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After years of speculation, the debate over what Star Wars: Episode IX would be called finally ended. At the end of the trailer that debuted at Star Wars Celebration earlier today, the official title was revealed: The Rise of Skywalker.

Given how important the Skywalker family has been to the Star Wars franchise and that this movie marks the end of the Skywalker Saga, Episode IX being called The Rise of Skywalker is rather fitting. Nevertheless, this has now prompted speculation about any specific meaning behind this title choice, and while director J.J. Abrams isn’t willing to delve into spoiler territory just yet, he did provide a broader, yet still fascinating explanation for why The Rise of Skywalker was selected, saying:

The title feels like it’s the right title for this movie, and I know that it’s provocative and asks a bunch of questions. But I think when you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s intended, what it means. But in the flow of titles, this movie had a very weird responsibility. It had to be the end of not just three movies, but nine movies, and the idea of having to incorporate the stories that have come before strangely is the story of the movie. Which is to say it’s the characters in the film inheriting everything that’s come before in previous generations, whether it’s sins of the father, whether it’s the wisdom that they’ve acquired. And the question is this new generation, are they up to the task, can they stand up to what they have to? And so in a way, I feel like we coming into this movie have inherited a lot, and the question is can we do it? And that question we ask ourselves every day.

J.J. Abrams delivered this response to ET Online after being asked who the Skywalker is that the title is referring to. The most obvious answer is it’s Luke, as Mark Hamill is reprising the character, but others have wondered if it’s Rey, thus retconning the reveal of her parentage in The Last Jedi, or perhaps even a title, with Force users being called Skywalkers instead of Jedi going forward. Alas, on this subject, Abrams kept quiet.

But speaking with regard to the entire Star Wars franchise, J.J. Abrams made some good points. Although the overall Star Wars film series is continuing with the trilogies respectively being worked on by The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (not to mention the likes of The Mandalorian and more keeping things going on the small screen), The Rise of Skywalker is wrapping up an era that began over 40 years ago with A New Hope. It doesn’t have to just wrap up the narrative of this sequel trilogy, it also has to tie in the previous two trilogies.

So even though Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and the rest of the main characters who have headlined this latest Star Wars trilogy will still be running the show, things and events from before their time will factor into The Rise of Skywalker’s story. That includes, as arguably the biggest Episode IX surprise from today, the return of Emperor Palpatine. His sinister laugh was heard at the end of the preview, and if Ian McDiarmid appearing on stage after the trailer screened at Star Wars Celebration wasn’t proof enough, it was confirmed later that the actor is indeed reprising the Sith Lord, though it remains to be seen if Darth Sidious has somehow returned to life or if we’ll be seeing him through flashbacks, holograms, as a Force ghost, etc.

As J.J. Abrams indicated, rather than Disney and Lucasfilm eventually revealing more clear-cut reasoning behind selecting The Rise of Skywalker as the title, it’s likely that’ll be an answer saved for the film itself, as was the case with The Last Jedi. Ideally Episode IX will do a satisfiable job of closing out this long era of Star Wars history, especially since this will be the last Star Wars movie we’ll see for a little bit. At the very least, it sounds like that sense of legacy will be properly felt.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20, so keep checking back with CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. Don’t forget to also look through our 2019 release schedule to learn what other movies are coming out later this year.

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