Disney/Lucasfilm has released the casting list for the upcoming ninth main story of the Star Wars Saga. (This is not counting side movies like Rogue One or Solo or the various TV shows…although Clone Wars is coming back.) This new installment sees J.J. Abrams return to the director’s seat with Chris Terrio joining him in the screenwriting. Last I heard this will be Abrams’ last installment with the now controversial Rian Johnson taking up the next one. And given what little knowledge he’s shown about the lore this might be a problem.
There’s also the problem that Johnson tied up so many of the story arcs and plot threads of this trilogy in The Last Jedi, meaning Abrams and Terrio have a lot of retconning to do if they’re going to tell their story. It’s a bit karma-esque since Abrams ignored what George Lucas had wanted to do with episodes seven through nine, but it means problems ahead that they’re going to have to undo. Note that there will be spoilers for the The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi if you were waiting until the trilogy is done or something before watching. I know how some folks like their binge watching.
Star Wars: Episode IX will begin filming at London’s Pinewood Studios on August 1, 2018. J.J. Abrams returns to direct the final installment of the Skywalker saga. Abrams co-wrote the screenplay with Chris Terrio.
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Release is scheduled for December 2019.
So they have little over a year to get this movie done? Can they do that if Abrams uses mostly practical effects like he did in The Force Awakens?
Returning cast members include Daisy Ridley (Rey), Adam Driver (Ben Solo/Kylo Ren), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), Lupita Nyong’o (Maz), Domhnall Gleeson (Hux–I think he was Snoke and Kylo’s right hand), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose Tico), Joonas Suotamo (taking over as Chewbacca from Peter Mayhew but will you really tell?), and Billie Lourd (Lieutenant Connix…someone’s going to have to point her out to me).
Obviously I added the names and minor commentary. I think the fact that I know who Admiral Piett is but had to look up a bunch of these characters tells you how little an impact they made. Maz is a voiceover role and I didn’t even realize there was a new actor under the Chewbacca costume so that’s fine. But Hux’s name I forgot and I have no idea who Connix is.
And let’s address the big one there: Rose Tico is back. That’s sure to annoy certain fans in the same way Jar Jar showing up in episodes 2 and 3 did, but hopefully Abrams can actually salvage the character. I’m not sure how since her actual character arc came and went in The Last Jedi and I’m worried she might mess up the relationship between Finn and Rey…wait, I better explain that. No, I don’t “ship” Rey and Finn, but they have a developing friendship at least and Rose did keep them apart in The Last Jedi so I’m worried that might happen again. I wonder what would have happened had he been allowed to go after Rey instead of getting stuck in Rose’s mostly unnecessary story arc and Poe’s half-baked plan, but Johnson also ended Finn’s character arc by not saving the final battle with Plasma for Episode 9. (Unless she somehow survived falling into a fireball. We know how questionable Stormtrooper armor is no matter how shiny they make it.) See what I mean about Johnson trying to end the trilogy early? I’m not against Rose Tico returning but I wonder just how she’s going to fit in and if it will benefit her or Rey and Finn.
Joining the cast of Episode IX are Naomi Ackie, Richard E. Grant, and Keri Russell, who will be joined by veteran Star Wars actors Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, and Billy Dee Williams, who will reprise his role as Lando Calrissian.
Lando is one character fans have wanted to see come back, not just with a younger actor playing his younger self in Solo but by Williams in the main story. Billy Dee Williams IS Lando and it will be nice to see him back. But how can Luke return when he died using a power Johnson thought up at random? Force ghost, obviously. That’s one advantage to having him be a Jedi Master. Now to see if Abrams can properly pass the baton from Luke to Rey, which thus far hasn’t really worked out. I like her as a character but she has some big shoes to fill in this saga. Speaking of which there is the lone original series character who didn’t die yet is the only one whose performer has. (That can’t be hidden in a robot or giant bear/gorilla thing costume.)
The role of Leia Organa will once again be played by Carrie Fisher, using previously unreleased footage shot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. “We desperately loved Carrie Fisher,” says Abrams. “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 (Lourd), 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.”
I wonder if Connix will interact with Leia, because I’m sure that will feel weird to Lourd both during filming and when watching the movie. I saw some comments suggesting they might have been better off killing her off-screen, while others suggesting a retcon of sorts that I’m not sure would work. I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand I understand it not being the same to some people but I don’t know if it’s necessarily an insult to Fisher, certainly not intentionally. Her daughter seems okay with it and she’s in the movie. And folks complained about the youngyfing CG of Rogue One and recasting at this point is definitely out. (For a prequel story ala Solo is another matter.) I’m going to wait and see what they actually do with her before making a judgement call on this, but I do understand the concerns as well as the crew wanting to honor her by keeping Leia alive even if Fisher isn’t.
And of course John Williams would be scoring because who else would you use in a Star Wars movie? As long as he is still doing this literally no one else will do, although in other projects people have come close to mimicking his style.
We currently know nothing about the story so there isn’t much to be excited or not excited about. Abrams first go was considered a bit too safe and he also tossed aside the original plans for the third trilogy Lucas had, plus the ending of the Extended Universe that had kept the franchise alive all these years. The last movie had numerous problems but that’s not Abrams fault since I think he was working on another movie at the time and was just the producer. Still it is hard to get pumped for this movie as fans did for The Force Awakens and Abrams has a mountain to climb to end this trilogy on a high note. I wish him luck and I’m still interesting in seeing whatever this movie ends up being titled, but I’m wondering if kicking Lucas out was as rewarding as certain fans hoped it would be?
Thanks for this in depth analysis on the next Star Wars film. When filming starts tomorrow, I hope that everything goes fine and that a high quality film comes to us in the theaters for December 2019. But as you note, there are issues and concerns. We’ll see what happens.