Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker (Episode 9) Release Date, Cast, And Everything Else We Know
Are you looking forward to Episode IX?
The latest Star Wars trilogy has turned out quite divisive. Episode VII: The Force Awakens, directed by J.J. Abrams, was criticized for being too safe--a stylish remake of A New Hope rather than its own film. Then, the Rian Johnson-helmed Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi came out and did the opposite. Though it tried different things and broke a lot of established Star Wars archetypes, it was criticized for going too far to subvert audience expectations.
Now, the Star Wars fandom has Episode IX to look forward to in December. Can this final film rectify the public sentiment, or have things splintered beyond repair? Is there a grander artistic vision at play, or has this entire process been a series of short-sighted decisions, one after the other? Here's everything we know so far about Star Wars: Episode IX, along with some of the more recent speculative rumors.
We know the title
Disney revealed Episode 9's title at Star Wars Celebration 2019: "The Rise of Skywalker." It seems they're committed to giving fans more of what they want, and less of the "kill the past" mentality of The Last Jedi.
We know the release date
The current release date for Star Wars Episode IX is December 19 in the UK and December 20 in the US, 2019. This is a change from the original release date: May 24, 2019.
The first six films in the main franchise were all released in May. The December release window began with The Force Awakens in 2015 and continued with The Last Jedi in 2017.
We know the runtime
The Rise of Skywalker will be 155 minutes long, or 2 hours and 35 minutes. This makes it the longest of all the Star Wars movies. In second place is The Last Jedi at 152 minutes, followed by Attack of the Clones at 142 minutes. The shortest Star Wars film is A New Hope, which clocks in at 121 minutes.
J.J. Abrams is back in the director's chair
Colin Trevorrow, who directed and co-wrote Jurassic World and co-wrote Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, was originally slated to direct Episode IX. He dropped out of the project due to creative differences and was replaced with J.J. Abrams, who helmed The Force Awakens.
This has proven to be a controversial choice, especially from fans who disliked The Force Awakens. But in hindsight, Abrams might have been better off directing the whole trilogy.
When Abrams gave Rian Johnson his rough ideas for the Last Jedi, Johnson opted to not use them and started from scratch. This might be the reason why the new trilogy feels like a patchwork of competing visions. If Johnson tried to subvert Abrams' original story, will Abrams now try to undo that subversion, now that he's back in charge? This could get ugly.
Billy Dee Williams is back as Lando
Abrams is bringing back Billy Dee Williams to reprise the role of Lando Calrissian. And not a moment too soon; we're quickly running out of classic characters who can make meaningful cameos. Han Solo died in VII. Luke Skywalker died in VIII. Carrie Fisher died before she could film her scenes as Leia in Episode IX.
So much of Star Wars is based on echoes and allusions to the past. And seeing familiar faces might give this trilogy the emotional conclusion that it needs.
According to a Reddit user who claimed to be an Episode IX extra, Naomi Ackie will be joining the cast in an extended role. It was recently revealed that her character's name is actually Jannah, but she could be Lando's daughter.
This makes a lot of sense; Star Wars has always been a story about families and one generation either following, or not following, in the footsteps of the prior one.
Last Jedi fans might be disappointed though. Johnson took great effort in The Last Jedi to "free" Star Wars from the restrictions of being a "Skywalker saga," If true, this decision might set those efforts back. Many will see this as a course correction. But other might view this as a regression, that makes the Star Wars universe smaller than it ought to be.
Picking up old plotlines
Now that Abrams is directing the film, lots of plotlines, which were apparently ditched by Johnson, could be back in play. He could easily retcon Rey's lineage; Episode IX could explain that Rey is actually descended from Obi-Wan or a great Jedi warrior, but Kylo told her the opposite in The Last Jedi to play on her insecurities.
We could get a resolution to the Finn and Rey romantic tension, though this might be tricky, since Rose is in love with Finn.
It'll be interesting to see how Abrams responds to characters that he had no part in creating, and whether he restores his old characters to their original trajectories.
Sidekick for BB-8?
The site Making Star Wars is a hotbed for Star Wars leaks and rumors. And a recent report on the site says that in the new film, BB-8 will be getting a sidekick droid that will look up to and follow him.
At Star Wars Celebration, Disney revealed the new droid character in full: Its name is D-0, and it resembles an extremely cute robot dog.
Could this work? It's all in the delivery and presentation. BB-8 was very well-received by the fandom, and a smaller, younger droid might recreate some of the chemistry we see between C-3PO and R2-D2, especially if the saga continues beyond IX. So long as Abrams focuses more on characterization than gags or cutesy humor, it'll be fine.
Repaired Kylo helmet?
The same on-set report states that Kylo Ren will be wearing a helmet in this new film, even though he took it off and smashed it in The Last Jedi. In recent trailers, we see him in the process of re-forging his previously destroyed helmet--the real question is why.
A brand new planet: Batuu
The planet of Batuu is now a part of the Disneyland and Disney World "Star Tours" attractions and the setting for the new Galaxy's Edge theme park lands in both Disneyland and Disney World. This might mean that Batuu will play pivotal role in the new film, slated to release the same year. According to the Disney Parks official blog:
"This remote outpost on the galaxy’s edge was once a busy crossroads along the old sub-lightspeed trade routes, but its prominence was bypassed by the rise of hyperspace travel. Now home to those who prefer to stay out of the mainstream, it has become a thriving port for smugglers, rogue traders and adventurers traveling between the frontier and uncharted space. It’s also a convenient safe haven for those intent on avoiding the expanding reach of the First Order. While Batuu may be new to us, it is clearly already familiar to many characters from the Star Wars saga as a stepping off point for epic adventures."
