After what has felt like an endless string of internet rumors, fan fervor and false starts, at last we have our first look at the conclusion of the Skywalker saga.
On the morning of April 12, the first trailer for what has been titled “The Rise of Skywalker” was shown to fans at a celebratory panel in Chicago. Much of the cast and crew were on hand for the premiere of the preview, which was soon made available online.
The ninth episode in a string of films which began with George Lucas’ originally masterpiece in 1977, director J.J. Abrams returns after having regrettably turned down helming 2017’s “The Last Jedi" — a film which performed well at the box office and critically but divided fans over its story and character portrayals among many other things.
Abrams, having directed 2015’s “The Force Awakens," will look to change the direction of certain choices from the eighth film. The title of the new movie alone signals a potential retcon of Rey’s (Daisy Ridley) supposedly unimportant, irrelevant lineage as revealed to her by Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).
The trailer opens to Rey standing alone in the desert, breathing heavily but calming herself slowly before looking out over the sandy red landscape.
The voice of Luke Skywalker narrates a message to Rey, possibly cementing her status as “this generation's legend," possessor of the Force and carrier of Jedi knowledge.
Suddenly, the all-too-familiar sound of a First Order fighter becomes clear. Rey deploys her lightsaber, turns and begins to run. But as the fighter closes in, it becomes clear that she is not running away from it, but simply waiting for her moment to strike.
These are only the first few moments of the emotional, exhilarating trailer and the rest can be seen below.
Many tantalizing elements of this new film were teased in this preview.
Is Kylo Ren now firmly embracing his dark side? How did Rey remake Luke’s broken lightsaber, if that was in fact the same saber she was holding in the final minutes of “The Last Jedi?" And what state will Finn (John Boyega), Poe (Oscar Isaac), Leia (Carrie Fisher) and the rest of the Resistance be in after the sacrifice of Luke (Mark Hamill)?
The title “The Rise of Skywalker” would indicate an ending on a high note. Many beloved characters, entrenched in Star Wars lore will return, including the droids C-3PO, R2-D2 and the newer BB-8.
Lando Calrissian famously debuted in 1980’s “Empire Strikes Back," played by Billy Dee Williams. He was again featured prominently in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi."
This new trailer gave us a quick but truly iconic shot of Williams as Lando after 36 years, once again piloting the Millennium Falcon – the starship freighter which was originally Calrissian’s but won and flown by his friends Han Solo and Chewbacca.
But this may not have been the biggest tease of all.
Not even the spine-tingling voiceover of Luke or the brief images of the late Carrie Fisher as Leia for the final time take that prize.
No. The biggest tease of all was saved for the final shots of Rey and her company, including Finn, Poe, the droids and Chewbacca. The camera reverses to behind Rey, staring out across a vast body of water, angry with waves crashing against the shore in front of her.
There appears to be a large ship wrecked laying in the water, unimportant and unidentifiable to the untrained eye. But any average fan of Star Wars should recognize what this ship is: The Death Star, broken and rusting away since the concluding battle at the end of “Return of the Jedi."
Luke’s voiceover promises Rey, “We’ll always be with you … no one's ever really gone,” — a lovely message to end on.
But then the screen goes to black, and the sinister cackle of the evil Emperor Palpatine can be heard, signaling a return to the franchise for veteran actor Ian McDiarmid. He was last seen on screen as Palpatine, otherwise known as Darth Sidious, in 2005’s “Revenge of the Sith."
The title reveal was the last surprise of the trailer, “The Rise of Skywalker” appearing between the words “Star Wars."
We now must wait until Dec. 20 to see the conclusion to one of the greatest sagas ever depicted in cinematic history. I was excited for this film beforehand with J.J. Abrams back on board.
This first peek at what could become the highest grossing film of all-time only solidifies my anticipation.
In Abrams I trust. This movie is in good hands, and first impressions show that it will be everything it needs to be.
I have a good feeling about this.
John Everman is an arts editor for the Daily Cardinal. To read more of his work, click here.