Any details on Star Wars: Episode IX have been hard to come by, but Jason Ward over at Making Star Wars dropped a few tidbits over the weekend.
Ward commented on a post on the StarWarsLeaks Reddit from a user claiming to have some information about Episode IX, and Ward confirmed that he has heard the same things. Mainly, there are two things of significance here:
Kylo Ren’s Helmet
Here’s what Ward writes about whether Kylo Ren will wear a helmet in Episode IX:
Sources have said they saw Kylo Ren with the reforged mask on in various stages of dress, which also means we can’t yet say how often he wears the helmet, so if this news disappoints you, try to keep that in mind.. To them it looked like the mask was pieced back together using some kind of red crystalline bonding material. The visual gave the mask “a very corrupted look.” A little Kylo, a little Vader, and maybe even with a hint of Maul’s facial stylings.
This is a very interesting tidbit, since we saw Kylo Ren violently smash his helmet to pieces in The Last Jedi. But it’s also important to make it clear that this wouldn’t be a retcon by J.J. Abrams, because there’s a very understandable reason story-wise why Kylo would return to his helmet. If you remember, in TLJ, Kylo wears his mask in his first scene but is mocked by Snoke for it, who orders Ren to remove “that ridiculous thing.” Kylo is clearly angered, frustrated, and embarrassed by Snoke, and so as he leaves Snoke’s throne room he smashes the helmet into pieces on the elevator. It very much seems like Kylo does like his helmet, but Snoke hates it and mocks it. But now? Snoke is dead, and Kylo Ren is the Supreme Leader of the First Order. And with Snoke dead, there’s now no more master to mock him for the mask. Additionally, I presume that there’s a ton of embarrassment for Kylo after getting owned by Luke on Crait, so a return to the mask could also be a retreat further into himself and into privacy. And on one more point, if the Knights of Ren do show up in Episode IX, I’d guess that they too will be wearing masks, which could give Kylo Ren some identification with them.
So in other words, I think a return to the mask for Kylo Ren could be pretty cool, and I’m really intrigued by the description of what it might look like: pieced together with red material that gives it a bit of a Maul-like look. Visually, that could be really legit. But at the same time, there should be a bit of hesitation here because J.J. Abrams and co. shouldn’t put Adam Driver behind a mask any more than they have to. He’s a fantastic actor, and he really shone in TLJ. I want him to be without a mask as much as possible to capture his facial expressions, etc., and I think Abrams realizes this too, since most of Driver’s key scenes in The Force Awakens were without his mask. So I think it can definitely work, if done well, and I trust Abrams to do just that.
BB-8’s Droid Buddy
Ward also commented about a new droid in the film, named D.O. (or possibly DIO), who serves as a buddy to BB-8. Here’s what he wrote:
I also heard a few reports that BB-8 has a sidekick in the movie and its a little droid named D.O. (I’ve heard it as D.O. but the reddit poster said Dio (or Iden’s ID10 droid in Battlefront II) like the 80’s band, perhaps because it was only heard and not shown). The Reddit poster compared it to a megaphone and that also rings true. When the guys at Pinewood spoke about the little droid they said it was sort of an ugly duckling idea in that the droid treated BB-8 as a parent and was very attached to him. It sounded like he interfaced with BB-8 and someone thought the mechanism created for lightsaber storage in The Force Awakens that was never used in that film was redesigned to actually house D.O./Dio according to content seen by another source.
So basically, BB-8 is a dad now, right? Probably not exactly, but it sounds like we might get a droid who at least considers BB-8 to be like a father figure. That would be an interesting dynamic that we haven’t really seen a ton of in Star Wars, and it would be cool to give BB-8 a droid friend (like he received in the Poe Dameron comic). I hope the new droid wouldn’t just be there for the sake of being new and won’t take away scenes from BB-8, R2-D2, or C-3PO, but I’m all for seeing more droids and more relationship between them.
No matter what, I’m just excited that we’re getting a report about Episode IX! We haven’t heard much about it, and while these tidbits should definitely be treated as just a report and not considered fact, MSW does have a pretty solid track record on things. At the very least, though, it gives us some stuff to talk about regarding the final installment of the Skywalker saga.