Breaking down the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker!

At the end of the panel for Star Wars: Episode IX, we got a teaser trailer that is absolutely amazing, and at the end of that we got the official title: The Rise of Skywalker.

The teaser trailer is amazing, and we’re going to break it down shot-by-shot here.  If you missed it, though, check it out below:

Let’s jump in to our breakdown of this exciting first look at the final film in the Skywalker saga.

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The teaser actually opens the same way the Celebration teaser for The Last Jedi did: with nothing but Rey breathing.  In that teaser, though, it cuts to Rey breathing heavily on Ahch-To.  This time, she’s on a desert planet, all alone, wearing her elegant new white robes.  She’s staring at something in the distance, and her hand eventually moves to the lightsaber on her belt.  And it’s actually the same way The Force Awakens teaser opened, too: in that one, it was Finn breathing heavily on the desert planet of Jakku.  So all three teasers for the sequel trilogy films begin with this breathing at the beginning.

We hear the voiceover of Luke Skywalker, saying, “We’ve passed on all we know.  A thousand generations live in you now.  But this is your fight.”  That’s a great line, and it’s not one we have heard before.  I have to imagine that this is Force ghost Luke Skywalker talking to Rey (or Ben…) about how this is her fight now.  But I also find it interesting that Luke says “we.”  Who is this “we”?  I think this is an indication that perhaps Luke isn’t the only Force ghost to appear in the film and give instruction… I’ve been hoping for a while to see the Force ghosts of Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Yoda show up alongside Luke to talk with Rey and/or Ben, and I wonder if the “we” means these Jedi Masters who have found out how to live on after death.  That’d be pretty awesome.  These Jedi show up and pass on all they’ve learned, but they can’t get involved – this time, it’s Rey’s fight.  Or Ben’s.  Or both of their’s…

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What planet is this?  We’ve seen three main desert planets in Star Wars – Tatooine, Jakku, and Jedha – and among those three, I think this looks most like Tatooine.  It’s probably not Jedha, since that planet has been largely decimated, and the mountains give the suggestion more of Tatooine.  Conveniently, the clouds cover up the sun(s), so we can’t tell whether there’s one or two.  I think it’d be fitting to return once more to Tatooine, since this film is going to be wrapping up all nine films in the Skywalker saga, so I’m going with that.  It’s also entirely possible that we’ll go to another desert planet altogether, but since we already have three different planets like that, I’m hoping that this is one we’re familiar with.

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It’s the Skywalker lightsaber!  This is our first good look at it since it was destroyed in The Last Jedi.  Rey and Kylo Ren tore the lightsaber in two with the Force, but Rey has repaired it.  We don’t actually get much of a look at these repairs, because the top and bottom of the saber weren’t damaged.  You can tell that there’s a black section in the middle of the saber, and that’s where the repairs have happened.  But it’s looking quite nice, and Rey has done a very good job of repairing this iconic lightsaber.

Also, as someone pointed out on Twitter, this shot shows Rey with both Luke’s lightsaber and Han’s blaster.  That’s awesome, and quite meaningful.

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The reason I bring up this card here is that I love how this trailer pays homage to the trailer for The Phantom Menace.  That trailer had the same words appear after the opening shot – “Every generation has a legend…” – then cut to a desert planet (Tatooine), and before long had Anakin Skywalker flying his podracer from left to right across the screen.  This trailer is modeled in much the same way, and I love it.  I also love the message that Rey is this generation’s legend, because she certainly is.

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Much like Anakin Skywalker flew his ship from the left to right on the desert planet in the trailer for TPM, this time it’s Anakin’s grandson, Ben Solo, who flies his ship from right to left on the desert planet in the trailer for TROS.  I love that subtle poetry; it rhymes.  It’s the beginning and the ending of this magnificent nine film saga, so this forms a sort of inclusio in the trailers.

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As the ship approaches Rey, she ignites the saber.  I love this shot, of Rey standing all alone with lightsaber drawn awaiting the fast approaching ship.

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Rey readies for attack.

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This is our first clue as to who is piloting the ship, and the gloved hands along with the ship style strongly suggests that this is Kylo Ren.

