One of the chief criticisms thrown at Star Wars: The Force Awakens is that it’s too similar to A New Hope. There’s literally a video compilation with all the similarities, including shots, story beats, and space explosions, I guess? Rian Johnson shook things up dramatically with The Last Jedi, which upset a lot of so-called purists (despite it being the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back, do not @ me), but he won’t complete the episodic trilogy — The Force Awakens director and co-writer J.J. Abrams will. Does that mean The Rise of Skywalker will be endlessly compared to Return of the Jedi. Not quite.
“Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently,” Abrams told Vanity Fair. “Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting — I was doing what to the best of my ability I felt Star Wars should be. [But this time, it] felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, fuck it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.” In other words, The Rise of Skywalker will be its own thing, like The Last Jedi, and not as explicitly familiar as The Force Awakens. That’s exciting! And it probably means Episode IX will “only” make $1.8 billion at the box office instead of $2 billion. But still, exciting!
The Vanity Fair article also confirmed that the Knights of Ren, a group of dark siders, will be in Skywalker and debuted Keri Russell’s character, a “masked scoundrel” (no more wigs!) with the appropriately ridiculous name, Zorri Bliss.