While it’s easy to dump on Star Wars: The Force Awakens for playing it safe and ripping off many of its major plot points from A New Hope, Episode VII did get one very important thing right in that it left viewers with some significant questions by the time the credits rolled. As such, while the baseline expectation for The Last Jedi was that it needed to be better than its predecessor, it also needed to address some of the biggest mysteries introduced in The Force Awakens. Fortunately, The Last Jedi provides some satisfying answers to many of those questions, including what really happened between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker, and the identity of Rey’s parents. Of course, Rian Johnson’s film is only the middle chapter of the trilogy, so there’s still a lot left to discover as we head into the next installment. Here are the biggest questions generated by Star Wars: The Last Jedi that Episode IX will hopefully answer.
Oh and it should probably go without saying but this article contains full SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi!
15. Will The Droids (And Chewie) Play A Larger Role In Episode IX?
Original trilogy favorites C-3PO, R2-D2, and Chewbacca are all present and accounted for in The Last Jedi, but I feel like none of them quite get their due in the film. C-3PO’s role is expanded quite a bit compared to his glorified cameo in The Force Awakens and R2 gets to touching moment with Luke but I honestly miss seeing these two paired up like in the old days. Thankfully, The Last Jedi concludes with the two droids reunited aboard the Millennium Falcon, so I suspect that we’ll be seeing quite a bit of bickering between them in Episode IX.
As for Chewbacca, I’m a little disappointed with how little he gets to do in The Last Jedi. For most of the film, he’s forced to just sit and wait for Rey to finish her training with Luke and though he gets to hang out with the Porgs (with hilarious consequences), it feels like the film largely wastes the beloved Wookiee. At the very least, we get to see that Chewie is totally capable of flying the Falcon without Han Solo, taking the ship into action against the First Order during the film’s climax but I just hope Episode IX has something a bit more substantial in mind for Chewbacca than being a glorified Porg babysitter (though that’s still a very important job).
14. Is Captain Phasma Dead?
Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma was completely wasted in The Force Awakens, as she had hardly any screen time, didn’t do anything remotely interesting, and seemed to exist just to sell toys. The Last Jedi offers some redemption as it actually lets Christie in on the action, having her character seek revenge against John Boyega’s Finn for having her thrown down a garbage compacter in the previous film. Sadly, we only get to briefly see Phasma’s combat prowess, as her fight with Finn is over far too quickly and ends with her falling into the exploding mass of Supreme Leader Snoke’s ship. But is Captain Phasma truly dead? We’ve already seen her miraculously survive certain doom on Starkiller Base, so surely it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see her brush off being incinerated in a giant explosion? Plus, Phasma deserves yet another shot at redemption and to not be remembered as this new trilogy’s Boba Fett – a character who looks cool but is ultimately a pushover.
13. Is Rey A Jedi?
When Episode VIII’s title was first revealed, it sparked all sorts of speculation as to who “The Last Jedi” could be. Was it singular or plural? Are Luke and Rey the last Jedi? Just Luke? Will Rey even become a Jedi? The answer, as it turns out, is a bit of everything, as Luke Skywalker does indeed view himself as the last member of the Jedi Order … at least, until a visit from his old teacher Master Yoda gives him a change of heart. Luke tells Kylo Ren during their final confrontation that he will not be the last Jedi and we immediately cut to a shot of Rey, implying that she will be the one to keep the religion alive. That being said, will Rey even choose to be a Jedi or will she find a middle ground between the light and the dark? Either way, it’s clear that whatever form the Jedi take next, they will be much different from the conceited, foolish group that allowed the Sith to take over the galaxy a few generations prior.
12. What’s The Resistance’s Next Move?
Though the Resistance lives to fight another day, they’re hanging on by a thread by the end of The Last Jedi. Having been wiped out almost entirely by the First Order, the Resistance’s numbers have dwindled so drastically by the time they make their escape from Crait that they are all able to fit on board the Millennium Falcon. The good news is that Leia makes it clear that there are pockets of Resistance fighters all over the galaxy, but the fact that no one answers her distress call during the Crait siege is certainly troubling. If the Resistance won’t heed a command from General Leia Organa during her time of utmost need, what hope is there that they will in the future, especially now that the rebellion is on its last legs? Of course, this isn’t the end of the road for the Resistance and they’ll surely make a comeback in Episode IX but it remains to be seen how they’ll be able to turn the tide in a war they’re on the brink of losing.
11. What Will Happen To Leia?
One of the biggest questions heading into The Last Jedi was how the film would handle the loss of Carrie Fisher. When Fisher passed away in December 2016, she had already completed work on Episode VIII but had not yet shot any scenes for Episode IX. Given that Disney had planned for Leia to have a role in Episode IX, Fisher’s unexpected passing resulted in that film’s story needing to be changed but now that we know Leia survives to the end credits of The Last Jedi, it’s hard not to wonder how Lucasfilm will handle the character in the next installment. My best guess is that Leia will be “in” Episode IX but in an off-screen capacity, allowing the other characters to essentially carry the film in her stead. We know that Lucasfilm has no plans to use CGI to bring Leia back like they did in Rogue One but obviously those plans could always change. Whatever happens, I have full confidence that both Leia the character and Carrie Fisher the actor will be given the sendoff they deserve in Episode IX.
