As the end of a generation-defining saga that has spanned over 40 years draws to its conclusion, fans have been eagerly awaiting new footage of the 9th entry in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, set for release in December this year. At Disney’s D23 expo over the weekend, clamouring fans were treated to a snippet of footage from the new film that, once appearing online on Monday, has been the cause of almighty speculation within the passionate community of hardcore Star Wars fans (myself included). Watch the new teaser trailer here and see for yourselves:
There are not many words that can sum up this saga-spanning footage that will do it justice, but one of them is simply WOW. This beautiful homage to a set of films that have affected the lives of so many creates a poignancy of sorts, making one realise that with Episode IX, the end is truly nigh for these beloved characters and what a journey it has been. However, it’s time to talk about the 40 seconds or so of new footage from The Rise of Skywalker because there really is a lot to unpack.
It opens with a shot of the sequel trilogy’s lead trio: Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) all properly together for the first time, which will undoubtedly be hugely satisfying for fans, but there’s so much more that has caused a stir on social media. Firstly, where on Earth did C-3PO get those red eyes from? Has he turned evil, or just contracted some form of robot conjunctivitis? Secondly, arguably the most visually striking shots of the teaser come in the form of the Millenium Falcon, a band of X-Wings and Resistance ships coming face to face with a terrifying, ominous fleet of old school Star Destroyers, looming menacingly in the space surrounding by vicious crackles of lightning, which follow Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi in really pushing the visual boundaries of Star Wars to wondrous new heights. This equally begs the question: is this a return of the Galactic Empire? Furthermore, the shot of Rey and Adam Driver’s villainous Kylo Ren duelling on what looks to be the debris of the Death Star amongst crashing waves touches on the spectacle and also the absorbing realism of the sequel trilogy, a brilliantly constructed scene where the special effects are so subtle.
Finally, the big one. WHY DOES REY HAVE A DOUBLE-SIDED, RED LIGHTSABER?! Fans have been thrown into mass hysteria following that astonishing shot, accompanied by a voiceover from a presumably returning big bad Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), where people are speculating on a huge variety of possible theories that might account for this trilogy’s hero wielding a weapon most associated with the Sith. Needless to say, the idea of Rey turning to the dark side and the return of such an iconic villain is tantalising and will leave fans salivating for more. Whatever your theory is, however, one thing is for certain: we’ll all know how this journey ends come December and I for one, cannot wait.
Words by Elliott Jones