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Star Wars: Episode IX trailer reveals official title, teases the beginning of the end

It's here — really, finally, not-a-late-April-Fools'-joke here

Lucasfilm has drawn the curtain back on the very first trailer for Star Wars: Episode IX, unleashing the footage during the second day of Star Wars Celebration on Friday, April 12. Director J.J. Abrams, the mastermind also behind the inaugural installment in the sequel trilogy, The Force Awakens, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy ushered in the trailer at the tail end of the film's epic panel on the Celebration Stage, hosted by Stephen Colbert.

In addition to giving fans their first glimpse at the ninth entry in the Skywalker saga — the final film before the franchise takes a hiatus and before The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson releases his own trilogy that stands narratively separate from the current trilogy — the Episode IX trailer reveals the film's official title: Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

It isn't the Fall of the First OrderThe Resistance Strikes Back, or The Final Order subtitle that fans have long speculated Episode IX would carry. It isn't A Spark of Hope or Ashes of the Empire that Resistance loyals wanted, nor is it The Knights of Ren or Son of Darkness that the Kylo Ren enthusiasts out there were hoping Episode IX would be called. But the real name — The Rise of Skywalker – is still slick and sharp. And more importantly, it's symbolic — of what's ahead for Rey (Daisy Ridley) and her gang of Rebels, of the Resistance itself, and possibly even the future for new Supreme Leader of the First Order Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) even says in the trailer that this is Rey's fight now, and the footage itself teases that she's this generation's "legend." This all hints that Kylo and his First Order baddies have got a big storm coming. 

Off the title reveal, the trailer sprinkles bits of the film's story out in splendid fashion — offering tastes of the characters' journey as this trilogy nears its stopping point, as well as treats of bombastic action sequences, tender moments between legends of the galaxy and rising Force-sensitive fighters, and, as is required for all movies in the Star Wars, creatures both cuddly and creepy in appearance. 

With Rey and Kylo Ren leading their respective charges, the Rebellion and the First Order, The Rise of Skywalker picks up "some time" after the events of The Last Jedi, as Abrams confirmed during the panel, and centers on Rey, Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), Finn (John Boyega), Chewbacca (Joonas Suotamo), and C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) embarking on an adventure... together

The late, great Carrie Fisher makes her final, posthumous appearance as General (and Princess) Leia Organa in The Rise of Skywalker, seen tightly embracing Rey as she cries. Joining her is another iconic franchise star: Billy Dee Williams as the smooth-talking space gambler Lando Calrissian, a veteran of the Rebel Alliance who will aid our young heroes on their new mission. Kelly Marie Tran reprises her The Last Jedi role as Resistance technician Rose Tico, as does Billie Lourd as Resistance officer Lieutenant Connix. The Rise of Skywalker also introduces several fresh faces – Naomi Ackie as Jannah (who may or may not be the daughter of Lando Calrissian), plus characters played by Keri Russell, Richard E. Grant, and Dominic Monaghan — and a new droid named Dio.

We'll have a full feature covering all the small details hidden in The Rise of Skywalker trailer coming soon, but we wanted to share with you the footage as quickly as possible. Check it out above. 

This first-look footage at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is pretty enthralling, truly the kind of concentrated joy that will light up fans' eyes and have them buzzing for weeks on end, but what it lacks is also its strongest point. The Rise of Skywalker trailer rides a fine line between two sides of the same coin: imparting so much information that the film's three acts and complete arc is essentially plotted out in two minutes of footage, and withholding all of its juicy tidbits that would inspire excitement out of fear of spoiling the film. 

Just as it's lame when trailers reveal too much, it's a bummer when they don't offer enough. Lucasfilm got it just right with The Rise of Skywalker: we know some basics about the film but don't know how everything will play out, don't have all our questions about the story answered, and still have space to spark up discussions with fellow fans about theories on, say, Darth Vader potentially returning or Poe embracing his sensitivity toward the Force and becoming a Jedi himself or a pair of iconic characters being revealed as Rey's real parents. The film is called The Rise of Skywalker, after all, so it might not be a stretch to speculate that Rey could be a member of the famous Jedi family. 

While there remain dozens of mysteries around The Rise of Skywalker and endless possibilities as to how the film will bob and weave through its sure-to-be-twisty story, Star Wars fans are no longer left in the (total) dark about Episode IX. Lucasfilm at long last turned a light on, and in doing so, nearly broke the internet, sent enthusiasts into fits of happiness, and started the official countdown to the film's release later this year.

Get your lightsabers ready – Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker will open in theaters on December 20.