7 Key Takeaways from the Vanity Fair Rise of Skywalker Article

Vanity Fair, as has been its history in recent years, dropped a huge article going behind the scenes on the latest Star Wars film. With a dozen great photos from the legendary Annie Leibovitz, along with a bunch of juicy tidbits mixed among the fluff, there is a LOT to digest and unpack there.

I will go over the 7 key points I saw in the Vanity Fair The Rise of Skywalker article, new facts we learned, theories busted and confirmed!

1. Timeline

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There had been lots of speculation that the events would be many years after the events of The Last Jedi, but it’s confirmed now that only a year or so has passed. This is interesting in that you have to now eliminate any thought of the Resistance building up to be able to fight the First Order head-on in any way.

The original trilogy always played the Rebellion as the underdog, outmatched and outgunned. But even in A New Hope, Vader and Tarkin are warned that “they are more dangerous than you realize”.

 
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I would be very surprised to see a huge Return of the Jedi - style space battle. I have to think that the Resistance is going to still be relying on guile and a smaller, more personal battle to cut the head off the snake.

 

2. Knights of Ren

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The passing reference by Snoke in The Force Awakens, and the fleeting shot in the Forceback are all we know about them. They were AWOL in The Last Jedi, but we know now they are back and prominent in Rise of Skywalker, and they look awesome. I would be shocked if they are just a footnote or cameo.

 
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3. New Baddies

So in addition to the Knights of Ren, we also see a shot of Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde. Which is a cool name, but what the Force is an “Allegiant General”? And is he senior or junior to Hux? This is a fun tease to me, I like a little mystery going into the movie.

 
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We also have our first look and name for Kerri Russel’s character, Zorri Bliss. She’s described as a “Scoundrel”, which could mean a lot of things. I’ll throw her in the Baddies section for now, but I think there’s a good chance she’ll be at least a “gray” character, like DJ from The Last Jedi.

 

4. New Planets

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The desert planet we see in the trailer, and in the photos is not Jakku or Tatooine, as I along with most of the internet thought a few weeks back. It’s the planet Pasaana. So we are getting at least 2 new planets, also adding the snowy planet Kijimi. I’m glad again that we are getting new locations, new characters, and not just revisiting and rehashing the old stuff.

 

5. “Common Emblem”

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Apparently this is in C-3PO’s first line. Trying to interpret a symbol the resistance has found? Maybe from an Imperial artifact? Probably a throwaway line, but still, this far out from the movie, it’s fun to think about what it could mean.

 

6. Luke’s Appearance

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The internet is on fire over this shot of Luke and R2. TLJ Revisionists are taking it as proof that JJ Abrams is throwing what Rian Johnson did in TLJ out the window.

I am not so sure.

The picture is not from the film, but from the set. No post-production to add effects like a Force Ghost glow. And most of the pics in the article are obviously not from an active scene.

I feel that at best Luke will be a Force Projection, maybe having learned new skills after becoming one with the Force in TLJ. But I would be supremely disappointed if Luke just straight up isn’t really dead, and that’s the source of the film title. Way, way, way too revisionist and reactionary for me.

 

7. Not a rehash

But far and away the most interesting thing to me was the following set of quotes from JJ.

First, regarding The Force Awakens:

On seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting—I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt Star Wars should be.

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This to me sums up what I did not like about the first sequel. To be clear, I love The Force Awakens, but it’s hard for me to get past that initial feeling of disappointment I had coming out of my first viewing that it really wasn’t an original story.

I have since seen it about 50 more times, and quickly came to appreciate all it did add, the new characters, the feel of grittiness and realism in the environments, and the new possibilities.

But, to make the story perfect, I really wanted a new adventure. This is part of what I like about the Last Jedi. Love it or hate it, it’s different. It subverted expectations, and kept folks guessing. A lot of fans enjoy this. Some do not. And both are fine, all fans are entitled to like what they want.

But to me as a true Original Trilogy guy, seeing every single SW movie in the theaters when they were released, I was more than OK with something new.

Rian Johnson did this. JJ also seems to be headed that way with The Rise of Skywalker:

“It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, F*** it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.”

This to me sounds great, and honestly what Star Wars needs to stay relevant.

Now, I’m NOT in favor of “retconning” events from TLJ to basically have them “not count”, like bringing back Luke Skywalker, or having Rey be Luke’s kid, or Obi-Wan’s kid, or Palplatine’s creation, or any of the other “Rey must be related to XYZ Star Wars Royalty”.

JJ has already said at Star Wars Celebration that there is more to Rey’s story than her parents being nobody, just “filthy junk traders”. And I’m fine with that. She’s obviously special somehow, but to me just lazily making her part of some force-wielding family, and having that be the source of her power would be a major disappointment for me.

Let me know in the comments if you think I missed anything that you took away from the article, or your thoughts on on the new reveals from this great article.

All Photos Credit: Vanity Fair