10. So, Is That It For Snoke?
Whether you’re a fan of the decision or not, you have to hand it to Lucasfilm and Rian Johnson for having the boldness to set up Supreme Leader Snoke as the big villain of the new Star Wars trilogy and then having Kylo Ren swiftly kill him off and take over command of the First Order. As it turns out, all of that speculation over whether Snoke was Darth Plagueis or some other legendary character in the canon was for naught, as it turns out that his identity was never all that important. Or was it?
Snoke may be dead but it sure seems like there’s more to him than The Last Jedi lets on. After all, even though Kylo Ren is able to deceive him and cut him down with a lightsaber he wasn’t even holding onto (!), Snoke is clearly a very powerful being and would have easily killed Rey if not for Kylo’s intervention. I’m guessing that we’ll probably have to wait for some ancillary material such as a spin-off book to fill in the blanks but as of right now, I have to say admire The Last Jedi for explaining nothing about Snoke and reducing him to a pile of smoldering body parts.
9. Where Are The Rest Of Luke’s Former Students?
Anyone hoping that we’d learn more about what happened to the rest of Luke Skywalker’s former Jedi students in The Last Jedi will likely walk away a bit disappointed, as there’s hardly any mention of them at all. We do learn that after leaving Luke for dead, Kylo recruited some of the students and killed any who were still loyal to the Jedi Master but beyond that, we don’t get to find out what happened to the surviving students. Did they join up with the Knights of Ren like Ben Solo did? Are there even any of them left alive? Perhaps they form the ranks of Snoke’s royal guard? Whatever the answer may be, it’s doubtful we’ll get one in Episode IX as this is a pretty minor story detail overall. Most likely, we’ll learn about Luke’s other students in a future novel, comic book, or other bit of extended universe material.
8. How Did Luke Do THAT?
Early on in The Last Jedi, Luke jokingly asks Rey what good he’d be in the fight against the First Order, as if adding one man “swinging a laser sword around” would be enough to turn the tide in the war. Then he goes ahead and does just that in perhaps the film’s biggest holy s–t moment. Of course, that’s only the start of it, as director Rian Johnson goes one step further in subverting our expectations by revealing that Luke Skywalker single-handedly takes on Kylo Ren and the entire First Order … as a Force projection.
Somehow, Luke is able to project his likeness all the way to Crait from a different planet, which helps explain why he shows up wearing his familiar black ensemble from Return of the Jedi and sporting a different hairstyle. Unfortunately, this action requires so much energy that the effort ultimately kills Luke but considering it bought his friends and family enough time to escape, I’d say it was worth it. I’m not sure if this ranks as the most impressive display of Force powers in Star Wars history but it’s certainly up there and does an excellent job of establishing Luke as arguably one of the most powerful Jedi of all time.
7. Will Rey Be Able To Rebuild Luke’s Lightsaber?
Rey and Kylo Ren’s long-awaited rematch ends with the pair both trying to grab Luke/Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber using the Force, resulting in the weapon being split in two. Fortunately, Rey doesn’t end up needing to use a lightsaber for the rest of the movie, but she is certainly at a disadvantage now that her primary weapon is broken. Leia’s message to Rey that they “have everything they need” to rebuild the Resistance, while drawing attention to the broken lightsaber leads me to believe that the weapon can be repaired and that Rey will find a way to do it. She could also use its components to build a new lightsaber, which means that we might finally get to see the forging of a lightsaber on-screen in Episode IX. How Rey would even know how to do this is anyone’s guess (though having access to the old Jedi texts will surely help!) but then, she’s already proven to be quite adept in the ways of the Force without any prior instruction, so I’m confident she’ll be able to figure it out.
6. Has Kylo Ren Truly Turned To The Dark Side?
I think it’s safe to say that Kylo Ren has one of the most interesting and complex arcs in The Last Jedi, as he spends the majority of the movie wrestling with his humanity. We see him spare his mother’s life, a decision that seemingly places him on a path back towards the light, as evidenced by his conversations with Rey. Then, in another shocking twist, we see Ben Solo strike down Snoke and fight side-by-side with Rey against Snoke’s royal guard. However, it turns out that Ben’s decision to save Rey’s life was made not because he had turned to the light side but rather to take power for himself, as he asks Rey to throw away the Jedi, the Sith, and to join him in ruling the galaxy.
