Pretty much since Disney acquired Lucasfilm, we knew that we would be getting Star Wars movies forever and that there would be no end to this storied franchise. The sequel trilogy that began with Star Wars: The Force Awakens in 2015 would conclude with Star Wars: Episode IX, only to eventually give way to another sequel trilogy as the Skywalker family continued on through the generations. Some of that is still true, as there is no end to Star Wars movies in sight. However, we now know that the journey that began in 1977 will conclude in 2019, as the Skywalker Saga is coming to an end. The cast announcement made today for Star Wars: Episode IX confirms this, reading:

J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga.

Has so short a sentence ever been so loaded with meaning for such a huge fandom? There is no wiggle room here either. The announcement made on StarWars.com leaves no doubt that J.J. Abrams' Episode IX is the end of the Skywalker Saga. The story that began onscreen in A New Hope with Luke Skywalker, and in-universe with Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace, will come to a definitive and final conclusion in less than a year and a half. This puts to bed any presumption that Episode IX would be followed by Episode X, XI and XII a few years later.

Now we have known for a while that Star Wars would be branching out beyond the Skywalkers. The anthology films Solo and Rogue One have already done as much. We also knew that new stories would be told with new characters in Rian Johnson's upcoming trilogy and the series of films from Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. Even though these projects wouldn't cover the Skywalker Saga, it seemed possible that we would still get more Skywalker stories in some form going forward. This is the first confirmation that Episode IX will conclude the Skywalker Saga and that J.J. Abrams will close the book on this story.

The implications here are many, as are the questions raised. Just knowing that Episode IX is the end lends an incredible amount of weight and importance to the story told by writer-director J.J. Abrams and writer Chris Terrio. They need to stick the landing because this is it. You have to think that this will be a very final ending to send audiences and this saga off right with little ambiguity. I'm very curious if this confirmation of the end of the Skywalker Saga means that the family will be no more at the end of the film. Or if this simply marks the end of their struggle, with future generations finally able to find peace. It also makes you wonder who the last Skywalker will be. Unless there is a Rey parentage swerve or some Skywalker children born, it would seem that Kylo Ren will be the last.

This closing chapter will have strong ties to the past because Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker and Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia will both be back in this film, the former presumably as a Force ghost and the latter using unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. So the Skywalker Saga will end with some of the same faces it began with. People will have a range of opinions on this news, and how it is perceived is largely contingent on how Episode IX is received. Personally, I think the struggles of Solo and The Last Jedi have shown the need to move beyond characters we know, and this indicates that Star Wars is finally ready to do that.

Star Wars: Episode IX, the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga, blasts into theaters on December 20, 2019. Check out our guide for all of the upcoming movies set in a galaxy far, far away, and for all the latest movie news, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

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