In little over a year, we’ll be seeing the third and final chapter of Star Wars’ latest trilogy, Episode IX, hit theaters. Unsurprisingly, we barely know a thing about it yet, other than it exists and some people we know and love are in it. But that just gives us more reason to make a list of hopes about what we’ll see when the JJ. Abrams-directed film drops.
Beyond a mandate for new things to add to the great pantheon of Star Wars—new characters, new worlds, new creatures, new stories to tell—here’s just some of the things we’re hoping to see in Episode IX that would really help tie off this latest chapter of the Star Wars galaxy’s perpetual story of good and evil.
Early marketing material for Episode IX has dubbed the film as the end of the “Skywalker Saga,” the pan-generational tale that has occupied the drive of all eight mainline Star Wars movies so far. So basically, it damn well better live up to that promise. With Luke gone, and with Leia potentially to follow given the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher, the Skywalker family bloodline is already petering out (give or take one certain angry young man, who we’ll get to later)—and maybe it’s time for it to do so, and bring its battles and turmoils to an end.
Episode IX needs to conclude the Skywalker family’s tale not just to give it the farewell it justly deserves at this point, and offer closure to Luke and Leia’s journeys, but to put a definite demarcation point on the fact that this is indeed the end of this particular Star Wars story—because there are plenty more to tell.
The Star Wars sequel trilogy has been so far surprisingly introspective for a duology of films that have shown us the cataclysmic eradication of the center of galactic power and the apparent total invasion of the galaxy by a new totalitarian order. Rightfully, these events have been primarily framed through the lenses of the character we’ve been following, like Rey, Finn, and Poe. But it’s also meant that we don’t really get to examine the tumultuous effect these events have actually had on the wider galaxy—something that Star Wars has typically struggled with, outside of showing the scale of the Clone Wars in Revenge of the Sith and the reach of the Empire’s miserable control in Rogue One.
Now that our heroes are left in so few numbers, it’s almost like Episode IX can’t help but have to take a step back and explore the ramifications the destruction of the New Republic’s command structure (and most of its fleet) and the First Order’s sweeping presence across the galaxy. It arguably should’ve happened sooner, but hey, there’s no time like the present.
Yes, yes, The Last Jedi, like Empire Strikes Back before it, separated its key trio for much if its runtime. It’s like poetry, it rhymes, and so on and so forth. But it’d be really nice now that Rey, Finn, Poe—and now Rose—are all aboard the Millennium Falcon together, they actually get to spend some time like that for a bit.
The hasty timeframe of these films (they’ve all taken place over the course of, at most, a week or so?) mean that it sort of makes sense that they don’t yet know each other on the level that Han, Chewie, Leia, and Luke did across the original trilogy. But they’re all such fascinating characters—played by immensely charismatic, delightful actors—that it’d be almost criminal to not have them bounce off of each other as much as possible in this movie. If you’re going to ape Star Wars’ past by having a heroic quartet, you should actually show them getting to be that quartet.
Ah, Kylo Ren. The YouTube comment section on a video about whatever those dastardly “SJWs” are supposedly ruining now, made flesh. The Darth Vader cosplayer with daddy issues so daddy, they transmogrified into granddaddy issues. He’s been one of the most fascinating aspects of the sequel trilogy to watch, as his rage carves a messy, haphazard path through the story. The symbolism of what he represents casts a long critical shadow, from the resonant fear of toxic masculinity to what Star Wars’ own fascination with legacy and its past can represent. Which means in Episode IX, it’s time to finally see what fruits these symbolic overtones will bear.
It’s not certain, but at least easier to speculate what paths our heroes are going on, however, Kylo Ren remains intriguingly cryptic and no doubt will to the end—especially as it is he (give or take a few Star Wars-ian surprise sibling reveals that could crop up) that marks the true end of the Skywalker lineage at this point. Is there redemption for Ben Solo, like his grandfather before him? Or will he let the past die, and his bloodline with it?
Star Wars is a saga of generations—not just in direct relation to the Skywalker bloodline, but in the way different generations have inherited the conflicts of their predecessors, the fire of war sparking across familiar frontiers time and time again. We already have the next generation beyond the original Star Wars heroes, and as we mentioned earlier, we still really need to get to know them better. But Episode IX is not going to be the last Star Wars film (I know, surprising). It’s probably not even going to be the farthest point in the timeline. We’ll almost inevitably explore beyond the conflict between the Resistance and First Order at some point, so the groundwork needs to already start being laid beyond Rey, Finn, Poe, and Rose.
The Last Jedi already started to slowly but surely lay the building blocks for this—out of the ashes of the Resistance, a new rebellion is born on Crait. Learning from both the failures of an icon and the ancient teachings she scurried away with, Rey sets herself on a path to bring the Jedi out of the dark, in a form that we’ve never really seen them before. And whatever happens to Kylo Ren aside, the dark side of the Force has awoken to meet the Jedi’s light, outside of just Ben and Rey’s intertwined paths. It also subtly established that these new beginnings are much more encompassing of a wider range of people than just the Skywalkers and their immediate surroundings, with the potential for anyone across the galaxy to rise up and be a hero, or fall to villainy. The stage is being built, but Episode IX has a chance to really blow the doors open on Star Wars’ future.
As mentioned before, Star Wars is a generational story—but it’s also a weirdly cyclical one, for better or worse (remember the poetry and the rhyming?). The conflicts and tales we’ve seen emerge over the course of the prequel, original, and now sequel trilogies all have parallels across each other, which fosters bonds as much as it does breed a level of homogeneous sameness. Darkness rises, and light to meet it. Empires clash against Republics, give or take slightly different names. Good and evil are pit against each other in a fight where victory is only temporary because there’s always another foe to fight on the horizon.
If, presumably, the First Order is shattered by the climax of Episode IX, the Star Wars galaxy is going to once again find itself where it did at the climax of Return of the Jedi: a defeated evil and a rebellion ready to rebuild a new order. But maybe this time Star Wars doesn’t have to reconstruct a state of the galaxy we’ve already seen built and shattered across two prior generations of film. Maybe we don’t need a New New Republic, or the rise of another hollow Empire in all but name. Maybe, just maybe something truly new can emerge from the ashes of the now-failed attempt to restore the past.
Okay, this is me just being selfish—and not really a “big” thing we want like the previous six—but man, has the sequel saga been lacking in really good space action or what!? Like, a lot of this has made sense—the Resistance doesn’t exactly have a mighty fleet on its hands beyond a few fighter squadrons, and even they get chewed through in The Last Jedi’s opening skirmish with the First Order. So unless Lando’s got himself a fleet of cruisers hiding out there somewhere, the idea of a big, grand space battle is probably less likely than I want it to be.
Can’t stop me from hoping, though, because space battles in Star Wars are always lovely, from the wild chase Anakin and Obi-Wan go through in Revenge of the Sith’s opening, to the legendary Battle of Endor in Return of the Jedi, to even Rogue One’s glorious modernization of it all with the Battle of Scarif. It would be nice to see something on that scale, a truly titanic clash of whatever’s left of the New Republic and Resistance to muster against the military machine of the First Order. But that’s mainly because I think spaceship pilots are cooler than lightsaber wielders, from a purely childish standpoint.