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The Star Wars Episode IX panel at Star Wars Celebration did not disappoint when it came to reveals. While we certainly are still missing many pieces of the puzzle, we did finally get the film's title and our first look at some of the action. However, the panel also teased us with a collection of new Star Wars aliens and other creatures, and as usual, they look amazing. One of the creatures even appeared on the Star Wars Celebration stage, he, or she, or it, is a brand new droid named D/O. Check him out.
While we didn't get a lot of details about the droid, who looks like a cone has been welded to the side of a tuna fish can. His "head" such as it is, moves independently of the wheel below him that gives him mobility. J.J. Abrams did speak about the character a bit, saying that he's a friend of BB-8. According to Abrams...
In this movie BB-8 has a new friend... This is D/O. This is yet another incredible collaboration and creation of Neal Scanlan and the creature robotics team on the movie.
We see the new droid in one shot of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. He's standing alongside BB-8 and the pair both look to be reacting in the same way to something we can't see. Clearly, these two really are friends. We also see the little guy alongside BB-8 in the group shot at the end of the trailer, so wherever this story is going, this droid is going along for the ride.
We do know that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will take place after some significant amount of time has passed following the events of The Last Jedi. In that movie it appeared that the entire Resistance fit inside the Millennium Falcon, but one assumes the Resistance has been able to build up its ranks in the intervening period. They've picked up some additional allies, and some of them probably brought droids with them. It's also possible one of our heroes has taken possession of the little guy in the time that has passed.
Interestingly, J.J. Abrams revealed that the way that D/O was introduced to us at Star Wars Celebration was not the way that the droid actually appeared on the set. While he was clearly being remote controlled from off stage here, the droid was created by puppeteers when filming was being done.
I will say that when we did the film we never had D/O exist quite this way. There was a rig and puppeteers and like with Celebration last time, there were different designs we went through working on. Like in Celebration last time [for me] in Episode VII when BB-8 rolled out we never had a BB-8 to be able to roll out [on set]. It's amazing what Celebration will do!
However, the new droid wasn't the only new Star Wars creature that we met today. Another new creature is much larger than the tiny droid. His name is Klaud, and he's apparently a brand new member of the Resistance. Check him out below.
We see Klaud standing alongside Snap Wexley, played by Greg Grunberg. Snap was a pilot alongside Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens but he was nowhere to be found in The Last Jedi. As a longtime friend of J.J. Abrams its little surprise he's back for the new film.
The fact that J.J. Abrams made a point to show us Klaud and tell us his name, the fact that he has a name at all, likely means we'll see a bit more of this guy than we might some of the other aliens, but seriously, what do we know? We didn't see any new creatures or characters in the teaser except for the new droid, so everything is still a question regarding all of these designs.
Beyond these couple of new creatures that were given names we didn't get any information about any other new aliens or droids that we'll be meeting in the film. However, the Star Wars Celebration crowd was given a look at a few more creatures out of context, and we have a look at them as well.
Whether any of these are important creatures or simply background aliens designed to make the world of the galaxy, far, far away, feel more real, we don't really know. Of course, that doesn't really matter when it comes to creating them. J.J. Abrams talked about the hard work that went into both creating the design of the creatures, as well the hard work that the actors put forth in bringing them to life.
The vast majority of these aliens are not created via CGI but are actually makeup and practical effects, which means real people were needed to create these alien landscapes. That meant that in some cases hundreds of people were made to look like aliens, sometimes under less than perfect conditions. According to Abrams...
We had hundreds of people in unbelievable costumes and designs. Creatures that Neal Scanlan and his team designed. So, to be there with so many people in the heat [of the desert] and having to take food breaks, bathroom breaks. It was a whole thing. But we got through it and actually finished a day ahead of schedule.
One can imagine how difficult it was for all of the people in the image below to get into their make up and film a scene for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The vast majority of these characters are almost certainly just ancillary background aliens. The only new cast member on the stage for the Episode IX panel was Naomi Ackie, who we know isn't playing an alien. Still, that just goes to show how much work went into creating all these characters, many of whom might only be on screen for a few moments. There were probably entire creatures who ended up on the cutting room floor, possibly never to be seen again. Since editing on the new film is not complete, it's even possible these creatures we were shown won't actually be in the movie.
Regardless of how much we actually see all these new creatures in Star Wars; The Rise of Skywalker, they all look absolutely amazing. Even if you somehow weren't hyped up for the final chapter of the Skywalker saga before, you almost have to be now.
While we've probably heard all the really important stuff about Episode IX that we're going to get for a while, a lot more Star Wars news will be coming over the next couple of days. CinemaBlend is in Chicago, so keep checking back for all the news this weekend.