Star Wars: Episode IX isn't planned until 2019, but it's never too early to look forward to what the Star Wars galaxy will be bringing to our movie screens. The movie is essentially in pre-production already and due to some very unfortunate circumstances, we actually know a lot about changes that the film has needed to make, long before Star Wars: The Last Jedi even arrived in theaters.

Here's everything we know so far about Star Wars: Episode IX.

What Is The Star Wars: Episode IX Rating And Release Date?

There was a time when the one thing that we knew for sure about Star Wars: Episode IX was its release date. It was set for May 24, 2019. Following the delay in Star Wars: The Last Jedi which shifted it from a summer to a holiday release in 2017, the Star Wars franchise was set to move into the summer of 2018 with the Han Solo movie, and Star Wars: Episode IX was set to hit almost exactly a year later. However, due to one very big change the movie is going through, which we'll be getting into in a minute, Star Wars will be shifting back to a holiday release schedule. The movie is currently set to debut on December 20, 2019. This will see it opening a week after DC's Wonder Woman 2 and the same day as the planned cinematic adaptation of the musical Wicked.

We're two Star Wars movies into the new generation and both have been PG-13 films. At this point, we have to assume that Star Wars: Episode IX will also be a PG-13 film.

Who Is Directing Star Wars: Episode IX?

At least when George Lucas was in charge, we knew the answers to such complicated questions as, "who's directing?" Star Wars had been looking to fairly new, but accomplished, directors to make a lot of their new movies. Following names like Gareth Edwards and Rian Johnson, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow had been tapped as the man taking the reins to close out this new trilogy. However, in September of 2017, it was announced that Trevorrow and Lucasfilm had mutually agreed to part ways. Trevorrow's last movie, The Book of Henry was critically slammed, leading many to wonder if the director's chair would be reconsidered, and while it's not clear what role, if any, that movie played in the decision, Trevorrow has now followed Josh Trank Phil Lord, and Chris Miller into the "former Star Wars directors" club. A few days after the announcement of Trevorrow's departure it was confirmed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams would be returning to finish the trilogy he started.

What Is Star Wars: Episode IX About?

Well, that is the question now, isn't it? On the one hand, we know exactly what Episode IX will be about, as it will close out this third Star Wars trilogy, bringing the stories of Rey, Finn, Poe, Luke Skywalker and everybody else to some sort of conclusion. We fully expect the First Order to be defeated and for a new era in the galaxy to begin.

But, as far as how any of that might happen, we have almost no clue. Certainly, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi on screens, we can begin to have some sort of idea, as we can now speculate where the final movie will start, based on where the previous one ended. There's a lot that can still happen to our favorite characters. We can't even be sure they'll all make it to Episode IX, considering that Han Solo left us during The Force Awakens. And then, of course, there's the character we know will be missing.

What About Carrie Fisher?

Star Wars fans were rocked in December of 2016 when Carrie Fisher passed away. While she had completed her work in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, nothing had even begun to get started on Star Wars: Episode IX. This left us, we presume, with a finale to The Last Jedi that left Leia's story open for the next chapter, but now without an actress to finish it out.

For a long time, things were left up in the air, it was clear that even Lucasfilm needed to sit down and figure out what to do. While we still don't know exactly what they've decided, we do know a few things.

It was an odd coincidence that, in the days immediately prior to Carrie Fisher's death, we saw another actress play the role of Princess Leia in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Thanks to advances in CGI, the actress playing the part looked just like Carrie Fisher circa 1977. This led to the obvious question of whether or not Lucasfilm might try to do the same thing for an entire movie, allowing General Leia to finish out her story arc, looking like Carrie Fisher but being played by somebody else. Disney has since come out and said that this will not happen. There will be no CGI General Leia. If that's the case we're left with one of two possibilities. One, something will happen at the end of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, or at the beginning of Episode IX which takes Leia out of the story (such as killing her), or somehow Leia will continue to be a character, but only off screen, with others only referring to her.

There have been rumors that Star Wars: The Last Jedi would be edited in some way other than what was originally intended in order to set up Leia's departure. We know now that this doesn't happen. All of this is especially sad and confusing because, based on comments by Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy, Episode IX was originally going to spotlight General Leia. Now we have no clue how that will happen.