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Rey looks back at the approaching ship.

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As the ship gets closer, Rey takes off in a sprint, lightsaber ignited.  This is a beautiful landscape shot as we see the desert surrounding, the clouds, and Rey running with the TIE approaching.

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Here’s a shot of Rey running, with the TIE even closer, and from a different angle.  This one is head on, and the TIE is almost upon her…

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In an awesome sequence, Rey flips up in the air backward over the TIE.  This scene certainly seems to look like a fight sequence between Rey and Kylo Ren, one-on-one on this desert planet.  If that’s the case – and it’s certainly the most natural take – then I’m sure this will be pretty awesome.  I also wonder whether Kylo might not be flying to fight Rey but might be on his way somewhere else, and Rey uses this move to catch him.  Others have wondered, based on the fact that Kylo isn’t firing at Rey, whether this actually might be a part of a training sequence in which Kylo is training with Rey, which would obviously be a very different feel.  What do you think?

We also get a shot at Kylo’s ship, which appears to be a new one.  The wings look pretty much identical to his TIE Silencer, but the red on the cockpit of the ship is clearly different.  So it’s probably a new ship, but at the very least the Silencer got some new modifications.

Regardless, the main thing here is how absolutely epic this sequence is.  Rey is awesome.

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After the “This Christmas” card, we switch scenes altogether.  We go from a bright desert planet in the middle of the day to a dark planet in the middle of the night.  We see the landscape is very rocky and mountainous and cloudy, and we see a transport arriving at a village hidden in the midst of this planet.  Based on the look of this ship, I think this is probably the Resistance arriving – perhaps Finn and Poe, maybe?

Also, the music that begins here is such a wonderful touch to the trailer: it’s Leia’s theme.  Knowing that this film was supposed to feature Leia significantly, and knowing that Carrie Fisher will still have a presence in the film, and all of the emotion that comes with seeing Carrie on screen again, playing Leia’s theme throughout this trailer is such a beautiful decision.

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And there’s Kylo Ren!  We caught a glimpse of his gloves earlier, but here he is in all his glory, charging someone and wielding his red lightsaber in a forest setting that has a red glow.  It’s a very interesting atmosphere, and I’m not sure where it is.  The planet looks to be on fire, though, and Kylo is clearly with stormtroopers in this fight.

But one additional thing that comes up is this: who is the person that Kylo slams to the ground?  It could very well be a villager of some yet unknown planet, or it could be a Resistance fighter in a different outfit… but there’s one other option that I’ve considered.  The outfit of this figure looks very similar to the outfit of some of the Knights of Ren when we got a glimpse of them in The Force Awakens.  I’m not sure if it’s them, but… it’s possible.  Either way, Kylo is being awesome and is in the midst of the fight.

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One thing I also like about that previous sequence is that it confirms that Kylo Ren won’t be in his mask for the entire film.  We had heard reports that he repairs the mask, and that is confirmed here, but Adam Driver is too spectacular to cover up his face all the time.  So I’m happy that he’ll be without the mask at least at times, and I’m hoping it’s more than he’s masked.

Anyway, though, we get a look at the mask being repaired.  He destroyed the mask in TLJ after Snoke’s mocking, but he has it repaired and wears a remodeled mask, with the pieces held together by a glowing red material.  Also note that the hands working to repair Kylo’s helmet are quite hairy, which would seem to confirm previous reports that monkey-like creatures are the ones who actually repair the helmet for the First Order’s new Supreme Leader.

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Finn and Poe Dameron are back together in this one, and that’s great news for audiences everywhere.  They had great chemistry in TFA, and so I’m happy that they’ll be together in this one.  Here they are on a rocky planet (I’m not sure if it’s the same one Rey is on in the opening of this teaser or not), and note that Finn has Rey’s staff.

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BB-8 and his new buddy, DO!  We got our first look at the new droid in the panel for The Rise of Skywalker, as it rolled out on stage, and then we got a shot of the droid hanging with BB-8 here.

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We cut to the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, as the ship is in hyperspace, and Chewbacca hits at the controls.  But… wait… who is that in the pilot’s seat???

