“This is an adventure that the group goes on together.” – J. J. Abrams
The Last Jedi may have split everyone up, but The Rise of Skywalker brings them back together.
That title, revealed for the first time at the end of the debut of the Episode IX teaser, brought an eruption of applause from the crowd at Star Wars Celebration, following a first look that exploded with mystery, implications, and possibilities. I’ll break it down shortly.
But first, can I just say how thankful I am that, today, we did not see the teaser for Colin Trevorrow‘s Episode IX? As exciting and fun as it no doubt would’ve been, it wouldn’t have come close to what Abrams delivered. To be clear, Abrams is a special talent. No one since Spielberg has so effectively mastered epic blockbuster storytelling at such a rich, sentimental, meaningful level. Star Wars fans everywhere should be grateful he returned.
Along with Abrams and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, the whole cast was there — Billy Dee Williams included — with the lone abscence being Adam Driver who’s currently on Broadway about to debut a play next week. Introduced along with them: BB-8‘s new robot friend D-O (pronounce DEE-oh), sort of a single-wheel / megaphone-head combo.
Panel host Stephen Colbert asked questions that most of us have had for nearly two years, including who’s fallen in love with whom, but getting answers in return was a hit-and-mostly-miss propostion, with responses that could be described as veiled, delicately delivered in various forms of cryptic teases or out-and-out good-humored lies. (A link to the full panel will post here once it’s made available.)
Along with the debut teaser, some first look photos were shown for each of the main characters. Along with them, an image of what Abrams described as the film’s opening scene, with the core heroes of Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8, and Chewbacca gathered together at the base of the Millenium Falcon, as Threepio appears to wave goodbye. Abrams also mentioned that some time has passed since the events of The Last Jedi, but didn’t elaborate beyond that.
But that teaser?! Oh my goodness.
- Luke’s voice, narrating with new dialogue. (Cleary must be spoken by Force Ghost Luke, though he’s never seen.)
- Epic desert images from where Lawrence of Arabia was shot.
- Rey displaying Force powers we haven’t seen the likes of since the height of Anakin’s.
- Lando piloting the Falcon.
- Who is the cloaked figure that Kylo Ren is bodyslamming?
- A crying Rey hugging General Leia.
Just to name a few highlights.
And the kicker: hearing Luke’s voice say “No one’s ever really gone,” followed by…the Emperor’s laugh. WHAT THE EFF?!
Then, as if we weren’t overwhelmed and beside ourselves enough, the big stinger, that dramatic title reveal:
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Is it a resurrection of Anakin? Of Luke? Of them both? Or does it hint at the rise of Rey, who will be confirmed as a Skywalker after all? Or Kylo Ren, who’s a Skywalker on his mother’s side? Will Kylo finish what his dad valiantly sought to do at the end of Return of the Jedi?
The fact that there are so many possibilities and implications (and some we can’t even imagine) should have us all stoked for what’s to come. Indeed, could the Emperor, Luke, or Anakin be the extent of it. Could we also see the return of Obi-Wan? Han Solo? Qui-Gon? Even more?!
Mysteries aside, here’s what I do know. For all of those fans who were disappointed (like I was) with how Rian Johnson seemed to marginalize the importance of the Skywalker lineage and, more broadly, undercut the themes and power of the entire mythos, the title The Rise of Skywalker seems to defy that approach in loud, bold, unequivocal terms. Quite plainly, it declares that the Skywalker bloodline does matter. Immaculately conceived by The Force itself, that lineage has always mattered. It always will.
Whether Rey ends up being a part of that Skywalker line is inconsequential. What matters is that the Skywalkers matter.
In effect, Abrams — piecing back together what he first created, symbolized in the image of Kylo Ren soddering the pieces of his shattered helmet back together — has taken Johnson’s Last Jedi Protestant Reformation and said, “No, there is a holy, catholic, and orthodox order to the Star Wars saga.”
On December 20, 2019, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will solidify that truth once and for all.