It’ hard to believe it’s only been four years since Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released. Since then, we’ve had three additional movies of varying quality, as well as some TV ventures, including the recent premiere of The Mandalorian on Disney Plus. Sure, there were some controversies along the way. Yet despite some toxic moments, anticipation for The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the new trilogy, feels just as high as ever.
If The Last Jedi taught us anything, it’s that we should leave our expectations and theories at the door. And yet, that’s not going to stop us from trying to predict what will happen when The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th! Here are 10 predictions for how the Skywalker Saga will end.
10. Leia Will Survive
Carrie Fisher’s tragic passing in 2016 rocked the entertainment world, but it hit Star Wars fans that much harder. After all, the actor was set to be an important part of the new Star Wars trilogy going forward. It was assumed The Last Jedi, released a year after Fisher’s death, would give Leia an emotional sendoff but to the surprise of many, she survived. It was later announced that unused footage of Fisher from The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi would be used to help complete Leia’s story in The Rise of Skywalker … but that doesn’t mean she’s going to be killed off.
For one thing, this would be a difficult emotional needle to thread and one Disney is likely to avoid given the real-world tragedy of Fisher’s death. More importantly, J.J. Abrams has confirmed that Leia’s Rise of Skywalker story was largely unchanged. “We got to tell the story with Leia that we would have told had Carrie lived,” Abrams told Total Film. Even taking the deaths of fellow old guard characters Han Solo and Luke Skywalker into account, it’s hard to see Star Wars sending Leia out in such a fashion. She’ll survive this one, even if it is the last time we see her.
9. Rey’s Parents Will Stay Nobodies
The Last Jedi was both lauded and lambasted for subverting expectations, but its biggest controversy arguably had to do with Rey’s parents. While some loved the reveal that Rey’s parents were nobodies, others saw it as a betrayal. Love it or hate it, the one thing that fans can agree on about this revelation is that it’s far from definitive. After all, Kylo Ren is hardly a trusted source, especially when you take into account that he’s trying to woo Rey to his side when he refers to her parents as “filthy junk traders”.
Indeed, The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson has even admitted there could be more to the story, as The Rise of Skywalker’s writers may decide to undo the big reveal. That being said, it seems more likely that J.J. Abrams and his team will let this one lie; both out of respect for Johnson and because it’s a moot point. Who were Rey’s parents? Who cares! This is her story!
8. Finn Will Recruit From The First Order’s Ranks
Before Finn (John Boyega) came along, stormtroopers were just cannon fodder who couldn’t land a blaster shot to save their lives. They still can’t, of course, but Finn showed that stormtroopers are people too and can make their own choices. His defection led him to the Resistance, which showed him a life free from the First Order’s authoritative regime. Many took issue with Finn’s subplot in The Last Jedi because it felt inconsequential and took screentime away from more interesting storylines. Heck, even Boyega seemed a bit disappointed in how his character was utilized and admits he fought to make Finn more involved in Episode IX.
We know little of what’s in store for Finn other than that he’ll be spending more time with Rey and Poe this time around. Given the Resistance’s need for more troops and Finn’s newly-awakened rebellious spirit, it would make both narrative and thematic sense for him to lead a stormtrooper uprising. Without Captain Phasma to lead them, there’s an opportunity for Finn to recruit from the First Order’s stormtrooper ranks and bring his arc of selfish “traitor” to noble resistance leader to a satisfying conclusion.
7. Dark Rey Is Just A Vision
Lucasfilm knew exactly what it was doing when it included a brief glimpse of “Dark Rey” in The Rise of Skywalker D23 footage. A hooded Rey, wielding a double red lightsaber — what could it all mean? It’s a great mystery box tease from Abrams, as there are about a dozen possible explanations for Rey “breaking bad”. Dark Rey could be a clone. She could be possessed by the Emperor (more on him in a bit). She could be part of a Kylo Ren sex dream (okay, that last one sounds unlikely) But what Abrams and his team probably most want you to believe is that Rey turns to the Dark Side.
This is certainly a possibility, as The Rise of Skywalker could pull a switcheroo on us and have it so Kylo Ren needs to pull Rey away from the Dark Side. However, the theory we’re banking on is that it’s just a vision; a look into what would happen if Rey were to give in to fear and anger. After all, Rey already resisted temptation in The Last Jedi and she’ll be even stronger in this film. This is her Dagobah cave moment, nothing more.
6. Hux Will Try To Overthrow Kylo Ren (And Fail)
Oh, General Hux. As much as he tries to be a Nazi-esque tyrant, he comes across more like a bumbling fool. The man worshipped Snoke and did all he could to appease the Supreme Leader … only for Kylo Ren to chop him in half. What’s an evil sycophant to do?
