We’re just over a month away from the final chapter in Disney’s Star Wars sequel trilogy, which also has the burden of being the epic conclusion to the nine-part Skywalker saga: The Rise of Skywalker. As always, the plot details have been sparse and the trailers have kept things nicely under wraps, so we’ll be going into the movie as fresh as can be.
Still, to drum up excitement for the film, Disney and Lucasfilm have had to reveal a few little pieces of information. So, here are 5 Things That Have Been Confirmed About The Rise Of Skywalker (And 5 Fan Theories).
10 Confirmed: Lando Calrissian and Emperor Palpatine are returning
Following in the grand tradition of Hollywood’s reboots that act as belated sequels, the Star Wars sequel trilogy has been consistently bringing back the older versions of characters that we all know and love from our childhoods: Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Artoo, Threepio, Admiral Ackbar.
In The Rise of Skywalker, they’ll be joined by two more. Lando Calrissian was the first to be confirmed, and then Emperor Palpatine’s unmistakable cackle at the end of the movie’s initial sizzle reel surprised fans with his unexpected return. Billy Dee Williams and Ian McDiarmid, respectively, are reprising their roles in The Rise of Skywalker.
9 Fan theory: Kylo Ren is the Skywalker who will “rise”
Although its reliability is questionable, one leak from the set of The Rise of Skywalker has caught a lot of traction on Reddit, claiming that at some point in the movie, Kylo Ren will be thrown into a deep, possibly even bottomless pit.
Some fans have paired this with a scene in Marvel’s Kylo Ren comic book in which, as a Sith apprentice, he learns how to stop himself mid-air using the Force, and suggested that Kylo Ren will be thrown down the pit, use the Force to stop himself from falling, and fly out of the pit, making him the Skywalker who will “rise,” according to the title. It might be silly if Kylo Ren uses the Force to fly, but at least it would pay off his mother doing the same thing in The Last Jedi.
8 Confirmed: Leia’s scenes are made up of unused Force Awakens footage
J.J. Abrams and co. faced a pretty unique challenge when Carrie Fisher sadly passed away at the end of 2016. She’d finished filming all her scenes for The Last Jedi, but that movie set up Leia for a much larger role in The Rise of Skywalker. Figuring out where to go from there put Abrams in a tough spot. This movie is going to be the last time we ever see Leia Organa.
It needs to conclude her character arc, leave her in a good place, and satisfy the character’s many fans. The Fisher family gave the producers permission to recreate her with CGI if necessary, but in the end, the team decided to give Leia an arc using unused takes from The Force Awakens.
7 Fan theory: Hayden Christensen will appear as Anakin
Star Wars fans are wholeheartedly convinced that Hayden Christensen will make an appearance in The Rise of Skywalker. Whether it’ll be a cameo as a Force ghost or something bigger, Christensen is being hyped for a surprise return.
Everything from Palpatine’s confirmed reappearance to the use of prequel clips in the trailers has been used as evidence pointing to Anakin coming back into the fold. Christensen checked out Disneyland’s new Star Wars-themed “Galaxy’s Edge” installation recently, and posted photos of the lightsaber he created online. He’s also been visiting children’s hospitals with Palpatine actor Ian McDiarmid. Of course, these could just be the actions of a decent, charitable guy who likes theme parks.
6 Confirmed: It’s 155 minutes long
With an announced runtime of 155 minutes, The Rise of Skywalker will be the longest Star Wars movie ever made. However, it’s only the longest by five minutes, as The Last Jedi was 150 minutes long.
The shortest one, funnily enough, was A New Hope at 121 minutes, which is ironic, given that it was the one with the obligation to introduce the world to this oddball galaxy far, far away. The differences in these runtimes, when you think about it, are pretty negligible, so the 155-minute duration of The Rise of Skywalker doesn’t mean much about the quality of the film.
5 Fan theory: The “Skywalkers” will replace the Jedi
This fan theory was posited by director, writer, and noted Star Wars geek Kevin Smith after he visited the set of The Rise of Skywalker. The Last Jedi was all about the Jedi Order being left in the past, so The Rise of Skywalker could be about an entirely new religion, “the Skywalkers,” taking the Jedi’s place.
In Smith’s own words, “The way that Jedi has been used historically in these movies, including in [The Last Jedi]: ‘The last Jedi, the Jedis must end,’ all that s**t. What if that’s it for the Jedis? And perhaps the new religion [is the Skywalkers]?...Like, [Luke] was so f*****g important...to the universe that from then on, they named the order after [him]. They’re all Skywalkers.”
4 Confirmed: J.J. Abrams is directing
After taking on the daunting task of setting up the sequel trilogy with The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams is taking on the even more daunting task of bringing it to a close with The Rise of Skywalker. Colin Trevorrow was initially signed on to direct Episode IX, but he ended up dropping out due to creative differences with Lucasfilm.
This threw Kathleen Kennedy into a tailspin, with a release date to meet and no director to meet it. So, she called on the only man for the job, J.J. Abrams. The mere fact that Abrams would take the job on such short notice is impressive.
3 Fan theory: Mace Windu will return
The last time we saw Mace Windu in the mainline Skywalker saga, he was being blasted out of a window by Anakin with severe scarring on his face from Palpatine’s Force lightning. In the years since, Samuel L. Jackson has suggested that Windu survived the fall, and he even got clearance from George Lucas himself that this was canon.
Ever since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, Jackson has been said he’d be open to returning to his Jedi character, so some fans are expecting him to show up in The Rise of Skywalker. There’s very little likelihood that this will happen, but it would be really fun if it did.
2 Confirmed: It’ll hit theaters on December 20
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is set to be released on December 20. It’s so soon that tickets are already on sale. Both The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi received Christmas releases and they went on to become mega hits, so it makes sense that Disney would want this one to arrive in the holiday season, too.
The movie was originally slated to hit theaters on May 24. However, it lost its director in the middle of pre-production, and Solo: A Star Wars Story bombed at the box office with a summer release, so Disney pushed it back to December 20.
1 Fan theory: Rey will turn to the Dark Side
The latest trailer for The Rise of Skywalker was unveiled at Disney’s D23 Expo, and it was filled with exciting moments like a giant fleet of Star Destroyers silently moving across a dark skyline and C-3PO showing off his new red eyes. The most baffling of the bunch was seeing Rey with a double-bladed lightsaber.
If it turns out to be true and the film ends with Rey turning to the Dark Side, then the trailer spoiled a pivotal twist. If it turns out to just be another vision, then it’ll be bitterly disappointing. On the other hand, Rey has been suggesting a turn to the Dark Side for a while now.