Fans have waited over a year for the first footage from the ninth and final entry in the Star Wars Skywalker saga. Director J.J. Abrams finally dropped the first teaser trailer during Star Wars Celebration on April 12. Though the trailer itself revealed little about the plot of the movie, Abrams and the cast, including Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac, revealed some tantalizing information during the panel.
The biggest news is that the movie will be called The Rise of Skywalker, though that title is more cryptic than it might initially sound. Abrams said that the three heroes of the newest trilogy — Rey (Ridley), Finn (Boyega) and Poe (Isaac) — would be united in an adventure for the first time. He also said that they would face “the greatest evil.” The trailer went on to reveal who, exactly, that evil presence would be, shocking fans in the process.
Here are the major takeaways followed by a thorough analysis of the Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker trailer.
Star Wars: Episode IX will be titled The Rise of Skywalker
It’s unclear which Skywalker, exactly, is the titular character of this film. There are several options: Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) are the only remaining living Skywalkers. Director Abrams has emphasized that this film will focus heavily on the new generation of heroes and villains, not the old, so Kylo is perhaps the more likely candidate. If he gets a redemption arc, then he could be the Skywalker who finally balances the forces of Light and Darkness.
However, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) will still have a major role in this film. Though he became one with the Force (i.e. died) in Last Jedi, his voice echoes throughout the trailer. He could appear as a visage to Rey or even return corporally in some way.
But perhaps the most likely candidate is Rey. Though Kylo told Rey that her parents sold her for drinking money in the last film, he could have been lying to her or just making things up. (He seems like the kind of guy who would neg her.) Many fans still maintain that Rey is related to the Skywalkers in some way. Alternatively, she could become a Skywalker through adoption or marriage. Rey has been the central character of the last two films, and it would make sense for her to be a link to the old heroes in the so-called Skywalker Saga.
Some fans have also posited that Skywalker will become a title, rather than a name. The last two trilogies both ended with titles that focused on a group of people: Revenge of the Sith and Return of the Jedi. Rise of the Skywalker would parallel nicely with those two other titles if “Skywalker” comes to be a name for someone who finds balance in the Force. Remember, Luke wanted the Jedi to end in Last Jedi.
Emperor Palpatine is back
At the very end of the trailer, someone cackles while the screen is dark. It sounds an awful lot like Emperor Palpatine, Vader’s boss and the big baddie from the original trilogy. And sure enough, Ian McDiarmid, who played Emperor Palpatine in previous films, stepped onstage at Star Wars Celebration.
Abrams said that our group of heroes will face the “greatest evil” in this film. That could refer to Palpatine, who is just about as evil as they get. It’s unclear how Palpatine would have survived Darth Vader throwing him down a Death Star reactor shaft in Return of the Jedi and the subsequent explosion of the Death Star. But perhaps he appears as a ghost to Kylo, just as Luke likely will appear as a ghost to Rey. (More on that later.)
Carrie Fisher’s Leia Organa will appear in the film
Though Carrie Fisher passed away before filming of Episode IX begun, filmmakers and stars have previously said in interviews that director J.J. Abrams planned to borrow unused footage that Fisher filmed for The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi for the new film. In this trailer, we get our first glimpse of Fisher’s Leia hugging Ridley’s Rey, which was perhaps shot after the death of Han Solo (Harrison Ford).
Oscar Isaac has said in interviews that he and Fisher shot several scenes that were cut from Last Jedi. And it does indeed look like many of Leia’s scenes in the film will focus on her mentor-mentee relationship with Isaac’s fighter pilot, Poe.
Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker will also appear
Though Hamill’s Luke Skywalker became one with the Force — essentially, died — at the end of Last Jedi, Hamill has confirmed he will act in some form in Rise of Skywalker. (There is a precedent for ghostly appearances: Obi-Wan and Yoda appeared in spectral form in previous films.) And Luke’s voice heavily features in the trailer.
Given the title of the film, it could be that Luke has a larger role to play in this movie than fans originally expected, especially if he is the “rising” Skywalker and is resurrected in some form.
The Rise of Skywalker will be the end of the Skywalker Saga
Isaac recently confirmed in an interview that Rise of Skywalker would be the ninth and final movie to focus on the Skywalker family. The previous films have focused on Anakin Skywalker, his son Luke Skywalker, his daughter Leia Organa and, lately, Leia’s son Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
Throughout these films, the Skywalker family has struggled to find a balance between the Light and Darkness. In The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren briefly denounced both the evil First Order and the heroic Resistance and tried to persuade Rey (Daisy Ridley) to start a new order with him. Rey refused, and Kylo Ren angrily pursued her and Luke in the last act. The trailer makes clear that much of the movie will focus on whether Kylo can be redeemed.
Some fans still maintain that Rey likely has a connection to the Skywalker clan too. In Last Jedi, Kylo told her that her parents were drunks who sold her off for drinking money, but he could have been lying. The trailer leaves the question open-ended, though the title of the film certainly will buoy some fans who have maintained Rey has been a Skywalker all along. She seems more powerful than ever in this film.
Whatever the future of the Star Wars Cinematic Universe, fans can almost certainly say farewell to the original trio, Luke Skywalker, Leia Organa and Han Solo after Episode IX. Future Star Wars films will tackle other stories.
There’s a time jump between Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker
J.J. Abrams confirmed at Star Wars Celebration that there is about a year jump between the events of Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker.
Breaking down every second of the Star Wars: Episode IX trailer
0:18 Rey is on a desert planet, maybe her home planet of Jakku or possibly Tatooine, where the Skywalker story began. She’s getting ready to fight someone or something. In the background Luke’s voice says, “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.” The scene emphasizes that the new generation of heroes has inherited the war between the First Order and the Resistance.
