Why Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker Needs To Work As A Standalone Movie, According To J.J. Abrams

Poe, 3PO, and Finn in a desert

The past few years have been very exciting for Star Wars fans, as new and exciting projects have been released in theaters. The galaxy far, far away only continues to grow, including standalone films and an upcoming live-action TV series. But all eyes are currently on the main franchise, as J.J. Abrams' The Rise of Skywalker will conclude the current trilogy, as well as the nine movie narrative that started with A New Hope.

Episode IX will end the Skywalker Saga forever, so there is a ton of pressure regarding what J.J. Abrams will include in the upcoming blockbuster. But while The Rise of Skywalker is the final installment in a long running franchise, the director also took care to craft an independent story that stands on its own. As he recently explained at Star Wars Celebration:

Also, this movie, in addition to being the end of three trilogies, also needs to work as its own movie. That’s been part of the fun of it, part of the challenge of it. This movie is about this new generation and what they’ve inherited: the light and the dark. And asking the question as they face the greatest evil: Are they prepared? Are they ready? It’s been really incredible to look at this thing George has created and bring it to a close in this way.

J.J. Abrams may understand the pressure of wrapping up the Star Wars franchise as we know it, but he also wanted to create a contained, satisfying movie. That balance is going to be important going into The Rise of Skywalker, so it's good to see that Abrams is cognizant of it all.

Powered by RedCircle

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker might be the final movie in a decades spanning franchise, but it's also going to be focused on the trio of new characters that J.J. Abrams created for The Force Awakens. So while Leia, Lando, and Luke will factor into the story, smart money says the primary focus will be on the new class, and their continued battle against The First Order.

During the same conversation at Star Wars Celebration, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy spoke to the challenge of wrapping up the entire franchise so far, ending a narrative that was started decades ago when A New Hope premiered in 1977. As Kennedy put it,

What’s really fascinating is it’s over 40 years. So, the context George is working with is forty years later. To keep this relevant and meaningful to the characters and to the people experiencing this story, it has to feel like it’s of its time. I think that what we’ve done is taken to heart everything that inspired George and then I think the inspiration J.J. has brought to this has given it even more depth.

It looks like everyone involved in The Rise of Skywalker understood the dual role the film had to play. Yes, the Skywalker Saga must be given an appropriate ending, but the movie also has to function as a standalone film, with its own themes and story. The pressure is on, so we'll just have to wait and see what J.J. Abrams churns out with his second foray into the beloved space opera.

All will be revealed when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker arrives in theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.