Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker – New Footage Breakdown and Analysis

Some new Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker footage has arrived and it leaves us with plenty of questions. Let's try to answer some...

The patient were rewarded at D23 2019 with a minute of new footage from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. And while everyone was expecting to see something from the movie, as it approaches its December release, no one expected the explosive scenes and shocking twists teased at the expo. There is A LOT to dissect in those 60 seconds, which is why I’ve broken down the sizzle reel for story hints and references to the Star Wars universe at large. 

If you’ve not watched the D23 footage yet, you can check it out below:

Okay, let’s get started…

As revealed earlier this year, the desert planet in The Rise of Skywalker isn’t Tatooine, but a whole new planet called Pasaana. Judging from the first trailer, which shows the heroes on their own separate adventures but together in the desert, I’d guess that Pasaana plays a big role in the first act before the heroes are separated and then brought back together for the third act at the Death Star wreckage? Also, the heroes don’t look as beaten up here as they do in the shots where they’re approaching the remnants of the space station.

Either way, the planet is also the site of some sort of battle or confrontation between the Resistance and the First Order, as seen in the first trailer. You can also see the Millennium Falcon in the background to the right, which tells me that the heroes have come to Pasaana for a specific reason and not just crash landed as Star Wars characters often do on desert planets. 

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Pasaana is the home of a new race of aliens known as the Aki-Aki, which look sort of squid-like and somewhat similar to the Quarren from the water world of Mon Calamari. This looks like one of their villages. 

General Leia Organa, played by the late Carrie Fisher, has been brought back to life by Abrams and the rest of the crew, thanks to unused footage left over from The Force Awakens. Abrams and Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy have both teased that Leia is a big part of The Rise of Skywalker, going as far to say that the movie was originally conceived to have the character front and center after TFA and The Last Jedi focused on Han Solo and Luke Skywalker, respectively. By the look of this shot, which really brings Fisher back to life, Kennedy and Abrams might be able to keep their promise.

The Rise of Skywalker takes place a year after the events of The Last Jedi, which means that Rey has had some time to hone her Force abilities since her time on Ahch-To. Even though she didn’t get to do much training with Luke in the last movie, it looks like she’s been doing just fine teaching herself — not unlike Luke did after leaving Dagobah without completing his training. Rey will be a total badass in this movie. If her backflip over a TIE fighter wasn’t proof enough, here we see her using her lightsaber like a boomerang, cutting through a tree. 

Originally, I thought this was part of some fight sequence against the First Order in the jungle (because you have to nod at Endor in the third act of a Star Wars trilogy), but this actually looks like Rey during a training session. Look at the little combat remote just to the right of the tree. It almost looks like she was trying to hit the little droid, but it dodged the lightsaber at the last second. 

The fact that this looks like the planet Leia is also on — likely the location of the current Resistance base — seems to support the training scenario, too. 

S-foils are locked in attack position, which means this Resistance fleet is about to get into a fight. Lots of ships from the Original Trilogy standing by in this shot: X-wings, A-wings, B-wings, and even the beloved Y-wings, which are making their first Sequel Trilogy appearance! The fighters seem to be escorting a Blockade Runner aka a CR90 Corvette — the first spaceship we ever encountered in the history of Star Wars.

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I can’t really tell what the other frigate-class ship is…I want to say it’s the Ghost from Rebels since the Expanded Universe recently established that Hera Syndulla served as a general in both the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic. What’s to say she didn’t join the Resistance as well? It WOULD be a nice surprise to Hero in live-action finally! Anyway, this may not be the Ghost at all. If you have any guesses, let me know in the comments!

If that little Resistance convoy is actually thinking of taking on this massive fleet of IMPERIAL Star Destroyers (just look at the command towers!), it is seriously screwed. Why are these classic Star Destroyers even out in space and who’s controlling them? The First Order flies its very own, slightly uglier model of Star Destroyer, so it’s surprising to see these iconic ships back in the fight. Have the First Order reverted back to an earlier design or is someone else flying these weapons of mass destruction?

The sheer number of Star Destroyers recalls the Imperial fleet’s formation during the Battle of Endor, which gets me thinking: is this the resurgent Emperor’s personal fleet of killing machines? The way their lined up in perfect formation makes me wonder whether the ships themselves are being controlled by Palpatine through some form of the advanced battle meditation he used during the Battle of Endor? I have no idea, but it would be kind of neat if this movie is going to insist on the Return of the Jedi callbacks anyway.

Finn and newcomer Naomi Ackie’s rebel character, Jannah, are going on some sort of mission together in The Rise of Skywalker. This is the first time we’ve seen Jannah in the footage after first being unveiled in a Vanity Fair cover story a few months back. So who is she? Lucasfilm is keeping that a secret. 

It’s also unclear what ship these two are flying in or where they’re flying to. It looks like a Resistance pilot is flying the ship, which means that this might be some sort of transport. The way the footage is cut, it almost looks like Finn and Jannah are headed towards that fleet of Star Destroyers, but that could be a bit of misdirection. It does look foggy from the cockpit, though. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker C3PO with Red Eyes

Threepio is looking better than…WAIT, why does Threepio have red eyes? And how’d he get his gold arm back? This could be our first look at C-KillPO, who is rumored to use Chewie’s bowcaster at some point in this movie. Did someone unlock kill mode on the usually polite protocol droid? 

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Fans of Marvel’s Darth Vader comic series will surely recall Triple-Zero, a murderous protocol droid who specializes in torture. He also has red eyes…

This is too small to be a Death Star or Starkiller blast, so my guess is that it’s a strike from a First Order Dreadnought’s orbital bombardment cannon. But what did it just blow up? Judging from the snow-dusted mountains, this is likely a strike on Kijimi, the home planet of the Thieves’ Quarter, where the heroes will encounter Keri Russell’s “masked scoundrel” Zorri Bliss. As revealed during D23, Poe and Zorri have a history, which means we should expect the characters to share at least one scene together. It doesn’t look like the they’ll be able to reminisce for long, though…

Alright, all of these scenes are stunning, but it really doesn’t get any better than Rey and Kylo Ren dueling on sinking Death Star scrap. The scale is epic!

Don’t ask me what planet this is because the name has yet to be revealed. My guesses are still Yavin IV or Endor, which are both moons. Those are likely the places that got hit with the most Death Star scrap, right? Abrams loves his nostalgia-makes so let’s say it’s Endor…

DARK REY! Don’t read too much into this. This is totally not what’s going to happen to Rey in the FINAL chapter of the entire Skywalker Saga. You’re kidding yourself if you’re expecting anything other than a happy ending for Rey. So what are you actually looking at in this final, shocking sequence? I wrote more about that here. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives on Dec. 20.

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John Saavedra is an associate editor at Den of Geek. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @johnsjr9 and make sure to check him out on Twitch.