In what is now a biennial tradition, Vanity Fair has a bunch of beautiful new Star Wars portraits and photos from Annie Leibovitz covering their new issue—let’s be honest, this is a very fancy, very splashy ad. This year there are two covers: Rey and Kylo Ren. They look serious and determined. Kylo Ren’s scar has been moved for maximum roguishness.
Your first look at #StarWars: The Rise of Skywalker is here! Let Vanity Fair introduce you to the final chapter in the Skywalker saga. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz. Story by Lev Grossman. https://t.co/ER4XSJmZ8k pic.twitter.com/OyQKDN69eR— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) May 22, 2019
Everyone is speculating what the subtitle “Rise of Skywalker” could mean, and while I am not interested in trying to out-guess the movie—and I don’t trust JJ Abrams not to overcomplicate everything anyway—I think it refers to a new, post-Jedi order of Force warriors. In the last movie, Kylo Ren tried to sway Rey to the Dark Side and failed. In the new one, I think Rey will try to bring Ben Solo back to the Light Side of the Force. Maybe she fails, maybe she doesn’t. Either way, I think Rey becomes the founding member of a new order she dubs “Skywalker”, after Luke, which unites the Light and Dark Sides to achieve a better balance than the ascetic Jedi ever did.
The new photos also include a look at Keri Russell’s character, a “masked scoundrel” called Zorri Bliss. She looks COOL AS HELL, but I do wonder if she’ll end up wearing that helmet the whole time. Is this a Boba Fett situation, where we never see her face? Of course, everyone thinks she is playing Rey’s mom because JJ Abrams planted that mystery box in The Force Awakens and despite The Last Jedi’s best effort, people still cling to the notion that Rey’s parents have to matter (they don’t). We also get to see Richard E. Grant as General Pryde. I know everyone is super stoked about Keri Russell in Star Wars, but if you are not also excited about Richard E. Grant in Star Wars, you’re not doing it right. He is going to be SO much fun, in the movie and on the press circuit. He’s photographed with Domhnall Gleason, who plays comedy villain General Hux. Does this mean General Pryde is also a comedy villain?
#StarWars: The Rise of Skywalker features many new characters, including Keri Russell as Zorri Bliss and Richard E. Grant as Allegiant General Pryde. Get your first look right here. https://t.co/ER4XSJmZ8k pic.twitter.com/vtykcfUEjP— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) May 22, 2019
It’s not like these movies need all these villains. I think Rian Johnson turned Hux into a comedy villain because he realized he didn’t really need Hux, so he just made Hux comic relief. The Rise of Skywalker is not going to need a bunch of First Order bad guys because besides Kylo Ren, this movie will also give us the Knights of Ren, an entire cohort of masked bad guys to hang out with Kylo. I’m not sure we really need these guys either, and I bet they end up like Thanos’ children in Infinity War and Endgame—there for the fight scenes and little else. Also, their appearance in Vanity Fair has me petrified that Abrams is bringing ALL of his mystery box bullsh-t from The Force Awakens. The teaser made me wary, these photos have me straight up scared. Mystery boxes are not storytelling and not every piece of backstory has to be explained. Some things can just be texture, not actual text.
SPEAKING OF TEXTURE, here is Poe Dameron and his fabulous f-ckin’ hair, alongside Chewbacca and BIILY DEE MOTHERF-CKING WILLIAMS back as Lando Calrissian. (The OG Chewbacca, Peter Mayhew, passed away in April. Joonas Suotamo is now the only Chewbacca.) LOOK AT THIS ICONIC TRIO.
And BB-8 photobombing from the back. I’m sure Lainey is ecstatic to see her fave butting into a photo next to Poe Dameron. (Lainey: this goddamn famewhore, I swear.) The last we saw of Poe, he had learned a hard lesson about true leadership, but now he is pictured in the Millennium Falcon and he doesn’t look like he’s wearing any kind of real uniform. Did he leave the Resistance, at least in an official capacity? I am interested in where these characters go after The Last Jedi and I just do not trust JJ Abrams to deliver on that. This VF spread is making me very afraid he sees Episode IX as a way to “fix” The Last Jedi, which does not need fixing. That movie attempts to move Star Wars past both its own weighty Skywalker lore and Abrams’ mystery box bullsh-t, but I am getting strong backsliding vibes from everything from Episode IX so far. I hope I’m wrong, but something tells me we will end up as divided over New New Star Wars as we are over the Game of Thrones finale. For now, though, let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best for these cool characters. Maybe JJ Abrams will surprise us all. Maybe this shot of Rey and Kylo Ren fighting while dressed for completely different weather is actually a moment that will unite us all.