In the end, Kylo Ren becomes the new Supreme Leader of the First Order and attempts to savagely strike down Luke Skywalker, implying that he has chosen the dark side after all. But is this truly the case? While I believe that Kylo Ren will be the main villain in Episode IX, I don’t think he’s totally beyond redemption at this point. It would not fit with Adam Driver’s nuanced performance thus far to have Kylo be a one-dimensional villain from here on out and much like Darth Vader before him, there is still goodness in him. That being said, Kylo Ren could still end up choosing the dark side in the end, so we shouldn’t just assume that he will redeem himself in Episode IX.
5. Will Luke Be In Episode IX?
Unless I’m missing something, Luke Skywalker dies at the end of The Last Jedi, becoming one with the Force like Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda before him. This leaves a considerable void in the Star Wars universe, as the galaxy has now lost its last remaining Jedi Master and Rey is now without a teacher. But does this mean that Luke will be absent entirely from Episode IX? I highly doubt it. The Last Jedi goes to the trouble of bringing Yoda back as a Force ghost and I suspect that Episode IX will do the same with Luke, having him appear to Rey in this form. Even though his physical form has passed away, it still doesn’t feel like Luke’s story is done considering he changes his entire view on the Jedi and the Force just before he dies. Plus, it would feel wrong to waste the opportunity of bringing Mark Hamill back for one last Star Wars movie!
4. Will Rey Return To The Jedi Temple?
Although she’s still one of the main protagonists in the new Star Wars trilogy, I felt like Rey took a bit of a backseat in The Last Jedi but that may have just been because the film puts more focus on supporting characters than The Force Awakens did. As such, I’d say I’m most looking forward to seeing what happens with Rey in Episode IX, primarily because she is now the last surviving Jedi. Before she confronts Kylo Ren for (seemingly) the last time though, Rey will likely need time to process what Luke taught her and to mourn the Jedi Master’s death, which leads me to think that she will make one final pilgrimage to the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To. After all, Rey never saw Luke pass away, so I suspect she’ll need some sort of closure. This also feels like the right place to have Luke appear to Rey as a Force ghost in order to offer guidance as she continues on her path to mastering the Force. But hey, maybe I’m just looking for another excuse to see the Porgs again …
3. Where The Heck Is Lando?
The new trilogy has brought back a number of characters from Episodes IV-VI (RIP Admiral Ackbar) but one pretty significant character who hasn’t even received a mention yet is Lando Calrissian. Billy Dee Williams has expressed interest in reprising his role as the scoundrel-turned-Rebel ally but for whatever reason, Lucasfilm has not enlisted his services for either The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi. I can understand not wanting to shoehorn a character into the story just for the sake of having him there, but it seems rather insulting to not even go to the trouble of acknowledging the character’s existence.
The Last Jedi is an incredibly busy film but would it have really been much trouble to make reference to Lando in some way that fit in with the story? The film arguably had a perfect opportunity for this during the Canto Bight sequence, as a casino city feels like just the sort of place an older Lando Calrissian would be spending his retirement in. Hopefully, Episode IX will finally bring Lando back in one form or another but I’m not going to hold my breath.
2. Will Poe Become The New Resistance Leader?
Continuing from the question about Leia’s role in Episode IX, I think there’s a good chance that we’ll see Oscar Isaac’s Poe Dameron step into a larger leadership role within the Resistance, if not the rebellion’s head commander. Poe’s arc in The Last Jedi essentially boils down to him learning how to be a more effective leader and that for the Resistance to survive, sometimes it’s better to live to fight another day than to fly in recklessly with guns blazing.
Leia is very much a mentor figure for Poe in the film and helps mold him into an effective leader, which leads me to believe that she’s grooming him to take over her position as the Resistance’s commander. It’s already a foregone conclusion that Leia will have a diminished role in Episode IX (if she’s even in the film at all), which leaves a spot open at the top. Out of the remaining heroes, Poe is the one who seems best suited to lead but don’t expect him to stop flying his X-Wing in favor of a desk job. He is the galaxy’s best pilot, after all!
1. How Will J.J. Abrams Ever Hope To Top This?
It’s hard not to be a bit disappointed after watching The Last Jedi; not because it’s a bad film but rather that it’s so good, I see little hope of Episode IX being able to top it. Setting aside the fact that the third movie in a trilogy typically ends up being the worst (though there are exceptions), J.J. Abrams is simply not as talented a filmmaker or writer as Rian Johnson. Don’t get me wrong: I like Abrams and think he is a perfectly competent director. The Force Awakens was a good return to form for the Star Wars franchise and I am confident that Abrams will produce an even better film with Episode IX.
However, The Last Jedi benefits so much from Rian Johnson’s filmmaking sense and character work that I just don’t see how Abrams will be able to make a film that holds up to it. I certainly hope he proves me wrong but right now, I’m looking forward to Rian Johnson’s new trilogy of Star Wars films much more than I am Episode IX and I suspect that will be the case for many after seeing what he’s accomplished with The Last Jedi.