SALT LAKE CITY — Stunning images from “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” are splashed all over the web today after Vanity Fair released their Star Wars cover story to promote the new film. Two of those images are from the cover itself.
One features a brooding Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in his black garb, the wind twisting his cape behind him and his left fist clenched as he stands in a rugged desert scene. The other features Rey (Daisy Ridley) in her new cream-colored threads, right hand clenched around her staff as she too stands in a desert world.
On their own, the covers are beautiful. Put them together and the backgrounds blend seamlessly into each other, putting Rey and Kylo in the same universe.
According to Joanna Robinson, the writer behind Vanity Fair’s cover story, the covers contain a “pretty clever” hidden meaning.
“There’s actually a pretty clever hidden meaning behind our matching Kylo and Rey covers and I’ll be so curious to know if any of you figure it out before #TheRiseofSkywalker opens,” Robinson wrote in a tweet.
So what could it be? Here are a few ideas.
If you look at the way Rey and Kylo’s clothes flow in their cover images, you’ll note that the two mirror each other. Though their bodies aren’t perfect reflections, fold the covers in on themselves and Rey and Kylo will be both face to face and congruent in positioning.
This hints again at the duality of the “Star Wars” universe where good can turn evil, evil can turn good, and the Force and the dark side work against each other in opposite but equal trajectories. It also symbolically shows that Rey and Kylo’s journeys are tied together, whether they come together as allies or fight each other as enemies.
It’s far from the first time mirroring has played a part in the new trilogy: Rey sees endless reflections of herself on Ahch-To in “The Last Jedi” and recently, new "Star Wars" art was released that again shows Rey and Kylo mirroring each other.
The most blatant difference (aside from their black and white clothes) between Rey and Kylo’s cover images is the way the sky looks, and it could have dozens of meanings in relation to the film.
On Rey’s cover, the sky is light and the clouds thinner, as if the sun is just rising. In contrast, the clouds are red and tumultuous on Kylo’s cover, like the last rays of sun are disappearing beneath a building storm. Both covers create a cyclical image of endings and new beginnings.
If we break down what that could mean, there are several interesting implications.
The last time we saw a sunset backdropping Kylo Ren (or in this case, Ben Solo) with red coloring, he succumbed to the dark side and killed his father Han Solo. The fact that he’s against a sunset with red coloring could mean that Ben Solo completely surrenders to the dark side in “The Rise of Skywalker” and is not redeemable.
Luke Skywalker’s last line to Leia in “The Last Jedi” seemed to almost nix that ending, however. “No one’s ever really gone” may suggest that Ben Solo isn’t and won’t be completely gone either.
Another potential meaning behind the sunset is that it indicates the end of Ben Solo’s reign as Kylo Ren. Maybe he does change for good and “The Rise of Skywalker” will be the last time we see Kylo. The tumult in the clouds could symbolize Kylo’s tumult with who he is and should be. It’s a possibility.
The sunrise also has interesting implications for Rey’s journey. It implies a new start for Rey in some way, whether that be with her relationships, her identity or her future.
Another interesting thing to toy with is the name of the film compared with Rey’s cover. If the film is about “The Rise of Skywalker” and Rey’s cover is the one with the sunrise, could this mean that Rey is the Skywalker referred to in the title?
Twitter users have their own theories about what the covers could mean.
One person pointed out how the headlines of the articles on the covers could hint at the plot.
“The crash and burn of the Return of (the) Empire (which leads to) The next frontier?” @semperfidani tweeted.
“They are meeting at sunrise/sunset,” @ObiwanxKannoli tweeted. “They are meeting in between the darkness and the light. The cover is foreshadowing the balance of the force. The last line in the main article is, ‘This time, finally, they’re going to get it right.’”
“Kylo's darkness via contrast is lifted, Rey seems very dark and contrast seems to be dipping the blacks. A play on their internal states changing?” @NbreckEdit tweeted.
There’s lots of time to speculate before “The Rise of Skywalker” hits theaters Dec. 20.