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LANDO!  Billy Dee Williams makes his long awaited return to the Star Wars saga, returning to reprise the role of Lando Calrissian for the first time in a live-action project since 1983’s Return of the Jedi.  I also love how he’s wearing a very similar outfit to the one that Donald Glover wore in Solo, as that’s a very nice connective touch.  He lets out such a joyous laugh here as he pilots his beloved ship, and I’m sure this is going to be an amazingly emotional moment in the film when he boards the ship once again.  Here he is flying the ship with Chewbacca, and I actually hope that Lando gets to take the ship once their adventures here are done.

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Here’s an external shot of the Falcon, emerging from hyperspace.  But the teaser cuts away before we can see what planet the ship is approaching.

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On a desert planet (I’m not sure where this is… the mountains kind of look like Jedha pre-Rogue One, but obviously this takes place after Rogue One, so it probably isn’t that planet…), we see speeders in pursuit, firing upon another speeder.  From the dust cloud that arises after one shot, we see another speeder emerge – and it’s clear that it’s a stormtrooper riding on it.  If you look closely, it appears to be a different stormtrooper design.  Also, that tells us that these stormtroopers are the ones doing the pursuing.  But who are they chasing?

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This appears to be our answer!  Poe Dameron is piloting a skiff-like speeder, with Finn and C-3PO also along for the ride – and they’re being fired upon.  It looks like our heroes are fleeing from the stormtroopers.  Also, I’m glad to see that 3PO is back in the midst of the action for this film.  I think he’s going to have a significant role in this final film of the saga, considering the reports we’ve heard, the trailer, and Anthony Daniels’s presence at the panel.  I think we’ll see a lot of 3PO, and that’s a good thing.  The iconic droids haven’t had a major role in the sequel trilogy so far, and while R2-D2 is quite noticeably absent from this trailer, 3PO definitely isn’t.  Here, he clings on for dear life as Poe and Finn flee from stormtroopers.  One can only imagine what 3PO is saying at this moment…

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I’ll be honest: I don’t know what this shot is of, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus yet amongst Star Wars fans either.  Here’s what we do know: we see an A-Wing flying in a very quick shot of a battle.  So it’s great to see an A-Wing once again, even though it’s hard to tell if it’s an updated model or not.  But where the real speculation has come is from the barely-recognizable ship in the background.  Parts of the ship appear to resemble an Imperial-class Star Destroyer, but the red markings on the ship in the latter portion of the shot very much resemble a Venator-class Star Destroyer.  That’s obviously a very significant difference.  The most logical explanation is that it’s not a Venator, so we’ll go with that… but the red markings are indeed quite curious.  One other thing that I’ve seen people wondering is if this is actually the Battle of Jakku, which would be shown in a flashback glimpse.  That’d definitely be very cool to see, but I think it’s impossible to tell that from this very quick teaser shot if that even were the case.

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In this shot, we get what looks to be Carrie Fisher’s hands holding a medal.  But it’s not just any medal: that’s the same medal that Leia bestowed upon Luke Skywalker and Han Solo for their bravery in destroying the first Death Star.  Here’s a look at that medal both from A New Hope and then also from the Chewbacca comic (which reveals that Chewie did in fact get a medal):

So here Leia is holding one of those medals, and I’d guess that it’s Han’s (that makes the most sense to me).  That means that this shot will carry with it a lot of nostalgia, for sure, and it will probably include a somber moment of reflection for Leia too.

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LEIA!  Our beloved Princess and General embraces Rey in a hug in this shot, and it’s absolutely wonderful to see Carrie Fisher in this trailer.  It looks to be from early in the film (because in the panel an image was shared from a similar-looking planet and J.J. Abrams said it was from the beginning of the movie), so I wonder if it could be the two saying goodbye for a time as Rey heads off on a mission?

Either way, I want to take a moment to point out the tremendous work of ILM and the others working on The Rise of Skywalker for a moment.  I’m pretty sure that this is from the moment where Rey and Leia embrace at the end of The Force Awakens, and so obviously the background is changed, as is Rey’s outfit (you can see she’s wearing the white robes and has a hood here).  If you didn’t know that, you wouldn’t think twice about this shot.  This looks like amazing work by ILM, and I can’t wait to see what else they’re able to do with Leia’s scenes in this film.

