Today, at the Star Wars Celebration event in Chicago, the Star Wars: Episode IX panel came stuffed full of tidbits and surprises about the last film in the Skywalker saga. But nothing was more anticipated than the first trailer reveal, and it. was. beautiful. Without further ado, here it is:
Okay, there is…so much to unpack here. I’ve had to watch this a few times because EVERYTHING WAS HAPPENING.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
(Note: All images in this article are courtesy of Lucasfilm/Disney.)
Luke Skywalker’s Voice Opens The Trailer
We all know what happened to Luke Skywalker at the end of The Last Jedi: After Force-projecting himself in an epic fight with Kylo Ren, Luke essentially gave up the ghost and dissipated into the Force. Whether or not he’ll become a Force ghost remains to be seen, but considering he’s in Episode IX, it’s either that or there will be flashback scenes with him. In any case, he opens the trailer seemingly passing the torch to Rey, who is, at this point, literally the last Jedi in the galaxy: “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.”
Very much a, “I’ve taught you what I know; you’ve got this, kid” moment between the mentor and his young protégé. In any case, it’s a nice nod to the character who began – and now begins the end – of the Skywalker saga.
But speaking of Rey…
Rey’s Powers Have Leveled UP
Rey has always been determined. We’ve known that from the very beginning of The Force Awakens. But despite her raw talent and determination, she was untested and untrained in the ways of the Force. Her training with Luke Skywalker, however, gave her a foundation, and it seems that she has even further tapped into her ability to wield the Force. In the opening scene of the trailer, we see her remembering her mentor’s words and facing off with something in the desert (that appears to be…Tatooine, judging from the landscape). It’s soon revealed to be Kylo Ren’s TIE silencer, and he is speeding right for her. But there is no fear on her face. Instead, she gives herself a running head start and then pulls off some absolute ninja shit and kickflips backward into the air to…well, we don’t know. Take out the TIE silencer? (i.e. is she fighting Kylo Ren) Hitch a ride on his ship? (i.e. are they working together) We just don’t know yet, but in any case, it’s clear that Rey is able to use the Force in ways Luke Skywalker never could – at least, not that we ever saw.
Could This Be Our First Glimpse Of Batuu?
What looks like an A-wing flies into a snowy landscape. It could be Hoth, but there’s not really a reason for them to travel there. Could it be the new planet that the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge theme park is being built around, Batuu? The shots in the Galaxy’s Edge trailer reveal a planet that has spiky, mountainous shapes and it appears to match up with the shots from the trailer above. It may not be this brand-new planet, but they have to introduce Batuu somehow – and it would be very much Disney’s synergistic kind of storytelling to introduce the new planet in The Rise of Skywalker. Brand continuity ftw.
Kylo Ren Is Still All Brute Force
Of all the Sith in the Star Wars movie universe, Kylo Ren has perhaps the most raw talent but is also the most unpolished. The internal pressure caused by his constant internal conflict creates the rage that fuels most of his actions, up to and including his fighting style. Where other Sith are all finesse, Kylo is often brute force. If they’re a scalpel, he’s a sledgehammer. Other Sith like to monologue, not so much Kylo Ren. He’s too impatient. But you can’t deny it gets him to his goals quicker. In a battle in a forest (Endor? Could they be on Endor?) rather than cutting down the opponent in front of him with his lightsaber, he simply slams them to the ground in a wrestling move. Not the most important scene in the trailer, but very, very on-brand for the-ball-of-anger-formerly-known-as-Ben-Solo.
His Shattered Helmet Is Being Repaired – But Why? And By Who?
Speaking of that whole anger issues thing, in The Last Jedi, we saw Kylo smash his Sith helmet to bits in a fit of rage. But it’s being pieced back together in a shot in the trailer. To what end, we don’t know. But it’s worth noting that this has the potential to be a hugely symbolic moment in the movie: Kylo Ren wore that helmet to honor his grandfather, Darth Vader. It could be that he’s having it repaired because he’s now gone full dark side and is doubling down on that Vader homage. Or it could be that he’s piecing it together to symbolize the new man he’s become and his new direction: Neither a Sith, nor a Jedi, but something in between, a broken person remaking himself and his shattered ideals into something wholly different. In any case, unless Kylo has come up with a case of lycanthropy, it’s not him doing the repair job – the hands are way, WAY too hairy. Who could it be? Chewie? Someone else entirely? So many questions.
Finn & Poe Dameron Also Appear To Be On Tatooine
Finn and Poe, the eternal bromance of the new Star Wars trilogy, are reunited again. Both are tricked out in new gear (which looks great, by the way) and they appear to be on the same planet as Rey is in the beginning of the trailer, judging from the landscape. Again, could it be Tatooine? Jakku? In any case, while it could be coincidence, it’s worth noting that the two are dressed in neutral tones that help them blend into the landscape around them. Covert mission, perhaps?
