As hard as it may be to believe, we’re now almost only half a year away from the release of the final main Star Wars film. The stakes are high for Star Wars: Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker – in terms of the story it tells, the resolution it provides, the financial success it provides Disney and Lucasfilm with, and so very much more. The film will most likely be the last time we see the original trilogy characters, including Leia Organa, Luke Skywalker, and Lando Calrissian. It also may be the last time we see characters like Rey, Finn, and Kylo Ren, too – though that one is definitely less certain.
All the same, regardless of the ending that the film provides these characters, there are certain things that the movie definitely needs to provide, in terms of answers to ongoing questions, narrative development for characters desperately in need of growth and progression, and a lack of unnecessary drama and clunky storytelling. Expectations may be high for what Star Wars: Episode IX delivers, come December, and honestly, the list of things we want to see and don’t want to see could probably be verging on endless. But for now, we’ve trimmed the list down to a top five things we hope to see, and a top five things we definitely don’t. Here they are.
10 Hope: A more unified Resistance
In Episode VII: The Force Awakens, the good guys were presented as a truly unified front, with an impressively large, strong Resistance force on their side. But by the end of Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, the Resistance appeared to be almost on its last legs, due to multiple mass casualties that took place during the film’s action-packed battles. Leia assures an anxious Rey that they have everything they need right there on the Millennium Falcon to be able to start again.
But will Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker make good on that promise? We can only hope so, especially given the limited amount of Leia footage JJ Abrams and company would have had access to. But perhaps an unintended benefit of the footage they did have access to is that the Resistance would have appeared stronger, and larger, at almost any point during the prior two films. Hopefully, the Resistance is as strong as it deserves to be.
9 Don’t: More grandstanding from Poe
The Last Jedi may be one of the most controversial Star Wars films to date, but one of the biggest mistakes the highly discussed film made was in its characterization of Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron. While Poe was barely a character in The Force Awakens, more of a stand-in for a heroic character than an actual hero, The Last Jedi developed him into a much fuller one – and a truly arrogant, unlikable one at that.
During The Last Jedi, Poe reveals himself to be a selfish, misogynistic, power-hungry hot shot who only cares about his own ego and his need to be in control at all times. If he’s going to get along with the rest of the Resistance, and contribute meaningfully to future adventures rather than hinder them, he’s going to need to eat some serious humble pie and learn to be a team player – and fast.
8 Hope: A fitting sendoff for original trilogy heroes
The sequel trilogy has already forced us to say goodbye to two of our three legendary original trilogy heroes. Han Solo was brutally murdered in The Force Awakens in a tragic standoff with his own lost son, Ben. Luke Skywalker heroically sacrificed himself for the future of the Resistance by becoming one with the Force at the end of The Last Jedi. There is, of course, the chance for at least Luke to return in a meaningful way in The Rise of Skywalker, should he appear as a Force Ghost. The use of a voiceover from Luke in the first teaser trailer certainly suggests as much.
But The Rise of Skywalker will be the final time we see two other beloved heroes – General Leia Organa, and Lando Calrissian. The film needs to provide these two, and Luke by extension, with truly satisfying, emotionally fulfilling endings – not only for narrative reasons, but for the fans, too. If The Last Jedi was controversial, the notion that The Rise of Skywalker could fail these characters in any way would certainly lead to ever more disagreements.
7 Don’t: More JJ Abrams mystery boxes
JJ Abrams has done a lot of good for the Star Wars franchise already. He’s responsible, in large part, for bringing the saga back in such a successful manner, even if some fans felt his The Force Awakens relied too heavily on nostalgia and parallels with the original trilogy. But Abrams is also known for a particularly maddening storytelling device: the use of what he himself refers to as mystery boxes – mysteries that serve as nothing but points of distraction and sources of obsession for viewers everywhere.
The Force Awakens set up plenty of them: Who were Rey’s parents? What are the Knights of Ren? Who is Supreme Leader Snoke? What happened between Han and Leia? What the heck are Rathtars and Kanjiklub and why are we wasting so much time on them? These mysteries were all but entirely superfluous and unnecessary, and The Rise of Skywalker has far too much to accomplish without being weighted down by these distractions.
6 Hope: More badass female heroes – and villains
The sequel triloguy has reliably provided viewers and fans the world over with plenty of exciting female characters worth rooting for and looking up to. While the original trilogy had Leia Organa and Mon Mothma, and the prequel trilogy had Padme Amidala, the sequel trilogy has fully devoted itself to creating and promoting strong, powerful female characters of all walks of life: Rey, Rose Tico, Maz Kanata, Captain Phasma, Amilyn Holdo, Kaydel Ko Connix, and, of course, General Leia Organa herself.