Take power for himself, of course!
While Hux may be a loyal #2 to Kylo, wouldn’t it be so much more fun to see him try and stage a coup? The film could go down two paths here, either having Hux succeed or bungle the whole thing. Although the latter is the more likely scenario, it would be an interesting development to see Hux take control of the First Order. And right in his moment of triumph, he’ll get to watch it burn down around him. What fun!
5. Harrison Ford Cameo
While Disney’s handling of the Star Wars brand has been shaky at times, bringing back the original core cast was a slam dunk. Unfortunately, while having Luke, Leia, and Han back has been great, their utilization so far hasn’t been ideal. We’ve yet to see the trio reunited properly onscreen and unless they filmed a scene together we don’t know about, this is now an impossibility given Carrie Fisher’s passing.
We’ve also yet to see a Luke and Han reunion, something that Mark Hamill himself has expressed disappointment about. Both characters have passed away by the end of The Last Jedi, but Hamill and Harrison Ford are very much alive. This is why we predict Harrison Ford will make a cameo in The Rise of Skywalker. The Last Jedi wasn’t afraid to use flashbacks to fill in backstory gaps, which opens the possibility of getting a Luke/Han flashback. Most likely, the scene will show Luke and Han’s final encounter before Ben Solo is sent to train with Luke since this pivotal decision has informed so much of this trilogy’s conflict.
4. Palpatine Will Take A Physical Form
One of the biggest mysteries going into The Rise of Skywalker is Emperor Palpatine. It’s confirmed Ian McDiarmid will reprise his role as the delightfully evil Sith Lord, but it remains to be seen how it’s all going to work. After all, the last time we saw Palpatine, he was falling to his death on the Death Star. Even if the fall didn’t kill him, the subsequent destruction of the Death Star surely would have, so how can he be back?
Well, if Jedi can return as Force Ghosts, it stands to reason a Sith can do something similar. But expect Palpatine to be more than a cackling spirit here. Whether he returns as a clone, a droid, or ends up possessing someone else (Kylo Ren, perhaps?), Palpatine will be both a mental and physical threat in Episode IX.
3. Say Goodbye To C-3PO
Unlike the Dark Rey tease, C-3PO’s farewell message in the final trailer feels much less like a red herring. In the trailer, Poe Dameron asks Threepio what he’s doing, to which the droid responds: “Taking one last look, Sir, at my friends.” The scene gives off vibes that this is the end for C-3PO and we’re inclined to buy into this idea. The reason for this is many fans believe the small alien toying with C-3POs head, Babu Frik, is looking through the droid’s memories for a key piece of information.
It’s not a stretch to assume Babu messes up and deletes the droid’s memories in the process, which could explain why Threepio has red eyes in the D23 teaser. Whatever the case, The Rise of Skywalker is not likely to end without losing a few beloved characters. C-3PO has been with Star Wars fans from the very beginning and his time may very well be at an end.
2. We’ll get some more into on Snoke
The death of Supreme Leader Snoke in The Last Jedi was a truly shocking moment that would go on to become a rallying point for disgruntled fans. Whether or not you enjoyed the way Snoke’s death was handled, it’s easy to understand why the execution (no pun intended) was so controversial. Introducing a villain as powerful as Snoke and then getting rid of him before we learn anything about him is a bold move, to say the least.
But even if The Last Jedi had no interest in addressing things like Snoke’s past, it doesn’t mean The Rise of Skywalker will follow suit. Frankly, given how disruptive Snoke’s death was on the First Order hierarchy it would be outright strange if there were no mention of him in the new film. What these details will be is anyone’s guess, but a connection to Palpatine shouldn’t be ruled out. That being said, don’t hold your breath for a Darth Plagueis reveal.
1. The Film Won’t Copt Return of the Jedi (Much)
The Force Awakens was rightly criticized for feeling too similar to A New Hope in plot and structure. With J.J. Abrams once again in the director’s chair, it’s a legitimate concern his new film will take a similar approach and hit many of the same beats as the original trilogy’s final film, Return of the Jedi. Admittedly, the trailers have done little to alleviate these concerns, as it looks like we’re in for another final act throneroom showdown overseen by Emperor Palpatine. However, while there likely will be some similarities between the two films, The Rise of Skywalker won’t repeat the sins of The Force Awakens. More likely, it will strike a balance between The Force Awakens’ comfortable familiarity and The Last Jedi’s “kill the past” subversions.