The latest Star Wars Celebration is this weekend in Chicago, and one of the main attractions this year is today’s Episode IX panel. With the movie set for release in December, very little is known about what might happen in the film. Today fans got a hint of what’s to come, as the subtitle for Episode IX was revealed, and the first teaser trailer for the film debuted.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is promised to be the final installment in the episodic Skywalker Saga. The teaser trailer features Rey wielding her new lightsaber against a TIE Fighter, shots of Poe, Finn, and our other heroes doing very heroic things, and voiceover of Luke Skywalker talking about having passed on the knowledge of the Jedi before promising that they will always be with her, and that “No one’s ever really gone.” For better or worse, it seems, as the sound of Emperor Palpatine cackling closes out the trailer.
The “Every Generation has a Legend” title card that appears calls back to the Phantom Menace teaser trailer, which is an interesting choice, but also alludes to Palpatine’s involvement as a puppet master behind the scenes. And the use of the swelling Princess Leia’s theme as the teaser progresses gave me seriously intense chills.
Some other tidbits from the panel, which included Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, director J.J. Abrams, and cast members Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), and Naomi Ackie (new character Jannah):
- The overall tenor of the panel was playful, as Colbert tried to tease out details from the panelists and got absolutely nowhere.
- Abrams said that they’re in the process of editing and completing the visual effects on the film. He described the film as being about the new generation having to reckon with what they’ve inherited from the previous one.
- On the subject of filling the void left by the loss of Carrie Fisher, Abrams said it was impossible – they couldn’t recast the character, and they couldn’t just have her disappear, nor did they ever want to use a CG version of Fisher. He talked about writing scenes for Episode IX around unused scenes from The Force Awakens as a way to keep the character alive.
- Asked about the timeline of the film in relation to The Last Jedi, Abrams said: “The movie doesn’t pick up immediately after the last film. Some time has gone by. This is an adventure that the group goes on together.”
- Asked about Finn’s journey, Boyega said that the character “has found his footing within the Resistance.” He also confirmed that Finn’s nemesis, Captain Phasma, is gone for good.
- Asked if there would be any new Force powers in the film, Ridley deferred to Abrams, who praised the stunt coordinator and absolutely did not answer the question.
- Ridley did confirm that there are no more visions of semi-naked Kylo Ren in the next film.
- BB-8 introduced a new droid, D-O (pronounced ‘Dio’), which looks like a megaphone mounted on top of a wheel. Abrams praised the effects team for creating a version of D-O that they could bring out onto the stage.
- After the trailer played to end the panel, the lights came up and Emperor Palpatine himself, Ian McDiarmid, appeared on-stage and, in classic Palpatine voice, requested the trailer roll again.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens on December 20th, 2019.
Joe Grunenwald is a writer and editor living in the Pacific Northwest. He’s taller than a lot of people but not as tall as some people.