Star Wars Episode IX: What we learned at Star Wars Celebration


Star Wars fans across the galaxy found any way they could to watch the Episode IX panel at Star Wars Celebration Chicago. We have what you need to know.

The roars of the fans at Star Wars Celebration were beyond compare for just the host, Stephen Colbert. Then again, he hosted the Episode IX panel. Anyone else could have hosted, and the roars would have been just as loud.

However, he also got to reveal that he’d been on the Episode IX set before bringing in Kathleen Kennedy and J.J. Abrams to start the panel. There were more seats, though, and throughout the panel, more arrived: Anthony Daniels (whom Colbert called “a physical embodiment of the Force”), R2-D2, Billy Dee Williams, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Kelly Marie Tran, Joonas Suotamo, Naomi Ackie, and BB-8.

Early on in the panel, Abrams had a chance to speak about Carrie Fisher and how to respond to her passing. He called it a “weird miracle” that The Force Awakens‘ filming had scenes that didn’t go used, but could be repurposed.

“The crazy thing is … every day, it hits me that she’s not here, but we’re working with her still. The craziest part is how not crazy it feels,” he said. “Princess Leia lives in this film in a way that is kind of mind-blowing to me.”

He was allowed to say that “some time has gone by” when Episode IX opens, and that it’s “an adventure that the group goes on together.”

A piece of concept art was shown, with Rey, Poe, and Finn standing right by the Millennium Falcon on a jungle-like planet, which Abrams said was from the earlier parts of the film. (Don’t worry: Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO are all there too.)

Daniels also got to yell “The droid fights back!” before getting to talk about his book, which is being announced tomorrow. He wanted the title to be Telling the Odds — which his publishers rejected, but the crowd loved.

When Williams arrived, he declared “Lando never left me!” Abrams also told a story about how everyone reacted to his return to the set. Here’s a look at him in the film:

“I get sick and tired of being accused of betraying Han Solo,” Williams added, talking about Lando’s character, before adding: “Did anyone die?”

Ackie did get to tell her character’s name: Jannah — with a reveal included! Jannah “crosses paths with them — it’s wicked,” Ackie said. However, she didn’t confirm (or deny) that Jannah is Lando’s daughter.

Boyega, meanwhile, also got to reveal a new outfit for Finn. “Finn has just found his footing,” he said. He also emphasized that his outfit finally fits his character. “She gone,” he added about Captain Phasma.

“There’s some form of closure” on the way for Finn as well, “but Phasma? Yeah, she dead.” (However, Finn could not win against Gwendoline Christie’s Brienne of Tarth.) He also got to talk about the shipping of Star Wars, and ended up on a “love pentagon.”

Next up came Isaac, who got to talk a little Poe Dameron. “No one can pilot the Millennium Falcon like Han; however, Poe can literally fly anything,” he answered on his first question.

Our “better Uber driver” also has a new look for Episode IX:

“I think he takes his love for Finn very seriously,” Isaac added about Poe’s joke-cracking, before adding on a serious note of his own: “I think one of the most human things you can do is find the irony and the humanity.”

Before Ridley got to answer a question, the crowd serenaded her with “Happy Birthday.” Her look is all white, and it looks like this, too, comes from early in the film:

“My answer is not the end of the story […] but the lightsaber that Rey inherited from Luke lives,” she said.

As for new Force abilities, she passed the question off to Abrams, who basically didn’t say anything, but it’s “extraordinary.” There was another shot of her wielding a blaster, again appearing to be in the white outfit:

Although Adam Driver didn’t appear, Kylo Ren got a mention in relationship to Rey. “The Kylo and Rey thing, we’ll have to wait and see,” she said. “I think I can confirm there are no more semi-naked Kylos.” Check out the new image of him (wearing clothes):

The love was also poured out for Tran, too. She didn’t get to say anything much about Finn and Rose, but we got to see Rey and Rose together in a new image.

Check out Rose’s new hairstyle!

Abrams also said that “the greatest thing [Rian Johnson did] was casting Kelly Marie.”

Suotamo got to show an image of Chewie together with Rey, even as he thanked Peter Mayhew for his work.

Daniels recalled his wife saying that Wadi Rum, Jordan looked “like Ralph McQuarrie’s paintings,” before Kennedy confirmed that there were roughly three weeks of shooting out there. There’s a new character named Klad, a creature that’s a friend of Chewbacca’s.

BB-8 also has a new droid companion: Dio. Unlike BB-8, the new droid is basically a unicycle, with whistling noises. Rigs and puppeteers were involved in filming the droid, but the one that appeared at Celebration was created just for that.

But before everything wrapped up… there was one more surprise. (Two, if you count the title.) The first teaser is here.

It opens on Rey’s heavy breathing as she stands on a desert planet, holding her lightsaber. “A thousand generations live in you now,” Luke Skywalker says, “but this is your fight.” Enter some sweeping vistas as Kylo Ren pilots his Silencer toward her, only for her to flip over it.

His mask is reforged. Lando returns at the helm of the Millennium Falcon. Rey and Leia hug. “We’ll always be with you. No one’s ever really gone,” Luke says.

And our title?

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Ian McDiarmid appeared specially on the stage afterward to command it be played again.

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Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker debuts December 20.