Carrie Fisher is back as Leia Organa
After a good amount of vacillating back and forth, Abrams has confirmed that yes, Carrie Fisher will be making an appearance in Episode IX via unused footage from her Force Awakens appearance. Abrams was granted permission by Fisher's daughter, and said in a statement that he has "found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia."
Palpatine is back
At Star Wars Celebration, Disney revealed that Emperor Palpatine--AKA Darth Sidious--will somehow return in Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. We're not yet sure how (or why), but we have our theories.
The Knights of Ren
These mysterious followers of Kylo Ren featured very briefly in The Force Awakens, during one of Rey's visions. It has been confirmed that they will appear once more in The Rise of Skywalker, in what could be a much more prominent role. An on-set image shows several of these masked villains on the set in Jordan, which is being used as a location for the planet Pasaana.
You can now snatch up the Knights of Ren in Lego form, just to get a closer (and more geometric) look at their designs.
New planets: Pasaana and Kijimi
These new planets were revealed in a Vanity Fair article. Pasaana is the desert world seen at the start of the first Rise of Skywalker trailer, and these scenes were filmed in Jordan's Wadi Rum desert. We know from the trailer that Rey confronts Kylo in his Fighter on this world, and that the Knights of Ren will also appear at some stage. The natives of the planet are known as the Aki-Aki.
Kijimi is described as a "snow-dusted world." Keri Russell's character, a masked villain called Zorri Bliss, hangs out in the Thieves' Quarter there, which sounds like a Mos Eisley-esque location.
New villains: Zorri Bliss and Allegiant General Pryde
Zorri Bliss is a masked villain played by Keri Russell. Little is known about her at this stage, but she appears on the planet Kijimi. The only thing that Russell has revealed in advance is that she has "the coolest costume." And now we've seen the images, we can agree. Additionally, the Vanity Fair article gives a bit more information about her: "Her mask helps Bliss disguise both her identity and motives--a useful feature for anyone who might want to blend in at a shady cantina or the Thieves' Quarter of Kijimi."
Allegiant General Pryde is a First Order leader, played by Richard E. Grant. He's the father of General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and Vanity Fair asks some intriguing questions about their relationship: "Will [Hux] be taking orders from Grant's character, or is there anti-Kylo mutiny brewing with this new Allegiant General?"
New creatures: Aki-Aki and Orbaks
This wouldn't be a Star Wars movie without some alien creatures, and we know about two new races. The Aki-Aki are the inhabitants of the desert planet Pasaana; they wear colourful flowing robes, have bug-like eyes, and tentacle-like protrusions over their mouths.
Orbaks, meanwhile, are large tusked creatures used for riding. In the movie, Finn and new character Jannah use them to charge against First Order forces.
Rey and Kylo's "complicated" relationship will be explored
Screenwriter Chris Terrio confirmed in an interview with Empire UK that we'll definitely be seeing plenty more of Kylo Ren and Rey's mysterious connection explored during The Rise of Skywalker.
Terrio said they "[...] tried to pick up that complicated relationship that really has been present ever since the interrogation in ‘Episode VII.’ When Ren takes off his mask, there’s a nakedness about him with Rey that he doesn’t express to anyone else. [The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson] developed that in fascinating ways and we’ve been able to develop it even further."
Leia's Original Role
In an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Todd Fisher, Carrie Fisher's brother, revealed that originally, his sister would have been the "Last Jedi"--complete with her own lightsaber--and a focal point of the final movie.
He also gave more details about the leftover Force Awakens footage that Leia does appear in, which was reappropriated into the new film. Apparently Abrams had 8 minutes of old footage to work with, which he "reverse-engineered" into the movie.
Training Grounds: Ajan Kloss
In the final trailer, we see a jungle planet where the Resistance is apparently bunkered, and we see Rey training in the same environment. Later in the trailer, it appears that there's a battle going on in this location; perhaps the First Order found it?
We learned the name of this new location from (of all things!) a new Star Wars-themed Monopoly board. Its name is Ajan Kloss.
We know that at some point, based on the D23 teaser, that we will see a Dark Force Rey, complete with a red, double lightsaber. It doesn't mean, however, that Rey will turn; it could be a mental sequence (like the one with Luke in the cave in Empire Strikes Back) where Rey has to battle a twisted version of herself.
Luke will appear (in voice form at least)
Luke may be dead, but many suspected that he would appear in the final movie, either as a blue ghost or a disembodied voice. The final trailer confirms that at the very least, Mark Hamill did a voiceover for the new film. He tells Rey, "Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi."
Locations from the original trilogy will factor in
Along with the return of Palpatine, we see detailed shots in the final trailer of the second Death Star's remains, which are apparently submerged on a water planet. Most evocatively, we see a clip of Kylo Ren and Rey confronting each other in the ruins of Palpatine's throne room from Return of the Jedi.
Return of Imperial Ships
The First Order were the main villains of Episode VII and Episode VIII, composed of the Galactic Empire's loyalists and devotees. But it seems, based on the final trailer, that there are additional, hidden remnants of the original Imperial forces; we see massive Imperial Star Destroyers rising out of ice and preparing for battle.