Star Wars: Best of 2019

StarWars.com's writers dive into the year's biggest releases and favorite moments.

This has been the year to be a Star Wars fan. In 2019, we saw the end of the Skywalker saga with the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, welcomed The Mandalorian through the new streaming service Disney+, took on a post-Order 66 galaxy in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and stepped onto the world of Batuu, plus so much more. Between the new releases and stories were the unforgettable events and announcements — which have us all so thrilled about the future of a galaxy far, far away. Here’s our favorite Star Wars everything from 2019!

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker brings the Skywalker saga to an end. (Minor spoiler warning!)

There are three generations of Star Wars fans now: those who grew up with the original trilogy, those who discovered the saga through the prequels, and those who met Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo Ren in the current series of films and fell in love with a galaxy far, far away. No matter what category you might fall into, and whatever era of Star Wars is your favorite, the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is significant. It’s a movie that closes out not just one trilogy, but three — the end to a series of films that changed the world and filmmaking itself. Without going into major spoilers, The Rise of Skywalker delivers emotionally powerful moments that will touch anyone who ever enjoyed Star Wars, playing off what came before while going to new places. (I will say that seeing Rey, Finn, and Poe together, finally, is a joy, and Palpatine remains one of moviedom’s greatest villains. He is evil to the core and he fully embraces it, and is as captivating as ever.)

Of course, Star Wars will go on. We have The Mandalorian, we have more Star Wars: The Clone Wars coming, we have new movies on the horizon. Still, this is the end of the story that began all those years ago, with a farm boy who left home to face his destiny, carried through to a scavenger girl who did the same. And that means something. The circle is now complete — but the future of Star Wars is bright, and these films will be with us. Always. – Dan Brooks

The Child

The Mandalorian ushers in a new era of Star Wars storytelling.

Two words: the Child.

The Mandalorian delivered so much more than we could have anticipated. From the gritty, Western-inspired frontier landscapes to the world-weary characters, exhausted and worn down by the Galactic Civil War, the new Disney+ series has shined a light on a corner of the galaxy previously unexplored in live-action. And we’re loving every minute of it so far.

Mando and his constant companion, the Child, are a perfectly balanced pair — one stoic and battle-hardened while the other is exuberant and curious about the galaxy. And this duo, plus an incredibly talented cast and crew all working in concert under the guidance of Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni, have captured everything that makes Star Wars so enduring — the emotional stories, the sense of humor, the thrilling battle sequences, the quotable quotes, the life-or-death stakes, and in more recent years, the call-backs, the in-the-know references, the cameos. We could go on and on, but suffice it to say that 2019 was a huge year for Star Wars with the end of the Skywalker saga, and The Mandalorian continuing to prove that Star Wars packs a big punch no matter the size of the screen you watch it on. – Kristin Baver

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order gives us everything we hoped for in a single-player, lightsaber slashing story.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order delivered something fans of the galaxy far, far away have long hoped for — a new, single-player, story-driven Star Wars game focused on battling Empire baddies from behind a lightsaber and Force powers. But more than an opportunity to slice through stormtroopers with style to spare, this authentic Jedi tale seamlessly combined thoughtful, strategic combat with a nuanced, character-driven narrative, cinematic presentation, and BD-1, the cutest companion droid this side of BB-8. Matt Cabral

Star Wars Celebration Chicago

Star Wars Celebration Chicago takes over the Windy City.

Nearly 65,000 fans stormed Chicago to celebrate Star Wars and get their first glimpse at Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at Star Wars Celebration 2019. From the announcement of the film’s title and the unveiling of the first official artwork on a stunning banner on the show floor, to our tantalizing first look at Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, to a sneak peek at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, to watching the first jaw-dropping footage of The Mandalorian, and much, much, more, there was almost too much Star Wars goodness for McCormick Place to contain. (Almost.) Add to that a gathering of joyful fans from around the world and you have an experience unlike any other. Star Wars Celebration is a place to see old friends and meet new ones, both in the galaxy far, far away and in real life. – Kelly Knox

Team Fireball on the cover of Star Wars Resistance Complete Season One.

Star Wars Resistance launches its second and final season.

In a banner year where Star Wars Resistance was honored with an Emmy nomination and brought home a Saturn Award, the animated series — centered on Resistance-spy-in-training Kazuda Xiono (he tries so hard) and his friends — also returned for its second and final season. But long before the last season of Star Wars Resistance kicked off on the Disney Channel on October 6, fans at Star Wars Celebration Chicago in April got a sneak peek of the premiere episode and kept spoilers to themselves (thank you!) so the rest of us could lose our minds in good time.

Will I ever get over seeing Tam in a First Order uniform? The answer is no. No, I will not.

