J.J. Abrams Explains Why ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ Is Called ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

Characteristically tight-lipped Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker writer-director J.J. Abrams says the meaning of its title, unveiled Friday at Star Wars Celebration Chicago alongside the first teaser trailer, will become clear when audiences next return to a galaxy far, far away.

“The title feels like it’s the right title for this movie. I know it’s provocative and asks a bunch of questions, but I think when you see the movie, you’ll see how it’s intended and what it means,” Abrams told ET Live.

“But in the flow of titles, this movie had a very weird responsibility. It had to be the end of not just three movies, but nine movies, and the idea of having to incorporate the stories that have come before, strangely, is the story of the movie.”

The saga-ending Rise of Skywalker sees its characters — including Jedi Rey (Daisy Ridley), former Stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega), and hotshot Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) — “inheriting everything that’s come before in previous generations,” Abrams explained.

“Whether it’s sins of the father, the wisdom they’ve acquired, and the question is, can this new generation — are they up to the task? Can they stand up to what they have to? And so in a way I feel like we, coming into this movie, have inherited a lot and the question is can we do it, and that’s a question we ask ourselves every day.”

Could the title hint at the true lineage of the orphaned Rey, retconning her supposed nobody-ness first revealed by the twisted Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in The Last Jedi? “Well, I look forward to when people see the movie so they can see what happens,” Abrams said.

This coming ninth and final entry in the Skywalker saga also involves the return of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid), whose presence was hinted at in the final seconds of Friday’s trailer and was later confirmed by both McDiarmid and Abrams.

“The movie doesn’t pick up immediately after the last film. Some time has passed,” Abrams told attendees when teasing the film’s guarded plot. “This movie is an adventure the group goes on together. One of the great things about getting to work on the movie is the dynamic between all of the characters. They’re amazing together, and it’s something I’m excited for you all to see.”

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker opens December 20.

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