Of Teasers and Titles: The Rise of Skywalker

The time has come for the Star Wars fandom to rise  again! (Get it?) We have a teaser trailer and a title for Episode IX! Yup, in December we’ll be enjoying The Rise of Skywalker. I feel well and truly alive again. I was at work this morning when I saw the news and immediately watched the teaser multiple times, despite my boss sitting right next to me. My love knows no bounds! Anyways, have another look at the teaser before joining me below for some analyzing and general hyping.

For me the teaser is split clearly into two sections: the first focusing on a single “scene” with Rey, and the second a more teaser-generic compilation on unrelated shots meant to hype us up but give us no clear idea about the story. The first part of the teaser starts on a dark screen with breathing in the background, something of a staple for the Sequel teasers, before opening up on Rey in a desert landscape. As her breathing quiets she looks focused, prepared, ready. Is she back on Jakku? Is she on Tatooine?! I like the update to her costume, still sticking closely to the design we’re familiar with but with clear additions that make it seem sleeker and more capable. In the distance a TIE Silencer approaches. No hesitation in Rey’s eyes as she faces it, but also no fear. A tracking shot along the desert that speeds up as the TIE Silencer comes audibly closer. Rey lights her lightsaber and turns sharply before gazing back. Note that this is Luke’s lightsaber, which was dramatically broken in The Last Jedi. Did Rey spent the year between the two films fixing it? More importantly, once she’s turned she runs and jumps, executing a flip that had me gasping the first, third and fiftieth time I saw it.

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Be still my beating heart!

This is a very long opening scene for a teaser. It is continuous, focused, and there seems to be no doubt that it is Kylo Ren in that TIE Silencer. So what does it mean? Initially this seemed like an epic confrontation in the making, but the more I watched it, the less confrontational this seems. Rey does not look panicked but she actually turns her back (!) on this seeming threat. Maybe it isn’t Kylo in that ship at all, but the shot of the gloves makes that unlike. If it is, then clearly we’re getting a hint here that Kylo and Rey will join forces in The Rise of Skywalker. The scene cuts off before Rey lands, but to me it seems pretty certain she is hitching a ride on that fighter to wherever they’re going. Or she’s going to stab her lightsaber right through the roof, which I also wouldn’t mind seeing. As the scene takes place, we get the first half of Luke’s voice over.

“We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now. But this is your fight.”

Because of the editing, and the events of The Last Jedi, it does seem that Luke’s monologue is directed completely at Rey. She is the last Jedi, or as close to it as the Galaxy currently has. She is one of the main  player in the Resistance and this opening shot once again established her as a powerhouse of the Force. So does Luke speak to her as a Force ghost, as Obi-Wan did to him? (It is also reminding me of Obi-Wan’s speech to Luke on Tattooine in A New Hope.) Is this a flashback?  We don’t know yet, but with Luke gone, the narrative focus of the saga is utterly on Rey and the other new characters now. This is their fight, removed from what has happened before…. or is it? Before Rey starts to run and before we get the tracking shot, there is a title card:

‘Every generation has a legend’

This had an oddly familiar tone to me, but it wasn’t until @PoeHotDameron (great Twitter handle!)’s Tweet about how this was a title card for the The Phantom Menace trailer that I remembered it. As George Lucas said, it’s like poetry, it rhymes! The Sequel trilogy has tonally rhymed quite well with both the Original and the Prequel trilogies, but this is a very clear call back and no mistake. There are numerous little rhymes and callbacks throughout this trailer which we will get to as we go through it, but this title card is a very clear reminder that all of this is the culmination of what started long ago.

The second part of the teaser, as I like to think of it, starts with a shot following a ship moving through snowy mountains. I don’t have a clear idea of what ship or planet this is, but clearly we’re exploring some new locations. Always exciting to see the Galaxy grow! Next we get to see Kylo Ren doing what he does best, taking done some folks. Now, I have seen some comments here or there that the guy he knocks down is the same as he kills in Rey’s vision in The Force Awakens. Compare for yourselves, I’m not too sure since there’s clearly Storm Troopers in the background, but I think it’s a very interesting idea. We also get another sense of just how strong Kylo is, because he takes that guy down by body slamming him. The next shot also focused on Kylo, or rather on someone fixing his mask. As we all know, Kylo smashed his mask rather badly during an angry outburst in The Last Jedi, shortly after Snoke mocked him for being a little boy hiding behind a mask. With Snoke out of the way, is Kylo returning to his mask? Personally, I don’t think it’s Kylo, those hands look too thin and frail. Perhaps it is someone else, either helping him or hoping to throw him off. We all know how suspicious General Hux is of Kylo after the events of The Last Jedi!

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Then, after all the angst, we get some lighthearted StormPilot, Finn and Poe looking like models against a sandy background. J.J. Abrams made it very clear during the panel at Star Wars Celebration that all our heroes will be united for the first time, on a mission together. But Lucasfilm also knows the fondness and outright love with which Star Wars fans consider both Poe and Finn, so I’m not surprised we get a few shots of them together. Also note, Finn is holding Rey’s staff which I think is very nice. Next we have another cute duo, BB-8 and his new friend, a droid called D-O, as revealed during the panel as well. Does it look kind of like a hair dryer? Yes, but I like it. And then we have another reunited pair, one a lot of people have been wanting to see: Lando and Chewbacca!