The Colossus left Castilon and jumped into hyperspace at the end of Season 1, and it’s been nonstop thrills and stress since then. So much stress. Watching everyone aboard trying to survive and keep the ship running while they’re on the run from the First Order makes me incredibly nervous…but I also cannot look away. It’s a conundrum. But the saboteurs, the secrets, the Doza family history! I can’t wait to see how the story ends, but I’m not ready to say goodbye. Amy Ratcliffe

Black Spire Outpost

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens and we take our first steps into the larger world of Batuu.

This year marked the debut of a new world in the Star Wars galaxy — one that you can physically travel to yourself. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida lets you set foot on the backwater planet of Batuu, where the battle between the First Order and the Resistance is playing out. Since Black Spire Outpost opened to offworlders in the spring, we’ve been blown away by the otherworldly wares available from trader Dok Ondar, been moved to tears by the lightsaber ceremony in Savi’s Workshop, and — lest we forget — stunned by our first encounter with the Millennium Falcon in all its glory. We’ve smuggled, scanned, sipped, and munched our way through Batuu and were left wanting more.

With Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance now open at Walt Disney World Resort and opening January 17, 2020 at Disneyland Resort and the 2021 arrival of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser experience on the horizon, 2019 is when the fun began for us earthbound fans who had been longing to visit a galaxy far, far away.  Brendan Nystedt

The cover of Resistance Reborn.Star Wars: Myths and Fables cover

We add Star Wars Resistance RebornMyths & Fables, and Queen’s Shadow to our bookshelves, plus so much more!

When it comes to selecting the best of the best, it’s hard to pick from so many strong stories, but a few stand out for the 2019 publishing catalog. Coming out in March, Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston was the Padmé Amidala story that made us fall in love with the Naboo queen all over again, as well as her handmaidens, especially Sabé. This young-adult novel followed Padmé as she transitions from being queen of a peaceful world to being one voice among many in a senate where loyalties and the greater good were not always clear. Queen’s Shadow had a smart story and great characters all around, from familiar faces like Bail Organa and Mon Mothma to newcomers like Tonra and Mariek Panaka.

In a fun spin on in-galaxy lore, George Mann spun the saga in new directions with his middle-grade anthology, Myths & Fables, telling such tales as “The Droid with a Heart” about a tactical droid who commits a quiet single act of rebellion against General Grievous to save its fellow droids, and “The Witch and the Wookiee” where pirates seeking a safe place to hide their plunder encounter a just reward for their murderous greed. With beautiful illustrations by Grant Griffin, Myths & Fables is a treasury of fairy tales set in the galaxy far, far away.

And as we prepared to send off the Skywalker saga with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse picked up after Star Wars: The Last Jedi to help lay the foundation for the more recent release. The novel had General Leia Organa and Poe Dameron attempting to rebuild the Resistance from a small group of Crait survivors by finding anyone they could with some fight in them, including old friends pulled from retirement like Wedge Antilles, as well as the next generation of heroes like Zay Versio. Resistance Reborn told a tale with an awesome plot, bringing together great characters as the Resistance showed that, despite the First Order one step ahead of them, they were not only still standing, but also finding what they need: recruits, leaders, ships, and a place to hide. – James Floyd

The cover of Marvel's Star Wars: Empire Ascendant.

A relaunch of Marvel’s Star Wars #1 is announced and the comics giant gives us the Age of series and The Rise of Kylo Ren.

All good things must come to an end, even Marvel’s flagship Star Wars series. The current book recently wrapped up with Star Wars #75 and the coda, Empire Ascendant, but comic fans won’t be left without something on their pull lists for long. Announced at New York Comic Con, the flagship series will relaunch in January with Star Wars #1 by Charles Soule with art by Jesus Saiz. Much like how Soule’s prior work on Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith started off where Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith left off, Star Wars #1 will pick up immediately after Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and explore what happens to our heroes after the Rebellion loses at Hoth and they temporarily lose one of their own to carbonite on Bespin. The series promises to begin a new and exciting chapter for Star Wars comics.

Marvel also took us on a journey through the saga this year with their Age of Republic, Age of Rebellion, and Age of Resistance limited series. Each one featured eight prominent heroes and villains from the era along with a special that looked at three of the period’s secondary characters. The stories ranged from Darth Maul experiencing a vision of what might have been to Princess Leia acquiring the armor for her bounty hunter disguise to General Hux and Kylo Ren being marooned on a distant planet and having to work together to get off world. All three creative teams offered us either new takes or new views on characters that we either know and love or that we know and love to hate. It felt like the perfect way to prepare for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

And the journey in Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren and so many other stories has only just begun… – Bria LaVorgna

The Star Wars Show ep. 446

The Star Wars Show wins an Emmy!

