A bunch of new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker details were revealed in Vanity Fair's cover story on the film. 2019 is very much the year of massive finales in pop culture. In April, Avengers: Endgame concluded Marvel's 22-film Infinity Saga; earlier this month, HBO's Game of Thrones wrapped up its eight-season run; and in December, the iconic Skywalker saga will reach its definitive conclusion. The story that began way back in 1977 with the original film is finally ending, making Episode IX one of the biggest cinematic events of the year.
In typical Lucasfilm fashion, much of The Rise of Skywalker remains closely guarded and under wraps. Fans didn't even learn the official title until the trailer debuted during Celebration Chicago. Slowly but surely, however, the studio is peeling back the curtain as they look to generate more hype for their upcoming blockbuster. Today, Vanity Fair dropped their big spread for the film, and though Palpatine wasn't mentioned even once, there were still plenty of nuggets to chew on. Here, we run down the major revelations.
Knights of Ren Confirmed
The Force Awakens referred to Kylo Ren as "master of the Knights of Ren," but they haven't had much of a role in the sequel trilogy. Glimpsed during Rey's Force vision and possibly only alluded to in The Last Jedi, fans have been wondering about the Knights for some time and are desperate to see them in action. One of the photos from the Vanity Fair gallery featured director J.J. Abrams going over a scene with costumed warriors, revealed to be the Knights of Ren. How they fit into the narrative is a mystery, but hopefully they don't follow in the footsteps of Boba Fett and Captain Phasma as underwhelming cool-looking villains.
Keri Russell's Character
Keri Russell, who's worked with Abrams multiple times in the past, is one of several new cast members in The Rise of Skywalker, but at the time that was announced, her character was a secret. It's now been revealed she's playing Zorri Bliss, described only as "the masked scoundrel." Star Wars is obviously no stranger to roguish characters, and it sounds like Zorri is the latest in this line. In her photo, Zorri is in a location known as the Thieves' Quarter.
Richard E. Grant's Character
Oscar-nominee Richard E. Grant is another fresh face to the Star Wars universe, and it's now been confirmed he is playing First Order officer Allegiant General Pryde (which, it should be said, is a perfect name for a Star Wars villain). Further details about him are slim for the time being, but he will help lead the First Order, which lost Supreme Leader Snoke and Captain Phasma in The Last Jedi. He might be working closely with General Hux, so it should be fun to see what Pryde thinks of Kylo Ren. Maybe they'll have a bickering and cantankerous dynamic.
Every Star Wars movie does its part to make the galaxy larger by introducing new plants. The Rise of Skywalker is no different, and there are at least two never-before-seen worlds in the Vanity Fair story. The desert planet that was featured prominently in the trailer is called Pasaana, effectively debunking rumors about a return trip to Tatooine or Jakku (for now, anyway). Scenes for Pasaana were shot in Jordan. There's also a new snow planet named Kijimi, where Zorri Bliss' Thieves' Quarter is.
Ever since audiences first entered the Mos Eisley cantina, they've known the Star Wars galaxy is home to all kinds of aliens and creatures. Usually, these are used to populate environments and backgrounds to make locations like the Canto Bight casino or Maz Kanata's castle appear lived-in. Other times, like with the Ewoks, they can play an integral role in the plot. Time will tell how one of Rise of Skywalker's new additions, the Aki-Aki fit in. They are inhabitants of Pasaana, where a lot of action looks to take place. Maybe the Resistance recruits them to help bolster the forces.
One-Year Time Jump
For a while, it's been assumed there would be some sort of time jump between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, especially considering how the former film ended. John Boyega hinted as much when he first talked about Finn's new look in Episode IX. Vanity Fair did confirm that about a year has taken place since the events of Last Jedi, allowing the heroes to build a strong camaraderie with each other. Oscar Isaac hinted at a shared history between the big three that was developed offscreen, some of which will be depicted in a new canon novel.
Rey's Training Is Almost Complete
In The Force Awakens, Rey began to experiment with her newfound abilities and further developed them in The Last Jedi. Naturally, when the third film in her trilogy picks up, she's close to completing her Force training, though it's unknown what she must do to finish it. In Return of the Jedi, Luke had to confront Darth Vader one last time, so it'll be interesting to see what Rey's task is.
Rey and Kylo Ren's Force Connection
Rey and Kylo have basically been co-protagonists of the sequel trilogy, the yin and yang at the heart of the story. Their dynamic is arguably the most interesting in the new films, and it took a few twists and turns in The Last Jedi. In Vanity Fair's piece, it's teased that their Force connection is deepened in The Rise of Skywalker. It's already been rumored Episode IX will expand one of the movies' new Force abilities, so it wouldn't be surprising to see Rey and Kylo's relationship go in some fascinating directions. Rey seemed to sever their bond when she closed the Falcon ramp in The Last Jedi, but there might be more there.
An End to the Jedi vs. Sith Conflict
Whether it's the Republic vs. Separatists, Rebellion vs. Empire, or Resistance vs. First Order, these galactic wars are a backdrop to the never-ending struggle between the light and dark sides of the Force. The prequels were all about a Sith Lord assuming control of the government and wiping out all the Jedi. With Palpatine back in action and Episode IX the last in the Skywalker Saga, it's going to have to provide a definitive conclusion to the Jedi vs. Sith conflict. Apparently, it takes more than throwing the Emperor down a shaft to permanently end the Sith.
First Order Origins
In the Force Awakens text crawl, it was said the First Order rose from the ashes of the Empire, and that was about the extent of it. This was similar to how the Imperials were handled in A New Hope; audiences didn't know exactly how they came to be, just that they were in charge and evil. But some viewers were hoping for more backstory to flesh out the First Order. It sounds like that's what's in store for The Rise of Skywalker, which is said to explore more of the First Order's origins. One would have to imagine this involves Palpatine and whatever strings he pulled in the background. The Emperor's Contingency Plan from the Aftermath novels could connect to the First Order
C-3PO's Expanded Role
Protocol droid C-3PO uttered the first line in the first Star Wars film and served as a gateway for viewers into the galaxy far, far away. Since then, he's appeared in all of the saga movies, but his role fluctuates. In the sequel trilogy, he's basically been given glorified cameos to keep his perfect attendance record intact, which is disappointing for longtime fans. But The Rise of Skywalker amends this. Anthony Daniels, who has played Threepio from the beginning, has one of his biggest parts in the film, and may oddly enough fill the role of the central legacy character in Episode IX. Daisy Ridley noted she worked with Daniels a lot (C-3PO is seen on the mission to Pasaana) and Daniels teased he will do something that surprises audiences in this one.
Billie Lourd Wanted Scenes With Leia
When Carrie Fisher passed away in 2016, it was a devastating blow for the Star Wars community. Not only was there the tragedy of losing an icon, Abrams had to find a way to end the Skywalker saga without the actress. In lieu of recasting or using CGI to recreate Fisher's likeness, The Rise of Skywalker incorporates old footage of Fisher from the previous movies. When writing dialogue around Leia's scenes, Abrams initially had nothing between Leia and Lieutenant Connix, played by Fisher's daughter Billie Lourd. However, Lourd personally requested she has scenes with her late mother, because she felt it was important to do. It remains to be seen how this all plays out, but it promises to be very emotional.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019