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Where's Luke? Who's Keri Russell playing? Every 'Star Wars' question we need answered at D23

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“Star Wars” released a first look at the new movie “Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker” at Star Wars Celebration.
USA TODAY

More than ever, Disney is like the huge Imperial starship that emerges after the opening crawl of 1977’s original “Star Wars,” looming over the pop-culture galaxy.

Anything and everything Mickey Mouse will be on tap this weekend at D23 Expo (Friday through Sunday) in Anaheim, California, the biennial all-Disney, all-the-time festival that features panels and presentations for what’s coming at theme parks, the new Disney+ streaming service (launching Nov. 12) and, of course, the A-list movie slate.

Chief among the upcoming films is “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Dec. 20), the ninth and final episode in the Skywalker saga, and fans will be ravenous for any news to come out of that part of the Disney movie presentation on Saturday.

‘Star Wars’: All 10 movies so far, definitively ranked

‘The Rise of Skywalker’:What that first trailer and title tell us to expect

What they will find out may be limited, though, since that two-hour program has to encompass pretty much everything coming down the pike. The galaxy far, far away will be sharing panel time with the Marvel films, Pixar, the much-anticipated “Frozen 2,” the “Maleficent” sequel, the live-action “Mulan” redo and presumably at least a mention of the “Avatar” franchise.

It’s a lot, for sure. But “Star Wars” is still “Star Wars,” and the braintrust is certain to deliver some goodness between “The Rise of Skywalker” and “The Mandalorian,” the upcoming Western-tinged “Star Wars” series that’ll showcase a new trailer at Friday’s Disney+ panel.

Here are five things ”Star Wars” fans need to know going into D23:

Who’s going to be there?

“Star Wars” wasn’t at Comic-Con last month so the Force will be out in, well, force at D23. J.J. Abrams and executive producer/Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy will probably be there for “The Rise of Skywalker,” plus new trilogy heroes Daisy Ridley and John Boyega are convention regulars at this point. For the Disney+ lineup, executive producer Jon Favreau is expected for “The Mandalorian,” and there could be surprise appearances for a couple other projects: Diego Luna stars in the upcoming Cassian Andor “Rogue One” prequel series, and maybe this is where Ewan McGregor has a showstopping return for the rumored Obi-Wan Kenobi project.

Is there going to be a new movie trailer?

Let’s be honest, “Star Wars” fans were ready for a new “Rise of Skywalker” trailer immediately after the first one played in April at Star Wars Celebration. They’ll most likely have to wait a little longer, though: The 2015 “Force Awakens” panel at Comic-Con and 2017 “The Last Jedi” presentation at D23 both unveiled really neat behind-the-scenes sizzle reels for their respective movies, and that’ll likely be the case this time, too. However, even a video showing glimpses of new things – aliens, planets and such – without giving too much away is welcome to the Jedi faithful.

What’s up with Keri Russell’s mystery woman?

While the actress’ scoundrel Zorri Bliss didn’t appear in the initial “Rise of Skywalker” trailer, a first look at the character – and her rad Rocketeer-meets-Met Gala helmet – had fandom psyched in May. Of the new characters, she’s so far the biggest enigma of them all – and it’s hard to imagine Abrams signing on his old “Felicity” star as some random side player, especially in a movie that culminates 40-plus years of storytelling. Maybe Russell shows up to give us a hint of her role. Heck, we’ll take a glimpse of her just sauntering around in behind-the-scenes footage.

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  • General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) and Rey (Daisy Ridley) in STAR WARS:  EPISDOE IX1 of 18
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  • IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE LEGO GROUP - Star Warsenthusiast Joseph Naiman, 7, takes a selfie with his parents Marshall, left, and Danelle next to thelargestdisplay ofLEGOStar Warsminifigures atStar WarsCelebration on Thursday, April 11, 2019 in Chicago. The display, which is made up of 36,440LEGO stormtrooper minifigures, broke the GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title. (Alex Garcia/AP Images for TheLEGOGroup) ORG XMIT: CPANY10416 of 18
  • Fans participate in the Star Wars celebration in Chicago on April 11, 2019. - Fans from all over the world gather in Chicago to celebrate the cultural phenomenon of the Star Wars franchise. (Photo by Kamil KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: 35.000 fa ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1FL01R17 of 18
  • Fans participate in the Star Wars celebration in Chicago on April 11, 2019. - Fans from all over the world gather in Chicago to celebrate the cultural phenomenon of the Star Wars franchise. (Photo by Kamil KRZACZYNSKI / AFP)KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images ORG XMIT: 35.000 fa ORIG FILE ID: AFP_1FK95618 of 18

Are Luke Skywalker and the Emperor hanging out now or what?

Two things in the first trailer spawned goosebumps for old-school fans: voiceover narration by Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and a piece of the Death Star followed by the evil laugh of Emperor Palpatine (Ian McDiarmid). Now, both of these characters are thought to be dead – Luke drifted off into the Force in “The Last Jedi” and the Emperor got tossed into a reactor in 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” – and while all the cards won’t get flipped over, a couple of nuggets on their involvement in the new film will keep folks salivating through December.  

What’s the future of ‘Star Wars’ going forward?

Of all the burning questions surrounding this humongous franchise, it’s the most scorching: As of right now, there are no movies officially in place once the Skywalker saga ends. The D23 presentation probably won’t delve into the two planned film series, one from “Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson and the other courtesy of “Game of Thrones” duo David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, though at least fans have “Mandalorian” and the streaming shows. Marvel has been clear that it’s sending a lot of interesting projects to Disney+ to build out the universe, and perhaps “Star Wars” follows suit.

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