More than twenty-two hours of films over four decades, and I doubt there’s a Star Wars fan out there who feels ready to say goodbye to the Skywalker saga. Though many fans were disappointed with some of the decisions made in The Last Jedi (myself not included – the formula needed some shaking up), and Solo which underperformed in part due to Star Wars fatigue; it’s hard not to feel excited for a conclusion so long in the making. Will the Jedi prevail over the First Order? Will Kylo Ren join the light side, or will Rey fall to the dark? Will there be another cute, marketable creature á la the porgs? With any luck, these questions will be answered before the franchise’s main story has its last hurrah.
Fortunately, after a tough sixteen months, Star Wars fans were finally treated to a trailer and a title at the most recent Star Wars Celebration event. The latter has raised more than a few questions; after the reveal in the previous film that Rey’s parents are ‘nobodies’, there exists some concern that director J.J. Abrams will retcon this decision in favour of making her part of the galaxy’s legendary Skywalker dynasty. In my opinion, this would be a predictable move, and undercut the core concept that anybody can utilise the force and become truly powerful – even a poor boy from a moisture farm like in the movie that started it all. Other theories do exist, namely the ideas that Kylo Ren, son of a Solo and a Skywalker, will rise up to save the galaxy, or that Luke Skywalker’s philosophy of balance as presented in the last film will rise to dominance. Ultimately though, the title sounds impressive enough, and it feels fitting to feature the name of the universe’s most dramatic family in the final film of their overarching story.
The trailer, evoking a good amount of the original trilogy’s cineliteracy through visual references to Hollywood Westerns and Japanese samurai movies, provided ample ground for some theorizing too. Opening with Rey backflipping to take down a First Order fighter, the trailer then shows us glimpses of how characters young and old are getting on. A hug between Rey and Leia stands as a moving moment in light of Carrie Fisher’s death in 2016 – for the many who were wondering how Leia’s arc could be finished in the new film, it has been clarified that unused footage from The Force Awakens would be reedited into the new movie for closure’s sake. An appearance is also made by the legendary Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, following Donald Glover’s smooth as silk interpretation of the character last year in Solo, who will hopefully be given a sizeable role in The Rise of Skywalker to match his character’s legacy as the coolest man in the galaxy far, far away.
In terms of the newer lot, a few sneak peeks are given to let us know how they’re getting on after the events of The Last Jedi. While characters like Finn and Poe have been given snazzy new outfits – something that actor John Boyega was beyond excited about – Kylo Ren is looking worse for wear. Covered in dirt and determinedly rebuilding his old, Vader-esque helmet, the trailer suggests the character is attempting a return to his old, unambiguously evil ways; based on what we now know of the conflicted, insecure man from the last movie, Ren succeeding in this task seems unlikely to say the least. There’s also a new character on the horizon in the form of Naomi Ackie’s Jannah, who could potentially be related to Lando – I’d take that over Rey Skywalker any day.
Finally, we need to address the oddly familiar laugh at the end of the trailer, that seemingly belongs to Emperor Sheev Palpatine, a Sith Lord thought long dead. Many are enthusiastic about the return of this iconic villain, the bearer of enough one-liners to supplement an entire Star Wars t-shirt line, and this has only fuelled the fire of wacky fan theories. While one states that Snoke was really Palpatine the whole time, another puts forward that Rey was created by Sheev as an Anakin Skywalker clone – there’s some wacky stuff on the internet, and I hope some of these are proven right.
A definitive release date hasn’t yet been set, only the promise of ‘Christmas’, but I and other fans of the franchise are feeling the hype even amongst the Avengers: Endgame excitement. Really, the two films have much in common: they’re concluding a long running story, they feature a battle between good and evil, and they’ll be fighting for the top spot of 2019’s highest grossing film. From my perspective, Endgame will likely claim this title, but I doubt the MCU films will ever come close to achieving the cultural impact that Star Wars has had on the world of entertainment.
See you in December! I know I’ll be there.