Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker footage hints at a dark future for the last Jedi

Disney previewed all sorts of upcoming projects — both known and newly revealed — during its D23 Expo over the weekend, but one of the biggest surprises might be the fresh footage from Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker that debuted during a panel for the film. That trailer has found its way online, and along with an early peek at some scenes from the film, it also offers one particularly chilling moment that’s likely to generate a lot of speculation.

The “Special Look” video released by Disney begins with a montage of scenes from the original Star Wars trilogy, prequel trilogy, and the modern sequels, leading up to December’s Rise of Skywalker.

Among the highlights in the new footage are scenes featuring a massive fleet of Star Destroyers, several shots of Finn (John Boyega) and the rest of the cast together (including the new character, Jannah, played by Naomi Ackie) in various locations, a shot of iconic android C-3PO with red eyes, and a brief scene featuring the late Carrie Fisher as Leia. As previously reported, the scene with Leia was repurposed from footage that wasn’t used in one of the earlier installments.

It’s a whole lot of nostalgia aimed at revving up fans’ emotions ahead of the film’s impending release this December.

Perhaps most intriguing, however, are a set of scenes featuring Rey (Daisy Ridley) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) dueling aboard a hunk of storm-tossed wreckage (possibly the ruins of a Death Star) in the sea. The teaser concludes with an ominous image of Rey in a dark cloak wielding a double-bladed, red lightsaber, a dark and ominous scowl across her face.

She flicks open the saber into a staff similar to the one wielded by Darth Maul in Episode I – The Phantom Menace. Her cloak and red lightsaber are the sort typically worn and wielded by Sith Lords. What does this mean? Could Rey be turning to the dark side in the film’s later moments? Is this one of those Luke-in-the-cave scenes, mirroring the moment he saw himself as Darth Vader on Dagobah?

Only time will tell, but the footage has spurred no shortage of theories about Rey’s fate, and perhaps more importantly, her mysterious lineage. In fact, we’ve got our own theory which could completely explain the scene, and lead to a potentially dark conclusion — or at least a dark moment — in the new film’s plot.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see. And really, that’s part of the fun.

Star Wars: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker premieres December 20, 2019.

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