This past weekend, fans from across the galaxy made their way to McCormick Place in Chicago, IL for the annual Star Wars Celebration.
From Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order to The Mandalorian to The Clone Wars, there were plenty of panels fans were hoping to attend. However, none was more anticipated than the panel for Star Wars: Episode IX. As expected, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and the cast members were rather tight-lipped during the panel itself, but thankfully, we still learned quite a bit about the upcoming film.
So, now that the main event has come and gone, here’s everything we learned about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at Star Wars Celebration:
For nearly two years, one of the biggest questions on fans’ minds was what the full title for Episode IX would be. Of course, Lucasfilm certainly took its time in providing this information, but when the first teaser trailer concluded, we finally learned that Episode IX would be The Rise of Skywalker. Considering this film is the final chapter in the Skywalker saga, it’s a fitting title. However, it also begs the question: which Skywalker is the title referring to?
The Skywalker Lightsaber Lives
The fate of the iconic Skywalker lightsaber was left in the air following The Last Jedi. When we last saw it, it had been split in two during a struggle between Rey and Kylo Ren, though Rey did manage to salvage the pieces. Nevertheless, in the teaser, we saw Rey clearly in possession of the weapon that previously belonged to Luke, and Anakin before him. When asked about the lightsaber during the Episode IX panel, actor Daisy Ridley stated, “Well, my answer is not the end of the story... but the lightsaber that Rey inherited from Luke lives.”
Kylo’s Helmet Returns
When Kylo Ren first appeared in The Force Awakens, he sported a jet-black helmet as a tribute to his grandfather, Darth Vader. However, in The Last Jedi, after being mocked by Supreme Leader Snoke, Kylo smashed the helmet to pieces in a fit of rage. Now that Snoke is dead and gone, though, it appears as though the new Supreme Leader of the First Order will don the helmet once more. While we don’t see him wearing it in the teaser, we do see him repairing it, and while it might not seem like a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, it’s telling that Kylo feels the need to mask his face once again.
Lando’s Back in the Falcon
We’ve known for quite some time that Billy Dee Williams would reprise his role as Lando Calrissian in Episode IX. Still, little was known about what sort of role he would play in the film after begin absent from the saga since Return of the Jedi. Granted, we still don’t know much about his connection to the plot, but in the teaser, we do see him piloting the Millennium Falcon alongside Chewbacca. The Falcon, of course, belonged to Lando before he lost it to Han in a game of sabacc, so to see him sitting the pilot seat again is nothing if not poetic justice.
Return to Endor?
To date, each Star Wars film has introduced at least one new planet, but it’s hardly uncommon for old ones to resurface as well. That being said, in the final shot of the teaser, it appears as though Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron, Chewbacca, C-3P0, BB-8 and newcomer D-0 are on Endor. First introduced in Return of the Jedi, Endor was the forest moon the massive Death Star II hovered above in the film. Considering we see what looks like a huge chunk of the wrecked battle station in this shot, one can assume this is Endor, or at the very least a nearby planet or moon.
After our heroes discover the Death Star wreckage in the teaser, Mark Hamill’s voiceover ends with the ominous line, “No one's ever really gone,” and as the screen fades to black, we hear the unmistakable cackling laughter of Emperor Palpatine. Palpatine, of course, was thrown done the reactor shaft of the Death Star II by Darth Vader before it was destroyed by the Rebels, so it isn’t too farfetched that his spirit would linger in the wreckage. And in case there was any doubt about who was laughing in the teaser, actor Ian MacDiarmid appeared onstage following the premiere of the footage and demanded the panel hosts roll it again.
Phasma’s Gone for Good
Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma captivated fans before her debut in The Force Awakens and then disappointed them when she was seemingly killed off-screen by Finn and Han Solo. However, in The Last Jedi, she resurfaced to confront Finn in an epic clash, only to go down in a blaze of glory. Naturally, fans wondered if she would cheat death once more, but sadly, it appears that’s not the case. During the Episode IX panel, John Boyega confirmed Phasma’s officially dead this time, proving without a shadow of a doubt that Lucasfilm truly wasted the character.
It’s long been believed that Episode IX would pick up after a time jump, as opposed to The Last Jedi, which began just moments after the final shot of The Force Awakens. Now, we finally have confirmation. At the Episode IX panel, director J.J. Abrams said, “What I will say is that the movie doesn't pick up immediately after the last film. Some time has gone by.” Of course, this doesn’t explain how long of a time jump we’re talking about, but one can assume it isn’t too long, considering the main characters don’t appear to have aged all that much.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters December 20.
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