After more than a year, we finally have first-look footage from the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker trailer—and it’s glorious.
The trailer, which debuted at Star Wars Celebration during the Episode IX panel along with the film’s title, stunned the room in Chicago and all the viewers watching around the world. Regardless of whether you’ve already seen it, take a couple of minutes to sit back and enjoy.
As is the nature of teaser trailers, we don’t come out of watching the Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer knowing much more than we did beforehand. But that won’t stop us from trying to piece together some semblance of a story to end the Skywalker saga.
Rey vs. Kylo Ren (with some words from a wise master)
It’s much too soon to know if the opening shot of the trailer is the first time that Rey and Kylo Ren—who Snoke connected with the Force in The Last Jedi—have encountered one another. But she’s more than ready for that fight.
For one, she has a lightsaber with her, which lights up to show a blue blade, although it’s not yet clear if the kyber crystal within it is hers or Luke’s. (“The lightsaber that Rey inherited from Luke lives,” Daisy Ridley cryptically noted at the Episode IX panel.)
We don’t see Kylo Ren’s face (or hear anything, for that matter), but there are enough indicators that it’s him. For one, we catch a close-up of his gloves, and the TIE silencer chasing Rey is quite familiar.
“A thousand generations live in you now, but this is your fight,” Luke tells Rey over a voiceover. And when Kylo Ren comes after her, she’s not only alone—with none of the Resistance within eyesight, she has a game plan. Her attempts to control her breathing seem to indicate as much.
An old (and new) Kylo Ren
Our other main look at Kylo Ren, the new Supreme Leader who we last saw suffer an embarrassing defeat against Luke Skywalker and the Resistance, shows him getting his hands dirty. Even though he’s still in charge of the First Order (as far as we know), he’s not afraid to pull out his lightsaber and throw himself into the fight. But it also looks as though the film is bringing his infamous helmet back (perhaps to embrace Rey’s assessment that he’s a creature in a mask?). We don’t think Kylo himself is working on the mask—the hand is a little too hairy for it to be him—but we’re curious as to why it’s being brought back now.
The Resistance marches onward—with one familiar face
Director J.J. Abrams described the story of The Rise of Skywalker as “an adventure that the group goes on together,” and from the trailer, that much is evident. We see Poe and Finn at the forefront of the Resistance on a desert planet as they’re chased on a speeder and with Rey, Chewbacca, BB-8, and C-3PO as they approach some very iconic wreckage. (More on that in a bit.) One ship travels toward an underwater city.
We don’t get to meet any of the new characters yet apart from a new droid, but we do get reintroduced to an old friend and scoundrel, who is back where he belongs: in the pilot’s seat of the Millennium Falcon. We don’t know how or why Lando is back on his old ship, but we’ve sure missed you.
The emotional gut punch of Leia Organa’s return
Abrams has remained mum on the role that Leia Organa will play, but he did say that he included unused footage of Carrie Fisher from when he filmed The Force Awakens. We got a glimpse of that in the trailer via a moment between Leia and Rey, and even without context, it’s enough to know what it will probably wreck us all.
The Rise of Skywalker‘s ties to the past
The Rise of Skywalker‘s first teaser trailer reminds us that it’s the end of an era for Star Wars, so it’s only fitting that it takes us to where it all began: the Death Star.
Located on an unknown planet, crashing waves separate the Resistance from the wreckage of the ship. It’s likely that the wreckage contains something (and might lead them to travel underwater), but what could it be? Good thing they have someone who knows a thing or two about scavenging to help.
“We’ll always be with you,” Luke says at the end of the trailer. “No one’s ever really gone.”
Immediately following, we hear the sinister laugh of Sheev Palpatine—the Emperor and Darth Sidious himself—to leave us with an uneasy feeling at the end of the trailer. We don’t know what form the Emperor will take in The Rise of Skywalker (the Sith cannot become Force ghosts but have a way of preserving themselves) or if he’ll only be a shadow over the events of the film. But considering the end of the Republic and everything that followed started with him, it’s fitting that he’ll be there in some way at the end of it all.
So what could The Rise of Skywalker mean?
The title’s reveal arrived at the end of the teaser trailer, and like The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, it’s open to interpretation. At the surface level, the title could refer to Luke, Leia, or Kylo Ren/Ben Solo (who is a Skywalker by blood). And if you still hold onto the theory that Rey is a Skywalker, you could loop her in there, too. But Luke’s message to Rey, “A thousand generations live in you now,” could tie into something bigger.
Luke tried to revive the Jedi Order after The Return of the Jedi and failed. What Rey—now the last Jedi—could do to avoid the mistakes Luke once made is by evolving how we look at the Force. For one, she could get rid of the Jedi and Sith labels and frame it differently, perhaps by calling Force users something that embraces the depths of the legend. Like Skywalkers.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters Dec. 20.