Megan recaps THAT panel where the world was introduced to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Day one of Star Wars Celebration began with a bang. Even before the teaser trailer dropped and everyone knew the name of the final movie in the Skywalker saga The Rise of Skywalker, before the main stars came out, the panel itself was fun. The first person who came out was Stephen Colbert, a shocker as I don’t recall hearing anything about him hosting the panel. Even with that, he was an amazing host at least attempting to ask the hard-hitting questions on behalf of us fans. At one point, he even said that he was acting as the agent for us attempting to do so. It, of course, didn’t really work, but it was at least fun to see him try for us.
The first people Stephen brought out was Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and director of the movie JJ Abrams. They obviously talked about what working on this entire sequel trilogy meant to them. Of it, Kathleen said the thing she thinks most about in regards to this is, “The responsibility we have, and we have it with all of you and it’s something we talk about every minute we’re involved with making these movies and this one in particular”. The responsibility they do have to this entire saga and brand overall. So big is this responsibility that fan reaction to the stand-alone movie Solo, caused the company to slow down their production of future stand-alone movies. In other words, if this movie fails, while it in no way would take down the entire series/saga/company, it would definitely hurt them. This is especially so considering it’s the last story in the Skywalker saga.
In talking about being in the editing phase of the movie, JJ Abrams said despite Carrie Fisher’s tragic passing in 2016 following filming for Episode VIII The Last Jedi, it still feels like he’s working with her due to having so many usable scenes from said movie. Specifically, he said, “It’s surreal that she’s not here. But we’re still working with her every day.” In order to accomplish this, scenes for the final film were written around those she already shot for The Last Jedi. From what little we saw in the teaser trailer shown later in the panel, these scenes look completely natural and like they should fit. Of course, only time will tell for sure. Either way, seeing her in this final film will be a beautiful tribute to everything she’s done both as Princess Leia and herself throughout her life.
Following the introduction of Kathleen and JJ, panel host Stephen brought out everyone’s favorite golden protocol droid C-3PO Anthony Daniels and famed R2 unit, R2-D2. One of the first things this brilliant man who portrayed this just as brilliant, if not annoying at times, protocol droid said was how he saw on Twitter, how much people who couldn’t attend wished they were there. In his own words, Anthony said, “On tweets today, people were, all over the world saying, ‘wish I could be here’ and I know we’re on camera…I want to say to all of you, I want to give you a big wave and say that you are here in spirit”. While I can’t speak for anyone else, this was a beautiful way to really open up the panel before the main cast of the then still untitled Episode IX to begin. What he said really is true. No matter where you are in the world, so long as you’re watching, you are there at Star Wars Celebration in spirit. In some ways, that is even better as you can be comfortable as you want while still getting work done, hanging out with friends having a watch party and more. For more on celebrating Star Wars Celebration from a distance, see my previous post about it here.
Moving on bringing out the main cast, while everyone received applause, Daisy Ridley even had a good portion of the arena singing her happy birthday to help her celebrate, no one got as much of a reaction as Kelly Marie Tran. As she was walking on stage and for about a minute after, fans gave her the standing ovation she deserved after being bullied online so much last year (2018), that she deleted her social media account. For fans, this was the first time they really had to personally show how much they really love and care about her. As loud as the bullies can be, the fans can be even louder. Due to this, Stephen actually had to reign the fans back in just so the panel could continue on schedule. Even without being there, it was an amazing sight to see and something she truly deserved.
Once the main cast had come out and Stephen had gone down the line, he finally reached John Boyega. The first thing Stephen said to John was, “I know there’s very little you can reveal so I will give you a choice. Either tell me what happens to Finn or try to explain Brexit to these people”. To no one’s surprise, the audience could not help but laugh, as given those two choices, which do you pick? They’re both pretty touchy right now. Surprisingly, John replied, “Um, I’ll go with that…Finn”. If were him I would have started with Brexit then played it off as a joke then continued from there, but not doing so was his choice and it was still funny.
Shortly thereafter, a picture of him in his new Resistance uniform was revealed on the screen which the crowd (and myself included), couldn’t help but love. He just looked so official in it. His blue pants looked like they could have been a call back to Han’s blue pants. Basically, it looked like a cool homage to Han, who of course died in Episode VII The Force Awakens at the hand of his son Kylo Ren.
Speaking of Finn, John could not help but touch upon the supposed love affair between him, Rey, Rose, and even Poe. John could not help but turn the love triangle Stephen had brought up between him and the two women into a love square by saying, “If you add Poe in there as well”. At this point Oscar Isaac couldn’t help but jump in and quickly add, “very complicated”, attempting to help John allude to Finn’s possible sexual orientation being gay or even bisexual. I doubt Disney would allow that, but considering they have begun using curse words in their movies (see Incredibles 2), I guess anything is possible. Personally, I would have no problem with it, I just simply don’t see it as something the Disney company would allow to explicitly happen. Implicitly such as in small gestures and the like sure, but not openly.
Now, moving on to I’m sure everyone’s favorite part of the panel, the trailer drop. Rather than an official full-length trailer, this was just teaser for the full thing to come sometime later this year. What a trailer it was though. From Rey on some sort of desert planet with Finn and Poe to the Emperor’s laugh towards the end…it was stunning. Of course, what really made this teaser was the final reveal of the title at the end, The Rise of Skywalker. It was what we as fans had been waiting for throughout the entire panel. What a title that is, The Rise of Skywalker.
While it is said that this the final film in the Skywalker saga, the title makes it seem like there could be more down the road should Lucasfilm chose to do so. Just the word ‘rise’ by itself seems to imply a continuation. The question is, a continuation of what? The few things Luke was able to teach her both as a physical being, then as a Force Ghost combined with what she had learned from the ancient books now stored on the Millenium Falcon? Or could it be referring to Kylo’s return to the light side and his rise as a returned Skywalker for a new generation? The only people to know for now are of course those who were part of it.
My favorite part came at the end though, the Emperor’s laugh. When I first heard it, my initial reaction what What The Force? How, how could he be back? How could he be alive? Then again, if Darth Maul survived being cut in half, I guess anything is possible and anyone could somehow come back. In this final film, it really seems like anything is possible.
Overall, this was a fun panel filled with lots of new information that served as a great way to open up Star Wars Celebration 2019. Even without being there in person, I just about felt the electricity in that room as the teaser trailer played and new information was given to us. It was an entertaining panel that I couldn’t help but laugh at multiple times. Now, I can’t wait to see what the rest of Celebration brings us. Bring it on!
The Future of the Force. The future of pop culture writing.
Image Source: StarWars.com