After the huge reveal that Star Wars: Episode IX will feature Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and Billy Dee Williams, together in a Star Wars film for the first time since 1983, fans are still trying to decode exactly what the big news might mean. Because there's still a year and half before Episode IX hits theaters, there's a lot of time for crazy fan theories to start circulating, growing, and becoming crazier by the week.
But, unlike very recent history, the latest news has at least given fans something to work with. Now that we know for a fact that Luke, Leia, and Lando are all in the movie, it's time to start coming up with educated guesses as to what they all could be doing.
Here are five wild fan theories for Episode IX, all based on the latest casting news. Keep in mind, if any these end up being true, you could be reading spoilers straight from the future.
Leia will be forced into hiding
Now that it's clear that Carrie Fisher will appear as General Leia thanks to archival footage from The Force Awakens, the only big question is, how? Obviously, no matter what Abrams does with the old footage it will have to serve as some kind of explanation for sidelining Leia for the majority of Episode IX. Call this the Paul Walker solution: because it would be macabre to have Leia die in the film, it might make more sense to have her go into hiding.
There's a lot of reasons this makes sense. For one thing, the leader of the First Order is Leia's son. Perhaps there are a bunch of people who have a problem with taking orders from someone who’s own family caused all these problems to begin with. In the novel Bloodlines, Leia lost a lot of her political cred because everyone figured out she was Darth Vader's daughter. The fact that she's Kylo Ren's mom might not be popular with the new Rebels, either.
Keri Russell will play an adult Ahsoka Tano
Many Star Wars fans desperately want Keri Russell to be playing Mara Jade, Luke Skywalker's wife from the expanded universe "Legends" books and comics. But it would be way cooler if Russell played an older version of a character we've already seen a lot of: Ahsoka Tano.
It stands to reason that after the events of Return of the Jedi, Ahsoka was still alive, probably searching for Ezra Bridger. But, having an older, mature Ahsoka step in to help the Resistance wouldn't just be fan service, it would be awesome. Since 2008, Ahsoka has easily emerged as the most popular Star Wars character that has never appeared in a Star Wars movie. Episode IX could change all that.
Luke Skywalker will not be a Force ghost
Because Mark Hamill is appearing as Luke Skywalker in Episode IX, the conventional wisdom is that he'll be showing up as a Force Ghost, much like his teachers Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi did before him. But that'd be the easy way out. In fact, there are far more interesting ways for Luke to come back. First, Hamill could easily appear as Luke in flashbacks that flesh out more of what happened between him and Ben Solo prior to the flashbacks we saw in The Last Jedi.
Or... the more insidious and interesting way for Luke to come back would be as a clone of himself. In the same Timothy Zahn books that introduced Mara Jade, we learned bad guys were able to clone Luke Skywalker after they discovered his severed hand (and lightsaber!) on Bespin. So, if an evil Luke clone turns up in Episode IX, it would be insanely cool, but also could help to fill in the backstory of how Maz Kanata got that lightsaber.
Richard E. Grant will not be Thrawn, but still a bad guy
Like with Mara Jade, fans desperately want Richard E. Grant to be cast as Grand Admiral Thrawn in Episode IX, which makes sense. Like Ahsoka, Thrawn is really popular and is totally part of the real Star Wars canon thanks to the show Rebels. But Thrawn as a bad guy in Episode IX feels a little bit too much like fan service.
Which isn't to say Grant won't be cast as a bad guy. After his roles in Logan and Doctor Who, sci-fi/fantasy fans know this guy is a great villain, so it's likely he'll end up as some kind antagonist. But instead of thinking of him as some kind of Dark Lord of the Sith or First Order/Imperial officer, it would be great if Grant's potential bad guy was something new: a member of the Resistance who's actually a turncoat and spy for the First Order.
Maz Kanata wijl have a bigger role and know Lando very well
After her memorable role in The Force Awakens, it was borderline criminal that Maz Kanata didn't have a larger role in The Last Jedi. In deleted scenes for The Force Awakens, Maz even used the Force to stop a bunch of Stormtroopers who were attacking Han, Finn and Rey.
So, clearly, J.J. Abrams had some ideas for this character that didn't get fully realized in his previous Star Wars film. This means that it's very possible Abrams will expand Maz's role significantly in this new movie. Maz knows a lot about what has happened behind the scenes in the galaxy, which means she could provide some important answers to questions people still have. (Luke's lightsaber is high on this list of questions.)
Maz could also answer another very important question: where has Lando been? If Maz knew Han Solo really well, then she probably knew Lando even better.