A great disturbance was felt in the Force today — as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in joy and kept on cheering. That’s because J.J. Abrams gave us the greatest present in this or any far, far away galaxy: Our first glimpse of the ninth installment in the main Star Wars series, now officially known as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. (Watch the trailer above.)
Due in theaters on Dec. 20, The Rise of Skywalker marks the end of the post-Return of the Jedi trilogy that began with 2015’s The Force Awakens and continued in 2017’s The Last Jedi. But it’s also expected to be the final chapter in the entire Skywalker Saga, which now spans three sets of trilogies produced between 1977 and 2019 led by Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and the late Carrie Fisher. That means Abrams’s film will incorporate storylines and themes from the prequel trilogy and the original trilogy, in addition to the most recent episodes. So, you know, no pressure, J.J.
In addition to the anticipated return of Hamill’s Luke Skywalker (now as a Force ghost), The Rise of Skywalker will mark Fisher’s final film appearance, with Abrams incorporating previously unused footage of her Leia. In addition to returning favorites like Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO, the film will also welcome back Billy Dee Williams’s Lando Calrissian and (surprise!) Emperor Palpatine from the original trilogies, as well as returning new-trilogy characters like Daisy Ridley’s Rey, John Boyega’s Finn, Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron, Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico, and Domhnall Gleeson’s Hux.
The first teaser, which debuted on Friday at Star Wars Celebration (watch above), offers audiences a glimpse at the final installment of the decades-long Skywalker saga. Here are a few Easter eggs you may have missed.
The meanings of the title
Like The Last Jedi before it, The Rise of Skywalker is a title loaded with possible meanings. The only literal Skywalkers in the current trilogy are Luke and Leia and, as of the last film, General Organa is still the leader of the Resistance, so the title could refer to her eventual triumph over the First Order. On the other hand, there’s Kylo Ren (born Ben Solo), a devoted disciple of his grandfather, Anakin Skywalker. The title does seem to deliberately recall Revenge of the Sith, in terms of the transformation that led Anakin to embrace the Dark Side. (Remember that one of the first words that Anakin heard as Darth Vader was Palpatine’s command to, “Rise.”) Could the “rise of Skywalker” mean that Kylo is succeeding in restoring his father’s evil empire? The return of Emperor Palpatine (heard laughing at the end of the trailer), who mentored Anakin and died (or so we thought) at Luke’s hand, further complicates things: No one has been more personally entangled in the Skywalkers’ dark legacy. Finally, there’s the popular fan theory that Rey, despite The Last Jedi establishing that her parents were non-entities, is herself a Skywalker. She may also be simply the spiritual heir to Luke Skywalker. And like that blue bread she ate at the beginning of The Force Awakens, this Jedi is ready to rise.
Emperor Palpatine, back from the dead
That familiar-sounding laugh at the end of the trailer is indeed Emperor Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious. Ian McDiarmid, who appeared before a surprised crowd at Celebration, will reprise his role as young Anakin’s dark mentor from the prequel trilogy, and Darth Vader’s Sith master from Return of the Jedi. There’s just one thing: In Return of the Jedi, Darth threw Palpatine down a reactor shaft rather than let him kill Luke with force lightning. Chances seem good that he’s a just Force ghost now, but who knows — something even more sinister may be afoot.
Lando is our co-pilot
Not only has Han’s best frenemy returned to the franchise, he’s back in the pilot seat of the Millennium Falcon, making the jump into hyperspeed with Chewie by his side. Plus, he’s wearing Donald Glover’s outfit from Solo, so we know he’s kept his cape collection in immaculate condition for all these years.
Rey’s new moves
Our heroine’s Jedi skills have increased since her time on Ahch-To. That astonishing leap over Kylo Rey’s TIE Silencer is reminiscent of Luke’s Sarlacc-escaping back flip in Return of the Jedi — but even more badass.
The Medal of bravery
The gold insignia seen in someone’s hands looks familiar for a reason: It’s the medal that Princess Leia awarded to Han Solo and Luke Skywalker for their bravery in the Battle of Yavin, at the end of A New Hope. Looks like it may get a new recipient: maybe Rey, Finn, Poe, Rose, or even (dare we say it) a reformed Kylo?
There’s a new droid in town
Introduced at the Episode IX panel prior to the trailer premiere, BB-8’s new robot pal makes a quick cameo in the trailer. The tiny, one-wheeled droid is named D-O.
Deceased Death Star
Take a close look at the shot of Rey gazing out to sea: that’s the husk of the Death Star in the ocean. Or at least, one of the Death Stars. Rey could be staring at the original New Hope Death Star on Yavin 4, which the comics have revealed as Poe Dameron’s onetime home and the location of a Force tree given to his parents by Luke. Alternately, Rey is on Endor, where Death Star No. 2 was destroyed in Return of the Jedi. Seems like she’s thinking hard about the legacy of the Rebellion, or maybe just about all those independent contractors.
Luke is the new Obi-Wan
Mark Hamill’s voiceover in this trailer sounds an awful lot like the wisdom that Force-ghost Obi-Wan Kenobi gave Luke in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. That places Rey, once again, in Luke’s position, listening to advice like, “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.” Also note that his last line — “No one’s ever really gone” — is the same thing he said to Leia before his death in The Last Jedi. (Sniffle.)
Jabba skiff 2.0
What is that strange vehicle that Poe, Finn and C-3PO are commandeering in a fast-paced desert battle? It’s reminiscent of Jabba’s desert skiff, which transports prisoners Luke, Han and Chewbacca (and incognito Lando) to the Great Pit of Carkoon in Return of the Jedi. That original scene took place on Luke’s home planet of Tatooine, so perhaps this one is set on Rey’s own desert planet, Jakku.
Farewell to Leia
We don’t entirely know how Leia’s storyline will be handled in The Rise of Skywalker, given the limited amount of Carrie Fisher footage available to J.J. Abrams. The idea that she’ll never reconcile with her son is heartbreaking. But the shot of Rey and Leia in a tearful embrace suggests that at least one character will get to wish her a proper goodbye.
The mask is back
Kylo destroyed his distinctive full-face helmet in The Last Jedi, after Supreme Leader Snoke mocked him for wearing it. In the trailer, we see him welding it back together, with deep red lines marking the seams. Prepare to see less of Adam Driver’s face this time around.
The First Order troops have upgraded their arsenal in every film, and this one’s no exception; check out the Stormtroopers hurtling towards the camera with jetpacks in a cloud of desert sand.
Tour the galaxy
Two distinct planetary landscapes play a major role in the trailer, and it’s hard to say if we’ve seen them before. One is covered in rock crags, with oceans and forested settlements; it could conceivably be Endor. The other is a rocky desert planet, which lacks the distinctive salt cover of Crait, but might be Tatooine or (more likely) Jakku.
What we didn’t see
Lucasfilm still has a few reveals up its Jedi-robe sleeve. The teaser didn’t show new character Jannah (Naomi Ackie), whose image was revealed at Celebration; Keri Russell’s unknown character; many of the new aliens teased during the Episode IX panel; the current incarnations of Luke and Darth Sidious; or Kylo’s much-discussed crew, the Knights of Ren.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on Dec. 20.
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