Star Wars: Episode IX: Cast, Story, Trailer & Facts You Need To Know

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We have 8+ months until the premiere of Star Wars: Episode IX, but the panel, hosted by Stephen Colbert, for the film at Star Wars Celebration Chicago 2019 gave us our first good look at what to expect. Here’s a breakdown of all the important pieces of information for Star Wars: Episode IX.

The title
The Rise of Skywalker. Hmm, interesting. This is the first subtitle of a Star Wars film to include the surname of the most powerful family in the universe, and honestly my first reaction is this title is a bit hokey. “Rise” is such a prominent name in film titles, with Rise of the Guardians, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, T3: Rise of the Machines and so forth; it feels overdone. Then again, I don’t know the story they’re telling, so I couldn’t give you a better title if I had to.

The first trailer
Starting with a narration from Luke, talking about how “we’ve passed down everything we know”, meaning the Jedi, and how it’s been a thousand generations, all resting on Rey’s shoulders. She is then confronted with a First Order fighter, which is zooming toward her on a desert planet. She starts running from it, then does a backflip over it. Yeah, that’s pretty cool.

This is followed up by some very impressive action shots, like what appears to be an A-wing fighter rushing toward a Resistance base, Kylo Ren taking down enemies in a battle, then reconstructing his mask from Episode VII, Lando and Chewie flying the Falcon at lightspeed, and a speeder-bike chase on the same desert planet. We also have a shot of Leia and Rey embracing tearfully, our only new footage of Carrie Fisher, and the high point, emotionally speaking, of the trailer.

We also see a hero shot of Rey, Finn, a slightly wounded Poe, Chewie, 3PO, R2-D2, and the new droid Dio standing over a cliff, looking toward what might be the early stages of a new Death Star. Yeah, I think I’m with everybody on this one: why another Death Star? This is the final shot of the trailer besides the title reveal, but we do hear the evil cackle of Emperor Palpatine over a black screen, implying his return.

It’s a great first trailer, but an early warning sign for fans of the movies that we’re heading more toward the Episode VII type of film, which plays around with new characters, but largely repeats story beats of the original trilogy. We have a long wait between now and December, so I might be wrong, but that’s what I’m sensing right now.

The new cast
Naomi Ackie came out with some of the new generation cast. She plays Jana, who looks like a scavenger, similar to how Rey was in Episode VII. Colbert asked her if she was Lando’s daughter, but she shied away from a direct confirmation, saying that Lando could have children all over the galaxy.

Ackie was the only new cast member on stage for the panel, and no other new characters were hinted at. We did, however, see a still of a new creature called Klad, who J.J. said is brought in by Chewbacca, as well as a new droid, Dio, a little green and white color droid that runs on a wheel with a triangular shaped head.

The returning cast
Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) was the first to take the stage of the cast members of Episode IX. While he was mainly there to discuss the legacy and promote a new book, Billy Dee Williams (Lando) returned to Celebration, and will be in Episode IX. Arguably the biggest pop from the panel was when a photo of Lando in the Millenium Falcon appeared as answered a question from Colbert about returning to the role: Williams said, “Lando never left me”.

Next came Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca).

Boyega was questioned first, and said Finn has found his identity within the Resistance, and is full-fledged in the fight. He also confirmed that yes, Captain Phasma is dead. Boyega also shied away from confirming who his love interest in the film will be, saying “[Finn] is single and ready to mingle”. They came back to this later on in the panel, and Boyega basically said that since they’re in the middle of the war, it’s tough to form a relationship with Rose.

Oscar Isaac was next, and while it might not be the biggest tidbit, answered a question from Colbert: who’s the better space pilot, Han Solo, or Poe Dameron? Isaac said he would be the better uber driver, but no one can pilot the Millenium Falcon like Han Solo.

Daisy Ridley was third in line for questioning. Before any questions came up, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to her, since Ridley turned 27 earlier in the week. Colbert asked if Rey had read the Jedi books since Episode VIII, which Ridley replied with “They’re…large”. So we might not know the answer to that for a while. She also confirmed that just because the lightsaber she used in VIII (originally owned by Anakin Skywalker) is broken, doesn’t mean it’s dead.

Kelly Marie Tran came next, and confirmed that Rose was in a coma by the end of Episode VIII, and J.J. did not chip in to say that she will or will not be along for the full ride with Rey, Finn, and Poe.

Finally, Joonas Suotamo was interviewed, and started with a tribute to the original Chewbacca actor, Peter Mayhew, who Suotamo says is in the film, but was not present at the panel. We did see a still of Chewbacca holding up what looks like a young Wookie, so maybe the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk makes a return from Episode III. However, Joonas did later say that the young Wookie was his son, so perhaps it was just a behind the scenes photo.

After the premiere of the teaser trailer, we then saw the panel wrap with Ian McDiarmid (Palpatine) coming on stage, to a wild response from the audience, then saying, in Palpatine’s voice, “Roll it again”, referring to the trailer. It looks like a lot of the fan theories about Palpatine’s return to the franchise might have been true.

This is the last Star Wars movie for a while
Before the panel could even begin, Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed in an article with Bloomberg that since this film will wrap up the Skywalker saga, the Star Wars films will be on hiatus following the release of Episode IX. Iger says more films are in development, but not to the stage where release dates can be announced. Considering the mixed fan reaction to Episode VIII and the financial loss Disney took on Solo: A Star Wars Story, this isn’t exactly a big surprise, and it might benefit the future of the franchise with the next films being more heavily anticipated because of the gap.

They’re in the post-production phase
J.J. Abrams says that the film is in the editing stage, and visual effects are beginning to be added. Since these types of movies are so gargantuan with the number of special effects shots, that’s no shock. In fact, it might have been concerning if J.J. had said they were at any other stage in production.

Leia will only be used in deleted scenes from Episode VII
We had heard this tidbit of news before, but with J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy on stage, this is confirmation that General Leia will not be absent from the concluding chapter of the Skywalker Saga. We did see a brief glimpse of her in the trailer, too.

New story details
The movie is set a ways after Episode VIII. No big shock here either, especially since it’s tough to follow up The Last Jedi with 12 people in the Resistance going up against the whole First Order. The trio of new heroes (Rey, Finn, and Poe) will be together for this adventure, and from a few stills released with the panel, it looks like desert and forest planets are in our future, maybe Tatooine or Jaku for the desert planet and Kashyyyk for the forest planet.

Real sets are back
Like Rian Johnson and J.J.’s efforts on VII, sets were built for interior and exterior shots, being used as often as possible. Some scenes were shot in Jordan, in a close geographical area to where David Lean shot Lawrence of Arabia. The cast did also mention shooting in Jordan and having to take breaks due to sandstorms.

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