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Maz Kanata talking with Han Solo

Ian McDiarmid’s Darth Sidious and Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker aren’t the only two characters that have been conspicuously unseen in the trailers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Lupita Nyong’o’s Maz Kanata has also been largely MIA, but fear not, because she actually is in the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga. You can check out the first look at Maz Kanata from the Rise of Skywalker below.

There she is, and in the orange flesh no less! These images courtesy of Star Wars News Net were snapped at the press conference for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker as they played behind the assembled cast. The photos are seemingly images from the film, confirming that Maz will be back and she won’t only be seen via hologram this time around.

The first look at Maz Kanata from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a close-up, so it doesn’t offer much in the way of clues as to what her role will be in the film. We don’t see where she is or whom she is with. She is however still sporting her variable lens corrective goggles, which she used in Star Wars: The Force Awakens to look at Finn and apparently see into his heart. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her give similar insight and judgment in Episode IX.

It is good to see Maz back after what some found to be a disappointing appearance in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, where she only showed up in a hologram message amid a firefight to help Finn and Rose find a master codebreaker. That said, given her relative absence from the marketing for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, she may have a relatively small role in this film as well.

However, her role is probably bigger than what amounted to a cameo in The Last Jedi. But even if it is small, it can still be important with her providing a place for the heroes to lay low or a bit of crucial information.

According to a rumor from last year, and just to be safe, potential spoilers ahead, Maz Kanata will have a more substantial role in The Rise of Skywalker than in The Last Jedi. The rumor stated that Maz Kanata will actually be traveling with Rey early in the film and as a part of that, she will finally reveal how she acquired Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber that she gave her in The Force Awakens.

This would tie back to Lando Calrissian and Cloud City and with Lando in this film, it certainly seems possible that Maz Kanata can bridge those elements from the Original Trilogy to the Sequel Trilogy. Prior to The Force Awakens, Maz Kanata seemed like she could be a Yoda-esque figure and while that may not ultimately happen, her interaction with Rey in the Takodana castle felt important and it would be nice to see that revisited.

Plus, Maz Kanata, although not a Jedi, is a Force user, and those abilities will certainly be needed in the climactic battle against the First Order and the Emperor.

As you can see, the images above also give us another look at Kylo Ren and Allegiant General Pryde. This shot of Kylo appears to be from the battle he has with Rey aboard a structure surrounded by the raging sea. It looks as though maybe Rey fled the battle with him and he is watching her go.

We also see Richard E. Grant’s General Pryde who looks like a perfect Imperial figure. The high-ranking member of the First Order looks cold, cruel and cut from the same cloth as predecessors like Director Orson Krennic and Grand Moff Tarkin.

You can catch Maz Kanata and all the friends from a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters on December 20. Check out our 2020 Release Schedule to keep track of what’s coming out next year.

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