BB-8 Has A New Friend
In any case, Poe Dameron and Finn might have to take a seat because our new favorite bromance – or, well…anthropomorphic romance – let’s call it an anthropomance (I want royalties for that) – is BB-8 and his new buddy, who was revealed earlier in the panel with the name of D-O? Dio? We’re not really sure, but considering how droids are named in the Star Wars universe, it’s likely the former. Does BB’s new little buddy remind anyone else of Lampy from The Brave Little Toaster? Just me? Okay, then.
Lando Is Back, Baby!
After many, many years, Lando Calrissian is back, and not only is he back, he’s back piloting the Millennium Falcon, which fans know was originally his ship long before Han Solo ever won it during a bet. Chewie, of course, is his copilot. No idea how Lando comes back into the fold, but it’s really great to see OG Lando Billy Dee Williams back in the driver’s seat and – we can guess – helping the Rebellion.
A Fight? Or A Pod Race?
During the panel at Star Wars Celebration, Oscar Isaac was asked who is the better pilot: Han Solo or Poe Dameron. Isaac pointed out that no one can fly the Millennium Falcon like Han Solo – but Poe can fly anything. That “anything” seems to include the decrepit rustbucket pictured above, where he, Finn, and C-3PO are speeding away from enemies pursuing them on the same desert planet that keeps popping up in the trailer. Is this happening at the same time as the showdown between Rey and Kylo Ren? Seems likely. The shot happened quickly so it’s also possible that it’s not a fight at all, but one of Tatooine’s infamous pod races – which, honestly, would be right up Poe’s alley, let’s be honest.
The Medal Of Bravery From ‘A New Hope’
In an incredibly bittersweet moment, who appears to be Leia Organa holds a Medal of Bravery. Back in A New Hope, Leia herself presented them to her future husband Han Solo and brother Luke Skywalker to honor them for their bravery in the Battle of Yavin (and later, Chewie, as well). The medal she’s holding in the shot above is likely Han’s – the equivalent of a war widow holding her husband’s medals after he’s fallen in battle. Is she thinking about Han? Her brother, too? Leia is now the last of the original trio finishing alone what they all began together, and it likely weighs heavy on her.
Leia And Rey Share A Moment
Over the course of the last few movies, Leia Organa has become something of a mother figure to Rey, just as Han had started to become something of a father figure. Here, we see Leia and Rey share a sweet moment. J.J. Abrams confirmed at the panel that they plan to incorporate Carrie Fisher into The Rise of Skywalker by using footage previously shot for The Last Jedi and build her story around those scenes. It will be interesting to see how that all plays out. Might that fuel more of Kylo Ren’s rage, to feel as if he’s being replaced by Rey? Well, you did this to yourself, buddy. You did this to yourself.
The Gang’s All Together Again…
After spending all of The Last Jedi split up, the new trio is finally back together. It made sense from a narrative standpoint as TLJ was the second act of a three-act trilogy, and the second act is always where the characters go off on their separate adventures before coming back together for the finale. Still, it’s great to see them all reunited again – and with plenty of help, too, in the form of loyal sidekicks C-3PO, R2-D2, Chewie, and D-O.
…And They Appear To Be Staring At The Wreckage Of The Death Star
And they appear to all be together again to trek to…the Death Star? It definitely looks like the wreckage of the destroyed Death Star. We know it was destroyed way back during the original trilogy, and it seems unlikely that it wasn’t vaporized. Still, it’s possible that, much like a meteor, chunks of it survived and crashed to nearby planets, like Endor or Yavin or even others. At this point it’s unlikely it’s anything else – that shot is too clear to be anything but the Death Star.
Oh, Fuuuuu… The Emperor Is Back?
No screenshot for this one as it happened with a fittingly black screen. Throughout the trailer, Luke Skywalker peppers with bits of narration, like the aforementioned earlier in this breakdown, and a few more lines: “We’re always with you.” It’s a warm, fuzzy moment…until the next line happens: “No one’s ever really gone.” Juxtaposed with what is clearly Emperor Palpatine laughing maniacally. While it’s horrifying to think about, it’s unrealistic to think that if Luke could live on in some way through the Force, the ultra-powerful Sith Palpatine couldn’t, either. So that’s a thing. Maybe that is the thing that gets Kylo and Rey to team up and end his evil influence once and for all?
And Finally, The Title Reveal
We’ve been waiting with anticipation about the title reveal for the final movie in the Skywalker saga and finally it was revealed: Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. That left quite a few people scratching their heads as, well, there are no Skywalker left. Not unless you want to count part-Skywalker Kylo Ren – and it’s unlikely they’d build the movie around his rise. Others have speculated it means Abrams will retcon the storyline from The Last Jedi about Rey having a non-descript parental lineage, but that has already mostly been shot down. So what about this? What if “Skywalker,” in this case, isn’t meant to be a family surname but a title, like Jedi or Sith? Could this mean that anyone can wear the mask, so to speak, and wield the Force? Could it be a Skywalker is now something closer to a Grey Jedi – neither fully light, nor dark, but existing somewhere in between to bring balance to the Force? Of all the theories that have flitted through my brain, I think I like this last one the best.
So there you have it! Did I miss anything? Let me know.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is in theaters on December 20th.