A VERY iffy but extremely interesting Episode IX rumor has emerged this weekend, and it’s of particular interest to long-time readers of our site. This is SUPER SKETCHY information, from a Youtuber no less, but it’s also something I don’t feel I can ignore. Head under the cut for possible (or not, it’s that sketchy) spoilers, and some additional thoughts.
The Hashtag Show is reporting that J.J. Abrams and Episode IX casting director Nina Gold are seeking a female lead, age 40-50, and codenamed… Wait for it… Mara.
Let’s get this out of the way: This rumor is so flimsy that if it wasn’t regarding our namesake, I wouldn’t even bother to cover it. Everything about this screams fake. It’s even a little bit retro, harkening back to the couple years just before The Force Awakens when every rumor regarding Episode VII had just a little bit of Expanded Universe DNA in it. Hell, I’m shocked they didn’t mention Karen Gillan’s wig.
For those of you who haven’t been hanging out with us since 1995/2004/before the old novels became Legends, Mara Jade is character who originated in Timothy Zahn’s Thrawn trilogy back in the early ’90s. She quickly became one of, if not the, most popular original characters from the post-Return of the Jedi novels. She also, in 1997’s Visions of the Future, got engaged to Luke Skywalker. They got married, had a kid (Ben Skywalker) and she became the last in a long line of Legend Luke’s love interests to be killed off in 2007’s Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice. (Her nephew, Jacen Solo, did the deed. No matter what timeline you’re in, a Solo kid goes bad and kills a family member. Star Wars!)
Now, there are some big red flags in this rumor, clearly. First of all, I have no idea how trustworthy this Hashtag Show is, and this is PRIME bait.
That said, the rumor itself is also doesn’t scan. Codenames are used to hide a character’s real name and (in some cases) identity. But in that case, why would J.J. “Mystery Box” Abrams chose something as red-flaggable as “Mara” to begin with?
Basically: Do not make any bets on this information.
Mara Jade was a hugely popular EU character, and quite important to many of us. There have been calls to bring her back since the day she was killed off, which were only strengthened when the older books were officially declared an alternate universe. In recent times, and following the recanonization of another beloved Zahn character, Grand Admiral Thrawn, those calls were focused on the cartoon Star Wars Rebels.
I was not particularly fond of that idea. While I still believe that the cartoon laid us some good groundwork with the Inquisitors, I wasn’t that into the show, and felt that introducing us to a teen Mara would cause far more issues than it would solve.
Bringing her back in Episode IX, on the other hand… As a concept, I want to love it, even as every news instinct I have is crying bullshit.
I hate to say it, but the death of Carrie Fisher – and Lucasfilm’s choice not to recast or use a digital doppelganger – left us with a huge gap in the narrative: a female mentor for Rey. Having a “new” character step in could be the solution. So why not use this as an opportunity to bring in Mara Jade as one of the Resistance’s new allies?
She doesn’t have to be a Jedi to be Force-sensitive – or Force-sensitive at all, for that matter. But keeping her so – and making her not a Jedi – a lapsed Inquisitor, someone from a different tradition, even just a believer in the Force ala Lor san Tekka or Rogue One’s Chirrut – isn’t entirely off-base from the Legends version. (I have joked about Mara being Rey’s mother, but after The Last Jedi, I don’t think this is the case.)
There are a lot of reasons to go for it: A beloved (if not uncontroversial) Legends character, half of the franchise’s first romantic Force bond (not kidding, read Visions of the Future), even an opportunity to add an older woman of color to the cast. (Mara doesn’t have to be a white redhead.) Make her be an ex of Luke’s, and there’s some interesting possibilities to be explored there. (And, maybe, some insight into Luke’s activities between ROTJ and the founding of his temple.)
Still, this is the flimsiest rumor I’ve bothered to cover in ages. And even if there is a grain of truth here, after seeing Mara underused time and time again in the books, I’m hardly optimistic. As much as I might wish otherwise, there’s nothing here that makes me think this has any grounding in reality whatsoever.
But… It could be great. Could. Still, until we have something more solid to back it up, I can’t buy it.