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Lando is right back to his old ways, having a grand time in the Millenium Falcon, his laugh filling my heart with warmth. Seeing Billy Dee Williams return makes me very happy, although I wonder how they’re going to explain where he’s been.

And here is our next title card:

‘The saga comes to an end’

The shots preceding this have been a fascinating mix of old and new. There are new locations, new battles and new friends, but also the repairing of what was broken and the returning and reuniting of old friends. The saga is indeed coming to an end, and that doesn’t mean just the Sequel trilogy. All the signs we’re getting is that this is well and truly it for the Skywalker saga. There are going to be a lot of emotional moments. And the last minute or so of the teaser has plenty more of emotion to give.

We’re back on the desert planet that is either Jakku or Tatooine (how many more desert planets does the Galaxy really need?) and things are being blown up. Also, C-3PO has joined the fun and is doing his best not to fall of a speeder flown rather haphazardly by Poe, while Finn  is very much trying to fire back at whoever is chasing them. Then a ship is going down. All the action, all the drama!

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But then comes the true emotional punch of this teaser for me. Leia, softly touching a medallion, similar if not identical to those she gave to Luke and Han at the end of A New Hope. Unused footage for The Last Jedi will be used to give Carrie Fisher’s beloved Princess and General Leia a presence in this film and I just know it will make me and everyone else cry. It makes Rey cry, for starters, as  the next clip shows us Leia cradling Rey, as a tear escapes her. A big focus, apparently, will continue to be on Leia’s mentorship of the new trio and I adore this. She’s our Space Mom after all.

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I’m not ok, I don’t think I’ll ever be.

In the background we hear Luke again:

“We’ll always be with you.”

I have a very strong feeling that the ‘we’ here is him and Leia, same as the ‘we’ in his first phrases earlier in the teaser. Although the reins are now in Rey, Finn and Poe’s hands (and Kylo’s, one assumes), they do so with the backing, knowledge and support of those who came before. The story culminates in them.

The final clip of the teaser starts with the new trio, C-3PO, Chewbacca and BB-8, looking like models. And I can’t help but wonder, where is Rose? She better be doing something important after being wounded in The Last Jedi and they better show us soon. Kelly Marie Tran was an absolute gift in The Last Jedi and being a part of Star Wars hasn’t always been an easy  thing for her. Her presence at the panel calms me somewhat, so I hope we get a glimpse of her soon. (Also, where is R2-D2?) We quickly find out what they’re all so grimly staring at. It’s only the ruins of a Death Star!

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There have been a few Death Stars, two to be precise, and I’m thinking that this one may be the second one from The Return of the Jedi. Why do I think that? Thank you for asking. As they gaze out, we hear Luke one final time.

“No one is ever really gone.”

We’re still in the throws of seeing Leia and seeing our trio united, so it doesn’t seem sinister at all. But then the screen goes black and an unmistakable cackle is heard before the title is revealed. Yup, that’s Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, himself. But wasn’t he dead, you say. Yes, or so we thought. But if no one is ever truly gone, why would he be? This is perhaps the biggest reveal of the teaser, the idea that the past will actively come to haunt our new heroes. It will also be the main thing that has everyone speculating. JJ said in the panel that the heroes will face ‘the greatest evil‘, which could very well be Sidious. Or this is all a ruse to get us excited, only for it to be something different? I’m very curious to see just how they would bring back Sidious after the events of The Return of the Jedi, but I’m absolutely stoked. Finally, of course, we get our new title: The Rise of Skywalker.

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So, that was our teaser. A lot happens here, a lot more than I had expected. The second part of the teaser is pretty straightforward in many ways. Our heroes united, old faces, new faces, faces we love in danger. It is the first part, Luke’s voice over and the end that really make this teaser special. There will be plenty more to say about it in the next few days and weeks and I know other posts are being written as we speak. Here are a few things I’m wondering about that I didn’t quite cover above:

  • JJ mentioned there is a year jump between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker. How will that jump affect our characters? Where will they be when we rejoin them?
  • Does Hux still have a cool steamer/ironing board for his outfit and will we get to see it?
  • Are the rumours of an Anakin Force ghost true? And how would that fit in with a potential appearance by Sidious?
  • Where is my Broom Boy?
  • Someone mentioned that the teaser ends on Kylo’s Theme with a hopeful note. Is our sad boy getting redeemed after all?

Leonie will be writing a more extensive post on the title soon, but just a quick note. I have a sneaking suspicion like many that ‘Skywalker’ will become a title, since we have kind of done away with the Jedi as we know them. The titles of the last movies of each trilogyThe Return of the Jedi and The Revenge of the Sith, have always referred to groups. Is The Rise of Skywalker a hint that we will see a new group of Force users? Personally I’m very excited for that prospect, although it could also hint to a redeeming of Kylo Ren.

What are your thoughts? Is there anything I missed? Are you as excited and thrilled as I am?

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