Dispatches from Star Wars Celebration: From Rebels to 40th Anniversary


Detail, official key art for Star Wars Celebration Orlando by artist Paul Shipper © Disney/Lucasfilm

Star Wars Celebration, the con that focuses on all things Star Wars, is legendary for its incredible reveals and announcements. After all, Star Wars Celebration is where we got the first teaser trailer for The Force Awakens. What did we learn from this year’s installment?

Well, first, and possibly most importantly, we got that incredible teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.

You can still stream the panel on YouTube. It included so many interesting hints and teasers—the most interesting of which is that Kelly Marie Tran has the biggest new role in The Last Jedi.

The 40th Anniversary Panel

But there was more going on than just The Last Jedi talk. This year marked the 40th anniversary of Star Wars, and there was plenty to see the entire weekend. If you’re a die-hard Star Wars fan, though, the place to be (in-person or via livestream) was the 40th Anniversary Panel.

This panel, hosted by Warwick Davis, featured various Star Wars cast members discussing their experiences with the saga. It opened with Kathleen Kennedy speaking with Warwick Davis about the history of Star Wars before—surprise!—George Lucas himself came to the stage. What followed was a wonderful hour and a half of reminiscing and cast memories.

A high point for all fans was when Ian McDiarmid and Hayden Christiansen discussed working on Revenge of the Sith together. I’ll admit I had some trepidation when Christiansen was announced as a guest, as most Star Wars fans don’t exactly hold the prequels in the highest regard, but I was gratified to see how warmly he was received by the fans.

(Also, if you haven’t checked out some of his photo ops, you’re missing out. He certainly is a trooper who will probably never show up at another Celebration ever again.)

But the real surprise was when George Lucas was sitting with Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew, Warwick Davis, and Billy Dee Williams, and they brought Mark Hamill out to join them (which wasn’t surprising at all) and THEN they brought out… HARRISON FORD. That’s right, Harrison Ford was at Celebration! It was an incredible surprise, especially since he’s been somewhat disdainful of the series in the past, but he was very gracious, even when pretty much every person on stage made an “unable to land a plane” joke at his expense.

The panel wrapped up with a moving tribute to Carrie Fisher, and then John Williams himself led the Orlando Symphony Orchestra in Princess Leia’s theme (followed by the Imperial March and Star Wars theme). It wasn’t a traditional panel full of hints and spoilers, but instead reflected on the amazing journey we’ve been on, and the promise that lies in the franchise’s future.

Star Wars Rebels

It wasn’t just the movies that were discussed, though. Dave Filoni, the executive producer of Star Wars Rebels, was on hand along with the entire main voice cast of the show to reflect on season 3 of the hit animated series and look ahead to season 4. Too many people discount Rebels because it’s a cartoon but let me tell you—this show isn’t just good, it’s great. It embodies everything people love about Star Wars, and it looks like the fourth season is going to get a bit darker and dirtier.

Filoni confirmed that the fourth season of the show will be its last, as he wants to end it on his own terms (understandable, but sad for the fans). He also confirmed that there will be a lot more to see from the Star Wars animation department.


Rumor has it that the end of the show will feature the battle of Scarif (a rumor that went unaddressed in the panel), but one thing that was addressed?


The fate of fan-favorite Ahsoka Tano.

When Dave walked onto stage, he was wearing a shirt that said “Ahsoka Lives?”

Toward the end of the panel, he changed it to something different, and Fans. Went. NUTS.



We were treated to the season premiere of Rebels, and while I won’t spoil anything from that episode, I will say that we’re in for a real treat with this fourth season. Warwick Davis is joining the cast as Thrawn’s assassin, Rukh, and it’s going to be a great final ride.