Star Wars fans, today is the day.
Disney finally released the first trailer for Episode IX today, also revealing the title of the film: The Rise of Skywalker. Before a crowd of thousands at the Star Wars celebration event in Chicago, director J.J. Abrams, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and the cast gave fans the first look at the film, which until today had been kept tightly under wraps.
The trailer begins with the trilogy’s heroine, Rey, gripping her lightsaber in the middle of a desert—mirroring the opening of the very first teaser for Episode VII: The Force Awakens, in which Finn wakes up in the desert.
It also features several new locations and characters, and the return of some old ones, including Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, and General Leia Organa, played by Carrie Fisher. Fisher died in 2016 before the movie was filmed, but Abrams said existing footage of Fisher from previous movies continues Leia’s story.
“No one’s ever really gone,” intones Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in a ghostly voiceover, before the trailer cuts to black and we hear the infamous laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid)—who was (seemingly) killed by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.
During the panel, Abrams divulged that the film doesn’t pick up immediately where the previous film, The Last Jedi, left off. Some time has passed, and the new film has many of the characters banding together on some sort of adventure. Abrams and company provided no further details to host Stephen Colbert’s questions.
Abrams also restated his commitment to using practical sets, shooting on location, and doing as much “in camera” (as opposed to digital rendering) as possible. Judging by the trailer, it appears that promise will hold up. Bringing this massive franchise in for a smooth landing is another thing entirely, however.
The Rise of Skywalker comes out Dec. 20.