Franchise veteran Anthony Daniels, who's played C-3PO since 1977’s A New Hope, hinted that his beloved character will do something that surprises everyone in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. In the newly released footage, C-3PO is depicted with bright red eyes, leading us to wonder whether they droid has embraced the Dark Side.
The 73-year-old Daniels has been bursting with excitement about his character’s role for a long time. According to Vanity Fair, not only was he teased about the importance of his role during the pre-reading dinner, but Daisy Ridley noted she had worked in many more scenes with Daniels than she did in the previous two films.
Let’s take a look at the evidence for this twist: First, there was a poster leaked in April for The Rise of Skywalker in which Threepio wields Chewbacca’s bowcaster and magazines. The reason for purportedly explained by a screenplay leak that indicated his memory would have to be removed, uploaded to R2-D2 and then replaced with the back-up memory of another droid that would help the heroes find something within an abandoned facility on the planet Kijimi.
Then there's C-3PO with red eyes in the new footage, in a scene that's simultaneously reminiscent of Darth Vader rising in his suit at the end of The Revenge of the Sith and every Frankenstein movie ever made.
Red-eyed droids have already appeared in canon – they were the infamous IG-100 MagnaGuards, battle droids created by Holowan Mechanicals and favored as bodyguards by General Grievous. They were equipped with electrostaffs similar to the ones the Stormtroopers used in The Force Awakens, and to the weapons that Snoke’s Praetorian Guards wielded in The Last Jedi. The MagnaGuards kept fighting even after losing limbs, they commanded and outranked every other battle droid nearby, and even Obi-Wan Kenobi was wary of them, because they were able to kill Jedi. If C-3PO is channeling a MagnaGuard, it will be both terrifying and hilarious, mostly because his body is too stiff to accomplish the acts that his program requires.
This role would certainly be a departure from fussy, precise, protocol-obsessed C-3PO – but it has been foreshadowed. After all, it was Anakin Skywalker who built the droid when he was an innocent child, and chronologically we first met C-3PO in The Phantom Menace, stripped of his golden exterior and looking positively sinister.
Readers of Marvel's Poe Dameron comic might remember that C-3PO has been running Leia’s spy program, partly by uploading a personality override that makes the droids value their own existence (which in most cases, led to the conclusion that the First Order and its affiliates will always be a threat to their existence, priming the droids to collaborate with, and leak information to, the Resistance).
On a darker note, Daniels has also hinted this is the end of the road for C-3PO, which will be sad but fitting. After all, if the Skywalker Saga is about completing what Darth Vader started, C-3PO was Anakin Skywalker’s first unfinished work of art.
Directed and co-written by J.J. Abrams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Billie Lourd, Keri Russell, Matt Smith, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Billy Dee Williams and Carrie Fisher, with Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant. The film arrives on Dec. 20.