0:27 Rey pulls out her lightsaber as she watches a ship approach from the distance. The lightsaber looks to be the blue saber that Luke used in Empire Strikes Back and that Anakin used before him. The lightsaber ties Rey to both of those Skywalkers and could indicate that she, too, belongs to that family — despite the fact that Kylo told her she was born of drunken nobodies in Last Jedi. Kylo could have been lying.
0:53 Some sort of variation on a TIE Fighter approaches her. It looks like an upgraded version of the one that Kylo Ren has been flying in the recent movies. It’s hard to see here, but the TIE Fighter is painted red in the center, which is reminiscent of Emperor’s Guard ships from extended Star Wars lore. (More on that later.)
0:57 We get a shot of the hands controlling the TIE fighter. These gloves almost certainly belong to Kylo Ren.
Also the fact that the ship isn’t shooting at Rey could also hint at the driver being Kylo. Remember, he and Rey had a Force connection (and maybe even a love connection?) in the last movie. Plus Kylo has a record of not shooting people he actually cares about. (He pulled away when he had the chance to shoot his mother, Leia, in the last movie.)
1:07 Rey’s powers clearly continue to grow. She’s literally jumping onto or out of the way of a ship on foot. The fact that she has her lightsaber out suggests she’s going to take out this TIE Fighter.
1:14 An unknown ship on an unknown planet. Excited to see what this location turns out to be.
1:16 Finally, we get a shot of Kylo Ren’s face. He has his signature lightsaber and is taking out what looks to be a fighter for the Resistance. Apparently he’s still a bad guy — at least for now.
Last we saw Kylo he was at least a bit conflicted about his place in the universe. He asked Rey to abandon the Resistance and join him in creating a new ruling class, separate from the First Order. Rey rejected his proposal, which left Kylo quite angry. He seemingly rejoined the First Order at the end of the movie as he tried to kill Leia, Luke and the Resistance. But Rey helped the Resistance escape.
1:17 We see this is, in fact, a larger battle scene with a Stormtrooper shooting at Resistance fighters in the background.
1:18 Perhaps the most intriguing shot of the film: Kylo (or someone) fixing his helmet. Remember, Kylo discarded the helmet when Snoke (Andy Serkis) called it childish in Last Jedi. Perhaps Kylo has decided to idolize Vader again? How might Palpatine factor into that decision?
Also whoever is fixing this helmet either has furry hands or furry coat sleeves. Unclear who that could be.
1:19 The bromance lives! Finn and Poe, who bonded early in Force Awakens when then-stormtrooper Poe helped Finn escape the clutches of the First Order, didn’t have much time onscreen together in Last Jedi. But Abrams confirmed that Rey, Poe and Finn will all go on an adventure together in this movie — a first for the franchise.
1:21 Abrams revealed during Star Wars Celebration in Chicago on April 12 that BB-8 would get a new buddy in this movie called D-O. He looks inspired by those OneWheel electric skateboards.
1:23 Even though this movie will focus on the next generation of heroes, we do get one familiar face in the trailer: Billy Dee Williams is returning to the live-action Star Wars movies as Lando Calrissian for the first time since Return of the Jedi. He is flying the Millennium Falcon (which, remember, used to be his ship until Han Solo won it from him) with Chewbacca.
(Minor spoilers for Solo.) The reunion between Lando and the ship is particularly poignant given that fans found out Lando’s close friend and droid L3-37’s consciousness was uploaded into the ship.
1:31 Poor C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) finds himself in the middle of another dogfight. This time he stands alongside Poe and Finn. This looks to be the same desert location where the two men were earlier in the trailer, perhaps Jakku. Abrams may be trying to insert a few callbacks to the original trilogy in this film, as he did with Force Awakens. This action scene evokes the fight against Jabba on the barge in Return of the Jedi.
1:33 Someone, presumably Leia, looks at what appears to be one of the medals that Luke and Han received after the Battle of Yavin IV at the end of A New Hope. (Justice for Chewie, who was deprived of a medal!) Though Fisher died before Lucasfilm began filming Episode IX, Abrams said that he incorporated unused footage of Leia from A Force Awakens into Rise of Skywalker and wrote scenes around her. This is likely one of those scenes.
1:34 Leia and a crying Rey share a hug, while Luke intones, “We’ll always be with you.” The shot doubles as a thematic moment and an ode to Fisher.
1:37 The gang is all here! This is the first time that Rey, Finn, Poe, C-3PO, BB-8 and Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo) have all been together in the movie, except for the very last moments of Last Jedi when Poe and Rey met for the first time. Conspicuously missing is their leader, Leia — who likely sent them off on a mission — and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), who was in a coma at the end of The Last Jedi.
1:39 They gaze at what looks to be a fallen part of the Death Star. That means that they are probably on Endor looking at the second Death Star. Luke says, “No one is ever really gone,” which sounds hopeful, until you think about the fact that they’re looking at the Death Star.
And sure enough, the screen goes dark and Palpatine starts to cackle. So, yes, Palpatine is back. Abrams said during the panel that the good guys face “the greatest evil” in this movie, and that could very well be the former Emperor.
How, exactly, Palpatine survived Darth Vader throwing him down a shaft to his death is unclear.
1:59 And here we arrive at the most important shot in the whole trailer: The title card. The trailer reveals that the film will be titled “Rise of Skywalker,” though it’s unclear which Skywalker they’re talking about: Luke? Leia? Anakin? Kylo? Or maybe even Rey? Anything is possible.