Wedge Antilles’s Return in the Rise of Skywalker Confirms a Huge Star Wars Theory

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At the end of The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker tells Kylo Ren that the “Rebellion is reborn today.” We don’t know exactly what he means in this moment. The Resistance, a scruffy crew of good-intentioned fighters cobbled together by General Leia Organa for the purpose of defending a now-defunct Republic, is all but destroyed by the end of Jedi. After barely evading the unfathomably-powerful First Order throughout Force Awakens and Jedi, General Leia’s gang of do-gooders was reduced to just around a dozen surviving members, including Leia, Poe Dameron, Finn, Rose Tico, and Rey. Even when Leia put out a call to any allies of the Resistance in Episode VIII, no one in the entire galaxy came out to help. Andit’s been confirmed that Carrie Fisher’s iconic character will be seeing a farewell of her own in The Rise of Skywalker. So it’s hard to believe Luke Skywalker when he says “The Rebellion is reborn,” especially since the footage of the upcoming film has shown a First Order arsenal that seems bigger and more powerful than ever before.

But a long-rumored fan theory was confirmed recently that proves the Rebellion may not be toast after all. Over on Rebel Force Radio, representatives for actor Dennis Lawson allegedly confirmed that the fan-favorite Original Trilogy actor would be returning for The Rise of Skywalker. That’s right. Wedge Antilles is coming back. And with footage of Billy Dee Williams aka Lando Calrissian in Skywalker already on the web, it looks like some huge figures from the old-school Rebellion have come out of retirement to kick the First Order’s ass. You have to admit–the Resistance is going to need all the help it can get.

Wedge Antilles was an X-Wing pilot and close friend of Luke Skywalker who appeared in all three of the Original Trilogy films. He was there when Luke destroyed the first Death Star, and he helped blow up the second one as well. Outside of the films, Wedge has been a huge fan-favorite figure, showing up in the Rogue Squadron games in addition to a number of extended universe stories, and recently, comic books and animated TV shows. He’s not force sensitive or a Skywalker descendant or anything like that–but that’s kind of what makes the character so fucking cool. He’s just one of the good guys, and he’s a killer in the cockpit.

The return of Wedge and Lando just lends more credence to the looming suspicion that J.J. Abrams is going to be doing some serious reminiscing about the old days of Star Wars for his big finale to the Skywalker saga. Long have fans expected that Abrams would try to tie off some big loose ends–and Abrams himself has said as much in his elusive interviews about the film. We already know that The Emperor will be returning in Rise of Skywalker. There have been toy announcements for so-called Sith Troopers, and we’ve seen in trailers that the First Order’s arsenal is looking more Imperial these days than ever. So, it’s not hard to imagine that the Empire, not the First Order, will taking over in the upcoming film. It only makes sense that some figures from the Rebellion would rise up to shoot them down again.

Like the Rebellion and the Resistance, the Empire and the First Order, despite bearing some very striking resemblances, are not the same groups. The Resistance is a splintered military force of Republic-era fighters, some of which were around during the Rebellion, started by General Leia Organa. She believed that the new order that was created at the end of Return of the Jedi would need a powerful peace-keeping force if anyone sought to threaten and take it down. Turns out, she was right, because the First Order, taking cues from the then-destroyed Empire, had been growing in power in plain sight. When they enacted their planet-destroying Starkiller Base in Force Awakens, not even the Resistance was enough to stop them from completely decimating the Republic and sending the galaxy into disarray.

With the First Order more powerful than ever at the end of Last Jedi, Kylo Ren at the helm, Luke Skywalker dead, and the Emperor resurrected, the stage is set for the forces of good to be put to the test. Hopefully Wedge, Lando, and the Resistance have what it takes.

The Rise of Skywalker debuts on December 20, 2019.

Dom Nero is a staff video editor at Esquire, where he also writes about film, comedy, and video games.