Day 1 of Star Wars Celebration Europe 2023 in London, England has officially wrapped up, and now we have time to process all the big reveals and celebrity appearances that came with the beginning of the pop-culture event.
This is my sixth-ever Star Wars Celebration (after Los Angeles 2007, Anaheim 2015, Orlando 2017, Chicago 2019, and Anaheim 2022) and my first one overseas, so I arrived at the ExCeL London convention center this morning very excited to see what Lucasfilm and ReedPop had in store for fans.
After an interview that I conducted with the minds behind Star Wars: The High Republic (coming soon to LaughingPlace.com and our “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast) I briefly walked through the exhibit hall floor before making my way over to the Celebration Stage to grab my seat for the big Lucasfilm Showcase presentation at 11:00 AM. The biggest announcements coming out of this panel were the reveals of three new upcoming Star Wars theatrical films: one about the origins of the Jedi Order from director James Mangold (Logan), one that will tie together all the disparate storylines from the Mandoverse directed by Dave Filoni (Star Wars: The Clone Wars), and one directed by Ms. Marvel’s Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy that will see Rey Skywalker (Daisy Ridley) creating a New Jedi Order. I personally love the idea of expanding the current Star Wars canon to reach into the distant past and into the future beyond the events of the sequel trilogy. Naturally these are periods that were already present in the Legends publishing timeline, but it should be interesting to see them realized in live-action on the big screen.
It was great being in the enthusiastic crowd when Daisy Ridley was welcomed to the stage, and other moments that received very positive reactions were the footage from Ahsoka, Skeleton Crew, and The Acolyte– how about Joonas Suotamo returning to Star Wars as a Wookiee Jedi Master? We also saw a sizzle reel for Andor season two, got confirmation that Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) will be playing Star Wars Rebels character Hera Syndulla in live-action, and saw a clip from the next episode of The Mandalorian. Then series creator Jon Favreau revealed to the crowd that everyone in the audience would get to return in the evening to see the full episode, which I did and really enjoyed– don’t worry: no spoilers here! One of my other favorite moments from the Lucasfilm Showcase was the tribute to Industrial Light & Magic’s creature shop artist Neal Scanlan, who brought out a variety of crazy creatures that proceeded to come to life on the stage.
The Lucasfilm Showcase wrapped up with a presentation on Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, the fifth entry in the smash-hit adventure series created by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Director James Mangold remained on the stage for this one, and brought out actors Mads Mikkelsen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Solo: A Star Wars Story) before presenting the final trailer, followed by a six-minute action sequence from the middle of the film, which arrives in June. After a break to wander the floor a little more, I returned to the Celebration Stage for the endlessly fascinating Star Wars: Andor behind-the-scenes panel. But one of the best moments happened as the crowd was waiting for that panel to begin: a group of cosplayers stormed the stage (at the behest of warm-up man DJ Elliot) to chant “One way out!” while dressed as prisoners from the planet Narkina-5. Later on during the panel, Andor star Diego Luna called out these talented fans to acknowledge their passion for the show.
Once the Andor panel began, we heard from showrunner Tony Gilroy, Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, star and producer Diego Luna, editor John Gilroy, production designer Luke Hull, costume designer Michael Wilkinson, and composer Nicholas Britell about every major aspect of how the series came together on Disney+. Some of the most interesting tidbits were learning that the falling machinery in the factory sequence on Ferrix were real and not digital VFX, and getting to see a lot of the concept design art for the show’s locations and costumes.
The panel wrapped up with another look at the sizzle reel for season two they had already shown this morning, and then it was time for one more trip through the floor before returning for The Mandalorian screening at 6:00. There’s so much to see on the floor (and the layout of the ExCeL Center combined with the congestion of the crowd made it difficult to see everything in one day) so I’m looking forward to doing more of that in the coming days, but one thing that did jump out at me was Sabine Wren’s painted mural from Star Wars Rebels and Ahsoka, which is available for photo ops.
That about wrapped up my experience with the first day of Star Wars Celebration 2023. Overall I was beyond thrilled to be back at one of my favorite events in the pop-culture convention universe, and the positivity on display by the fans and the talent were, as always, the perfect antidote to the murky, often disheartening world of the internet. Stay tuned for more coverage of SWCE right here at LaughingPlace.com as the weekend continues!