Few films are as highly anticipated as Star Wars Episode IX - which, thanks to Star Wars Celebration, we now know to be titled The Rise of Skywalker. As the final chapter of the Skywalker Saga, expectations are high for what this film will reveal, what answers it will provide, and what new mysteries and twists viewers can expect along the journey. In addition to our new generation of characters in Rey, Kylo Ren, Finn, Rose, and more, the film will also feature returning faces from the original trilogy like Leia, Lando, and Luke; as well as newcomers to the franchise like Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, and Richard E. Grant.
But as the Episode IX panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago revealed, there's far more in store for the film than even the most perceptive of theories could have predicted - including, most notably, the return of the evil Emperor Palpatine, also known as Darth Sidious. While Palpatine's involvement in the film remains a mystery, there is another big mystery to the film staring fans everywhere right in the face: what the heck does The Rise of Skywalker mean? As Star Wars fans love to solve mysteries, or at least try to, theories have been popping up all over the internet ever since the title was announced.
So, what does The Rise of Skywalker mean? Here are 10 possible answers.
10 It's about the creation of the Skywalker bloodline
With the return of Palpatine in some form to the Skywalker Saga, it's hard to resist the temptation to find a way for the story to tie together full circle - especially with the teaser trailer using some of the same language as the trailer for 1999's The Phantom Menace. One possible theory as to what the title means in terms of the storyline, therefore, has been the idea that Palpatine's role in the overarching saga will be revealed to be far more significant than we already knew.
Namely, some Reddit users are theorizing that The Rise of Skywalker will reveal that Palpatine was directly responsible for the creation of the Skywalker bloodline, beginning with Shmi Skywalker's mystical birth and Anakin's Force conception. It would run the risk of getting into the midichlorians of it all, but it's certainly quite an interesting idea.
9 It's about Kylo as a supremely powerful dark Skywalker
At the end of The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren assumes the role of Supreme Leader of the First Order, positioning him in what was previously the most powerful role a dark side user could have in this new sequel trilogy. While Palpatine's return to the series could complicate that matter, it's certainly possible that a more outlier theory, circulated on Twitter, could be true.
The trailer finds Kylo Ren possibly killing one of his own Knights of Ren in an incredibly violent manner, as well as the repaired helmet he wore in The Force Awakens, now streaked through with vibrant red. Perhaps The Rise of Skywalker refers to Kylo Ren's rise as a dark side Force wielder - the most powerful of them all.
8 It means the return of Anakin Skywalker
With the revelation that Emperor Palpatine will be playing some sort of significant role in The Rise of Skywalker, especially passionate prequel trilogy fans have begun to wonder: is he the only character from the prequels who will be making a return appearance? And, more specifically, could The Rise of Skywalker refer, even, to the sudden return of Anakin Skywalker, most likely in Force ghost form?
It may sound like a long shot, but there are many reasons why this one could be true. Hayden Christensen has been engaging with the fan base more in recent years, attending multiple Star Wars Celebrations. Additionally, Anakin has a powerful link to multiple characters still in the canon: his son Luke, his grandson Ben, and now, his former master, Darth Sidious.
7 It means Luke has become "more powerful than you could possibly imagine"
In A New Hope, Obi-Wan Kenobi warns Darth Vader, "If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine." After falling at the hands of his former student, Obi-Wan becomes one with the Force, returning to the franchise time and again as a Force ghost in order to further mentor his student, Luke Skywalker.
At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker presumably becomes one with the Force, disappearing from the physical plane after overexerting himself in a show of true Force-wielding strength. Perhaps, then, The Rise of Skywalker that the title suggests will involve Luke's triumphant return in the franchise, whether as a Force ghost, or as something else entirely. We don't know how much Mark Hamill will really be in the film, however, so this may be one of the biggest outliers.
6 It means Leia has a bigger role than we know
Luke isn't the only Skywalker who could have a triumphant, heroic narrative in The Rise of Skywalker, however. Leia remains one of our only surviving Skywalkers, and thanks to the remaining footage Lucasfilm had from Carrie Fisher's performances in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it's guaranteed that she will play a key role in the film - and certainly an emotionally charged one, at that.
