Two minutes and 24 seconds: that’s how little of a glimpse fans got into the new “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” slated to be released this Christmas season, when the cryptic and ominous trailer that dropped earlier this week. It seems, however, that the nostalgic two-minute recap of the first eight films followed by a jumble of new and confusing footage was enough for diehard fans.
Just a few hours later, dozens of videos had already appeared with extensive break-downs of the new footage, including a guide to the various easter eggs and small tidbits in the trailer that the less “in-the-know” viewers might’ve missed. And of course, let’s not forget the theories. It wouldn’t really be a “Star Wars” film if there weren’t hundreds of strange yet shockingly plausible speculations circulating the web. Here are some of the most interesting ones floating around the internet.
Rey is going to become a Sith
One of the most prevalent and popular theories is that Rey, played masterfully by award-winning actress Daisy Ridley, is actually the villain of the series. The daughter of scavengers from the desert planet Jakku, Rey has been painted as the heroine of this trilogy—a new hope for a galaxy now devoid of its Jedi protectors. Her determination and strength add some much-needed girl power to the franchise and serve as a wonderfully unexpected addition to the male-dominated casts of the previous trilogies.
It’s unlikely that such a perfect hero, one following in the footsteps of the galaxy’s greatest heroes, could become a cold-hearted villain. However, the trailer’s ending shot, in which Rey wields two bright red lightsabers and dons a dark cloak reminiscent of a newly turned Anakin Skywalker, seems to be an obvious indication that Rey has — like many promising Jedi before her — fallen into the ever-tempting ways of the dark side. But some fans believe the issue isn’t that cut and dry.
Perhaps it’s just a clever trick to get fans more interested in the upcoming film or a marketing stunt that’ll have little consequence on the film’s real events. Or, maybe Disney is making bold strokes and turning the concept of the perfect Jedi Padawan on its head. Rey’s intense curiosity has already gotten her in trouble more than once, so who’s to say it won’t lead her into the depths of the dark side?
Ben Solo (aka Kylo Ren) is the new Skywalker mentioned in the title
Another popular theory emerged when the title of the film, “The Rise of Skywalker,” was officially released. This cryptic nod to the Skywalkers of the past poses a real question for fans of the series. With the death of the iconic hero, Luke Skywalker, in the previous film,“The Last Jedi,” there’s debate over who this new Skywalker may be. Most fans think it must be the obvious choice, Rey, whose origins have been mysterious since the new trilogy’s beginning. With an incredible aptitude for the force, a good heart and a strange ability to communicate with non-verbal droids, she bears a striking resemblance to the Skywalkers before her. Moreover, her special connection with both Luke and Leia suggest that she may be more than just another rebel soldier to them. Once again, many other fans think this is too obvious.
There are some fans convinced that Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), the new head of the First Order following his shocking assassination of his Sith master, Snoke, and the long-awaited descendant of Han and Leia, is this mysterious new Skywalker. He has some Skywalker blood in him which explains both his mastery of the force and his stubborn and impulsive streak. With Han Solo now out of the picture — again, thanks to Ren’s own actions — he might be embracing the Skywalker name and all that comes with it. Besides, if Rey ends up dabbling in the Dark Side, it’s only natural that another character should rise to the challenge of balancing out the force by embracing the ways of the Light Side.
Emperor Palpatine is back
The last theory addresses who the villain of the modern “Star Wars” trilogy’s final installment will be. With the assumed villain, Snoke, now gone, fans are speculating over which character will take up the Sith Lord title and serve as the enemy for this new generation of rebels. Although he seems to want the title of Sith Lord all to himself, there seems to be a general consensus that Kylo Ren doesn’t fit the bill. Sure, he’s got a ton of bottled-up rage and seems to like slashing rebel scum to pieces any chance he gets, but he’s too young and inexperienced to make the transition into a full Sith Lord. Besides, most fans are still holding out hope that, like Darth Vader before him, he may still have some good left in him after all.
The most popular choice for the new evil villain is the series’ original antagonist — the terrifying and cold-blooded Emperor Palpatine, who’s supposed to be dead. According to some Star Wars fans, including the creators behind popular YouTube channels such as “ScreenRant” and “Star Wars Theory,” the emperor prevails. Their theories state that the late Emperor Palpatine may be the mastermind of the entire First Order with Snoke and Kylo Ren as his unwitting servants. They point to evidence of the Emperor’s famous cackle and gravelly voice appearing in the trailer reciting a never-before-heard monologue. It appears obvious that the emperor is back. How exactly the presumably dead emperor is going to be present in the new film, no one seems to agree on.
Some observant fans believe Darth Vader’s old mask that Kylo Ren seems to keep as a memento of the past glory of the Sith has something to do with it as it seems to be showing up more and more in the films and trailers. Perhaps when Darth Vader threw the emperor to his death — or didn’t, apparently — Palpatine used his lightning force powers to possess Vader’s armor. How the mask survived the explosion of the Death Star is still a mystery, but in a world where old men can survive 1,000-foot plunges to their deaths, anything is possible.
There are other more outlandish theories about Emperor Palpatine’s return, including that he was possessing Snoke and, upon his death, moved to another body. Some claim Rey is a clone grown for the express purpose of housing the soul of Palpatine someday. Others think he’ll just come back — old, cackling laugh and all.
Truth be told, there’s no real way to know what lies in store for the thousands of eager “Star Wars” fans around the world waiting to discover what the last film has to add to their beloved universe. There’s no telling whether or not it’ll live up to its third film counterparts, “The Revenge of the Sith” and “The Return of the Jedi,” but one thing is certain: it’ll be a riveting and entertaining film that’ll no doubt become one of the highest-grossing films in history, with or without the long-anticipated appearance of Darth Jar Jar.
Contact Alexandra Dauchess at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.