Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 Trailer Breakdown: 18 Story Reveals & Secrets

Star Wars 9 D23 Trailer Breakdown

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker's new trailer reveals a lot of surprising details about the plot, as well as containing a few Easter eggs. Released at D23 Expo 2019, the footage is described as a "sizzle reel" but may as well be the film's second trailer.

The first teaser for Star Wars 9 dropped in April at Star Wars Celebration, showing all the returning characters, a few new ones, and confirming the return of Emperor Palpatine. It had been expected that the D23 footage would be a behind-the-scenes reel as it was for Star Wars: The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, but instead it contained what appears to be finished footage. Of course, irector J.J. Abrams is well-known for his Mystery Box approach to marketing, with trailers always tending to raise a lot more questions than answers - and that certainly the case with the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer.

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Related: Every Star Wars 9 Reveal From the D23 Panel

The new footage is full of moments that have no context at all. Why does Threepio have red eyes? Why are Rey and Kylo Ren dueling on the wreckage of the Death Star on Endor? What's going on with that dark side Rey? Even the audio cues are mysterious. We'll answer all these questions (as best we can) and more in our Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer breakdown.

18. A Thousand Generations Live In Rey

Star Wars 9 Rey A Thousand Generations

Lucasfilm want viewers to understand Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as the final chapter in a trilogy of trilogies. As a result, the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer begins with a stunning montage of scenes from the earlier movies, in release order, building up to the climax. Luke Skywalker's voice repeats words that were heard in the first Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer, that Rey now embodies a thousand generations of Jedi Knights. Rey has been taught by the Force Ghost of Luke Skywalker and by the notes she retrieved from the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To - but possibly by other Force Ghosts, such as Yoda and Obi-Wan.

17. The Core Team

Star Wars 9 Core Team

The Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer moves on to the core team, with Rey, Finn, and Poe standing at the front; Chewbacca and Threepio are behind them. Artoo-Detoo is conspicuously absent, and so far there's been no word on how the plucky Astromech will fit into the film. They're on the desert planet of Pasaana, where Rey was shown training in the first trailer.

16. Pasaana's Inhabitants, The Aki-Aki

Star Wars 9 Pasaana

These are the Aki-Aki, the inhabitants of Pasaana, who were first mentioned by Vanity Fair. Lucasfilm is yet to reveal anything about these distinctive aliens; in fact, until the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer, it had been assumed they would just be background color like the various beings in the Canto Bight casino or Maz Kanata's castle. Their prominence in the trailer suggests they may be more important than that.

Related: Every New Planet Confirmed For Star Wars 9 (So Far)

The shocked expressions on the core team's faces may suggest the Resistance believed Pasaana to be uninhabited when they established a base on it. It's unclear whether this is a normal Aki-Aki settlement, or whether the group have walked in on some sort of celebration.

15. Carrie Fisher As General Leia Organa

Star Wars 9 Leia Organa

Lucasfilm is recycling old, unused footage in order to bring the late Carrie Fisher back as Leia Organa in Star Wars 9, and The Rise of Skywalker's D23 trailer includes one impressive shot of her stood on a jungle planet, likely saying goodbye to Rey (the pair were seen hugging in the same location in the teaser).

This image is a familiar one, originally seen as part of Vanity Fair's Star Wars 9 cover story back in May, and appears to have been taken from a scene towards the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Lucasfilm has added some digital touchups to make Leia look a little older, such as graying her hair along the sides and weathering her skin.

14. The Resistance Forces Gather

Star Wars 9 Resistance Fleet

The Resistance has spent the last year attempting to regroup, and the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer shows their fleet drop out of Hyperspace, ready for battle. Fleet junkies will be thrilled with the shots, which show a wide range of Resistance vehicles; X-Wings, B-Wings, Corellian Corvettes, even a couple of Y-Wings. The fleet appears to be gathering in the upper atmosphere of a planet, given the sunlight and the dust-storm; that's pretty tricky flying, given gravity wells associated with planets interfere with Hyperspace travel.