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As the two heroines embrace, a tear rolls down Rey’s cheek.  So in other words, the same thing that will happen to Star Wars fans when they watch this scene.

Also worth noting is that while we see Leia and Rey embracing, we once again hear a voiceover from Luke Skywalker, saying, “We’ll always be with you.”  Once again, note that Luke uses “we” here.

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Here’s a money shot, as our heroes are all assembled.  Rey, Finn, Poe, Chewbacca, C-3PO, BB-8, and DO all are gathered on this grassy plain looking at something.  We’ll get to what they’re looking at in just a moment (it’s epic), but don’t just skip past this image, because it’s awesome to see the main heroes all together.  J.J. Abrams said at the panel that the heroes are on an adventure together in this film, and we see them all together here.  I can’t wait to see the chemistry that these heroes have together.

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So here’s what they’re looking at: the ruins of the Death Star!  They stand on this grassy plain overlooking a choppy sea, and the ruins of the Death Star sit in the water.  You can clearly make out the shattered remnants of the dish for the superlaser.  It makes sense: when the Death Star is destroyed, it has to go somewhere, doesn’t it?  So it makes sense that the ruins of the destroyed battle station would have fallen onto some planet… but which planet?  That really depends upon whether this is the first Death Star or the Second Death Star, but I’m almost certain that it’s the latter.  So this planet is probably either the Forest Moon of Endor (seen in Return of the Jedi), or Endor itself.  I’d be inclined to guess that it’s the Moon, but we’ll have to see.  The terrain doesn’t exactly look like what we’re used to, but then again, a freaking Death Star would have crashed to the surface, which surely alters some things.

It should be noted also that the idea of returning to the ruins of the Death Star is nothing new for the sequel trilogy and J.J. Abrams.  Take a look at this page from “The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens” by Phil Szostak, which features concept art from TFA as the crew worked on introducing us to the sequel trilogy.

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You can see that they clearly had the idea at some point during the concept art of returning to the Death Star ruins.  Whether or not that was ever seriously considered by J.J. Abrams for TFA or not, I’d guess that those ideas were planted and returned to for this film.  So this idea is nothing new.  But it’s still really cool to see.

I’m also curious as to what Rey is holding.  You can tell that she’s holding what looks to be a bag of sorts, but is it really?  And if so, then what’s in the bag?  She’s clearly there for a purpose.

As the camera continues to pan over the ruins of the Second Death Star, we hear a familiar line from Luke Skywalker: “No one’s ever really gone.”  In The Last Jedi, he said that to Leia, which was an incredibly touching and heartwarming moment.  Luke Skywalker is never really gone.  He’s a Jedi, and he lives on.  But in this trailer, we get a hint that those words don’t always bring hope… sometimes they bring danger.

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As the teaser cuts to black, we get the incredibly familiar cackle of Ian McDiarmid’s Sheev Palpatine!  PALPATINE IS BACK.  And in case there were any doubt, Ian McDiarmid himself was on stage once the lights came up from the teaser, smiling evilly before he ordered the trailer to be replayed.  This is not a joke: Palpatine is back.

That’s the final thing we get before the trailer cuts to the title card, which reveals the title is The Rise of Skywalker, and it obviously is an epic tease for what’s coming in the film.  We’ll get into how Palpatine might return later, but I want to offer one possibility here that I think is probably most likely: we know that Dark Side users cannot manifest as Force ghosts, but they can sort of ‘haunt’ objects (like Momin does with his mask).  So I wonder if Palpatine can ‘haunt’ the remains of the Death Star?  Of course, J.J. Abrams did tease in the panel that the characters in this film have to face “the greatest evil,” and it would be fitting if it were Palpatine.  And him living again after ROTJ is not new (that happened a lot in the EU), and the seeds have been planted for a while that it could still be the case in canon as well.  So… we’ll have to see, but Palpatine is back!  And that’s shocking.

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So that’s our first look at this film, and I can’t wait!  This teaser is amazing, and there’s plenty more to talk about!  December can’t get here soon enough!

 

 

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