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Star Wars: Episode IX is dead. Long live Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Director J.J. Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy officially revealed the title of the ninth and final chapter in the Skywalker Saga to the world at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. The star-packed panel was hosted by noted Star Wars super-fan, Stephen Colbert, and featured the film’s core cast as well as returning legend, Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian. Rather than announce The Rise of Skywalker themselves, the cast and filmmakers let the world premiere of the teaser trailer do the talking. (Watch above and stay tuned for our full breakdown.)
The official unveiling of Episode IX‘s title caps a lengthy period of speculation and rumors about what the film would be called. In February, fans thought the title would be revealed after everyone’s favorite protocol droid, Anthony Daniels, tweeted news of an impending announcement.
Other eager fans tried looking for clues in previous Star Wars movies instead of ancillary avenues. An exchange between Rey and Luke in The Last Jedi led Inverse to pick The Rebellion Reborn as a possible contender. Meanwhile, another Reddit user claimed to have been told that the final episode would venture to the Dark Side by calling itself: Son of Darkness.
And way back in 2017, just before the release of The Last Jedi, Elite Daily used the power of grammar to crack the code, coming up with some titles that were plausible (The Resistance’s Last Stand) and some that sounded more like a self-help book (The Spirit of the Galaxy). But The Rise of Skywalker perfectly fits in with the R-related title scheme of the concluding chapters of the previous trilogies —think Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi — while also giving our favorite galactic family their final bow.
Here’s a sampling of how the title reveal went over on Twitter.
While the title and accompanying trailer are the biggest revelations from the Celebration panel, Abrams and his cast did let a few other choice details slip as well. Here’s a round-up of what we learned about The Rise of Skywalker.
Who’s ready for a road trip?
Where The Last Jedi boldly scattered the sequel trilogy’s central trio of Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) on separate missions, Abrams revealed that The Rise of Skywalker brings them back together for a shared journey — one that will take them all around the far, far away galaxy. “This is an adventure the group goes on together,” the director said. “One of the great things about the movie is the dynamic between the characters. They are the most wonderful together, and that’s the thing I’m most excited for you to see.” (That dynamic is clearly seen in the photo that Abrams Tweeted from the last day of production.)
Naturally, they’ll meet other characters along the way, including the forever-suave Lando and newcomer Jannah, played by Naomi Ackie. (Fun fact: after Star Wars, Ackie is headed to Westeros as part of the Game of Thrones prequel series.) Asked by Colbert to confirm or deny the rumors that Jannah is Lando’s daughter, Ackie teased, “Listen, Lando is a very charming man so he could have children all over the universe. That’s all I’m saying!”
For his part, Williams defended his alter ego against charges that he has a penchant for selling allies out when the stakes get high. “I get sick and tired of being accused of betraying Han Solo! He was up against Darth Vader, he had to figure something out! By the way, did anybody die? Nobody died!” Hmmm … not sure that’s the most persuasive way to defend yourself there, Mr. Williams.
Carrie Fisher returns in the flesh
Carrie Fisher’s unexpected death in 2016 threw a major wrench into Leia’s arc for the film that would become The Rise of Skywalker. Nevertheless, Abrams and Kennedy immediately rejected the idea of recasting the role or creating a digital avatar to preserve the journey they had in mind. “It was impossible, there was no way,” Abrams said. “You don’t recast that part, and you don’t just have her disappear.”
Fortunately, it turned out that the solution to that present-day problem lay in the past. Reviewing all of Fisher’s unused scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams discovered that he had enough material to incorporate the actress into The Rise of Skywalker and preserve her portrayal. “I realized there was a way to use those scenes to continue her story,” he explained. “Everyday it hits me that she’s not here, [but] it’s so surreal because we’re working with her still. She so alive in these scenes, and the craziest part is how not-crazy it feels.”
Love, actually, is all around
Who knew that Stephen Colbert loved ‘shipping as much as the Internet does? Many of the late night host’s questions to the cast revolved around potential couplings, whether it was Finn and Rey, Rey and Kylo, Rose and Finn or Finn and Poe. For the record, Boyega and Isaac made it clear that #finnpoe is definitely a thing. “I think [Poe] takes his love for Finn very seriously,” Isaac said, while Boyega declared that Finn is “single and willing to mingle” with anyone. But both he and Kelly Marie Tran decidedly dodged questions about whether there’d be another Finn-Rose kiss. “All I’m going to say is Finn’s a very eligible bachelor,” Tran noted. “Much like John Boyega!”
One person who won’t be pursuing Finn is his old boss, Captain Phasma. The fan favorite villain (played by Game of Thrones star, Gwendoline Christie) seemingly perished in The Last Jedi and Boyega emphasized that she’s gone to her final reward. “She’s gone, rest in peace, old news,” he insisted, adding that Finn has moved on from his former foe. “I don’t think about her at night and stuff.” So you’re saying … there’s still a chance of Phasma returning in Finn’s daydreams?
BB8 gets a new friend
As a final surprise before showing The Rise of Skywalker trailer, Abrams welcomed an all-new member of the droid cast onstage: D-O, a super-small, super-cute new partner for BB-8. Funnily enough, the version of D-O that the Celebration crowd saw wasn’t the droid who acted in the film. “We never had D-O exist quite this way [during production],” Abrams revealed, while the droid rolled around by itself onstage. “There was a rig and puppeteers, and different designs we went through.” For the record, BB-8 underwent a similar metamorphosis, only appearing in his final form at the Celebration that preceded the release of The Force Awakens. “It’s amazing what Celebration makes these [special effects] geniuses do,” Abrams said, praising his crew. “This was built for you.”
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker blasts into theaters on Dec. 20.
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