13. The Resistance Fleet Includes B-Wings


The Resistance fleet includes a number of B-Wings, which could be essential in the battle to come. The B-Wings were developed for the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War; they're relatively poor dogfighters, but they specialize as blockade busters to attack and destroy large capital ships. These are presumably B-Wing Mark IIs, which are even tougher than the first generation. The presence of the ships also acts as another Return of the Jedi parallel; that's when the ships were first introduced.

12. Palpatine's Secret Fleet Revealed?

Star Wars 9 First Order Fleet

The Star Wars 9 D23 trailer moves on to show a massive fleet of Star Destroyers - but it doesn't look to be the First Order. It has been hinted throughout Star Wars canon stories that Palpatine has built up a secret fleet in the Unknown Regions, and these Imperial Star Destroyers appear to be those forces. The ships are subtly different to the ones seen in the original trilogy, with red highlights and giant lasers instead of docking bays (which we'll get to shortly).

Related: Star Wars 9 Confirms The Skywalker Saga Is Sheev Palpatine's Story

At this stage, it's unclear whether Palpatine will prove to be an ally for the First Order, whether he will stage a coup, or whether he will simply unleash this army against everybody. Whatever the case, it looks as though Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker could include the biggest space battle scenes in the franchise's history.

11. Finn and Jannah On The Millennium Falcon

Star Wars 9 Finn and Jannah

The next shot shows Finn and Naomi Ackie's new character, Jannah in the cockpit of an unknown ship, staring out in horror. A lot of the shots in the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer are bereft of context, meaning it's best to be wary of making any assumptions. The trailer's narrative flow leads viewers to believe that the Resistance has jumped into a hostile system where they're confronted with the Imperial fleet; the sequence then seems to imply Finn and Jannah are there, but the editing could be misleading.

10. C-3P0 With Red Eyes

Star Wars 9 Threepio Red Eyes

One of the most shocking moments in the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer for shows C-3P0 with red eyes. No context is provided for this shot, and it's hard to say exactly what's going on here; it certainly gives Threepio a rather sinister feel.

Related: Will Star Wars 9's Plot Mirror Guardians Of The Galaxy 2?

In the old Expanded Universe, a droid with red eyes had typically been hacked into, but it's unclear whether that idea still applies in new Star Wars canon. It could perhaps mean something a little more benign, such as Threepio having been given enhanced processing power for some reason. A potential poster showed Threepio with Chewie's bowcaster, so it's possible this is the lead up to an action sequence.

9. A Death Star Blast Ravages A Planet

Star Wars 9 Death Star Shot

The Star Wars 9 D23 trailer shows a Death Star-type blast shooting an unknown planet. The novelization of Star Wars: The Last Jedi subtly hinted that the First Order had built more superweapons before revealing their existence to the galaxy, with Starkiller Base simply their biggest and most destructive. It's interesting to note that, while the trailer reveals a superweapon equivalent to the Death Star, it doesn't show the mobile battle station itself. There have been rumors that the First Order (or Palpatine) has installed Death Star superlasers into a new type of Star Destroyer (as they did the battering ram in The Last Jedi), and it could be that's what's shown here

8. Rey Continues To Train

Star Wars 9 Rey Trains

The trailers for Star Wars 9 are going to a great deal of effort to ensure viewers are well aware that Rey has spent the last year or so training. Beyond Luke's dialogue, The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer shows Rey practicing with her lightsaber on the same jungle planet General Leia was on. She performs an impressive lightsaber toss, demonstrating far greater skill with the lightsaber than she'd shown in either of the two previous films. That should concern Kylo Ren, given Rey matched him in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

7. Rey's Red Sash Is More Important Than You'd Think

Rey Red Sash

Attentive viewers will notice that Rey is wearing a distinctive red sash. This has never been seen before in Star Wars canon, but it may well have ties to the real world, where there are actual schools that teach lightsaber combat (using glowsticks). A red sash denotes mastery of all forms of lightsaber combat; there's only one step higher, the Paladin. Schools highlight that a wearer of a red sash is aware of all attacks and combinations, skilled at close quarter footwork for attacks and evasion, has a great deal of power and speed, and has instinctive strategic skills.

