Say what you will about most other entries in the Star Wars saga, but that original trilogy of films is still the strongest bedrock that the franchise has ever had to call its base. While the series needs to appeal to the fans it’s won in the more recent years, there’s always going to be that fanbase that came to the dance starting with 1977’s initial offering.
I became a Star Wars fan while growing up through the Original Trilogy and a smattering of now de-canonized Expanded Universe material. But I’d always heard that story of that fabled first and third trilogy to round off the saga, and longed for the day they’d exist.
Now, we see the close of the third trilogy coming with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and it looks like director J.J. Abrams and all involved are looking to please those dyed-in-the-wool fans. Here some reasons why that not only feels like the approach that’s being executed, but also why I think it’s working out rather well.
It Promises The End Of The Skywalker Saga
As I mentioned before, one of the biggest sticking points in Star Wars lore was the fact that George Lucas has allegedly planned out three trilogies in the Skywalker Saga. The prequel trilogy scratched the itch fans had for seeing Anakin Skywalker’s origins as Darth Vader, and for a little while, it felt like the last three episodes of the entire nine-part saga would never come.
Even with Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ big reveal, it wasn’t certain that we’d see the end of the line, as George Lucas was out of the process altogether, and episode numbers were eventually dropped.
Why It Works: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker being the definitive end of the Skywalker clan's story frees the series for new ideas to take root. But more importantly, it brings that storied end to the legacy of the very family that started the Star Wars franchise, fulfilling a promise from long ago.
Leia Will Finish Out Her Role In The Star Wars Universe
Due to the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher, another big question was whether or not General Leia Organa would be brought back in some shape or form to close out her own story. After a period of long thought and deliberation, it was confirmed that Fisher’s General Leia would return in previously filmed outtakes from the last two Star Wars films, The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi.
The context of her place in the story, and how much shooting around the footage that was available will affect that is yet to be seen, but this decision is just as important as the one that allowed Luke Skywalker to return.
Why It Works: Seeing our first look at Leia’s return in this final film is pretty convincing stuff. While how the pre-existing story will work with what specific footage they have of Carrie Fisher’s previous performance is definitely a bit of a challenge, it’s good to see the General back for one last adventure. And if the Skywalker Saga is about to end, both of Anakin and Padme’s twins deserve proper closure.
It Looks Like We’re Going Back To A Familiar Desert
The trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker shows a lot of one particular element that’s always been important to the saga’s storytelling environment: sand. With Rey’s big lightsaber flip and some action between Finn and Poe being showcased in the recent teaser, there’s a lot of the rough stuff primed and ready for action.
Which means we’re probably going back to one of two places. Either Jakku or Tatooine are in the mix for the ninth episode of the Skywalker Saga, but either way, this is a pretty big deal when it comes to wrapping up the story started in the Original Trilogy.
Why It Works: Much like the Original Trilogy’s story, bringing our heroes back to where the action started is a classic move of resolution. Anakin and Luke had to return to Tatooine before becoming the men they set off to be, and Rey will more than likely be heading back to Jakku in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. More powerful than when she left, this new Force user will more than likely learn some important knowledge about her origins, before setting off on whatever big battle she’s marching towards.
Lando Calrissian Is Back And Flying The Millennium Falcon Again
One of the most criminally underused characters in the Star Wars galaxy has to be Lando Calrissian. A dashing charmer with a criminal past, Billy Dee Williams’ iconic supporting player is one of those figures that has always been brought up when questioning what moves the next Star Wars films would take to connect the future of the franchise to its historical past.
With so much room for his character to be expanded and enhanced upon in the brand new canon, especially after the discarding of the now-reclassified Legends line of Expanded Universe material, it was a pleasant given that the decision to reinstate Lando would be made.
Why It Works: If there’s a character whose legacy has positively loomed larger than his actual screen time in the Star Wars saga, it’s Mr. Calrissian. While the return of some characters seems more like an exercise in fan service than in storytelling (C-3PO, we’re looking in your direction), having Lando return is a smart way to close the story in the absence of Han Solo. Not to mention, there’s always a spot reserved for a roguish smuggler in the Star Wars universe.
The Series Is About To Go On Hiatus After The Rise Of Skywalker
Some Original Trilogy fans have been worried that the Star Wars franchise of films has overextended its reach a little bit. While Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a hit and seemed to do pretty well overall, the reaction to Solo was way more tepid than usual. Even Disney CEO Bob Iger realized that the pace of the series was unsustainable, which lead him to announce that the series would go into hibernation after Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Why It Works: Fans are always going to show up for the Skywalker Saga entries in Star Wars’ cinematic universe. That said, it’s going to take some time and tweaking to realize just what the fans will want out of the series outside of that now-ending run. It’s nice to see the studio management to realize that, and learn the lesson if you want to keep your fanbase happy, sometimes absence makes the Force grow stronger.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will define the legacy and its storytelling approach for some, while proving whether it adheres to the rules that the Original Trilogy played by for so long. As long as the rest of the decisions made in telling this story match up to the quality of those listed above, there should be a good chance that fans of the Original Trilogy will be very pleased with the finished product.