The Star Wars Show has long been a place for fans from around the world to check in and find out all the latest news happening in the Star Wars universe. Some people tune for behind the scenes tidbits. Others come for Andi and Anthony’s witty banter. And for some, it’s the chance to see the Yoda fountain’s mouth come to life to announce, “This is…The Star Wars Show!”

The magic that is the The Star Wars Show also resonated with the Television Academy when earlier this year the online series won its first Daytime Emmy Award for a Star Wars-themed Arrested Development parody sketch promoting the regular weekly program and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

The innovative piece retold the story of the Skywalker family’s trials and tribulations in Star Wars: A New Hope and featured a very familiar voice — the director of Solo: A Star Wars Story and Arrested Development narrator, the one and only Ron Howard.

And the well-deserved Emmy recognition highlights the outstanding teamwork and dedication that the online team puts into the show every week, including recently reimagining the Death Star trench run with a cast of adorable animals! – Jenn Fujikawa  

Ewan McGregor and Kathleen Kennedy in the Disney+ Showcase at Disney’s D23 2019

Disney+ launches and a new Kenobi series is announced.

Obi-Wan Kenobi? Now there’s a name we’ve not heard in a long, long time.

The air was positively electric inside the D23 convention center during the Disney+ panel in August, a blend of anticipation for The Mandalorian and excitement for the Cassian Andor series. Then Ewan McGregor showed up and the crowd erupted, the audience leaping to their feet to welcome one of the prequel-era heroes back into the fold.

We don’t have a title yet, and we’ don’t know when we’ll get our first glimpse at the series set eight years after the events of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. But it’s always heartwarming to see the effect that Star Wars can have on a room full of strangers, all connected through the same love of the franchise. – Kristin Baver 

Vader Immortal: Episode III screen dueling Darth Vader

The debut of Vader Immortal, the new VR series from ILMxLAB, invites us all to meet the Dark Lord of the Sith on Mustafar.

A new kind of Star Wars story fans could literally step into was introduced in 2019. The first chapter of ILMxLAB’s VR series Vader Immortal was one of the first experiences available on the Oculus Quest, which can be played (without wires) almost anywhere. With the release of Episodes II and III, we completed the epic story, but the thrilling new technology left the door open to new adventures that could take place anywhere in the Star Wars universe. While playing Vader Immortal, you come face to face with Darth Vader (an intimidating experience for even the most serious of gamers), meet your helpful droid co-pilot ZO-E3, voiced by actor Maya Rudolph, fight a variety of foes with an ancient lightsaber, and learn a bit about the history of the lava planet Mustafar, home to Vader’s fortress.

While you’re inside the Vader Immortal experience, don’t forget to take some time to look around each room (including looking up and behind you!) to enjoy all the immersive graphics created for this series. And if you feel like you’re not ready for any of the challenges along the way remember you can always head to the Lightsaber Dojo area to sharpen your skills. – Amy Richau 

Phantom Menace poster.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace reaches a milestone anniversary. 

Some two decades ago, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace launched a new century of Star Wars storytelling and captured the imaginations of a whole generation of young children (like I was back in 1999). Now 20 years on, fans around the world have spent the past year reconnecting with this eloquently-crafted, genuinely-told story, one that continues to ripple through the Star Wars galaxy. Watching Episode I is like going home to your thoughtful spot, encouraging reflection and reveling in a sense of adventure. “We broke a lot of ground… It was the beginning of digital [cinema],” explained George Lucas in his video message at The Phantom Menace 20th anniversary panel at Star Wars Celebration in Chicago this past spring. “The fans are always a big part of these films,” he continued as a crowd of 7,000 listened attentively, “and those of you who are here are the fans of Episode I. I love each and every one of you.” – Lucas Seastrom

George Lucas with Natalie Portman on the set of The Phantom Menace.

StarWars.com delivers an in-depth oral history of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and goes behind the scenes of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

“People have a tendency to confuse it — everybody has the Force. Everybody.” So said George Lucas, speaking to StarWars.com editor Dan Brooks earlier this year in a two-hour-long conversation about Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. It’s just one of many insights gleaned in StarWars.com’s epic oral history of the film, written in celebration of Episode I’s 20th anniversary, which also features new interviews with design director Doug Chiang, Jar Jar Binks actor Ahmed Best, visual effects supervisor John Knoll, and many more. The piece covers the making of the film, the backlash upon release, and its recent resurgence and reappraisal — all from its creators’ perspectives. It’s an honest and exhaustive chronicle, and if you love The Phantom Menace and the prequels, you should check it out.

