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The 13 things we learned from this year’s Star Wars Celebration

The 13 things we learned from this year’s Star Wars Celebration


And three we didn’t

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Photo by Bryan Bishop / The Verge

Star Wars Celebration has wrapped up in Orlando, Florida, and it’s been a fun four days immersed in everything Star Wars. We’ve learned a lot about the next couple of years of the franchise: we got our first looks at The Last Jedi and Battlefront II, learned the fate of Star Wars Rebels, and heard a bit about Disney’s ambitious plans for its Star Wars-themed parks.

Here are some of the biggest things that happened.

The Last Jedi

The biggest story of the convention was the first trailer for The Last Jedi, and we learned quite a bit from it. While the trailer was just a couple of minutes of footage, it gave us plenty to speculate over. But director Rian Johnson and several cast members also held a panel about the film, where they revealed some other details.

Rey’s meeting with Luke might not go as expected

According to Daisy Ridley, The Last Jedi will go deeper into Rey’s story. At the end of The Force Awakens, she meets Luke Skywalker for the first time, and Ridley says she has certain expectations from him, especially after hearing so many legends and stories. But according to the actress, Rey might end up being disappointed with Luke, given all the grand stories she’s heard.

Kelly Marie Tran is the biggest new character for the film

Actress Kelly Marie Tran is joining the film, playing someone that director Rian Johnson described as the “biggest new character” in the film. Her name is Rose, and she’s a maintenance worker for the Resistance. She’s not trying to be a hero, but gets pulled into the adventure with Finn.


Billy Dee Williams won’t be in The Last Jedi

Given that The Force Awakens brought back the original trio, Billy Dee Williams returning to reprise his role of Lando Calrissian seemed like a possibility, but Williams shot down the rumors, saying that he hadn’t been asked to return. One of the biggest criticisms of J.J. Abrams’ film was that the movie relied too much on fan service, and that could mean that Rian Johnson isn’t as compelled to rely on the earlier films for inspiration.

Carrie Fisher won’t appear in Episode IX

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy addressed reports that Fisher would be in Episode IX, clarifying that while the actress will be featured heavily in The Last Jedi, she won’t be appearing in the final saga film. The creative team went back to the drawing board this past January after Fisher’s death, and is reworking the project accordingly.

Star Wars Animation

Rebels is ending with season 4 and will tie in more with Rogue One

This wasn’t entirely unexpected, but it’s still sad news: Rebels will be coming to an end with its next season. However, series creator Dave Filoni said it will end on its own terms, bringing all of the story arcs to a natural conclusion. As the show gets closer to the events of Rogue One and A New Hope, fans should also expect more connections between the stories. The jungle moon of Yavin IV will be a location in the coming season, and we’ll see the return of Saw Gerrera and at least one of his Parisian cell members, as well as the U-Wing starfighter that was prominently featured in Gareth Edwards’ film.

The end of Rebels doesn’t mean the end of Star Wars animation

Filoni noted that while Rebels was ending, we will see more animated work. He didn’t specify what he meant by that — whether it’s a new show or some other project — but we do know that we’ll be getting an animated project, Forces of Destiny, later this fall.

Another expanded universe character is coming to Rebels

Grand Admiral Thrawn appeared in the third season of Rebels, and the crew behind the show isn’t done salvaging bits and pieces from the decanonized storyline. Another character from Timothy Zahn’s novel Heir to the Empire will make an appearance, Rukh. He’ll also be voiced by Star Wars veteran Warwick Davis.

An unfinished Clone Wars episode showed how Boba Fett got a dent in his helmet

Filoni screened a bit of an unfinished Clone Wars episode, one in which Boba Fett and Cad Bane faced off in a Wild West-style showdown.

At the end of the confrontation, we see that Fett took a nasty hit to the head, and it left a mark that you later see in the films.

Star Wars: Battlefront II

The Empire’s elite soldiers are the heroes

The huge twist with the game’s single-player campaign is that it’s set entirely from the perspective of Iden, an Imperial special forces officer, and charts her journey as she fights against the Rebellion and New Republic after the Battle of Endor. It’s certainly going to be a different perspective than the usual games that feature more sympathetic heroes.

The game will also get a tie-in novel, Battlefront: Inferno Squad, which is set in the aftermath of A New Hope and Rogue One, which shows off the close-knit nature of the new canon.

The story bridges Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens

Iden’s story kicks off as she sees the second Death Star explode, and will continue all the way to the current trilogy. The game was developed with the Lucasfilm Story Group, so the story of Battlefront II will be considered canon within the franchise.

Play against friends in any era of Star Wars

The multiplayer mode of the new game will go beyond the scope of its predecessor by letting players battle in any era of the franchise, from the prequels all the way up to The Last Jedi. That means more playable heroes, too — including Darth Maul, Kylo Ren, and Rey.

Disney Parks

Visitors will fly, not ride on, the Millennium Falcon

Disney revealed some really exciting things about the upcoming Star Wars-themed expansion to its parks in California and Florida. The park experience will be set in the same era as the new trilogy, but most importantly, visitors won’t just sit back and enjoy the ride on the Millennium Falcon attraction. “Flight crews” made up of visitors will be able to actually pilot the ship on its mission.

Visitors can create a reputation in the Star Wars universe

Visitors aren’t limited to just flying the Millennium Falcon. They’ll get to actively take part in the larger world and story, with the decisions they make in one area of the park actually having consequences when they meet up with other characters in the world. They’ll even be able to join factions: signing up with the First Order, or deciding to go mercenary and head out on a run with some local bounty hunters.

It takes place on a world we’ve never seen before

Rather than visiting well-trodden terrain like Tatooine or Hoth, the parks will take us to a planet that we’ve never seen before in the Star Wars universe. Walt Disney Imagineering has worked with the Lucasfilm Story Group to build that new planet from scratch. While they didn’t offer too many details during the panel, they did reveal that it was a remote, frontier outpost that’s a favorite destination for smugglers, and that both the Resistance and the First Order have a presence there.

What we didn’t learn

While we learned quite a bit about the immediate future of Star Wars, there were several things that were left mysteriously unaddressed.

Next year’s Han Solo film

Given that the as-of-yet-untitled Han Solo film is coming out just six months after The Last Jedi, we were hoping that we might get an official title for the film — or even a brief teaser like Rogue One had two years ago. Neither surfaced.

The future of the series beyond the saga movies

Not only did Lucasfilm not reveal nothing about the Han Solo film, it also avoided discussion of the third standalone movie. We also didn’t learn anything about Lucasfilm and Disney’s ambitions beyond 2020. We know that the companies are looking at at least another decade and a half of films, but Kennedy didn’t reveal anything, other than that we might learn more in the next year or so.

Plans for an unaltered original trilogy Blu-ray

The 40th anniversary panel seemed like an opportune time to announce some sort of pre-Special Edition original trilogy Blu-ray set, which currently only exists in fan-made releases. Nothing was announced, however, which means that we’ll keep waiting until the company finally realizes that they’ll sell like hot cakes.