Kylo Ren making any future appearances, so perhaps he dies in this next sequel.
Right now The Last Jedi has the longest runtime in the franchise. It clocks in at 2 hours and 32 minutes. Attack of the Clones is in second place at 2 hours and 22 minutes. Revenge of the Sith is 2 hours and 20 minutes. The Phantom Menace and The Force Awakens tie at 2 hours and 16 minutes. Solo is 2 hours and 15 minutes. Rogue One is 2 hours and 13 minutes. The original trilogy has the shortest runtimes, with Return of the Jedi coming in at 2 hours and 11 minutes, Empire Strikes Back at 2 hours and 4 minutes and the one that started it all, A New Hope, the shortest movie in the series with a slim runtime of 2 hours and 1 minute.
Star Wars 9 sounds like its trying to be the Infinity War of the Lucasfilm universe. That MCU adventure is longer than any Star Wars movie, coming in at 2 hours and 40 minutes. It's possible that J.J. Abrams could go full-on Lord of the Rings and drop a Star Wars 9 that soars in at over 3 hours. But does anyone really want that? The fans, the exhibitors, Disney?
Perhaps, if it is too long, Lucasfilm will cut Star Wars 9 into a two-parter. But I can only see that angering the already angry fanbase who got all riled up watching The Last Jedi. It's safe to say that Star Wars 9 will be one long movie. But will it succeed at being the longest in the franchise? I think the safe bet, rumor or not, is yes. We first learned about Star Wars 9 and its overly long runtime over at Drunk Chicken TV.