This past Friday, director J.J. Abrams tweeted that principal photography of “Star Wars: Episode IX” had concluded, posting a picture of the main trio of actors — Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac — to capture the emotional moment of completion. In the past, the official episode titles have been announced shortly following the shooting wrap. Therefore, audience knowledge of the new title for the final entry in the eight-part saga is imminent. Before the internet either protests or celebrates the name, it’s time to play a quick guessing game of what this elusive title might be.
“A Spark of Hope”
This is the title I most expect to see announced for the saga’s final episode. It serves as a perfect bookend given the original film’s “A New Hope” alternate caption that eventually canonized as its main name. Furthermore, the word “spark” has been a common metaphoric description of the Resistance’s rise from a small band of freedom fighters to a massive coalition capable of taking down the tyrannical First Order. Finally, further proof exists in the crawl of “The Force Awakens,” which predicted Episode VIII’s name with its titular inclusion. Examining the crawl for the latest entry, “a spark of hope” is part of the text, potentially foreshadowing the final installment’s anticipated title.
“Fate of the Galaxy”
This is the working title that has been circulating in my mind for quite some time. It gives weight to the notion that the brewing conflict is a galactic one, not simply relegated to disgruntled Force-wielders holding a mutual grudge. Every species is indirectly involved, their destiny a direct result of the final battles fought between large armies of opposing ideologies. The inclusiveness of this name underscores how “Star Wars” affects the lives of more than a family dynasty at its center.
“The Knights of Resistance”
Although the Jedi Order is officially no more, the ending of “The Last Jedi” hints at a new wave of young Force-users inspired by Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the purveyors of justice he belonged to: the Jedi Knights. If Rey (Daisy Ridley) leads a galaxy-wide mission to recruit individuals with the same mystical abilities of these ancient warriors, she could help amass an even greater advantage for the Resistance’s inevitable endgame confrontation. The title could also have a double-meaning if Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is able to shed his darkness and return to the light. Perhaps he might fully resist the dark pull of hatred that fuels his concentrated evil, reemerging as the Jedi Knight his uncle once trained him to become.
“Will of the Force”
Although this predestination concept might be seen as archaic religious philosophy, the Force has often dictated the franchise’s course of events on its own terms. Giving rise to the idea of establishing balance between the Light and Dark sides of the Force, one could argue that the fall of both the Jedi and the Republic paved the way for Anakin Skywalker to fulfill his messianic prophecy. In these future episodes, the Force could once again interfere by creating a peaceful detente negotiated by Rey and Kylo. If there’s anything these recent two episodes have taught audiences, it’s that the binary good versus evil messaging of “Star Wars” past has been left in the dust for a more nuanced examination of morality.
“Legacy of Darkness”
At some point, Kylo Ren is going to reflect on whether he’s conquered the emotional pitfalls that weakened his grandfather’s sinister resolve. Ren’s petulant outbursts and unimposing stature make him a less reputable beacon of fear than Darth Vader. However, his willingness to let the past die and remain destroyed – even if it means by his own hands – makes him an even more menacing threat. Killing Supreme Leader Snoke while still harnessing a vengeful soul means that unlike his grandfather before him, he bows to no one and takes full command of his legion of planetary oppressors. As the last of the Skywalker-Solo lineage, much of “Episode IX” will hinge on whether the dark legacy of Vader will be extinguished or enlightened.