Earlier today, Vanity Fair unveiled a whole slew of new behind the scenes photos for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, by photographer Annie Leibovitz. But amongst images of Rey’s updated costume and the space alien equivalent of a warhorse, is our first look at many new characters and scenes from J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated finale, and they don’t disappoint.
Seen in the gallery down below, a lot of these shots bring us our first real glimpses at some new heroes and villains like Zorri Bliss (Keri Russell), Allegiant General Pryde (Richard E. Grant) and a mysterious Rebel ally named Jannah (Naomi Ackie).
As far as first impressions go, each of these characters makes a strong debut: Jannah appears battle ready on top of the aforementioned space horse (apparently dubbed Orbaks), while Pryde somehow looks even more repugnant than Domhnall Gleeson’s General Hux. But it’s arguably Keri Russell’s Bliss that makes the biggest impact, who specifically gives off Boba Fett vibes in her helmeted bounty hunter garb in front of the Thieves’ Quarter on Kijimi.
Meanwhile, the images also gave us a new look at the Knights of Ren, who were teased as potential villains in The Force Awakens, but were left out of Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, much to the chagrin of some fans. The magazine stays mum on their actual storyline but does describe the group as “elite fearsome enforcers of Kylo Ren’s dark will.”
Speaking of Ren, Vanity Fair also gave us a new look at the film’s climactic duel, which features Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley’s characters battling it out on top of what looks like a flooded battle station, with the following caption:
“STAR CROSSED: Kylo Ren and Rey battle it out with lightsabers in a stormy confrontation. Their Force-connection—what Driver calls their “maybe-bond”—will turn out to run even deeper than previously revealed.”
Previous leaks have hinted that the big Rise of Skywalker finale will see Rey and Kylo Ren forgoing a physical fight and instead clashing through their Force-bond as the environment around them intermittently changes. This would be an exciting and original take on both a mysterious Force power and Star Wars’ trademark lightsaber duel. Considering every great action scene tends to tell a visual story, it’ll be thrilling to see just how the battle plays out in the final film.
These new images follow last month’s trailer debut, which set the Internet ablaze by revealing that Emperor Palpatine may not be as dead as we thought. Rumors suggest he could play a bigger part in the climactic battle than filmmakers are letting on, though with a franchise this secretive, it’s always best to take these leaks with a grain of salt.
Fortunately, we won’t have to wait that much longer to see how the saga unfolds, as Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker hits theaters on December 20th.