The cast of The Rise of Skywalker already includes some potentially exciting new female characters, too: Naomi Ackie’s Jannah, and Keri Russell’s mysterious new addition. We don’t know much about these characters, other than the fact that we’re thrilled to see what they bring to the series. Whether they’re heroes or villains, we certainly hope that The Rise of Skywalker will continue the trilogy’s trend of promoting female strength in all its forms.
5 Don’t: Too much complicated First Order politics
Something that Star Wars has always struggled with – and is better off avoiding altogether – is the knitty gritty details of politics, whether governmental or within an organization of power. The prequel trilogy was entirely bogged down by the Senate storylines, and even the original trilogy lagged somewhat when depicting the workings of the Empire from the inside of meetings with Darth Vader and his team.
Hopefully, The Rise of Skywalker learns from the mistakes of what came before it. It would be smartest to avoid delving too deeply into the workings of the First Order in the absence of the powerful presence of Supreme Leader Snoke. Even more important, the film should avoid relying too heavily on the one note villainous General Hux. The character adds absolutely nothing to the story. Inflating his role in any way would be a serious mistake.
4 Hope: A redeemed Ben Solo
The sequel trilogy has introduced many instantly iconic characters into the overarching Star Wars saga, including Daisy Ridley’s Rey and John Boyega’s Finn. But very few characters are as enigmatic, as riveting, and as truly compelling and brilliantly acted in all of Star Wars as Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, previously known as Ben Solo.
Kylo Ren has been a character defined by conflict and inner turmoil from the very beginning of the film series, so it only makes sense for The Rise of Skywalker to resolve this emotional conflict in a meaningful way. Hopefully, this resolution will come in the form of Kylo accepting the light that has always been inside of him, integrating both light and dark and becoming Ben Solo once again.
3 Don’t: A Palpatine red herring
Arguably the most shocking and most talked about moment from the entire The Rise of Skywalker trailer is the one moment that didn’t even occur on screen. The brief teaser trailer was capped with the menacing laugh of none other than Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine, and the panel for The Rise of Skywalker was ended with an appearance from Ian McDiarmid himself. Speculation has been rampant as to how on earth Palpatine will be incorporated into the overall story of Episode IX.
It would, therefore, be a total disappointment and a waste of fan energy if The Rise of Skywalker reveals the entire Palpatine involvement to be inconsequential – or yet another one of JJ Abrams’s beloved mystery boxes. It’s impossible at this point to know just how much the Emperor will be used in the film. Hopefully, it will be in a more meaningful way than the trailer teased.
2 Hope: Balance in the Force
The prophecy of the Chosen One in the prequel trilogy contained a crucial reveal of what a potential Chosen One would do: bring some much-needed balance to the Force. When Anakin Skywalker fell, Obi-Wan Kenobi even tells him, “You were the Chosen One. You were supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them. You were supposed to bring balance to the Force, not leave it in darkness.” While Anakin may not have been the Chosen One as prophecied, the potential for a Chosen One still exists – and it may even be more than one person, at that.
The Rise of Skywalker has the potential of bringing the Skywalker Saga full circle, by bringing balance to the Force through the mutual leadership and efforts of Rey and one of the last remaining Skywalkers, Kylo Ren. The two have been shown to be some of the strongest Force wielders the galaxy has ever seen. If anyone could bring balance to the Force, it would definitely be them.
1 Don’t: Rey’s parentage reveal undone
The discourse about who Rey’s parents could possibly be is one that has waged on for far too long – even predating the release of The Force Awakens. Poor Daisy Ridley has been pestered for years now about the nature of Rey’s origins, and JJ Abrams and Rian Johnson have fielded their fair share of questions, too. Countless theories have been postulated – Rey Skywalker, Rey Kenobi, Rey Palpatine, and many, many more. But as The Last Jedi revealed, Rey is a nobody, descended from nobodies.
And that’s exactly how it should be. To have The Rise of Skywalker undo this revelation would totally cheapen the value of Rey’s existence as a new kind of hero in the Star Wars universe. The Force isn’t only given to those who wield the names of the powerful families we already know. Rey’s identity as born from nothing, only to be destined for greatness, is a much more powerful message. It would be a real shame to ruin that.
NEXT: Star Wars Already Made Rey A TRUE Skywalker (You Just Missed It)