It’s Star Wars Celebration once again this weekend, with the Force-related festivities going down at McCormick Place, Chicago. I’ll have more news and round-ups over the course of the weekend, but in the meantime let’s get straight to the lead…
You’ve seen it already, of course. But here, for posterity, is the newly-revealed first teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker.
As a lifelong Star Wars fan conflicted about The Force Awakens and with no desire to watch The Last Jedi again any time soon, I have to say that I’m more intrigued than I ever thought I could be about Episode IX.
There’s a galaxy-spanning adventure vibe on display, fitting in with the rumoured “race for the prize” plot. Kylo Ren looks back to being a pure antagonist once more, as should always have been the case after The Force Awakens. And the return of Darth Sidious… Well, wow.
Rise of the Dark Empire
I doubt it was the plan all along, but bringing Sidious back is a masterstroke. For all the fan theories about Darth Plagueis being Snoke (which would have been awesome), Sidious fits even better.
Imagine that he had learned to cheat death from Plagueis. His evil soul jumps from one host body to another, corrupting each over time. He became Emperor as Palpatine, and would have taken over an insanely powerful Force user in Anakin Skywalker before Mustafar happened. Snoke was a simple placeholder for the corruption of Ben Solo.
Should that, or similar, happen it actually helps the Sequel Trilogy to fit with the saga. The First Order becomes explicable, from existence to aesthetics, as Palpatine would have had the resources to build a hidden army. Snoke is adequately explained; a poor man’s Sidious in every way.
There is precedent from the old Expanded Universe in the form of Dark Empire by Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy (read more about Kennedy’s ace artwork here). The epic comic story revealed that Palpatine survived the Battle of Endor by transferring his soul to a series of clones, eventually growing strong enough to retake control of the Imperial Remnant.
At the end of the story he tried to possess Leia’s unborn child in the belief that it would be the ideal host body; echoing the speculation about Ben Solo.
These are all ideas from hearing Palpatine’s distinctive laugh for a few short seconds, and could be wide of the mark. But then speculation has always been a big part of being a Star Wars fan – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Now we simply wait for more reveals to see how all the pieces fit into place.
Misread, the Prophecy Was?
The only way the above theory jars with the Lucas saga is that Anakin was prophesied to bring balance to the Force. Yet Rebels has already thrown doubt on this reading of the prophecy, as Kenobi’s final words to Maul show.
The newly-announced title of the film, The Rise of Skywalker (unambiguously cool in a goofy Star Wars style, by the way), could mean that after the corruption of Anakin, Rey is the next champion of the Force. Anakin turned to the dark side but still, with the help of Luke, was able to stall Sidious. Now Rey has arisen to finish the job…
There’s a potential story that works for me.
But Lucasfilm know they screwed up with The Last Jedi. The Rise of Skywalker is being whispered about getting the fans back on board, and Abrams is a showman who knows how to give the people what they want. Following the backlash over the last two films I doubt Abrams will trash Leia and Lando in the same way he did Han, in which case the worst of the damage is already done. With that in mind, here’s hoping we get a fun story that finally gives this whole ill-fated adventure some purpose…
With first teaser trailer for The Rise of Skywalker, December just got a lot further away.
The big news isn’t just coming from Celebration…
Bob Iger, outgoing ruler of the House of Mouse, gave a TV interview with Bloomberg yesterday (11th April), covered here on the broadcaster’s site, in which he announced that the Star Wars franchise would be taking a hiatus from cinema screens to instead focus on TV content.
With The Mandalorian, Clone Wars, Resistance and the yet-to-be-named Cassian Andor series all on the slate it’s clear that the small screen is where it’s at for the immediate future of Star Wars.
Of note is that, once again, the Benioff and D.B. Weiss trilogy gets a mention of being in development… whilst the Rian Johnson trilogy does not. To anyone who disagrees that Lucasfilm know they messed up with The Last Jedi – the circumstantial evidence is not on your side.
Iger states that Lucasfilm are being innovative by focusing on TV, but we’ll have to wait and see on that. I’m just hoping for good Star Wars. If it takes a retreat from the franchise’s native medium to achieve that, then so be it.
Star Wars Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker is released on December 20th 2019.