Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker – 11 Things We Learned

The Rise Of Skywalker

by Ian Freer |
Published on

Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker. Who had that title in the sweepstake? (we had Porgs In The Pantry). Months — years — of speculation ended when JJ Abrams unveiled the teaser at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. Interviewed by Star Wars fan extraordinaire Stephen Colbert, Abrams, joined by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and cast members including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Joonas Suotamo plus newbies to this trilogy Naomi Ackie and the legend that is Billy Dee Williams, talked up the last hurrah for the Skywalker saga before providing a sneak peek. It was an entertaining, invigorating hour. This is what we learned.

1. The Gang's All Back

The Rise Of Skywalker

After The Last Jedi sent our heroes all over the galaxy — Rey to Ach-To, Poe to butt heads with Admiral Holdo, Finn and Rose to the horse racing on Canto Bight — Abrams confirmed that The Rise Of Skywalker keeps the group united. “This is an adventure that the group goes on together,” he said. “One of the great things about it is the dynamic between the characters.” This was backed up by an image of the Resistance fighters on a verdant jungle world with the Falcon.

Abrams also stated the film doesn’t pick up directly after The Last Jedi but will have an unconfirmed time jump (internet scuttlebutt suggests a year). Host Colbert tried to pin this down with Daisy Ridley, asking how far she got into reading the books she found in Luke’s Jedi Temple. When Ridley prevaricated by saying they were big books, Colbert suggested she try Audible.

2. A Touching Tribute

In a moving moment from the trailer, Rey is seen hugging Princess Leia, played by Carrie Fisher. Abrams revealed it was a ‘miracle’ that unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens existed. “The idea was what if we could write scenes around her, so she could be in the movie, and we have her performance,” he said. “Every day it hits me that she’s not here, but it’s so surreal because we’re working with her still… Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that is kind of mind-blowing to me.”

A shot from the trailer also suggests that Leia is presenting Luke’s (or Han's) medal from the end of A New Hope to a tearful Rey in a forest. What does this mean? And forget Chewbacca not getting a medal, why didn’t Leia get a medal? Who did more to defeat the Empire than her?

3. Rey-sing The Bar

The trailer opens with Rey preparing to face down what might initially look like a Kylo Ren’s TIE Silencer but is actually a First Order TIE Interceptor (it’s piloted by someone with black driving gloves — Alan Partridge?) before acrobatically flipping over it. Abrams praised word class stunt choreographer (and if you're British, Gladiators legend) Eunice Huthart in helping Rey and Ridley find some as yet unseen Force moves.

Ridley revealed that the lightsaber, the one that belonged to Anakin and destroyed at the end of The Last Jedi is making a triumphant return. “The lightsaber that Rey inherited from Luke Skywalker lives.” Keeping quiet about any further Rey-Lo developments, she confirmed “There are no more semi-naked Kylos.” Oscar Isaac added, “Only full. We gotta step it up a notch.”

For his part, Ren appears in the trailer taking down victims in a Gladiator style battle (is this with his fellow Knights of Ren?) and seemingly soldering together cracks in his mask with what looks like red Bostik.

4. Sex Bob-Omb

John Boyega, on jaunty form, revealed that Finn is more certain of himself this time around. Or, in his own words, a “fully-fledged sexy young man”. He made the point that Finn had previously had his clothes chosen for him, be it a Stormtrooper uniform or Resistance garb, and was delighted that Finn got to make his own sartorial decisions, starting with a pair of blue trousers.

Images of Boyega also confirmed he was sporting a natty hair do. Perhaps this is something to do with his emerging love triangle with Rey and Rose. “Add Poe there as well,” Boyega added. “It’s a love pentagon. Finn is single and ready to mingle.”

5. Uber Driver To The Stars

The Rise Of Skywalker

Fully engaging with Star Wars fan favourite shipping, Isaac suggested Poe “takes his love for Finn very seriously.” When quizzed if Dameron is a better pilot than Han Solo, Isaac admits, “No one can pilot the Millennium Falcon like Han. However, Poe can literally fly anything. I’m just saying, Poe is the better Uber driver.” To prove the point, the trailer shows Dameron piloting a tractor-tread driven speeder across the desert with C-3PO standing guard on the back.

6. Hello, What Have We Here?

The Rise Of Skywalker

The trailer confirms the return of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) in joyous mood at the helm of the Millennium Falcon (remember it was originally his baby), sporting similar yellow and blue threads to the ones worn by Donald Glover in Solo: A Star Wars Story. “How did I find Lando again?” Williams says. “Lando never left me. He’s a shade older, but still fit.” Abrams acknowledged it was “an emotional thing” when Williams appeared on set, the crew stunned into an awed silence.

7. Meet Jannah

The Rise Of Skywalker

The trailer offers no glimpses of new character Jannah, played by Brit Naomi Ackie, but an on-screen image did reveal a wild feral character that might have been at home in Fury Road. Ackie, best known for her role in William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth (which Stephen Colbert mistook for Shakespeare), got the call at an inopportune moment. “I was in bed,” says Ackie. “I got the call at 7 O’Clock in the morning. I yelped and my dad ran up the stairs and sat at the end of the bed.” She charmingly apologised to Abrams for breaking her NDA by telling her dad.

8. In The Name Of Rose

The Rise Of Skywalker

Celebration’s warmest welcome was reserved for Kelly Marie Tran, who’d undergone a baptism of online fire forcing her to step back from social media. Last seen in a coma in The Last Jedi, she is now back serving the Resistance as revealed in a still with Rose in conversation with Rey (proving _Episode IX_passes the Bechdel Test — assuming they're not talking about Finn's new trousers). Abrams added, of all the decisions made by Rian Jonson, “the greatest for me was casting Kelly Marie.”

9. RIP Captain Phasma?

A running line in Colbert’s questioning spoke to the return of Captain Phasma. No-one would confirm or deny except for John Boyega who simply said, "She dead!" For fans of Gwendoline Christie’s chrome dome enforcer, prepare for the worst.

10. Say Hello To My Little Friends

The Rise Of Skywalker

Like a proud father, Abrams also introduced the Celebration crowd to new droid D-0. Even smaller than BB-8, it looks like the cute love child between Pixar’s Luxo Jr. and a unicycle. The director admits during production the droid needed a raft of puppeteers to bring D-0 to life. On stage in Chicago, he worked on his own like a dream.

The Rise Of Skywalker

Abrams also revealed a new creature to the Star Wars menagerie: Klawd — an upright slug figure with a perma-amazed expression. “He is a friend of the Resistance, and someone Chewie brought in,” says Abrams. An image revealed Klawd shares scenes with Greg Grunberg’s x-wing pilot ‘Snap’ Wexley — which doesn’t bode well for Klawd’s screen time.

11. The Emperor Strikes Back

The trailer ends with Luke Skywalker’s line from The Last Jedi — “No one’s every really gone” — before a familiar sinister cackle turns the line on its head. Then, it was words of solace; now it offers a cautionary tale. And then, to hammer the point home, Ian McDiarmid walked out on stage and said of the trailer, in full-on Palpatine rasp, "Roll it again."

Abrams later confirmed to Empire that Palpatine would indeed feature in the film, the director amazed he kept McDiarmid's presence on set a secret all this time. Add in the shell of the Death Star rusting on a mountain in one of the trailer's final shots and be afraid. Be very afraid.

Given it’s the conclusion of the Skywalker story, the title, which is the first time a character name has appeared in a saga film, is rife with ambiguity and questions. Did Ren lie about Rey’s heritage? Who is the Skywalker? How can they ‘Rise’ when this is the end? The answers are a tantalising eight months away.

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