6. Kylo Ren Lands

Star Wars 9 Kylo Ren

Kylo Ren only briefly appears in the Star Wars 9 D23 trailer, which is largely focused on the heroes. One exception shows that Kylo Ren has landed his TIE Interceptor on an icy plain, and he marches forward, triggering his lightsaber. Notice the flares of lightning, which correspond with the same effect in earlier shots featuring Palpatine's secret fleet. The planet may be Kijimi, a snowy, rocky planet home to the Thieves' Quarter, where other scoundrels, thieves, bounty hunters, and neutral yet morally dubious folk reside. Keri Russell's Zorri Bliss, a new bounty hunter, has been linked to that location. However, it could also be Endor...

5. Rey and Kylo Fight on the Wreckage of the Death Star

Star Wars 9 Rey Kylo Ren Death Star

As revealed in the Star Wars 9 teaser, the film will feature the wreckage of the second Death Star, likely fallen onto either the Forest Moon of Endor (possibly leading to a distinctly less green look). The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer goes a step further and shows Rey and Kylo Ren fighting on a massive piece of the exterior as waves crash around them. Given the high intensity, this probably comes later in the film, making it a hint of not only the final fight in Star Wars 9, but the last lightsaber duel in the main Star Wars Saga. It also suggests that, whatever happens to the two characters, they will still be on opposing sides come the end.

4. Palpatine Speaks

Although Palpatine is confirmed to appear in Star Wars 9, the trailers have avoided giving a glimpse of the Emperor. So far, Palpatine has only appeared on a Star Wars 9 poster released at D23, which repuposed a Hot Toys model rather than using anything from the film. That's led to increasing speculation that something has changed about the Emperor's appearance, something that Lucasfilm is keen to avoid revealing at this stage.

Related: Why Does Star Wars 9’s Emperor Palpatine Look Like A Cartoon?

Still, Ian McDiarmid's voice has now been heard, making the Emperor sound as sinister as ever. "Your journey nears its end," he declares ominously, although it's unclear to whom or quite what he's inferring.

3. Darth Vader's Breathing

Palpatine and Darth Vader's Mask

The Star Wars 9 D23 trailer builds towards its close with another surprise: Palpatine's voice is followed by Darth Vader's very distinctive heavy breathing. The shadow of Darth Vader has loomed over the sequel trilogy; Kylo Ren is obsessed with his grandfather to the point that, in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, he considered himself to be continuing Darth Vader's mission.

This audio cue sets up viewers to believe that Darth Vader has some sort of direct presence in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, although at this stage it's difficult to say what his role would be; and it could simply be a marketing trick.. Exclusive D23 footage showed that Vader's damaged mask makes a return, so at the very least his legend lives on.

2. Will Rey Fall To The Dark Side?

Star Wars 9 Dark Side Rey

The conclusion to the D23 Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer takes a disturbing turn with a shot of what is clearly meant to be an evil Rey. There's long been speculation that Rey could be vulnerable to the lure of the dark side; she appeared to have committed herself to the light at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but that kind of decision is one that a Jedi must mkae every day of their lives. As even Luke Skywalker himself learned to his cost, once you have taken a single footstep down that dark road, you will always be vulnerable.

Related: Star Wars 9 Theory: Why Rey Turns To The Dark Side

The interesting question is whether this is real or not. It wouldn't be out of the question for this to be a Force vision, encouraging Rey to avoid this or else seeing her confront her greatest fear.

1. Rey Wields A Double-Bladed Lightsaber

Star Wars 9 Rey Double Bladed Lightsaber

Rey is shown wielding a remarkable double-bladed lightsaber that starts as two parallel blades and flips to create a staff. At first glance, it appears to be similar to Darth Maul's in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, but the handle is longer and the rotating aspect makes it more similar to lightsabers used by ancient Jedi Temple Guards in Star Wars Rebels.

The red hue is, of course, a universal symbol of the dark side; where Jedi bond with the Kyber inside their lightsabers, Sith dominate it with their own will, and it "bleeds" the crystal to a crimson color. What's most striking here is that the blades crackle similar to Kylo Ren's broken lightsaber, rather than the clean glow of traditional versions. This suggests the weapon is a new creation.

More: Star Wars 9: Everything You Need To Know

Key Release Dates
  • Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019
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