Star Wars Celebration Orlando celebrates the 40th anniversary of the franchise by showcasing old and upcoming films, tv shows and videogames.
Star Wars Celebration is a time that fans from across the globe can come together and celebrate their love for the massive franchise. This year’s event marks the 40th anniversary for “Star Wars” and brought big news in terms of its films, shows, games and much more.
“40 Years of Star Wars” Panel
Kicking off the celebration was a panel featuring the creator himself, George Lucas, as well as other major actors and figures from the saga. The panel, hosted by Warwick Davis (Wicket the Ewok), includes insight on what is was like working on the films from major players such as Ian McDiarmid (The Emperor), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and many more. Hayden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker) also made his return to the celebration scene after fifteen years and shared his story of finding it hard to stop making lightsaber sound effects while shooting his fights in Episode’s II and III. A surprise to everyone watching was Harrison Ford’s arrival on stage, making his first ever Star Wars Celebration appearance. The daughter of the late Carrie Fisher, Billie Lourd, spoke a few words on what the films meant to her mother and presented a tribute video dedicated to her. Wrapping up the panel was a performance by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the fantastic John Williams, to whom George referred to as the ‘secret sauce’ of “Star Wars.” The panel was an excellent start to the Celebration and you can check it out for yourself here.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Panel
While the panel for “The Last Jedi” did not reveal much, the poster and teaser trailer were more than enough to satisfy fans. We did learn from the panel about the new character Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), a mechanic for the Resistance who is said to join Finn on his adventure for the film. Mark Hamill also stated that Luke may not be the person that Rey was expecting to find, a sort of ‘never meet your hero’ scenario. The trailer gives us glimpses at some of the worlds that we can expect to visit in the film as well as some familiar faces. Throughout the start of the trailer you can hear faint voices coming from Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Leia which is very reminiscent of Rey’s vision in “The Force Awakens.” We get one specific shot on a shelf of books, one of which dons a symbol commonly associated with the Jedi which leads many to theorize that the book is “the Journal of the Whills.” One moment of the trailer shows some new type of speeders, which give off some strong pod-racing vibes, heading towards what appear to be Imperial Walkers. Finn is shown to be in some type of medical tube and Poe is seen with BB-8 running from his X-Wing exploding once again. A brief look at a space battle is shown, one that looks much more comparable to the fight in “Rogue One” than the in “The Force Awakens.”
Kylo Ren’s helmet is shown in pieces, hinting that he may acquire a new one or get rid of it altogether so that he can show off his new scar. It has been rumored that Hayden Christensen might return as Anakin’s force ghost in the film, either to speak with Luke or talk some sense into Kylo. This rumor is given more weight considering his sudden return to the celebration scene after all these years. We also see what could be a flashback to Luke watching his temple being burned to the ground by Kylo, which perhaps is what pushes him to make his bold statement at the end of the trailer that it’s time for the Jedi to end. It’s a long shot, but maybe Luke will make some reference to his fathers apprentice Ahsoka Tano who left the Jedi Order but still practiced the light side of The Force. We have also learned in “Star Wars Rebels” from The Bendu that The Force extends past the constraints of both the Jedi and Sith code. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is set to release in theaters this year on Dec. 15.
“Star Wars Rebels Season Four” Panel
This was probably my favorite panel of the event and featured the trailer I was most looking forward to. Show producer Dave Filoni revealed at the panel that season four of “Star Wars Rebels” will be its last one, allowing him to end the show on his own terms unlike “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” which had about two more seasons planned before the Disney acquisition. It’s worth noting that he stated there will be another show, which I predict will take place during the large period of time left open between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” The biggest reveal from the trailer was that Grand Admiral Thrawn’s personal bodyguard and assassin Rukh (Warwick Davis) from the old expanded universe will make his debut this season. I speculated in my review for “Legacy of Mandalore” that Bo-Katan would return and be the one to help unite Mandalore with the use of the Darksaber, and sure enough she can be seen a few times in the trailer. Dave Filoni has a known affinity for wolves and it seems he is getting his wish with what looks like a giant wolf being ridden by Ezra and an unconscious Sabine. During the panel Dave was wearing a shirt with ‘Ahsoka lives?’ written on it but was switched to ‘Ahsoka lives!’ after they debuted the new trailer, teasing fans about the return of a fan-favorite character. Mon Mothma and Saw Gerrera will also return this season with Genevieve O’Reilly and Forest Whitaker reprising their roles respectively. The two’s uneasy relationship will likely be explored and may explain Mon Mothma’s reason for distancing herself from the extremist in “Rogue One.”
The season will have fifteen episodes and is said to be a much more serialized format, meaning the episodes will be one big continuous arc as opposed to previous seasons. A select few at Celebration were able to see the first episode of the season and it appears to be focused on Sabine and her struggle to unite the people of Mandalore. I am interested to see how Kanan and Ezra’s characters will play out by the end, as it does not make sense for two Jedi to be hanging around Yavin base when Luke arrives in “A New Hope” considering we’re about a year or two out from its events. If I could choose one thing to happen this season, it would be for an interaction between Vader (James Earl Jones) and Thrawn (Lars Mikkelsen) to occur, solely because of their prominence in the Empire and given how distinct their voice actor’s vocal chords are. The show will return for it final season this fall on Disney XD.
“Star Wars Battlefront II” Panel
The new trailer for “Battlefront 2” revealed at the panel looks to fix most of the problems I had with its predecessor back in 2015. The trailer promises a new campaign that takes place after the second Death Star is destroyed and has you play as Iden Versio, an Imperial Commander of Inferno Squadron. The campaign is confirmed to be canon, which means it will be officially a part of the larger “Star Wars” mythos. There will also be a tie-in novel, releasing July 25, that will feature Inferno Squad and explore what they were up to following the aftermath of “Rogue One” and “A New Hope.” What I’m most excited about is that the multiplayer will span across all three eras and feature the wealth of iconic locations, technology and characters. There will also be multiple classes to choose from, which you can than upgrade the more you play. EA has also confirmed that there will be no season pass for the game, which could mean that the DLC will be free or they may have some other system up their sleeve. “Star Wars Battlefront II” will release on November 17 of this year.
“Heroines of Star Wars” Panel
Announced the night before Celebration began, “Forces of Destiny” is a series of 2-D shorts focused around the heroines of the saga and some of their adventures outside the films. The panel featured Dave Filoni, Ashley Eckstein (Ahsoka Tano), Tiya Sircar (Sabine Wren) and surprise guest Daisy Ridley (Rey) to discuss what it was like working on the show. Felicity Jones will also return as Jyn Erso in stories set before the events of “Rogue One,” as well as Lupita Nyong’o to narrate the shorts as her character Maz Kanata. Some shorts will feature crossovers with characters though remain based in canon, for example Hera Syndulla (Vanessa Marshall) from “Star Wars Rebels” will work with Princess Leia (Shelby Young) and Han during the attack on Endor. It will also be a bit of a mini “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” reunion for some shorts based in the prequel era with Matt Lanter returning to voice Anakin Skywalker, Catherine Taber as Padmé Amidala and the aforementioned Ashley Eckstein as Ahsoka Tano. It will be interesting to see how the shorts play out and how much of an impact they’ll have on the characters, especially considering the amount of stories they can tell given the timeline they’re working with. The first eight shorts will release on YouTube in July, with eight more coming in the fall for a special on Disney Channel.