TRANSMISSIONS FROM A GALAXY FAR, FAR, AWAY:

EPISODE XI

This is the 11th column in a weekly series from The Rock Father James Zahn. Check back Fridays for the latest in what’s happening in the galaxy far, far away, or read them all here.

The 2015 novel that reimagined the story of 1977’s Star Wars was given a new title: A New Hope: The Princess, The Scoundrel, and The Farm Boy. That title, of course, referred to Princess Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) in the way audiences first fell in love with them during a simpler time. When production began on 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many hoped that the “sequel trilogy” would bring that trio together on-screen for one last adventure—and sadly, that never happened. If there was ever a “misstep,” perhaps it was never getting to see our heroes together again. Through the on-screen death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens and the real-life passing of Carrie Fisher prior to the release of The Last Jedi, the trio would suffer two major losses before Luke Skywalker’s maybe* death. While time will tell as to whether or not we’ll see them together on-screen, the production announcement for Star Wars: Episode IX brought with it some surprises in that some old-school heroes will return for what’s being billed as “the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga,” including The General (Leia), The Jedi (Luke), and The Gambler (Lando Calrissian).

As previously-rumored, Billy Dee Williams will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian, while the confirmation of Mark Hamill pretty much guarantees a “Force ghost” appearance* at bare minimum. The big surprise is that Carrie Fisher will be back as Leia by using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

“We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” said director/co-writer J.J. Abrams in a statement. “Finding a truly satisfying conclusion to the Skywalker saga without her eluded us. We were never going to recast, or use a CG character. With the support and blessing from her daughter, Billie, we have found a way to honor Carrie’s legacy and role as Leia in Episode IX by using unseen footage we shot together in Episode VII.”

Star Wars vet Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) is also in the mix, with other returning cast members set to include Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), and Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix). Joining the cast of Episode IX are Keri Russell, Naomi Ackie and Richard E. Grant.

Filming for Episode IX will begin on August 1 at Pinewood Studios outside of London.

*Is Luke Skywalker really “dead?”

Maybe, maybe not. There is a lot of Star Wars lore that is sometimes confusing to those who have only watched the films, and even those with a vast knowledge of things are sometimes thrown for a loop. Luke was no doubt exhausted from his Force projection used at the end of The Last Jedi, but did he really die… or did he transport himself to another location? After he disappeared, all that was left was his robe – which quickly blew away. As many fans have noted (some jokingly), Luke’s metal hand was gone as well. There’s also a new element of time travel that presented itself via Star Wars Rebels, so there’s always a chance that certain paths may end up changed. The Force works in mysterious ways, and we’ll find out how it all plays out in December of 2019.

FURTHER TRANSMISSIONS

FROM AROUND THE GALAXY:

  • San Diego Comic-Con is behind us, and The Star Wars Show has the recap of everything that went down. Check out the latest episode here.
  • “Spooky” Star Wars for Halloween? While Marvel’s had the lock on the grownup Star Wars comics, the team at IDW has been reaching the younger audiences through their excellent Star Wars Adventures. This October, things are going darker with Tales From Vader’s Castle, which is a five-issue mini-series with new books each Wednesday. Check out the full details here.