'Rise of Skywalker' trailer breakdown: 4 classic trilogy Easter eggs and what they mean

Iconic helmets. Familiar throne rooms. But not the ones you were looking for!


While it was fun to freak-out over a weird Force-dagger and maybe Darth Vader’s helmet in the final trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, there were also some serious deep-cut references to the original trilogy in the latest footage. Some of this stuff was pretty subtle, and some of it wasn’t. But, if you look closely you’ll find that The Rise of Skywalker is making some very specific visual references to the classic films, which makes the entire movie suddenly seem like an even bigger nostalgia-fest than The Force Awakens.

Here are four deep-cut nods to the OG Star Wars trilogy you may have missed. Plus, what these Easter eggs and references might mean.

Trailer spoilers and speculation ahead.

A helmet similar to Leia's from 'Return of the Jedi'


Leia’s “hat” could be from Return of the Jedi

In the opening scenes of the trailer, a helmet falls to the ground. It looks almost exactly like the one Leia wore during the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi.

Leia wearing her helmet on Endor


Hilariously, Leia referred to this helmet as a “hat,” when she showed it to Wicket the Ewok. Could Rey be on Endor? Or is this just a clever reference to Leia?

C-3PO calming R2-D2 down just like in 'A New Hope'


C-3PO calms down R2-D2, just like in A New Hope

When C-3PO tells Poe Dameron that he’s “taking one last look… at my friends,” R2-D2 gets a little rowdy. Sweetly, C-3PO puts his hand on R2-D2’s chrome-domed head. This is a perfect parallel to the ending scene of A New Hope, where it’s revealed that R2-D2 is ALIVE and functioning.

C-3PO patting R2-D2 on the head after he got wiggly in 'A New Hope'


Could this be foreshadowing? If C-3PO is about to die (via memory wipe), then it makes sense that the scene could be a direct parallel to a scene from the old films in which we realize his counterpart, R2-D2, has, essentially, been brought back from the dead.

A Y-Wing attacks a Star Destroyer in the 'Rise of Skywalker' trailer


Y-Wing references a Ralph McQuarrie production painting from the seventies

In one really sick shot, we see a Y-Wing taking on a Star Destroyer. This doesn’t seem like a big plot point, but it does beautifully seem to homage an old Ralph McQuarrie painting from a time before Star Wars was even released. Famously, George Lucas hired McQuarrie to help him pre-visualize many aspects of the look and feel of Star Wars.

A production painting created by Ralph McQuarrie to visualize the original Star Wars 


This image of a Y-Wing attacking what would become the Death Star is so iconic that it helped convince studio heads this movie was for real. Now, more than four decades later, that exact shot seems to have been recreated.

There's Palpatine's old chair!


Rey and Kylo are clearly in the Emperor’s Throne Room from Return of the Jedi

Rey and Kylo Ren appear to duel in all sorts of different locations. The one that is most obviously from the classic films is Emperor Palpatine’s Throne Room from Return of the Jedi. We can clearly see Palpatine’s old throne and the big window behind Rey, from the second Death Star in orbit above Endor.

Luke and Vader in the Emperor's Throne Room in 'Return of the Jedi'


That said, it’s not clear if the events of The Rise of Skywalker will take us to Endor. So, where are Kylo Ren and Rey, really? It seems like the answer could simply be that they are fighting in some kind of meta-physical realm that takes the shape of settings we’ve seen before. Early in the trailer, Rey leaps from a jungle location to some kind of space station/space ship wreckage. Some leaks and rumors suggest that she and Kylo Ren are using “Force flashes”; meaning they are instantly teleporting through the Force to different planets and places.

It’s just as possible that they aren’t actually physically teleporting anywhere, and instead, these different locations — including the Throne Room – are simply manifestations of the Force. If that’s true, that’s evidence that one of George Lucas’s oldest ideas about the sequel trilogy is being used in a new way.

According to multiple sources, Lucas always wanted the saga to conclude with metaphysical aspects of the Force. And if Rey and Kylo are fighting from inside the Force, it looks like that may actually happen.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out everywhere on December 20, 2019.

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