As promised, Lucasfilm uploaded the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker D23 Trailer Monday, giving fans their first look at the film since April. With the opening just four short months away, perhaps slightly less, the hype-train for the final Star Wars film begins in earnest. Ever the one for corporate synergy, the Disney-owned Lucasfilm debuted the trailer publicly on ABC’s Good Morning America, then released it on social media platforms. The descriptions of the footage reported over the weekend appear mostly accurate. Though a scene in which Rey tells someone that she has to “go alone” because her mission is “too dangerous,” doesn’t appear.
Our Heroes Together Again for the First Time
One of the objectively regrettable decisions in the past two Star Wars films came from not putting the new “trinity” together in the same adventure. Except for brief moments at the end of both films, Poe, Rey, and Finn (and BB-8, too), haven’t been together. Of course, the amount of the time the original trio spends on-screen in a group is minimal too. Still, fans wanted to see them work as a team on the same caper. Director J.J. Abrams promises that will be the case in this film. Though, eventually Rey will break off from the group for an epic fight with Kylo Ren.
From the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer, we get a better look at the planet where Poe, Finn, and Threepio eventually end up in a skiff, chased by flying Stormtroopers. It appears they are at a celebration of some kind, something like the rave from the Matrix combined with the Hulk party in Thor: Ragnarok. Also, at some point the crew links up with new character Jannah, played by Naomi Ackie, who is a freedom fighter in her own right. We also see a new image of the late Carrie Fisher as General Leia. Her outfit and the background appear to be digitally altered from the Force Awakens, but the performance will be all her.
Those Are Imperial Star Destroyers, Not First Order
One of the most interesting details in the trailer is the multitudinous formation of Imperial Star Destroyers in space. That’s not a typo. Judging by the tops of those ships, these are classic Imperial design Star Destroyers, though they’ve got a red accent along the hull. Is this a “Sith” Fleet of ex-Imperials that hid in the “unknown regions” of the galaxy awaiting the return of Emperor Palpatine? Are they loyal to Kylo Ren or will the First Order and the Resistance find themselves forced to team up against a more sinister threat? The shot of the ships’ undersides seems to show a kind of special cannon on the bottom. Perhaps this is what’s the source of that planetary bombardment in the D23 trailer?
We also see Kylo Ren exiting the TIE Fighter from the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer released during the Episode IX Panel at Star Wars Celebration. This confirms he piloted the craft that tried to run Rey down, but she Jedi-jumped over it with ease. We also see them battling on the remains of the Death Star, while waves crash around them. This might all seem like its from the same, third-act, battle sequence, but these may be separate instances. In fact, Kylo likely wins the battle against Rey because of the other big reveal in the D23 trailer.
Dark Rey and the Dual-Bladed Lightsaber
The biggest shock moment in the Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer comes near the end. As the Emperor’s voice warns that someone’s “journey nears its end,” we see Rey dressed in dark robes, Sith robes. In her hands she holds a dual-bladed lightsaber, which flips open to a staff. This scene likely comes after the fight with Kylo, perhaps in a scene reminiscent of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader in the Emperor’s throne room in Return of the Jedi. The Star Wars site itself called the reveal a “vision” of Rey, but they quickly edited the word to “sight.” It’s doubtful the writer of that list knows details about the film, but perhaps she chose a word that was an accidental spoiler.
It seems unlikely that Rey will go full dark side in this film, so that’s likely part of a head game played by Palpatine. Though, the internet does have some theories about Rey being a clone. The idea of force-sensitive clones is something explored in Star Wars video games, and there is precedent in the canon for it. The far-out theory is that Rey is one of many force-sensitive clones used by the Sith. So, what we’re seeing here isn’t Rey at all but one of her Orphan Black-style ‘sèstras.’ Again, it’s probably just a Palpatine-induced vision, but you never know.
An Epic Conclusion to the Skywalker Saga
The Rise of Skywalker D23 trailer hypes the upcoming film and puts it in context with the rest of the films in the entire Star Wars saga. This movie has a lot of work to do. It must tell a cohesive, unique story that contextualizes and “ends” the story of these new characters. It also has to reference and tie into the larger saga, written over 40 years. It’s a tall order, like Chewbacca tall. Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker will not please everyone, especially with this fanbase. Yet, from the footage we’ve seen so far, this film will do all the Star Wars trilogies justice.
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All images via screengrab
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.