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Happy birthday George Lucas! 5 big questions we need answering in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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There's just no Star Wars without Lucas. For decades he's been keeping us guessing with tonnes of incredible plot twists and surprises. So it's no wonder that we have more questions than ever about Star Wars: Episode IX. Happy 75th birthday, George!

1. Who is the 'Skywalker' of the title?

A question that perhaps seems obvious on the surface actually has a lot more to it. Of course, The Last Jedi ended with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) disappearing into the Force, finally at peace after showing up to save the day and face his previous pupil, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver).

The title of Episode IX therefore becomes even more intriguing. Could the 'rise' refer to Luke's return? This is a theory which seems unlikely given that the title of the previous film was The Last Jedi, but as Star Wars fans know, those who pass still have important parts to play, so perhaps the 'rise' is referring to Luke's return as a Force ghost.

Of course, Luke isn't the only Skywalker. Perhaps the Skywalker of the title in fact refers to Kylo Ren, who is of course half Skywalker, being the son of Leia (the late Carrie Fisher, whose role is made up of unused footage). The title is deliberately ambiguous, meaning the speculation can continue right up until we get the real answers!. If Kylo is the Skywalker of the title then 'rise' could refer to either his redemption and return to the light side, or of course his "rise" to ultimate power as the new leader of the First Order.

Some are also theorizing that 'Skywalker' isn't actually going to be a person at all – instead, perhaps it's going to be the term coined by those who use the Force. This would certainly tie into the film's previous themes of the Jedi coming to an end, and with this film marking the closure of the Skywalker saga, the 'rise' of the title is perhaps referring to the legacy of the family name, rather than a specific person.


2. Palpatine is back?!

Arguably the biggest surprise of the trailer – and the subsequent reveal on stage at the Star Wars Celebration – was the return of Emperor Palpatine. That unmistakable laugh sent chills through our spine, and of course immediately made us ask, how on earth is he still alive?

Up until this point, we believed that Palpatine had met a fiery end in 1983's Return of the Jedi at the hands of Darth Vader, so of course we're dying to know how he survived this...if he did survive it at all that is.

This being Star Wars, it could be that Palpatine isn't going to be back in body, but that sinister laughter certainly signifies he is going to be back in some form or another. (Returning actor Ian McDiarmid has however confirmed that the laugh we hear is an archived one, not a new one recorded for this movie.)

Palpatine has had an important part to play throughout the whole of the Skywalker saga, right back to the prequel trilogy as well, so it is fitting that he returns for the final chapter.




3. Who are Rey's parents?

Directed by Rian Johnson, The Last Jedi seemingly gave us a definitive answer as to Rey's parentage – namely that they weren't significant in any way. However, The Rise of Skywalker director JJ Abrams has set the rumour mill off again when he said in a recent interview that there is "more to the story".

In The Last Jedi Kylo Ren told Rey that her parents were nobodies, which initially seemed to put all the rumours of her parentage to rest. But many fans were not satisfied with this answer, and had previously hoped that Rey's lineage would be significant to the wider Star Wars story.

While retconning The Last Jedi might not be the most popular move, it can't be ignored that the film did leave things slightly open to interpretation. Perhaps Ren was lying to Rey in order to manipulate her, in order to make her think that she was nobody - but is he hiding a secret?


4. What has Lando been up to?

Reprising his role as Lando Calrissian in The Rise of Skywalker is Billy Dee Williams. It's the first time we've seen him (as an older man, that is), since Return of the Jedi and of course this does then beg the question: where has he been all this time? Not only that, but why is he only now just coming back onto the scene?

The Last Jedi ended with the Rebel Resistance down but definitely not out, and with so many key players no longer in the fight, it is likely they will be calling in reinforcements from all corners of the galaxy. This could well include our favourite space pirate, Lando.




5. Will Kylo Ren ever come back to the light?

Perhaps one of the most interesting characters in this saga, Kylo Ren has felt turmoil in his pull between the light and the dark sides of the Force. And even though The Last Jedi seemingly saw him embrace the dark side, we know there is conflict within him, and perhaps there is still hope. There is clearly a connection between him and Rey, and as we have seen in previous films, redemption is one of the key themes of this saga.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is released on 19th December. Tweet us your essential fan theories @Cineworld.

Sarah Buddery is a writer who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.