Questions and speculation of Star Wars Episode IX leaked photos


Recently leaked photos from the Star Wars: Episode IX film still leave lots to the imagination, but there are some significances.

There have been a series of photos leaks from the production of Star Wars: Episode IX. A clutch of photos was released by The Sun and reported on by a bevy of fan news outlets including our own. While these photos represent the first of such leaks, they will likely not be the last. While it’s riveting to get a sneak peek into the production process, the photos leave us wondering what – if any – details and story points can be gleaned from further examination.

Two questions immediately come to mind when looking at the photos, and we’ll see whether we can tell anything of note from them. You’ll likely want to have a tab open with said photos for referencing. What follows is, of course, speculative and not to be treated as fact.

Where do these scenes take place?

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Part of the fun in speculating involves some use of deduction to determine possible truths. In this instance, there is little indication of where the action takes place, but there is plenty of indication where the scene does not take place. Namely, any of the desert or water planets we’ve seen hitherto. While that seems blatant, it is a non-trivial fact. We can safely say that we are not on Tatooine, Jakku, or Jedha. Ditto for Kamino and Scarif.

Likewise, with a few exceptions (more on that in a bit) we can also say this location doesn’t look like many of the locales featured in either the Prequel Trilogy or the Original Trilogy. The Prequels generally had locations that were more outlandish and higher fantasy – while the OT didn’t prominently feature temperate grassy areas.

There are of course one or two possible locations that we’ve seen before that this could be. In the Prequel Trilogy, Naboo did feature wooded areas and grassy knolls quite prominently. The planet is also of great familiar importance to the Skywalkers. This film being the finale of the Skywalker Saga, a return to the ancestral seat is not out of the question. Though, when considering the flora and fauna of that eco-system, wooly looking space horses seem pretty far afield. It is likely not the location featured in these photos.

STAR WARS, (aka STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE), Chewbacca, Harrison Ford, 1977

Kashyyyk is similarly temperate. Though if it were the Wookiee home planet, there would undoubtedly be more of them featured. Only our trusty Chewbacca is seen here. Scratch Kashyyyk.

Fitting locations from the OT would possibly include Yavin IV, and Endor. While we’ve only seen bits and pieces of those planets the location featured in the photos could work. If Endor however, whither the Ewoks? You know that Ewoks would be featured heavily if they went back to the famed forest moon. We may be able to safely conclude that Endor is not what we’re seeing here.

Yavin IV is forested and temperate. We’ve seen so little of the planet it’s just too difficult to safely rule it out. From a “It’s like poetry, they rhyme” perspective, going back to the first rebel base does make a certain symmetrical sense. Time will tell.

However, there is a location that might make the most sense to place the photos in. The planet of Batuu is being primed in multiple canonical sources to have a significant role for Star Wars as a whole moving forward. Per the official databank Batuu is described as such: 

"notable for the lush trees and mountain spikes that decorate its surface…Significantly, it has also become a safe haven for those looking to avoid the attention of the First Order."

That last point will come in to play again momentarily. For the purposes of investigating where this location can be found within the diegetic universe, Batuu seems as likely a location as any. We will have to spend a significant amount of time on the planet in this film for it to be established as a meaningful touchstone moving forward for Star Wars. One cannot say for sure however; as the master would say “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future.”

What action is taking place here?

Having investigated, to the best of our humble abilities, where these leaked photos suggest action taking place, we will now turn our eyes towards what action is taking place. To begin to grapple with that we can look to the who of it. We have two members of our core trio here. Poe Dameron, and Finn. As previously noted, Chewbacca is in tow with our heroes, as is a small clutch of what appears to be Resistance fighters. Notably absent is the main character and Sequel Trilogy heroine Rey of Jakku.

Photo Credit: [Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back] LucasfilmWhat can be surmised from this? A few things. Firstly, that this scene is an away mission. Our heroes look a little worse for the wear so we can posit they’re under some duress. Away missions in Star Wars tend to fall into a only a few categories: Rescue missions, infiltration (rendezvous, sabotage) missions, or negotiations. These goals can be and often are remixed and overlap as well.

The omission of Rey from these photos gives us a hint. As a character she has proven time and again to not be in need of saving. The third act from The Force Awakens proves this beyond reasonable doubt. And as fond of homage as J.J. Abrams is, he’s likely not going to repeat an entire story arc from his own film – I.E. the attempted rescue of Rey by Finn and company.

So if not a rescue mission than perhaps an infiltration or rendezvous? Note the prominent placement of binoculars (or the space equivalent) in Poe’s hand. They are surely for surveying something just off in the distant horizon. Perhaps an outpost or city? This brings us back to our official databank entry regarding the role of Batuu in the galaxy:

"Significantly, it has also become a safe haven for those looking to avoid the attention of the First Order."

If the location is indeed Batuu it is highly likely that our heroes are there to try to meet potential allies to enlist in their battle against the First Order. Having ended The Last Jedi in pretty dire straits, our heroes will need to bolster their collective force of resistance (heh).

Our databank entry again has something to say about who these potential allies might be:

"Today, Batuu is home to those who prefer to stay out of the mainstream, and a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders, and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space."

Adventurous, smuggling, rogue traders you say? Does that sounds like an erstwhile Rebel general or former mining administrator we know? Methinks it does. It has been confirmed for some time that Billy Dee Williams is returning for this final installment. What better location to find the aged bon vivant Lando Calrissian than the low-key smuggling port of Batuu? It has been established in the Sequel Trilogy that our legacy characters often return to their strengths and routines after failing. For Lando that would actually play out beneficially. He is almost always in positions of great power and cultural cache. Meeting with him on Batuu to negotiate for his help in rallying more aid to the Resistance makes total sense from a character standpoint.

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We will suggest these leaked photos are setting up an initial scene of reconnaissance prior to an incursion into a spaceport on Batuu, with the ultimate goal being gathering allies for the final battle against the First Order. We will further posit that it makes sense Lando Calrissian will play an integral role there.

It must be admitted however that we may be wrong. This is speculation after all. Only time can say. As more photos and bits of information leak from the production the more we will be able to piece together a compelling narrative. Time alone will tell.

You are free to contradict, suggest, or disagree as you see fit. By all means give us a shout in the comments below!