The 5 coolest things we saw at Star Wars Celebration, from VR Vader to a ‘Mandalorian’

CHICAGO – Another Star Wars Celebration has come and gone, and by the looks of how the galaxy far, far away is expanding, Obi-Wan Kenobi is sounding more right than ever: “The Force will be with you. Always.”

The new trailer for the ninth and concluding chapter of the 42-year-old Skywalker saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” (in theaters Dec. 20), broke the internet for a bit upon its premiere at the fan convention. But the mega-popular franchise showcased how its snaking tendrils into every medium like never before, with new tales coming in the worlds of streaming TV, video games, comic books, virtual reality and more.

Here are the five coolest things we saw at Celebration:

Rey (Daisy Ridley) races a TIE fighter in "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker." (Photo: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

‘Rise of Skywalker’ brings back an old foe

It’s no surprise that the highly anticipated first footage from the new film was the weekend’s biggest highlight. Rey flipping over a TIE Fighter, Lando Calrissian back in the Millennium Falcon, General Leia with a warm embrace, our heroes hanging together again – it all had folks cheering. But director J.J. Abrams delivered a huge shock with the return of the most malevolent “Star Wars” villain of all time, Emperor Palpatine.

Pedro Pascal stars as the helmeted galactic gunslinger in "The Mandalorian," the first live-action "Star Wars" TV series. (Photo: FRANCOIS DUHAMEL/LUCASFILM)

‘The Mandalorian’ gives us original-trilogy feels

For those who miss the dangerous side-eyes and itchy trigger fingers from the Mos Eisley Cantina scene in 1977’s “Star Wars,” buckle up because “The Mandalorian” is about to punch you in the face with nostalgia. Pedro Pascal’s helmeted title bounty hunter lives in a galactic underworld among all sorts of aliens and what remains of the Empire, who are knocked down but not out. If you love Boba Fett, it’s a must-see.

Get up close and personal with an imposing Sith lord with the new "Vader Immortal" virtual-reality experience. (Photo: ILMxLAB)

‘Vader Immortal’ surrounds you with the Dark Side

Darth Vader has a reputation for being the baddest man in the universe, but you don’t really understand how imposing that helmeted dude is until he’s standing over you in this new VR adventure (coming this spring for Oculus Quest headsets). As a Force-sensitive smuggler who comes under Vader’s employ, folks can test their skills in the lightsaber dojo and hang with new droid ZOE3 (played by Maya Rudolph).

Want to build your own lightsaber? There's a shop at Galaxy's Edge for that. (Photo: Disney)

Galaxy’s Edge is going to be on every fan’s wish list

It’ll probably involve several hours waiting in line for rides and overpriced Cokes in thermal-detonator bottles – not to mention the “space meat” – but the “Star Wars” lands coming to Disney theme parks later this year look like they’ll offer an amazing experience for those who adore this galaxy. Who wouldn’t want to pilot the Millennium Falcon or get captured and tossed on a First Order Star Destroyer with Kylo Ren staring them down?

Ahsoka Tano (voiced by Ashley Eckstein) plays a pivotal role in the upcoming final season of "Star Wars: The Clone Wars." (Photo: LUCASFILM)

‘The Clone Wars’ finally gets to end on its own terms

Before “The Force Awakens” brought “Star Wars” back in a big way in 2017, “The Clone Wars” animated series – set between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith” – was the vehicle that kept new tales coming for fans from 2008 before its cancellation in 2013. Celebration debuted a trailer for the final season coming to Disney+, with improved animation and the continuation of young heroine Ahsoka Tano’s story after she left the Jedi Order.

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