This past week, Star Wars Celebration Chicago took the nerd news by storm! For five days, Star Wars fans gathered together and celebrated their love for one of the greatest franchises of all time.
We were fortunate to attend and cover the event. There we saw passionate fans, cosplayers, exhibitors, etc. showcasing nothing but their appreciation for the Galaxy Far, Far Away. While there was so much exciting news announced/dropped at the convention, here are a few snippets that still have everyone talking!
Ep. IX Trailer & Panel
Of course, the first big and highly anticipated panel of the convention was the Ep. IX panel. There we saw producer Kathleen Kennedy, director JJ Abrams, and a number of cast members speak about their experiences on set and vague mentions at where certain characters are heading. There was some light teasing on which characters would end up together, enough to keep fans guessing and build excitement.
While we are all excited to see where our new set of characters go in Ep. IX, fans were incredibly happy to see the return of Billy Dee Williams! The veteran actor has played an iconic character in Lando Calrissian and his return is something we’re all excited to see. Finally, we were also given some news on Naomi Acki’s character, named Jannah; a character who crosses paths with our heroes along the story. Rumors are now speculating that she’s Lando’s daughter, but in a galaxy so large and vast, she’s more than likely her own character, not tied down to any preexisting one.
For months, fans have been expecting the title, but as each day got closer to Celebration, it seemed that Lucasfilm was holding off on the title until then. At the end of the panel, we are finally given our first look at the end of the saga and it did not disappoint. I won’t talk about the trailer itself, but rather discuss the emotion of watching it for the first time, in wide-eyed excitement when Rey jumped over the TIE Interceptor. A gleeful grin came upon my face with the first sighting of Lando flying the Millennium Falcon once again. My heart fluttered at the sight of Leia hugging Rey, and it sank when I heard the cackle of the Sith Lord Darth Sidious/The Emperor (my personal favorite character). Only to finish it off with the reveal of the title, The Rise of Skywalker!
To add to the excitement and speculation, Ian McDiarmid (who portrays The Emperor), came on stage and with the voice said, “Roll it again” and this is where fans erupted in cheers and we got to rewatch the trailer!
Ahmed Best and Kelly Marie Tran Receiving a Standing Ovation
It’s well known that Star Wars actors have been harassed and bullied online. While it has happened to many, the two actors that have probably received the worst treatment are Ahmed Best (known for playing Jar Jar Binks) and Kelly Marie Tran (who plays Rose Tico). Actors that are doing their jobs are berated by online trolls, but when they arrived at the main stage for The Phantom Menace 20th Anniversary Panel and the Episode IX Panel, fans erupted in cheers – standing up, showcasing nothing but love and admiration to them. It felt very much like the Star Wars fandom was apologizing to them for all the harassment they’ve had to deal with, telling them that they matter and that we appreciate what they brought to Star Wars.
The Mandalorian Panel
The first live-action Star Wars series was one of the more anticipated panels during Celebration. Speculations were being thrown around at what will be shown to the fans in attendance and what people outside the panel will see. Only those who attended the panel were treated to a nice surprise on watching a behind-the-scenes reel, a full scene from an episode, an amazing montage of exciting action, and an exclusive poster to those in attendance. While some outside the panel may be disappointed they didn’t see anything, it’s a nice treat for those who were in attendance, and it avoids confusion from the Ep. IX trailer.
Director Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni (creator of The Clone Wars and Rebels) hosted the panel, and discussed their experiences working on Star Wars in the past and what they bring to the table. The cast: Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, and Carl Weathers joined in, where they further discussed their excitement for the series.
Fans can expect a very strong Western vibe along the lines of classics done by directors Sergio Leone and Akira Kurosawa; with Clint Eastwood being the main source of inspiration for Pedro Pascal.
Fans who attended the panel will tell you to expect great things and I can confirm it will be a fun, wild adventure when Disney+ launches on November 12, 2019!
Jedi: Fallen Order Trailer
In the past, many gamers and fans alike have been wary about EA Star Wars games. Many were let down by the first Battlefront, and while Battlefront 2 was vastly improved by including a story, fans and gamers still demanded something more. It now seems we may have that with the latest Star Wars game, Jedi: Fallen Order!
We follow a young Jedi, Cal Kestis, who survived the slaughter of Darth Vader in the film Revenge of the Sith as he tries to live a quiet life in hiding. However, from what we see in the trailer, it’s hard for a Jedi to not be good.
Though we didn’t see any gameplay, the story is incredibly enticing as we see new worlds and are introduced to new characters that have been seen in other forms of Star Wars media, like the Second Sister, the main antagonist of the game.
Playing Cal is Cameron Monaghan (best known for his role as Jerome on Gotham). He was welcomed to the Star Wars family with open arms and we can’t wait to see where the story goes as we learn more about Cal, and the rise/state of the Empire by this point.
The Return of The Clone Wars
We were told a while back that the popular series The Clone Wars would be making a return to our screens, this time on the Disney+ streaming service. Fans everywhere were excited and waited with anticipation to hear and see more news. Now we finally have it!
From the trailer, we can assume that this season seems to be heavily focused on fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano and the Siege of Mandalore, one of the final battles in the The Clone Wars, right before the events in Revenge of the Sith, with both Anakin and Obi-Wan looking more like they did in the film.
We learn interesting new tidbits and we’ll be introduced to new characters that serve the story. Returning to Star Wars is Darth Maul (or just Maul at this point). After the previous season, we know he tries to reclaim Mandalore again and we learn that actor Ray Park, who originally played the character in The Phantom Menace, actually did all the fighting in mo-cap!
Again, this season seems to be focusing on Ahsoka after leaving the Jedi Order and her relationship with her master Anakin, before he fell to the Dark Side.
There is so much that can happen and we have only seen the surface! Fans of the series continue to rejoice as one of the best Star Wars stories continues and is given a definitive ending.
There was a ton of other great Star Wars news that came out of Celebration. We got a better look at the theme park Galaxy’s Edge. We learned that Greg Pak will be writing the main Star Wars comic, as well as more novels to be released leading up to The Rise of Skywalker.
Overall, one can say that Star Wars Celebration was a huge success and shows that in the fandom there are those who really do love Star Wars and the people behind it. Many happy memories have been made, and exciting news has been dropped. It’s hard not to get excited for all the amazing content about to be released!