The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, 'I'd better be at the forefront of IX!' Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.

This means that whatever the plan is for Episode IX now is a major shift from what the plan originally was.

Rey

Rey has been our focus character since the beginning of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and we expect that will continue through the end of this trilogy. In the first movie, she became aware of her Force abilities and we know that in Star Wars: The Last Jedi she is trained by Luke Skywalker. In many ways, her arc appears to mirror that of Luke himself. If we continue this idea through Episode IX then we would expect to see Rey as a powerful Force user in the movie leading toward a final confrontation with Kylo Ren.

However, Star Wars: The Last Jedi has no confirmed that Luke Skywalker believes the Jedi order needs to come to an end, and he takes massive steps toward pulling that off in Rian Johnson's sequel. Because this is the case, Rey's story likely will have to take her someplace entirely new in Episode IX.

We certainly expect that all of our questions about Rey will be answered by the end of Star Wars: Episode IX. Who is Rey? Was Kylo Ren lying about her parents? Why did they leave her on Jakku as a child? Will she lead a new Resistance?

Finn

Finn may be the biggest question mark of a character in Star Wars: Episode IX. He started his life as a brain-washed drone, a Stormtrooper working for the First Order. We haven't even seen him conscious in The Last Jedi yet, apparently still suffering from the wounds he received in The Force Awakens, but every indication is he will recover and play a major role in the rest of the story. But where does a character like Finn find the end of his story? Does he survive to live a normal life as a free man, die making a noble sacrifice and a choice of his own, or become a leader of men? Or, does he get brain washed again and rejoin the First Order?

Poe Dameron

Poe was a popular character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, even though he had relatively little screen time in the movie. Poe did a lot more in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, though he was fighting Leia and her decisions the entire way. Mutiny? Poe, you surprise us. Where will this pilot go in Episode IX? He's an important part of Leia and Rey's new band of Rebels. And with the promise of Force sensitive younglings, Poe could be a mentor to many a young freedom fighter.

Kylo Ren

While Snoke used to be the brains behind the First Order, Kylo Ren is the real villain of the story (and Snoke died, unceremoniously, at the saber of the former Ben Solo). His conflicted nature regarding the Dark Side of the Force might lead us to believe he's headed for some sort of redemption story, similar to the one that his idol, Darth Vader, eventually had. However, that's going to be much more difficult here as Kylo Ren is ultimately responsible for the death of Han Solo, something that we don't think the other characters of the trilogy, or the fans watching it, would be quite as willing to accept. Also, in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren seemed to reject both the Light AND the Dark side of the Force, begging Rey to join him in the founding of something the rejected everything old. Will that quest continue in Episode IX? How?

The Last Jedi Characters

In addition to the characters that we met in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, there are several new characters that were introduced in The Last Jedi who could also play important roles in Episode IX.

Benicio del Toro and Kelly Marie Tran are taking important roles in The Last Jedi. Tran played a Resistance maintenance worker named Rose. She seems like an odd sort of character to make a focal point of the story, but she was important because of the ways that she contributed to the Resistance. We expect that Rose and Finn may continue to spend a lot of time working together as part of the Resistance now that Leia and Rey are building a new army.

As far as Benicio del Toro's character goes, we know very little. Part of the mysterious and hidden nature of the role appears to be because the character himself is supposed to be mysterious and hidden. Does that mean del Toro has a particular purpose to play beyond The Last Jedi, or will he be back in Episode IX as well?

What Happens Next

Once the current Star Wars trilogy ends, fans will almost certainly wonder what's going to happen after that. At this point, we simply don't know. As of this writing, only one Star Wars movie has been officially announced after Star Wars: Episode IX and that movie is expected to be another anthology film similar to Rogue One and the young Han Solo movie. Will a new trilogy start after that? Will that trilogy pick up where this one left off, perhaps with some of the same characters that we've met here? We have no idea. By the time Episode IX comes along in two years we'll likely have some sort of an idea, but right now, all we can do is wonder.

WATCH: Star Wars: The Last Jedi First Reactions

 

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