Lucasfilm finally peeled back the curtain on Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, revealing lots of new information during Celebration Chicago. In the build-up to the convention, the mystery box surrounding the film was locked tight, with even the official title kept under wraps until the big day. But now the floodgates are open, and already Episode IX is delivering surprises few people would have predicted a couple of months ago.
Due to the nature of the marketing strategy (the trailer came at the very end of the presentation), director J.J. Abrams and company were somewhat limited with what they could talk about and had to dance their way around certain topics. However, the panel did showcase some cool bits from the upcoming film, and we're going to run them all down here.
Emperor Palpatine Is Back
Other than the title, this was the biggest reveal of the entire panel. Sheev Palpatine, overarching villain of the first two trilogies in the Skywalker saga, is returning for the final chapter. Once again, he will be portrayed by the one and only Ian McDiarmid, who first appeared as the character in 1983's Return of the Jedi. The nature of Palpatine's reemergence is, of course, heavily guarded for now, but all signs point to him being the movie's big bad that must be defeated in order for freedom to truly be restored to the galaxy. It'll be interesting to see how much of Palpatine is showcased in the rest of marketing. Lucasfilm may want to preserve as many of his scenes as possible and rely more on the sequel trilogy's established characters to sell the film.
First Look At Lando Calrissian
Palpatine isn't the only Return of the Jedi character coming back for Episode IX. Last summer, it was confirmed Billy Dee Williams would reprise his iconic role as Lando Calrissian. The actor was among the many on hand for the panel, and Lucasfilm gave fans their first look at the old smoothie from the film. Lando's costume seems heavily inspired by Donald Glover's outfit in spinoff Solo: A Star Wars Story, with the yellow shirt prominently featured. Calrissian also made a brief appearance in the trailer, flying the Millennium Falcon with Chewie.
Sequel Trilogy Heroes Go On A Mission Together
The sequel trilogy gave Star Wars fans plenty of new characters to fall in love with, but unlike Luke, Han and Leia in the original trilogy, this new group hasn't spent much time together. Finn went on separate adventures with Poe and Rey in Force Awakens, and then the trio was separated for much of Last Jedi. During the Rise of Skywalker panel, Abrams confirmed the Resistance heroes would embark on a new mission together, allowing their relationships to further develop and flourish. Part of the Star Wars charm is watching the characters play off each other, so hopefully there's some fun banter and interactions that rank among the best the saga's seen.
The Skywalker Lightsaber Lives
The subject of the trilogy's most infamous plot hole (will it ever be "another time" to ask that good question?), the Skywalker family lightsaber has been a key component of the sequels so far. Of course, during The Last Jedi, the weapon was literally torn into two halves, though Rey was seen at the end keeping both pieces for herself. Fans wondered if Rey would construct a new lightsaber or simply restore the old one, and it looks like it's the latter. During the panel, Daisy Ridley stated that the lightsaber lives, and the trailer footage showed her wielding it. Whether it's fixed at the start of the film or not remains to be seen.