The annual Star Wars Celebration fan event kicked off in Chicago over the weekend, with Friday’s highly anticipated panel for Star Wars: Episode IX revealing the first trailer for the film and its official title.
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Along with delivering the first footage from the film, the title was revealed to be Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker.
The highly trailer concludes with the sound of a cackle that should be familiar to Star Wars fans — the voice of Emperor Palpatine, the villain whose presence spanned nearly every film prior to Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Presumed dead at the end of Episode VI – Return of the Jedi, Palpatine will apparently return in The Rise of Skywalker, as confirmed by a surprise appearance by actor Ian McDiarmid on the event’s stage after the trailer debuted.
The extent of Palpatine’s involvement in The Rise of Skywalker remains unknown, of course, but the revelation of his return caused no small amount of buzz in Star Wars fandom.
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The Rise of Skywalker panel was hosted by late-night talk-show host Stephen Colbert — a well-documented fan of the sci-fi saga — and was attended by Star Wars cast and creative teams past and present. As usual with Star Wars events, details beyond what was revealed in the footage were hard to come by, despite near-constant needling from Colbert.
One thing that was confirmed early on, however, is that The Rise of Skywalker does not pick up immediately after the events of Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi, and unfolds an unspecified period of time after the climactic events of the prior film. The panel also hosted a variety of first looks at some of the characters appearing in the film, including new addition Jannah, portrayed by Naomi Ackie.
Among the guests in attendance at the panel who helped to introduce the trailer were director J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, as well as original franchise veterans Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian). Modern trilogy stars Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), and Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca) were also present, along with Rise of Skywalker newcomer Ackie.
Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker will hit theaters December 20.
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