The biggest movie coming to theaters this holiday season is also a must-see event. STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER is both the highly-anticipated conclusion to a thrilling trilogy and the final chapter in an epic franchise that began way back with the release of STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE in 1977.
As the Skywalker family saga reaches its end, Rey (Daisy Ridley) will face off with Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in the ultimate showdown between light and dark. As they race towards that showdown, many of the questions raised in both THE FORCE AWAKENS and THE LAST JEDI will be answered. Here are our biggest questions heading into THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.
[Image credit: Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Pictures]
First, take a quick look at the awesome teaser trailer for the new STAR WARS sequel. The teaser opens with Rey in full-Jedi mode, running across a desert and flipping backward onto an enemy ship. She’s come a long way from being an orphaned scavenger struggling to survive on the planet Jakku. As this action unfolds, we hear Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in voiceover: “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now, but this is your fight.” The teaser shows us flashes of scenes, including one where Kylo Ren battles resistance fighters in a forest, a quick look at BB-8 (with a new droid friend), and the return of Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams). There’s also a sweet moment between General Leia (the late Carrie Fisher) and Rey, as well as the return of several old friends, like Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), C-3PO, and more.
The real kicker comes at the end of the teaser, however, as we hear the laugh of a familiar foe, and Rey and her pals lay eyes on the ruins of the Death Star (or one of them) – the planet-destroying ship created by Darth Vader in the original trilogy.
Our first and biggest question has to do with the laugh at the end of the teaser. STAR WARS fans undoubtedly recognized the sound of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), but how could he be back? Although Palpatine was killed by Darth Vader in RETURN OF THE JEDI, it’s possible he could have returned as a ghost or phantom of some sort. While only Jedi are able to appear as “Force Ghosts”, the Sith have developed sinister ways of lingering after death.
As Palpatine explained to young Anakin (before he became Darth Vader) in STAR WARS: REVENGE OF THE SITH, a Sith named Darth Plagueis the Wise once became so powerful that he could control life and death. He shared this wisdom with his apprentice, who betrayed and murdered Plagueis. That apprentice was Palpatine, and it’s possible that he’s found a way to stick around following his own demise.
STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI made it pretty clear that the identity of Rey’s parents – said to be smugglers who abandoned her on Jakku – is irrelevant. The lesson is that it doesn’t matter where you come from; anyone can become a hero, or in this case, a Jedi. But director J.J. Abrams has been dropping hints that we might find out who Rey’s parents are, or at least learn more about her origins in THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.
One of our favorite new characters in THE LAST JEDI was Rose Tico (Kelly Marie Tran), the resistance engineer who befriended Finn and aids in a crucial mission. Rose is a total resistance fangirl, which makes her a very relatable stand-in for STAR WARS fans. She was absent from the first teasers, leading us to wonder where she is, and if she's OK. The final trailer for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER finally gave us a shot of Rose, seemingly in the thick of the action. (She walks by the new character played by Dominic Monaghan, who stands with Billie Lourd's Lieutenant Connix.) We know, thanks to a display of Rose's costume at the reveal of new merchandise for the film, that "Rose has risen through the ranks from lowly engineering support crew to military commander. She leads the Engineering Corps in making the necessary modifications to keep The Resistance’s gear operational, as well as countering new advancements in First Order technology.”
Carrie Fisher tragically passed away in 2016. She had already finished filming her part in THE LAST JEDI but had not yet filmed anything for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER. Fisher is still able to appear in the new sequel, however, thanks to leftover footage that wasn’t used in the two previous films. So how will the sequel honor the memory of an actress who has been so important to this franchise, and what sort of farewell will it give her? We imagine it will be incredibly heartfelt and rewarding, whatever it may be.
The previous two films established that Kylo Ren is not your typical STAR WARS villain. He’s the son of Harrison Ford's Han Solo and General Leia, but he turned to the dark side at an early age and became obsessed with his uncle, Anakin Skywalker – aka Darth Vader. Kylo briefly teamed up with Rey in THE LAST JEDI, and their interactions indicated that there’s still some good left in him. Will he fully succumb to the dark side, or will he see the error of his ways? One theory suggests Kylo could ultimately sacrifice himself in a sudden moment of heroism, not unlike Darth Vader did for Luke in RETURN OF THE JEDI.
This seems very unlikely, but over the summer, Disney released a special sneak peek at THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, which briefly showed Rey looking very Sith-like. It’s more plausible that this is a vision or a dream sequence, or maybe a scene in which Rey puts on a disguise to infiltrate the other side.
Which brings us to the meaning of the sequel’s title. We saw the Force awaken within Rey in THE FORCE AWAKENS, and she studied under the last Jedi in the universe – Luke Skywalker – in THE LAST JEDI. Another popular theory suggests that THE RISE OF SKYWALKER refers to a new movement in the Force. The Jedi and the Sith (now the First Order) have been engaged in an epic battle that’s unfolded over eight films, but maybe their time is done. Instead of having a dark side and a light side, those with the Force could simply be known as Skywalkers: People who embrace both the dark and the light. Each film has explored how a person with the Force is capable of turning to either side, but both Rey and Kylo Ren seem to be in touch with both.
Ah, yes. The most important question. As we saw in THE LAST JEDI, a handful of Porgs hopped aboard the Millennium Falcon, where they were last seen annoying Chewbacca. Has Chewbacca adopted these cute little creatures? Where are they now? We haven't seen any hing of them in trailer for STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER so far, but we're holding out hope to see the little creatures one more time.
All images courtesy of Lucasfilm / Walt Disney Pictures.