Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and why we like to believe ridiculous leaks

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes out in a couple of weeks and this morning I was greeted by a fresh batch of scandalous leaks that allegedly reveal the plot of the whole movie.

I’ve handpicked some of the most ridiculous sounding ‘spoilers’ because I’d rather not give the sites posting the full batch any more clicks by linking to them. If you want to go down this rabbit hole, feel free to look up ‘Rise of Skywalker leaks’.

I personally believe that there’s zero chance in hell that any of these are real – and you’ll see why in the next paragraph – but if you’re worried about actual potential spoilers, then you should skip ahead.

The leaks start off with the bombshell reveal that Rey is actually Palpatine’s granddaughter (!). The Emperor apparently foresaw the events of Return of the Jedi and made contingency plans – the Palpatine that died on the second Death Star was a clone and the one in TROS is the REAL Palpy.

The bits that made me stop reading, get up from my desk and actually walk around my room while laughing hysterically were:

  • Palpatine uses Force Lighting to disable the ENTIRE RESISTANCE FLEET (afterward, Rey does the SAME THING to the First Order Fleet)
  • Palpatine says ‘execute Order 67’
  • There’s a younger Palpy clone played by Matt Smith
  • Finn is related to Lando

Many of the comments and replies to the alleged leaks are quick to point out how absurd, awful and utterly stupid a lot of this stuff is. Blatant inconsistencies, huge retcons, nonsensical plot turns.

From wholesale dismissing one of the big, pivotal anti-climax reveals of TLJ regarding Rey’s parents to making two named black characters relatives and preposterous displays of Force prowess (who needs Death Stars when you can just disable whole fleets with Force lightning?) – the whole thing reads like someone actively trying to come up with the dumbest ideas.

So why do these same people believe the leaks to be true?

Well, some argue that it’s not exactly unprecedented. I actually stumbled across the leaks in a thread on the Game of Thrones subreddit r/freefolk, which starts with people pointing out that this happened with GoT.

The entire plot of the awful last season leaked and the leaks were completely true. Every bit of awful nonsense actually happened. So couldn’t history repeat itself with The Rise of Skywalker?

Maybe these leaks are true – or maybe they’re exactly what they seem like. A pile of fake nonsense. What I find fascinating is people’s eagerness to accept the leaks at face value.

See, one thing that really struck me about a lot of the comments is people voicing their dislike for the sequel trilogy in general. At least several replies say something like ‘I didn’t even hesitate to read all the leaks, because I just don’t care these films any more’.

Others angrily point out that if the leaks are true, TROS would be even worse than the previous two films – and I’ve seen at least a couple of headlines and YouTube videos that frame the leaks as ‘Worse than we thought’ or ‘Worse than The Last Jedi‘.

Folks, I’ve been there. Not with the new Star Wars films, because, well, The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars film ever made and anyone who disagrees is objectively wrong and also dumb. I’ve been there with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

© Marvel Studios

You see, Avengers: Endgame broke me. It was an incredibly disappointing film that made me reevaluate how I felt about the entire MCU. A few weeks before Spider-Man: Far From Home came out, I saw that the plot had ‘leaked’.

I read the leaks with zero hesitation. They were awful and absurd and I believed every single word of them. If Endgame could be that bad, then surely this was plausible, right?

Then I read a few comments that astutely pointed out exactly how ridiculous and fake the leaks sound and it was like someone dumped a bucket of cold water on me.

I realized the reason I believed any of this nonsense is because I actually wanted it to be true. I wanted Far From Home to be this terrible and nonsensical. I’d still hate it, but I’d also feel validated.

If you truly don’t care about something, you don’t ravenously consume rumors about how awful it’s going to be. That’s the kind of thing you do when you’re rooting for something to fail.

Now, I thought Far From Home was hot garbage for entirely different reasons, but there’s a part of me that wonders if I was being too harsh on it. Were my criticisms well-founded or was I still rooting for it to fail?

Were my eyes finally open to the glaring faults in the MCU formula or was I looking for things to get mad about? I’m still not quite sure.

Ridiculous leaks like these are tailor-made for the audience that’s most likely to believe them. Hell, one publication was seemingly trying to get a #ReleaseTheSnyderCut thing going about an alleged George Lucas cut of TROS.

These Rise of Skywalker spoilers are so absurd because they’re for people who want the film to be absurd. They want it to be worst, most nonsensical Star Wars film ever made because then their dislike for TFA and TLJ will be completely justified.

The leaked plot is absurd, yes, but the idea of an absurd, awful plot? That’s the part people find plausible.

If something is bad, everything about it must be bad. It’s just simpler and easier to look at things that way. A lot of bad faith arguments and opinions are born this way. It’s something all of us should keep in mind because it’s all too easy to slip into that mindset.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in UK cinemas 19 December.

Stanyo Zhelev

Socially awkward geek that loves movies and writing about them. King's College London graduate. Look for on Letterboxd (https://letterboxd.com/cinemastan/) and my personal site (http://thecinemastan.com/)