As of this writing, we’re only a few months away from the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, arguably the most anticipated movie of 2017. Written and directed by Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper), the film continues the story established in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and as the title implies, will feature Mark Hamill as the last remaining Jedi Knight — Luke Skywalker — who hasn’t had a speaking role in the film series since 1983’s Return of the Jedi. Interestingly, unlike with most new installments in blockbuster franchises, Disney and Lucasfilm have been safeguarding many plot details about The Last Jedi, to the point where we have only had one trailer so far and have a rather limited understanding of the overarching story. While all will be revealed this December when the film hits theaters, here are the major details we’ve learned so far about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
It Won’t Be As Dark As ‘The Empire Strikes Back’
It’s easy to understand why many Star Wars fans are getting heavy Empire Strikes Back vibes from The Last Jedi: both films are middle installments in their respective trilogy, have visionary directors and, at least if the first trailer for the latter film is any indication, have darker tones than other films in the franchise. However, while Rian Johnson admits that there are structural similarities between the two films, notably the multiple, parallel storylines, the writer-director claims this is all unintentional. “I just kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to.”
Furthermore, Johnson has downplayed the idea of The Last Jedi being an overly dark film, claiming that he wants it “to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were.” Even still, it’s safe to say that fan expectations are high for this film given Johnson’s pedigree as a director and many are hoping that it can rival The Empire Strikes Back as the best Star Wars film to date.
Luke And Rey’s Relationship Will Be Front And Center
Probably the biggest questions on every Star Wars fan’s mind right now when it comes to The Last Jedi are centered around the relationship between Luke and Rey. Will Luke train Rey to be a Jedi Knight? Are the two related? Will Rey be able to convince Luke to come out of hiding and rejoin the fight against the First Order? Unsurprisingly, this relationship will play a central role in the film and while Rian Johnson has not confirmed the fan theory that Rey is a Skywalker, he did admit that there is a significant connection between the two characters that will be explored.
According to the director, the film begins with Rey in a position where she doesn’t know “what’s going to happen and also having a lot of expectations in her head about how [her encounter with Luke] is going to go.” As Johnson puts it, “What’s going on with Luke Skywalker?” is the primary question that The Last Jedi will attempt to answer.
Reshoots Were Done To Increase Focus On Rey, Finn, And Poe
Principal photography for The Last Jedi took place between February 2016 and June 2016, so it may seem a bit off that the film itself isn’t coming out until December 2017. The reason, as it turns out, is because of reshoots. Originally set for a May 2017 release, The Last Jedi was pushed back after script rewrites that called for less focus on new characters and more attention given to leads Rey, Finn and Poe. In other words, expect to see a lot of those three characters in the film.
Snoke’s True Form Will Be Revealed
One of the most mysterious characters introduced in The Force Awakens was Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), Kylo Ren’s apparent master and leader of the First Order. Snoke only appeared in hologram form in that film, so his true physical form remains shrouded in mystery. Fortunately, thanks to certain Star Wars toys that have been revealed so far, we now have a better idea of what Snoke will looks like in The Last Jedi (he’s basically a really tall humanoid). Much like the Emperor before him, Snoke is also protected by royal guards clad in bright red. However, the major difference is that Snoke’s Praetorian Guard have been designed with combat in mind and unlike the Emperor’s guards, we’ll get to see them in action.
“The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t,” Johnson explains. “They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. [For] The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer[ Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous.”
Maz Kanata Has A Smaller Role
Lupita Nyong’o’s Forse-sensitive guru played a significant role in The Force Awakens and while Maz Kanata is confirmed to be returning for The Last Jedi, she won’t have as much screen time as she did in the former film. According to Rian Johnson, Maz’s role has been reduced but the character will still show up at a pivotal point to reveal some new insights into the Force and the galaxy’s history. “She has a smaller part in this than she has in The Force Awakens, but it’s a really fun part, and Lupita is so awesome,” Johnson says. “I’m just happy I got to work with her.”
Captain Phasma Will Actually Get To Do Stuff This Time!
While The Last Jedi will downplay the role of certain characters introduced in The Force Awakens, other characters from that film will be given much more to do in The Last Jedi, including Gwedoline Christie’s Captain Phasma. A frequent criticism of The Force Awakens is that it relegated Phasma, who was billed as an intimating First Order commander in the film’s marketing campaign, to a minor supporting role that did nothing to illustrate her supposed badass qualities. Recognizing this oversight, Johnson has made assurances that Captain Phasma will be actively joining the fray this time around.
“That character is just so damn cool looking. Like, okay, let’s see what we can do with her. Let’s put her in action and see what happens.” Although Phasma will have a more active role in The Last Jedi, the film won’t be delving much into her backstory, but those aspects of the character will be filled in by the tie-in novel Phasma, as well as a comic book miniseries, Captain Phasma, both of which are available now.
The New Characters
In addition to returning characters introduced in The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi will introduce some new characters of its own to the mix. The most prominent of these is probably Benicio Del Toro’s DJ, a code-breaker from the galaxy’s criminal world who assists Finn and newcomer Rose (Kelly Marie Tran) on an important Resistance mission. Speaking of Rose, she’ll be working closely with Finn throughout and is said to be the film’s most important new character. Laura Dern has also been cast as Admiral Hondo, said to be a high-ranking member of the Resistance and look for Tom Hardy to make a cameo as a stormtrooper who knows Finn from when he was in the First Order.
