Friday morning at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago, Disney dropped a highly anticipated first teaser for “Episode IX” and simultaneously revealed the official title for the ninth film in the “Star Wars” saga: “The Rise of Skywalker.”
“The Rise of Skywalker,” online fans cooed. A title snappily reminiscent of “Return of the Jedi,” and one featuring the iconic family name that has come to define the space opera-turned-mega franchise that George Lucas built a long time ago, in the year 1977.
Thousands of fans in attendance at Celebration cheered, many shed Force-sensitive tears, and the entire arena roared as the lights came up on the teaser’s world premiere, eight months ahead of its Dec. 19 premiere.
The film’s title, however, still has fans scratching their heads trying to figure out exactly who the titular rising Skywalker is.
After the events of the Rian Johnson-directed “The Last Jedi,” Leia Organa (played by the late Carrie Fisher) and her son, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), are the only known Skywalkers still with us — although as the trailer hints, “No one’s ever really gone.”
Online debates continue to rage. Some theorize “The Rise of Skywalker” indicates Kylo will switch sides from the dark to the light side as the Skywalker saga draws to a close.
Others believe Jedi-in-training Rey, protege of the dearly departed Luke (Mark Hamill), is the Skywalker in question — and wonder if that means “Episode IX,” directed by J.J. Abrams from a script by Abrams and Chris Terrio, will retcon the parental reveal of Rey’s lineage that was made in “The Last Jedi.”
It might even be referring to the royal “Skywalker,” suggesting a movement of Skywalker-esque heroes, not just a singular woman or man.
The mystery is tearing some “Star Wars” fans apart. What does “The Rise of Skywalker” mean, anyway?
“The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi” star John Boyega was wondering the very same thing after getting an early peek at the teaser Thursday night. Like everything “Star Wars” — and just about any project Abrams touches — the film’s title was kept a secret from even its stars until this week.
“I was actually debating this!” he said backstage following the Star Wars Celebration panel, after reuniting onstage with Abrams and co-stars including Oscar Isaac, Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran. “Because, in all honesty, I only found out about the title last night when they gave a cast screening of the trailer that we were going to show.”
Boyega: He’s just like us. Hooked on the mystery. “When I saw ‘The Rise of Skywalker,’ I was confused,” he said. “I was like, wait – is one person a Skywalker? Or does it mean the rise of the Skywalker... in all of us? I don’t know!”
He glanced across the room at Abrams in mock disappointment. “I asked J.J., but he wouldn’t tell me nothing.”
A few moments later, the director breezed down the press line and skirted a question about whether or not “Episode IX” will rewrite canonical history.
“The challenge of this movie was obviously taking eight movies and telling a satisfying conclusion,” he said in response to a question of whether his film will scrap or build off what is learned of Rey’s birth parents in “The Last Jedi.” “So it was not just ‘Episode VIII,’ but ‘Episodes I’ through ‘VIII’ that we had to really consider and embrace.
“Oddly, the challenge that we had is exactly the challenge of the characters in the movie,” continued the master of the “mystery box,” directing the query back to his talking point. “Which is that you take what they’ve inherited, what’s come before, and ask yourselves: ‘Are you up to the challenge of facing what this challenge is?’
“In the film, it’s obviously a much more frightening thing than for us making the movie,” he laughed. “However, not that much.”
Anthony Daniels, the cast member who has appeared in all eight previous “Star Wars” films and returns for the final installment as gilded droid C-3PO, had a different cheeky non-answer.
What does “The Rise of Skywalker” mean? “It means the end of my job,” quipped Daniels, who announced on the Celebration stage that he’ll soon be releasing his own written memoirs. “It means I’m out of work! So please buy my book.”