I'm ambivalent to or even supportive of these, but I really hope they're wrong about the last one (and I think the evidence is pretty flimsy). It comes across as an attempt to inject edgy morally-relativist grim dark shit into the franchise.This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Christmas is going to feel weird this year without a Star Wars movie in theatres. Ever since J.J. Abrams reignited the Skywalker saga in 2015 with The Force Awakens, the Star Wars universe has been in a constant state of flux. Initial plans for a dozen different movies have since been changed for a slightly less explosive approach to world (re)building, with spin-off movies swapped for TV shows and future trilogy news going quiet.
All eyes are currently on what the future holds for Star Wars after Episode IX, but we’ve still got a year to wait before that film even comes out. Set to tie-up more than 40 year’s worth of plot lines, Abrams’ third trilogy closer will likely finish the story that George Lucas started telling in 1977. A lot of the original characters have already finished their arcs in Episodes VII and VIII, but there’s still plenty of ground left to cover in the finale.
What exactly will happen in Episode IX? Here are some of the best and worst fan theories circling the web at the moment, but please let us know if you’ve got your own ideas and we’ll add them to the list!
The following might just contain Star Wars: Episode IX spoilers...
Kylo Ren becomes the good guy
After helping Rey defeat Snoke in The Last Jedi, Kylo Ren remembers who he really is – and spends most of Episode IX as Ben Solo. There’s even going to be a scene where he flies the Millennium Falcon and sits next to Chewie and Lando, exchanging witty banter.
Likelihood: Unlikely. While The Last Jedi did start Ren down the path to redemption, he still finished the film in a fairly dark place. What’s more, the bigger theme of the new trilogy seems to be all about disproving the whole good and evil thing – with Rey and Kylo both showing signs of a slightly more blurred (and a slightly more realistic) morality. While the off-screen death of his mother could tip Kylo a bit closer to Solo, too much effort has already gone into building him up as the villain to suddenly have him turning hero in the last film. That said, it’s also pretty unlikely that he won’t reject the dark side at some point (à la Vader in the closing scenes of Return Of The Jedi), but it’s more likely to be right at the end than halfway through.
General Hux will be the big baddie
After finding out what really happened to Snoke, Hux will take over the leadership of the First Order and remove Kylo Ren from power – becoming the main antagonist of Episode IX.
Likelihood: Very unlikely. This one really hangs on the theory that Kylo turns good early on in Episode IX (see above), but it also presumes that Hux is much stronger (and far less simpering) than he’s been so far. If the good guys have Rey and Kylo on their side, and the bad guys just have Hux, it’s going to be a pretty uneven fight. Lightsaber beats blaster, every time.
Richard E. Grant will play Grand Admiral Thrawn
Richard E Grant has categorically said that he’s not playing Thrawn, but he’s lying.
Likelihood: Very unlikely. A lot of fans want this to happen – mostly because Thrawn is such a great character, and also because Grant would be perfect for the role – but it’s not likely to happen. The character was introduced in Timothy Zahn’s 1991 novel, Heir To The Empire, which was later made non-canon. Thrawn did turn up in Star Wars Rebels, but having him reappear in Episode IX would require a lot of explaining (where has he been for the last two films?) as well as a lot of backstory filler for all the audience that hasn’t been following the expanded universe. Still, Richard E. Grant is likely to be some kind of new baddie (because he sounds posh and British). Also, Solo’s big last act reveal proved that Disney isn’t opposed to completely confusing half the audience who might not have seen the animated TV shows.
Snoke’s other apprentice will turn up
Kylo Ren was only one of the apprentices he was training, and one of the others will turn up to avenge his death in Episode IX. Always two there are.
Likelihood: Possible. This rumor all seems to come from a souvenir issue of the Star Wars Insider Magazine (an official Lucasfilm publication), which mentioned that Snoke trained Kylo Ren and “at least one other apprentice”. It could just be a bit of journalistic waffle, or it could be the clue to an official story strand that didn’t make it into The Last Jedi but that could resurface in Episode IX. Bringing in another Force-wielding bad guy would also make Kylo Ren’s early redemption seem even more likely (since he’d likely be the one fighting him or her). While the series is now lacking a big villain, it might seem a bit odd to suddenly introduce a new one at this stage. There's also the tease of the Knights Of Ren to think about...
The Millennium Falcon will die
Each of the other recent chapters has killed off something the old fans love, and there’s only really Chewie and Lando left now. No one has the balls to kill off Chewie, and no one really cares that much about Lando, so the only thing that’s going to sting now is watching Han’s old ship burst into a ball of flames.
Likelihood: Possible. Episode IX will almost certainly mark the end of the Skywalker saga, and Abrams will need to do something to give the old fans a bitter emotional kick. Handling Princess Leia’s death on screen might prove too sensitive, so sending the Falcon off in style could be a nice (deeply upsetting) nod to the legacy of the original trilogy. Knowing how some of the fans react to literally everything in the new films though, this one definitely won’t be popular.
Darth Vader will come back as a ghost
Anakin Skywalker will reappear as a Force ghost – giving Kylo Ren some tough love right when he needs it the most.
Likelihood: Likely. This one seems like it’s bound to happen. With so many links to the original trilogy now severed, bringing back the star of the first six movies, even briefly, will be a neat way of tying everything together. We already know that Kylo idolizes his grandfather, even if he is all about killing the past now, so a timely visit from Anakin (presumably the old man version) could prove decisive in his redemption – as well as adding weight to the bigger arc that covers all nine films. There’s also a good chance that we’ll see some other Force ghosts in Episode IX – probably at the finale – with Yoda, Obi Wan, and Luke all likely to reappear.
Rey actually does have important parents
Kylo Ren was lying. Rey does have a royal lineage and she is related to someone important – most likely Luke.
Likelihood: Very unlikely. A lot of angry fans really, really want this to happen but the chance of Abrams undoing everything in the last film just to please a few message boards is incredibly unlikely. The big reveal about Rey’s parents in The Last Jedi was an important twist in the Star Wars universe – a flip on the one at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. The idea that a hero doesn't have to be born into greatness is also an important message for the new trilogy, so backtracking over it now just isn’t an option.
Rey killed her parents
When Kylo told Rey about her parents in The Last Jedi, he said “they’re dead in the Jakku desert." According to one Reddit poster they died in the ship that little Rey watched leaving in the flashbacks – and her dark side anger and sadness helped to pull it back down to the ground. She repressed it, Kylo wormed it out of her, and the resurfacing tragedy will be a big part of her battle to stay in the light.
Likelihood: Likely. This one is plausible for a few reasons. Firstly, it adds weight to the controversial parentage reveal in The Last Jedi – giving Rey’s backstory a lot more heft without contradicting the idea that she didn’t have a famous mum and dad. Also, making Rey responsible for something so awful adds a lot of interesting shade to her character – blurring the light side/dark side divide and playing into the whole “balance” thing with wherever Kylo is heading next.
I also think it would be a mistake to make Rey have a "special" heritage at this point. She's no one.