Following the unveiling of a new poster and most of the main cast coming out to wave to the crowd, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and director J.J. Abrams treated the 7,000-strong audience at Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, California to new footage from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Naomi Ackie, Keri Russell, and Billy Dee Williams (along with R2D2, BB-8, and D-0) were all on hand for the new footage, which actually began with a highlight reel culled from the first eight films and featuring shots of all the beloved characters as well as some of the most iconic scenes from each of the movies.
But then the new footage took over, starting with Rey (Ridley), Poe (Isaac), and Finn (Boyega) looking out over a city on the desert planet glimpsed in the film’s first trailer. Some outstanding quick shots followed, including one of a fleet of Resistance fighters followed by a truly epic glimpse of what looked like scores of Star Destroyers amassed in the sky.
Two more shots followed that will undoubtedly be talked about for months: one showcased Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Rey locked in a lightsaber battle atop the ruins of the Death Star in what looks like a storm-tossed body of water. The second — and probably the most contentious — was a shot of Rey, garbed in what looked like a cloak straight out of the shop where Sith Lords get their outfits, as she ignited a red, double-bladed lightsaber that would make Darth Maul himself green with envy.
The ominous voice of a certain Emperor could be heard in the background as well, saying, “Now your journey nears its end.”
And that was it: a minute or so of new footage, designed to leave us wondering what the hell it all means, and sure to fuel speculation — and advance ticket orders — until Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens on December 20, 2019.
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Don Kaye is a Los Angeles-based entertainment journalist and associate editor of Den of Geek. Other current and past outlets include Syfy, United Stations Radio Networks, Fandango, MSN, RollingStone.com and many more. Read more of his work here. Follow him on Twitter @donkaye