So maybe, Leia has a much bigger role than cautious estimates have been speculating all along. We didn't get to see very much of Leia during the trailer, or during the panel for that matter. But it's always possible that Leia is our titular Skywalker. Just because she's never been one by name, doesn't mean she isn't a Skywalker, after all.
5 It means Rey becomes a Skywalker, through marriage
The theory that Rey and Kylo Ren could become involved romantically is one that has been circulating ever since The Force Awakens. While initially derided, the relationship known on the internet and in the media as Reylo received one heck of a confidence boost during The Last Jedi, where it became clear that these two are the sequel trilogy's central relationship, and that their dynamic is far more intimate than most relationships we've seen in the saga so far.
If their relationship only progresses further in The Rise of Skywalker, therefore, it's entirely possible that The Rise of Skywalker could refer to Rey becoming a Skywalker - through marriage to a descendant of the Skywalker bloodline. It would also be another way of bringing the series full circle with the prequels, which prominently featured a very dramatic wedding of their own.
4 It means Rey becomes a Skywalker, through a new world order
If Rey doesn't become a Skywalker by marriage, that doesn't mean she still can't become a Skywalker after all. One possibility for how Rey could be the titular Skywalker of The Rise of Skywalker would find Rey embodying a new world order. Symbolically adopted into the lineage of the Skywalkers, whether by Luke's Force ghost or perhaps even by the Force itself, Rey could be the Skywalker for a new generation.
It could also be a name she takes up for herself. Having no family name of her own, given the revelation that her parents were nobodies who abandoned her, Rey could continue trying to craft her own identity - and what better way to do so, than by taking on the legacy of those who instructed her best?
3 It means the Skywalker is a new leader
If Skywalker comes to mean something more symbolic than literal, it's entirely possible that it could be the sequel trilogy's answer to previous titles such as Darth on the dark side of the Force. Perhaps Skywalker, then, will be the new equivalent of Jedi Master, or Jedi Knight. Or maybe it could represent a new, neutral entity - a Supreme Leader who represents the balance that might be struck within the final entry in the saga.
If this is the case, it's still entirely likely that Rey will be the leader that is mentioned, as she is clearly telegraphed as this trilogy's hero, and The Last Jedi's ending perfectly sets up a future in which there are plenty of students of the Force awaiting instruction from the right leader: a Skywalker.
2 It means Kylo Ren will be redeemed, becoming Ben Skywalker
The possibility of Kylo Ren's redemption is one of the most hotly debated topics in all of Star Wars fandom. Some feel that, once he killed the beloved Han Solo, there was no hope for him in the future. Others point out that, in the grand scheme of things, he really hasn't done that much bad to begin with - and certainly not as much as Darth Vader, who was granted redemption in the end, albeit with a hefty price.
But now that it's been revealed that Emperor Palpatine is returning, thereby taking on the role of the sequel trilogy's true Big Bad, it's virtually impossible to imagine a film in which Kylo Ren isn't redeemed. It's entirely possible that Rey and Kylo Ren will be teaming up - light and dark taking on an even more fearsome evil, once and for all. So perhaps The Rise of Skywalker means the redemption of Kylo Ren - and his eventual rebirth as Ben Solo, Ben Organa, or, indeed, Ben Skywalker.
1 It means Skywalker is the new name for all Force users
But arguably the most intriguing of all the potential theories as to what The Rise of Skywalker really means is the one that takes the biggest picture look at the Skywalker Saga as a whole - as well as looking to the future of Star Wars, after the Skywalker journey ends. The prequel trilogy ended with Revenge of the Sith. The original trilogy ended with Return of the Jedi. And now, the sequel trilogy is ending with The Rise of Skywalker.
It's entirely possible, based on this pattern, that Skywalker will come to be the new name for the new order of Force users. In the absence of the Jedi and the Sith, there will need to be a new name for the individuals gifted with the Force in the way that Rey and Kylo Ren have been. And the recent novel Thrawn: Alliances by Timothy Zahn even includes the reveal that the Chiss word Ozyly-esehembo, used to refer to Force-sensitive individuals, translates directly to Skywalkers. It doesn't get more convincing than that.