While Star Wars: The Last Jedi wanted to let the past die, the cast announcement for Star Wars 9 seems to be bringing back the old guard — including Carrie Fisher, who passed away in 2016, and Mark Hamill, whose character died in the previous movie. However, audiences shouldn't expect the story to undo Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Rian Johnson's Star Wars 8 received mixed responses, even prompting a petition to have the film remade and a boycott of the next Star Wars film, Solo: A Star Wars Story. While the petition and the boycott represent a small faction of the Star Wars fanbase — it's likely that the boycott did not significantly affect Solo's performance at the box office — The Last Jedi is still perceived as a more divisive film than previous Disney-Lucasfilm productions like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Will Star Wars 9 turn opinion around? Either way, the story it's set to tell isn't a case of aggressive course correction or bowing to fan demands; it seems that the final chapter of the sequel trilogy always planned to include these original characters, with no collapse in the discourse changing J.J. Abrams' plan.
- This Page: Who Is Returning — And How?
- Page 2: The Last Jedi Backlash Hasn't Changed Episode IX
Who Is Returning — And How?
Three major characters from the original trilogy will return in Star Wars 9: Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, and Lando Calrissian. Fans have waited for Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, to reprise his role in the sequel trilogy. As such, his appearance in Episode IX felt inevitable, especially given the limited roles that other original trilogy characters would play. The other two returners for Episode IX, though, are surprising for markedly different reasons.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi left Leia a key part of the continuing story, but the untimely death of Carrie Fisher called into question whether or not the character could return and in what capacity. Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher's 1977 likeness were recreated using CGI for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, but the technology generated mixed responses, and the suggestion of recasting Leia was not one fans gravitated towards, no matter how talented the replacement. In the end, Leia will appear in Star Wars 9 still played by Carrie Fisher through the incorporation of previously unused footage from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This solution, which Fisher's brother credits to director J.J. Abrams, will maintain Leia's presence in the film while creating some closure for the character. The size of her role in the film, however, will likely be limited.
Also back is Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker, despite his death at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. However, Luke Skywalker's inclusion in the film doesn't mean that Abrams intends to bring the Jedi Master back from the dead; Star Wars has brought many Jedi Masters back as Force Ghosts, and some Star Wars films, like Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, also include flashback sequences.
While both of these are surprising to varying degrees, both fit within the logic of the franchise as it exists regardless of any dissent from portions of the fanbase. Hamill as a Force Ghost fits with his journey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and Leia was always intended to be a part of Star Wars 9 - they just needed the right route after tragedy struck.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019