The Force was strong in Chicago this weekend as Star Wars fans from across the galaxy descended on the Windy City to participate in massive fan gathering Star Wars Celebration. This year’s Celebration was jam-packed with five days of panels, star appearances, autograph and photo ops, cosplay, exclusive merchandise, and, of course, big announcements. We were there for it all and bring you the nine biggest pieces of news you need to know about.
1. Star Wars: Episode IX now has an official title, and we have so many questions.
The most anxiously awaited piece of news Star Wars fans have been clamoring for has now been delivered. At a Day Two panel featuring many Episode IX cast members, including Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and John Boyega, we finally learned that the film, the final episode in the Skywalker saga, will be titled The Rise of Skywalker. Cue nonstop speculation for the next eight months. Who is this titular Skywalker? Is it Rey? Kylo Ren? Luke or Anakin resurrected? A new order of Skywalker knights? Only time will tell.
2. The first trailer for The Rise of Skywalker has been released—and people are freaking out.
Like the title, the riveting first trailer brings more questions than answers. We hear Luke’s voice, putting the galaxy’s hope in Rey’s hands, Kylo Ren appears to repair his previously smashed mask, and we even catch a glimpse of the Death Star. “No one is ever really gone,” Luke says, a reassuring sentiment as Rey embraces Leia, but one that becomes far more sinister when the trailer closes with Emperor Palpatine’s unmistakeable laugh.
3. The ride vehicle from one of two Galaxy’s Edge attractions was unveiled.
The centerpiece of the booth promoting Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars-themed land opening May 31 at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and Aug. 29 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, is an actual ride vehicle from Rise of the Resistance, one of the land’s two main attractions. Riders will board a First Order Fleet Transport vehicle, helmed by an Imperial R5 Series Astromech Droid, as they play the part of captive Resistance members on a First Order Star Destroyer.
4. We got a sneak peek at The Mandalorian and it looks old-school awesome.
The first ever Star Wars live-action show, The Mandalorian, will be released on the new Disney Plus streaming service, which launches Nov. 12 and will cost $6.99/month. During the Star Wars Celebration panel, Executive Producers Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni took the stage along with Kathleen Kennedy and stars Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), Gina Carano, and Carl Weathers. Favreau and Filoni kept their cards close but shared a few details about the series, which is set five years after Return of the Jedi. Our favorite? They went old-school with some of the filming techniques, using an actual miniature model for the Mandalorian’s ship, the Razorcrest, as was done in the original trilogy. Fans got a first look at footage, which included clips set in a cantina and outside in a Mos Eisley-esque marketplace complete with Kowakian monkey-lizards, and we spotted bounty hunters that sure looked like 4-LOM and IG-88. Pascal described his character, the Mandalorian, who wears armor similar to Boba Fett’s, as “a mysterious lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy” with “questionable moral character,” and we can’t wait to see what he gets up to.
5. Coca-Cola and Star Wars are teaming up to make sure even the soda in Galaxy’s Edge looks the part.
In what has been a somewhat controversial announcement, Disney shared that they’ve teamed up with longtime-partner Coca-Cola to create customized bottles that will only be available at Galaxy’s Edge. The bottles look like mini droids and the logos are written in Aurebesh, the fictional alphabet used throughout the films. Some hardcore fans eager for total immersion aren’t buying it though. They say if there isn’t Coke in Star Wars, it doesn’t have a place on Batuu, the planet where Galaxy’s Edge is set.
6. We took a first look at the Galaxy’s Edge merch, and we want it all.
Disney’s Imagineers are trying hard to ensure they don’t break the fourth wall in Galaxy’s Edge, so don’t expect to find T-shirts emblazoned with Star Wars logos when you hit the gift shop. New merchandise has been revealed each day of Celebration and it. looks. awesome. Our favorites included X-wing helmets, Wookiee bags, plushes and handmade toys, motion-activated light-up droid headbands that will give even the coolest Mickey ears a run for their money, and an interactive Kowakian money-lizard that works like the shoulder-sitting banshees at Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Personalization is also the name of the game here, with build-your-own droids (even their personalities are customizable), and lightsabers that promise to be far more authentic than the ones we’ve seen in the parks to date.
7. Galaxy’s Edge will be filled with the iconic voices of original actors.
Disney is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Galaxy’s Edge becomes a living, breathing part of the Star Wars universe, and that it remains as true as possible to the films and shows. This is carrying through even to the voices heard in the land. Hondo Ohnaka, a Weequay pirate captain, is currently in possession of the Millennium Falcon as it sits as a focal point within Galaxy’s Edge. The voice of animatronic Hondo, the second most advanced animatronic ever created for Disney Parks (after the Shaman in on Na’vi River Journey in Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) comes courtesy of legendary voice actor Jim Cummings, who also voices the character in The Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels. Disney has tapped Paul Reubens to reprise his role as the voice of Droid RX-24, or simply “Rex,” who originated on Disney’s Star Tours attraction and makes his triumphant return as the DJ at Oga’s Cantina. They even went all the way to Kenya to ensure that Nien Nunb was voiced by original actor Kipsang Rotich. And, because, according to Imagineer Scott Trowbridge, “Not every character that we hear is a character we can see,” Frank Oz will return to give voice to beloved Jedi master Yoda, delivering messages to park guests via the Force.
8. Clone Wars fans are finally getting the closure they need.
Fans of the animated Star Wars series The Clone Wars were thrilled when it was announced the show was getting a surprise final season, after being abruptly canceled in 2013 following Disney’s acquisition of the Star Wars franchise in 2012. The series, which takes place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, is getting 12 more episodes to wrap things up the way supervising director Dave Filoni had always intended, but didn’t get the chance. A new trailer was released yesterday, showing us glimpses of Ahsoka’s reunion with Anakin, who gives back her lightsabers, which now have blue blades instead of green, and teasing the Siege of Mandalore plotline that Filoni meant to end the show with before it was canceled. It’s also safe to assume Darth Maul will play a significant role in closing out the series.
9. So many details about Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order have been revealed.
EA and Respawn Entertainment have given gamers plenty to look forward to, announcing a release date, platforms, and story details for a Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. The single-player game will be released on Nov. 15, 2019 on Xbox One, PS4, and PC via EA Origin, and will be set shortly after Revenge of the Sith. The main character is young Padawan Cal Kestis, played by Cameron Monaghan (Shameless and Gotham), who has survived Order 66 and has plenty of work to do to master his use of the lightsaber and sidestep the Empire and its henchman. Check out the game trailer for a sneak peek.
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Editor in Chief of Better, Brooke Geiger McDonald is a Chicago native and Northwestern University grad with a Master’s in English Literature from King’s College London. She’s worked for O, The Oprah Magazine and Shape magazine, and for various book publishers in London. Back home in Chicago, she’s outnumbered by her husband and two sons, and the four of them are certifiable Disney and Star Wars fanatics, always counting down the days to their next Disney vacation. Her favorite nonprofits to support include organizations focused on environmental conservation and fighting climate change, such as the Environmental Defense Fund and Shedd Aquarium. Follow her on Instagram: @brookegmcdonald