As Star Wars: Episode IX looms in the distance, fan speculation regarding the feature has slowly been ramping up in intensity. Passionate folks pour over leaked toy designs, propose theories or give random information they inherently know about the film with no verifiable sources. I’m fine with all of this and love to participate in it because it’s part of the fun, save for one recent activity in particular. It’s time to stop worrying about Episode IX‘s official title; it doesn’t really matter.
To begin, let’s just take a minute to examine the purpose of a film’s title. It’s a descriptor mainly, and a way for an interested consumer to properly identify the film they wish to see, search for or purchase. With very few exceptions, a film title isn’t a spoiler, especially in the world of Star Wars. Why would Disney go to such lengths to maintain secrecy, only to drop a massive reveal in the title?
Has Star Wars ever revealed the plot points of its films in titles? Absolutely, but very few of them make sense to the person who knows nothing beyond the title of the film. Someone who’s not familiar with Star Wars couldn’t look at a title and explain how the Empire struck back or who the Phantom Menace was. Without context or the actual film to watch, these titles meant absolutely nothing to the public at large.
This notion is especially true in the modern sequel trilogy, where titles are more loose references to the story than hard and fast names and events. How can the Force “awaken” when Kylo Ren’s inherent use of it in the film’s opening moments show that it never slept? Here’s a lower hanging fruit to grasp: Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s title actually ends with the implication that there will be more Jedi!
Now, of course, I’m taking things a bit far here. Dollars to donuts most people invested in Star Wars at this stage of the game have at least seen the last two films, if not every single release from the original trilogy on. For that reason, titles like Return of the Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back work because they tease the next installment and make more sense considering the events of the previous film.
The point I’m trying to make here though is that Star Wars: Episode IX‘s title probably won’t do that. When the prior two films in the trilogy have been named The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi, an on the nose title like Son Of Darkness feels oddly specific and out of place in comparison. If that’s the title, the franchise might as well throw all mystery out the door and call it Ben Solo: A Star Wars Story.
Another proposed title,Star Wars: The New Order is better. While not in line with the vagueness of the other new trilogy titles, it does follow the logic of playing on the actions of the past movie. Kylo Ren has ideas that differed from Snoke, and he’s seemingly in charge of the First Order. Plus, this would make for the first time each Star Wars title in a new trilogy begins with “the,” which would be really satisfying.
Here’s the thing, though: what would that title tell anyone they don’t already know? Nothing is gained from a title like that, and as stated previously, it’s very likely nothing will be gained from learning the title of Star Wars: Episode IX. We’ll know the title, and that’s about it. It won’t tell us about a time jump, who may make a surprise appearance or any other wild rumor that has surfaced for the feature thus far.
I say this now because we’re at the perfect time to say it. Folks are desperate enough for details that a title would be enough to start a frenzy, and it will probably lead to a lot of speculation and analysis that may be far off-base. Just take a look back at all the things people fretted over during The Last Jedi title reveal to the point Rian Johnson had to confirm it was just a reference to Luke.
I’m not saying folks need to stop speculating by any means, but I am saying fanbases in general need to put the actual importance of knowing a film’s title in perspective. It’s certainly cool to know the title of a movie before its release, but it’s not so cool and ground-breaking that knowing it is suddenly more important than the latest toy leak or an actor tripping up and revealing something during a casual interview.
Again, there are justified exceptions to this, and if Star Wars breaks with tradition and titles Episode IX Star Wars: Watto Back In Action, that’s certainly worth speculating on. Characters or specific references to alien races in the franchise being mentioned in the title would change the game, but standard references to the Rebellion or The First Order are really just “meh” reveals when the hype wears off.
I’m not certain, but I would wager that most people acknowledge titles don’t mean much which makes the phenomena that many (myself included) crave a reveal the way we do. Is it the thrill of the start of an information rollout? Is it because it’s coupled with a trailer that contains the first footage? Is it because we’re so hungry for details at this stage in the process we’ll pounce upon any and all information that is official?
Perhaps it’s a combination or a mixture of those things depending on the person. I can’t say for sure, but I can say that we as a society have put too high of a value on title reveals, and maybe openly acknowledging it is what it takes to enact change. We can certainly still be excited about it, but everyone can just quietly remind themselves that while the studios were gracious enough to give us something, it’s really almost nothing.
Star Wars: Episode IX is headed to theaters on December 20, which means fans have most of the year to discuss what may or may not happen in the end of the new trilogy. For some talking points, head on over to this wild theory involving a familiar face fans know and love.