After what feels like ages of anticipation, the title of Star Wars: Episode IX has been revealed as The Rise of Skywalker. Today was the first day of panels at this year’s Star Wars: Celebration and, naturally, the whole shindig kicked off with a panel for Episode IX, complete with J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, Anthony Daniels, Billy Dee Williams, Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Joonas Suotamo, and Naomi Ackie, where Stephen Colbert asked the cast and crew a bunch of questions about the film that none of them could really answer. The closest thing to any real information we got is that 1) some time passes between the ending of The Last Jedi and the beginning of The Rise of Skywalker, 2) Naomi Ackie plays a character named Jannah, and 3) The whole gang would be going on an adventure together. The really good reveals didn’t come until the last few minutes of the panel when the teaser trailer was finally shown, revealing the title of the film at the end of the trailer.
The trailer is your pretty standard teaser trailer for a Star Wars film at this point. Not much was shown. It opens with a lengthy scene of Rey (Daisey Ridley) on a desert planet, preparing to take on a new TIE-Fighter single-handedly. She pulls out her lightsaber, then does a pretty sick flip over the TIE-Fighter, leading into the main montage of the trailer. There, we see glimpses of Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) on the desert planet, a glimpse of Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in battle, some shots of various space battles, and more. Overtop of that is a monologue from Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), presumably directed at Rey, where he says “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight. We’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone.” It’s all the same kind of intentionally vague dialogue we’re used to from these teaser trailers. The visuals, as expected, look amazing, but it’s hard for me to get truly excited as the previous film didn’t really feel like it left a lot of doors open for further exploration. This trailer tries to play up the idea that this is the culmination of a nine-film saga, but the previous film didn’t really do anything to raise the stakes any, so it’s hard to feel any of that tension going into this one. That’s not the fault of Episode IX, itself, but an expected reality based on the construction of Episode VIII.
The trailer ends, perhaps, with the most interesting element (as any good teaser trailer should do): a shot of what appears to be the wreckage of the second Death Star, accompanied by a cut to black and a voiceover featuring some sinister laughter. At first, I thought it was Mark Hamill doing a version of his iconic Joker laughter, but after listening to it again (and taking into account the fact that Ian McDiarmid, the actor who played Palpatine in the original trilogy and the prequels, showed up onstage to prompt a second playing of the trailer), it sounds a lot more like Palpatine’s laughter. What that means for the storyline of The Rise of Skywalker is anybody’s guess, but it is a pretty good way to get people talking, especially after a teaser that doesn’t do a whole lot to sell the film. At this point, audiences have been fooled by these kinds of trailers from Star Wars before, so it only makes sense for Lucasfilm to tack something onto the end of the trailer to get people to put away their cynical goggles for a moment.
I have mixed feelings about this trailer, and about the title itself. I wasn’t one of those people who loved The Last Jedi but I also wasn’t one of those who hated it. I liked a lot of what the movie was trying to do, but I felt like very little of it was executed well. So, coming out of The Last Jedi, my enthusiasm for the series was deflated a bit. It wasn’t a bad movie, but it wasn’t a great one. So, it’s already a bit hard for me to get excited for this one as the trailers for The Last Jedi looked a whole lot better than I felt the movie was, and all I see in this trailer is more of the same. It hasn’t done enough to sell me on the vision of the new film. I’m intrigued, for sure, and I’m gonna watch it because it’s Star Wars, but I’d be lying if I said I was excited. And that brings me to the title of the film. I really don’t dig this title. It feels like all the intentional vagueness of The Last Jedi‘s title but cranked to 11. What does The Rise of Skywalker even mean? I mean, the obvious guess would be some kind of resurrection for either Luke or some form of his lineage, but would they actually do either of those things and completely undermine the previous film? I’d hope not, even though I don’t like the fact that Luke died, from a storytelling perspective, I like cop-out retcons even less. I’ve seen some speculation that the film will use “Skywalker” as a blanket term for more Force Users, instead of Jedi, and, while Tha seems like something this creative team would do and it would be kind of interesting from a narrative perspective, the idea of someone in-universe referring to another force user as a Skywalker feels kinda clunky. Aside from the speculation about its meaning, the title, itself, also just feels like clunky. It doesn’t do anything for me. I’m sure there are plenty who dig the title, but it just isn’t working for me right now. Maybe it will as December gets closer and we see more of the actual content of this film. As of now, I’m not excited for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Just merely intrigued.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters in December 2019. You can watch the trailer below.