It wouldn’t be Star Wars without a few new colorful aliens added to the mix and a few from The Last Jedi have already been revealed. The most prominent of them are the Porgs, which kind of look like fuzzy, doe-eyed space penguins. These creatures are native to Ahch-To, the planet where Luke has been hiding out and are both cute and annoying (one running gag involves Chewbacca being pestered by them on the Millennium Falcon). In addition to the Porgs, Ach-To is also home to a group called the Cartakers, who are describes by Johnson as “these sort of fish-bird aliens who live on the island [who have] been there for thousands of years, and they essentially keep up the structures on the island.” Apparently, the Caretakers also have some connection to the Force’s mythology and aren’t pleased that Luke has decided to take up residence on their island.
Finn Becomes A “Big Deal”
One of the best running jokes in The Force Awakens was Finn’s (John Boyega) repeated boldfaced lie of being a “big deal” in the Resistance. While Finn eventually proved himself to be the hero he had initially pretended to be, taking on Kylo Ren in a lightsaber battle that left him gravely wounded, Finn is alive and kicking in The Last Jedi. As Boyega tells EW, The Last Jedi will continue to develop Finn’s relationship with the Resistance and former ties to the First Order: “[Finn] just wants to get away not be involved,” explains Boyega.
However, much like Rey did in The Force Awakens, Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico will be around this time to keep Finn in line and give him something to fight for. Rose is characterized as a young woman who idolizes Finn as a hero of the Resistance, even if he doesn’t see himself that way. “[She] comes in and basically gives him a depiction of himself that wasn’t necessarily true,” says Boyega. We’ll also “learn more about his past and where he came from,” and why he decided to leave The First Order in the first place.
The Film Will Pick Up Right Where ‘The Force Awakens’ Left Off
Each subsequent installment in both the original saga and the prequel trilogy were set at least a year apart from one another, but The Last Jedi is bucking that trend by kicking off right where The Force Awakens ended. While it isn’t yet clear which scene will open the film, comments made by Daisy Ridley to MTV seem to indicate that we’ll be picking up with Luke and Rey’s initial encounter: “Me and Mark [Hamill have been rehearsing a lot, and it’s really amazing,” said Ridley. “When we went back to Skellig to do the opening of [Episode] VIII, it was so crazy doing the same scene with a different crew of people.” She added: “It’s such a good story. Seriously, Luke is so cool in this one. Really.”
Yoda Might Be In It
Back in March, Frank Oz, the actor who has played Yoda since his first appearance in The Empire Strikes Back, made some rather interesting comments at South by Southwest (SXSW) when asked about the possibility of Yoda making an appearance in The Last Jedi:
I feel like I’m a prisoner at war here, and I can only give you my name, rank and serial number. To be true to the people who asked me, and they are kind of my family, I have to say I’ve been asked not to talk about it. I love Yoda. I would be happy to talk to you about it at the time they let me.
Six months later, there still hasn’t been any confirmation one way or the other about Yoda’s involvement in The Last Jedi, but Oz’s non-answer certainly suggests that he has something to hide. To be fair, it really isn’t much to go on at this point, but we do know that Yoda appears to Luke as a Force ghost at the end of Return of the Jedi, so what’s not to say that the wise old Jedi Master doesn’t do the same thing in The Last Jedi?
We Learn What Happened Between Luke Skywalker And Kylo Ren
One of the most significant events that transpired between the end of Return of the Jedi and the beginning of The Force Awakens was Luke Skywalker’s failed attempt to restart the Jedi Order. We learn that Luke was ultimately betrayed by his own nephew Ben Solo, a.k.a. Kylo Ren, but the specific details of how everything went down remain largely a mystery. Thankfully, The Last Jedi will shed light on this mystery.
According to Mark Hamill, “[Luke] made a huge mistake in thinking that his nephew was the chosen one, so he invested everything he had in Kylo, much like Obi-Wan did with my character.” Hamill’s choice of the phrase “chosen one” is particularly interesting, as it suggests that Luke initially viewed Ben as the successor to his own father Anakin: a Jedi prophesied to bring balance to the Force. Unfortunately, Ben went to the Dark Side just like his grandfather and perhaps it’s this repeated failure that convinces Luke that the Jedi Order needs to end.
Kylo Ren Will Be A Big, Angry Mess
When last we saw Kylo Ren, he had just murdered his father Han Solo and left hurt and humiliated from a lightsaber battle with Rey. According to Johnson, Kylo has “definitely been knocked off base” following Han’s death and he’s working through some intense emotions when we catch up with him in The Last Jedi. Unfortunately, that anger is set to lead him even further down the past to the Dark Side of the Force.
Of course, Kylo Ren isn’t the only character deeply affected by Han’s death, and we’ll also be seeing characters such as Leia, Rey, and Chewbacca wrestling with it in their own way. For Rey, Daisy Ridley explains that she’s at a loss for how someone could take life of his own father. “When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous.” Chewbacca too will be mourning the death of his best friend and co-pilot but fortunately, he’ll still have the Millennium Falcon and a brand new mission to keep him occupied.
Leia And Poe’s Relationship Will Be Explored
As mentioned above, Leia is going to be wrestling with some pretty devastating events in The Last Jedi. Not only will she be mourning Han’s death, but she’ll have to do so while also keeping a brave face as she leads the Resistance and tries to prevent it from falling to the powerful First Order, who still pose a significant threat even with the loss of Starkiller Base. Fortunately, she’ll have help in the form of Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac), who is said to really come into his own with this film as a leader within the Resistance. In fact, Leia will essentially be grooming Poe to be her successor, as she views him as something of a surrogate son after the loss of Ben Solo.
“I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever, and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity,” explains Isaac. However, even with Leia and Poe working closely to ensure the Resistance’s survival, opposing factions from within the group threaten to undermine the entire enterprise. Isaac describes the situation as a pressure cooker and that “relationships crack and strain under that pressure.”