Today, fans at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago (and all over the world) got their first sneak peak at the year’s most hotly anticipated movie: “Star Wars: Episode IX.” The final film in the original saga envisioned by George Lucas more than 40 years ago is titled “The Rise of Skywalker.”
Now honestly, as Star Wars movie titles go, “The Rise of Skywalker” is only slightly better than “Attack of the Clones” in my opinion, but it is fitting that the title features “Skywalker.” Episode IX’s title should also set theories abuzzing, because the obvious question is: which Skywalker is it referring to? If we’re talking about a rising Skywalker, it’s probably not referring to the now-deceased Luke, or the aged Leia. Is it a reference to Kylo Ren (technically a Skywalker) or perhaps a reference to the true parentage of Rey?
I’ve always thought that every Star Wars film is really a movie about Darth Vader, in one way or another. The prequel trilogy is all about how he became Darth Vader. See: Episode I poster.
The original trilogy was all about Luke’s struggle against Vader, his father.
And so far, the sequel trilogy has featured Kylo Ren trying to emulate Vader (his grandfather).
Even “Rogue One,” a non-Skywalker Saga film, included Vader in what was perhaps his best on screen moment.
So what else can we take away from “The Rise of Skywalker” teaser trailer? Here are a few key things that got me excited for J.J. Abrams take on the closing Skywalker film.
That Rey Flip.
Rey flipping over what appears to be Kylo Ren’s TIE fighter in a battle in the desert is pretty awesome. During the panel at today’s Star Wars Celebration, host Stephen Colbert asked J.J. Abrams if Rey had any new force powers that would amaze us in this movie. He hesitated to answer, which likely means yes. Nothing will be as surprising as Luke’s projection to Crait in Episode VIII, but the Force is a big world of possibilities, and this cool flip over Kylo’s TIE fighter in the preview is a sign that this movie might feature some great stunts.
We’ve known for a while that Billy Dee Williams will be reprising his role as lovable scoundrel Lando Calrissian for this film, but actually seeing it on the big screen today was pretty exciting. When Lando, wearing a costume very reminiscent of Donald Glover’s take on the character, is shown sitting behind the controls of the Millennium Falcon beside Chewbacca, it brought a big smile to my face. Lando is back!
The John Williams Score.
George Lucas once said that “the secret sauce” of Star Wars is John Williams’s brilliant music, and he’s absolutely right. This trailer’s soaring score immediately pulls you into the Star Wars universe, and is perfectly constructed to get you as excited as you were the very first time you first traveled to a galaxy far, far away.
Luke the Force Ghost.
At the end of the much maligned “Last Jedi,” Luke Skywalker faded off into the Force, so there was a question about how much of him we would see in Episode IX. It seems from his narration, that we’ll get at least a little of Master Skywalker again, and perhaps more Yoda or even a little Obi Wan (notice he says “we’ve passed on all we know” not just “I’ve passed on all I know.”)
The Death Star, Sort Of.
Toward the end of trailer, we see what appears to be the wreckage of the Death Star on the surface of a planet. Some of the original concept for “The Force Awakens” featured Rey and company visiting what remained of the Death Star on a planet in search of some clue. I think in order to use the leftover footage of Carrie Fisher here in Episode IX (since Lucasfilm and Abrams agreed they weren’t going to recreate the deceased Fisher digitally), we’re probably going to be embracing some discarded story elements from “The Force Awakens” including this trip to the Death Star remains. The real question it raises though, is which Death Star is this and on which planet are they? Start speculating now. Is it a post-apocalyptic Endor with all though cuddly Ewoks obliterated by space debris? Probably not. It’s more likely to be the surface of Yavin or one of its moons, from the original Star Wars film.
Finally, the most interesting part of this entire trailer is what we here at the very end: Emperor Palpatine. That cracking laugh is unmistakeable, and just in case you were in doubt that it’s actually him, as soon as this trailer concluded its initial airing at Star Wars Celebration, Palpatine actor Ian McDermond himself appeared on stage and said (in his full Palpatine voice) “Roll it again!” The incorporation of Palpatine is most likely a response to J.J. having no big baddy to work with on this film since, ya know Rian Johnson killed off Snoke way too early in “Last Jedi.” The Emperor’s inclusion though is what could make this film very interesting and rewarding for long time Star Wars fans.
If you’re a serious Star Wars fan like me, you may have thought about one thing immediately after seeing this trailer: “Star Wars: Rebels.” Why would I think about a now concluded Star Wars cartoon series after seeing Disney’s latest blockbuster tease? Because of one critical episode of that show (detailed here).
In that pivotal episode near the end of the series, we saw that Star Wars has time travel (sort of) and it’s something the Emperor tried to harness to change the past, influence the future, and perhaps become immortal. His inclusion in the latest Star Wars movie may tell us that he in fact succeeded.
J.J. Abrams has a lot to live up to as he seeks to conclude one of the biggest movie franchises of all time. He’ll be only the second director to helm more than one Star Wars movie, the only other being George Lucas himself. There are some aspects of this movie we see in the trailer that seem pretty exciting, and there are some that don’t. One thing is certain though, now that the Wookiee is out of the bag, and the first details released: There will be no way to escape the Star Wars hype between now and its December debut.