The time has finally come for fans to learn the title of the last Star Wars movie in the newest trilogy. First came Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens, then came Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi, and it's now official that Star Wars: Episode IX will be titled The Rise of Skywalker.
The news was announced on Friday, April 12, at the Star Wars: Episode IX panel at the 2019 Star Wars Celebration in Chicago. Director J.J. Abrams was on hand to reveal the news, via a short teaser trailer, as was Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy. While they naturally, kept many details about the film under wraps — though Abrams did note that Episode IX doesn't pick up immediately where The Force Awakens left off — the director did explain that it was an "adventure" that all of the characters go on together.
"This movie is about this new generation and what they've inherited — the light and the dark — and asking the question, 'As they face the greatest evil, are they prepared? Are they ready?'" Abrams said. However, both he and Kennedy noted that since the film is a culmination of the "Skywalker saga," it was important that it felt strongly connected to George Lucas' original trilogy.
"In addition to being the end of three trilogies, it also needs to work as its own movie, and that's been part of the the fun of it and part of the challenge of it," Abrams said. "It's been really incredible to look at this thing that George created and bring it to an end in this way, about this new generation."
Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger recently confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg Television that Episode IX would be movie in which "the Skywalker saga comes to an end." Though he stressed that this does not mean the end of Star Wars films, it does still mark a significant shift in storytelling for the franchise. After all, the Skywalker family has inspired three blockbuster trilogies, inspired countless books, adaptations, fan fictions, and more.
Furthermore, Iger revealed that though there are Star Wars television shows in the works for the Disney+ streaming service, Episode IX will be the last film in the franchise for a while. "There are movies in development, but we have not announced them," Iger said, later adding, "We will take a pause, some time, and reset ... There will be other Stars Wars movies, but there will be a bit of a hiatus."
Despite the fact that Abrams and Kennedy stated several times that Episode IX is the end of the Skywalker Saga, once the film's title was released, fans naturally began assuming that The Rise of Skywalker means that Mark Hamill's iconic character isn't actually dead, as he appeared to be in The Last Jedi. Of course, considering the fact that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is Leia's son — and Luke's nephew — some fans have posited that it could hint at a redemption arc for the series' villain, while others think it could mean that Rey (Daisy Ridley) is taking over Luke's legacy as a legendary Jedi. At the very least, the tiny hints given at the panel will have people excited through the film's winter release:
In the meantime, Episode IX seems to be a great way to celebrate the end of the Skywalker Saga, as Abrams and the cast continued to tease that the film will bring the new generation of the Resistance together for one giant adventure. And that includes Princess Leia, who will be a major part of the film, thanks to some unused footage of the late Carrie Fisher that Abrams repurposed. "The idea of having a CG character was off the table," the director explained of how they decided to honor the legacy of both the character and actress.
The panel also introduced fans to the newest Star Wars cast member, Naomi Ackie, who revealed her character's name for the very first time. "Her name is Jannah," Ackie announced. "All I can really say is that the original group are going on this epic, epic adventure together and I am really excited about where Janna crosses paths with them." Ackie also danced around the long-standing rumor that Jannah is Lando Calrissian's daughter, noting with a laugh that "Lando is a very charming man. He could have children all over the universe. That's all I'm saying."
Clearly, there's still plenty more adventure and excitement ahead for the members of the Resistance, when The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20, 2019.
Additional reporting by Olivia Truffaut-Wong.