Also on StarWars.com this year, associate editor Kristin Baver went deep behind the scenes of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge with an unprecedented series of lengthy features that tell the story of how the new land came to life. From the technology used to create tent-pole attraction Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run to story development, the series truly pulls back the curtain on every detail of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, while still preserving and conveying the magic within. For fans of Star Wars, Disney Parks, or both, it’s essential reading. – StarWars.com Team

The McGuire Family, United Kingdom, from Star Wars Families

Star Wars Families and Galactic Builders celebrated what it means to love Star Wars.

Young or old, in our own neighborhood or around the world, we are all joined by our love of Star Wars. And perhaps nothing reminded us of that more than the incredible photojournalism project Star Wars Families from Lucasfilm and British Journal of Photography. The portraits of 10 families from 10 different countries capture intimate moments from their lives and remind us that the story of Star Wars speaks to us all in different, but still personal and touching, ways.

Also in 2019, Disney and Lucasfilm also partnered with FIRST, a nonprofit that encourages kids to explore science and technology. A series of videos called Galactic Builders on Star Wars Kids features the next generation of scientists, engineers, and programmers as they learn how those fields pair perfectly with art and storytelling to create a galaxy that feels as real as our own. Kelly Knox

Battlefront II Kylo Ren

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker comes to Battlefront II.

After an already amazing year in the world of Star Wars gaming, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker came to Star Wars Battlefront II starting on December 17. The past year has seen the arrival of Anakin Skywalker, Count Dooku, and new reinforcements like the BX Commando droid and Clone Commando. We’ve gotten a stunning new planet, Felucia, that looks as though you’ve stepped right into a scene from Revenge of the Sith. And some of the most fun I’ve had with Star Wars this year, post-Celebration, was playing Ewok Hunt with friends during the special October event; it’s a brilliant change of pace. I’m excited to hit the battlefield in fresh Episode IX-inspired looks for Finn, Rey, and Kylo Ren — but even more excited to experience the jungle planet, Ajan Kloss, inspired by the new movie. Battlefront II’s continued support from DICE, on top of the incredible Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, has made for a great 2019. – Alex Kane

Gina Carano and Pedro Pascal check out new toys from Triple Force Friday.

Triple Force Friday ushers in a new generation of toys and collectibles.

In what is now a fall Star Wars tradition, 2019 saw Triple Force Friday and the release of a bevy of amazing new Star Wars products. Featuring toys, action figures, and other merch from The Rise of Skywalker, The Mandalorian, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, there was something for everyone (and for everyone’s wishlist).

Hasbro revealed a few new additions (tied to all three properties) to its fan-favorite 6” Black Series lineup, including Supreme Leader Kylo Ren, Rey and D-O, Jannah, First Order Jet Trooper, the Mandalorian, Cara Dune, Cal Kestis, and Second Sister Inquisitor. And as usual, they look amazing.

If you’re more a fan of interlocking bricks, LEGO had you covered with a brand-new Millennium Falcon (with a pilot Lando minifigure), Kylo Ren’s Shuttle, and a few other fighters from The Rise of Skywalker, along with the AT-ST Raider from The Mandalorian (which comes with Cara Dune and Mandalorian minifigs!). They also unveiled a massive Yoda set that stands over 16 inches tall and comes with more than 1,770 pieces!

Not to be left out, Funko also upped the cuteness quotient with brand-new Pop! figures from The Rise of Skywalker (including our first figures of Jannah, Zorii Bliss, and “old” Lando), The Mandalorian, and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.

Other highlights included Hasbro’s Scream Saber, Kano’s The Force Coding Kit, new Hot Wheels from Mattel, and a sweet pair of noise-canceling headphones from Bose. See what I mean? Something for everyone. – Jamie Greene 

Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge logo

Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge is announced for Disney+.

Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge is an all-new Disney+ game show coming exclusively to the streaming service in 2020. The kids game show will showcase young contestants attempting to ascend to the rank of Jedi Knight through adventurous and entertaining contests not found anywhere else. The series promises to feature the fun and excitement that Star Wars has to offer in a competitive and thrilling atmosphere. Plus, Star Wars: Jedi Temple Challenge will be hosted by Ahmed Best, best known to fans as the wonderfully talented Jar Jar Binks. Best (alongside a humorous humanoid droid companion voiced by Mary Holland) will be the Jedi Master/mentor to the contestants as they test their Jedi connection to the Force in three separate locations: a forest planet, Jedi starcruiser, and inside a Jedi temple. This one-of-a-kind series promises to bring the thrills, laughter, and fun that Star Wars is known for. It is a completely new direction for the franchise and one we can’t wait to experience! – Dan Zehr

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