It was Christmas of 1976—43 years ago!—when George Lucas released the first trailer for Star Wars, wowing audiences all over the world with the richly populated, wildly imaginative galaxy far, far away that’s been the setting for every Star Wars trailer that followed. In the decades since, Star Wars trailers have become a central part of the media landscape, spawning an entire industry of books, video games, and even theme park attractions. So it was bittersweet to watch the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker when Disney released it Monday night, knowing it would be the final trailer in the entire Skywalker trailer saga. Good news, though: The trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is a fitting send-off for the franchise, staying true to the spirit of the original trailers, salvaging the best parts of Lucas’ underrated trilogy of prequel trailers, and moving the Star Wars trailer universe forward into surprising new territory. Take a look:
Chills. It can be so difficult to balance the needs of Star Wars trailer fans with those of new viewers who might not be as obsessed with all of the trailers that preceded it, but director J.J. Abrams has threaded the needle as gracefully as the X-Wing dodging obstacles on the surface of the second Death Star in the trailer for Return of the Jedi. You don’t have to recognize that the shot of Lando giving a briefing in a starship hanger at 0:27 echoes the famous shot of the Hoth hangar in the trailer for The Empire Strikes Back—although Abrams’ version has an off-putting blue tint to it—but superfans will be pleased, and the image works just as well for newbies, making this a model example of franchise trailer filmmaking.
And although the trailer naturally focuses on Rey and Kylo Ren, stars of the most recent Star Wars trailers, the voice-over also features Ian McDiarmid, whose reprisal of his iconic performance as the Emperor in the trailer for Revenge of the Sith was such a key part of the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker teaser trailer. (As for the glimpse of what looks like the ruins of the Emperor’s Throne Room, where Luke and Vader fought in the Return of the Jedi trailer, I reiterate: chills.) But there’s bad news for Star Wars trailer superfans too: an implication that C-3PO, the beloved protocol droid played by Anthony Daniels since the very first trailer, may be leaving the franchise after this trailer. In many ways, Daniels was the heart of the franchise, which is reason enough to revisit the Skywalker trailer saga from the very beginning to appreciate his performance anew. To get you started, here’s the trailer for Episode IV, from back before it was even called the trailer for Episode IV:
Although it’s sad to say goodbye to the Skywalker family storyline that has been so central to Star Wars trailers for so long, the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is the final trailer the series deserved. New, non-Skywalker Star Wars trailers will undoubtedly be coming soon to theaters near you.