Star Wars: The Last Jedi is almost upon us. In just a few short weeks, we’ll be taken back to that galaxy far, far away.
In The Last Jedi, we’ll be treated to a deeper understanding of Rey, Finn, and Poe, especially Rey, who will be trained as the first female main character to be a Jedi by her possible father and definite mentor, none other than Luke Skywalker.
Basically, to make a long story short, it’s going to be epic. The Last Jedi will be to The Force Awakens what The Empire Strikes Back was to A New Hope. Darker, more exhilarating, and overall, hopefully, even better. As if you weren’t excited enough about The Last Jedi already, here’s 15 more reasons why you should be.
15. Some great new actors have joined the cast
As if the cast of Star Wars wasn’t large enough, Rian Johnson’s gone and made it larger for The Last Jedi.
In addition to the original trilogy’s Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Anthony Daniels et al, and The Force Awakens’ new additions John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Gwendoline Christie, and Domhnall Gleeson, there’ll be some fresh faces on the screen.
There will be a mysterious unnamed character played by Benicio del Toro, the guy who captivated audiences with his ominous presence in such movies as Snatch and Sicario, and Laura Dern, the brilliant star of such diverse projects as Jurassic Park and HBO’s criminally underrated dramedy Enlightened.
Also joining the cast is newbie Kelly Marie Tran, a Vietnamese-American actress still carving her niche in Hollywood—being in Star Wars will speed that along a fair bit. She must be pretty amazing because Johnson has decided to cast her as Rose Tico, which he himself has described as the biggest new role in the movie.
14. George Lucas will have some influence
After Disney bought Lucasfilm for over $4 billion and ditched all of his story treatments for a sequel trilogy in favor of their own stuff, it was thought that George Lucas was done with Star Wars, having been cut out by his corporate overlords. He hasn’t been involved in any of the new movies in any major way, but he has had some input.
According to Lucasfilm’s head honcho Kathleen Kennedy, who’s been executive producing the new Star Wars movies, Lucas will poke his head around the set sometimes. She said, “He’ll whisper in my ear every now and then. Usually, it’s something specific or important to him about Jedi training.
Things like that.” She also said that he’s finally starting to let go of the creative side and settle into life as a Star Wars fan. “I think he’s starting to settle into this and just be a fan. It’s taken a while. It’s hard to let go, after forty years. That’s a lot of expectation and things he thought a lot about.
Suddenly that next generation, that whole thematic idea he came up with, is in [the] process.” So, the movies are following his initial thematic ideas that are the basis of the Star Wars story.
13. The director is fantastic
Rian Johnson, who is writing and directing Star Wars: The Last Jedi, has a track record as a fantastic storyteller and filmmaker. He directed three episodes of Breaking Bad, including two of its most brilliant and iconic instalments. Johnson directed the infamous “Fly,” the one where Walt and Jesse spend the whole episode trying to kill a fly that’s gotten into their lab.
It’s a totally unique episode for Breaking Bad because it has no other actors other than Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul and it’s got a really slow pace and no action. “Fly” has been described as both “arguably the most polarizing episode in Breaking Bad history” and “the most unusual and very possibly best episode of Breaking Bad.”
Johnson also directed “Ozymandias,” the third to last episode where it all kicks off. It’s the one where Hank dies, Walt, Jr. finds out about Walt’s drug dealing, Skyler slashes Walt with a knife, and Walt kidnaps Holly (briefly) before abandoning his life and going off the grid.
“Ozymandias” has been described as the greatest episode of television ever produced. Seriously. Johnson is also a well-known movie director, with his highest-profile flick being the mind-bending time travel action thriller Looper, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. Needless to say, we’re in good hands for The Last Jedi.
12. Rian Johnson loved writing it
According to The Last Jedi’s writer and director, Rian Johnson, he settled into writing a Star Wars movie nicely, and found the experience exhilarating.
As he told fellow filmmaker Terry Gilliam (another science fiction legend who was also a member of the ground-breaking surrealist sketch troupe Monty Python): “I’m just starting into it, but so far, honestly, it’s the most fun I’ve ever had writing. It’s just joyous. But also for me personally, I grew up not just watching those movies, but playing with those toys, so as a little kid, the first movies I was making in my head were set in this world. A big part of it is that direct connection, almost like an automatic jacking back into childhood in a weird way. But I don’t know, ask me again in a few years and we’ll be able to talk about that.”
11. The film’s influences are strong
It’s not uncommon for directors of movies to get their cast and crew to watch other movies that are influencing their creative direction in order to get everybody on the same page. The guy who directed Spider-Man: Homecoming, for example, had his actors watch the movies of John Hughes, because the plan was to make a coming-of-age high school movie with superpowers.
For The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson got his brain trust to watch Twelve O’Clock High, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Gunga Din, Three Outlaw Samurai, Sahara, and Letter Never Sent in preparation. The Star Wars iconography in its earliest stages in George Lucas’ mind was influenced by the Second World War, while the stories were influenced by Japanese samurai movies and adventure serials.
Twelve O’Clock High, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Sahara are all classic World War II movies, while Three Outlaw Samurai is a Japanese samurai movie, and Gunga Din and Letter Never Sent are adventure films. So, essentially, Rian Johnson is taking Star Wars back to its roots. Isn’t that great?
10. We’ll learn more about Supreme Leader Snoke
There’s been a number of theories over the past couple of years about the mysterious holographic Supreme Leader Snoke, the puppet master behind Kylo Ren’s turn to the Dark Side of the Force. As director Rian Johnson told Entertainment Weekly, “We’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to.”
That means we will be learning a lot more about him, even if we don’t learn his identity—Johnson did make sure to specify that “his history will remain somewhat murky.”
“Similar to Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And a story is not a Wikipedia page,” Johnson explained. “For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader. Then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story.”
So, Snoke is the Emperor Palpatine of this Star Wars trilogy.
9. It’s the next chapter in the main story
Remember Rogue One last year? It was a very good movie with a solid story, and an important one in terms of the Star Wars canon. How did the Rebel Alliance get a hold of the Death Star plans when we meet them at the beginning of A New Hope?
Rogue One succeeded greatly in answering that question and giving us some very memorable characters to boot. But it simply bridged the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It didn’t take us to any new frontiers in the way that the official “episodes” of the franchise do.
The Last Jedi is full-on, actual Episode VIII of the Star Wars saga. It continues the story that began with Anakin Skywalker being picked up by Qui-Gon Jinn in The Phantom Menace and will continue until God knows when.
That story took us through the Clone Wars, Palpatine’s rise to power; Anakin becoming Darth Vader and consuming the galaxy with the Galactic Empire; the entire Jedi Order crumbling; Luke destroying the Death Star with the help of dead Obi-Wan; another Death Star cropping up; a big battle in the forest with some sadistic Ewoks; Luke retreating to an island and more.
I mean, where the hell is this thing going to take us next? Whatever it is, it’ll certainly be exciting!
8. Han Solo will play a major part in the movie
Star Wars fans were devastated back in 2015 when they saw their lovable rogue space pirate Han Solo struck down by his own son, the evil Kylo Ren. But perhaps most devastated by the killing was Rey, who is now on a warpath to destroy Ren, driven by her grief over his slaying of Han.
As Rey herself Daisy Ridley explains, “She just doesn’t understand Kylo. When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous. So she has grief for the loss and then there’s anger. To be honest, she couldn’t understand doing something like that – let alone to your parents.”
Harrison Ford won’t be popping up as a Force ghost in The Last Jedi, because he hates playing Han and wanted him to die ever since Return of the Jedi. Plus he wasn’t a Jedi Knight, so that wouldn’t be possible even if Ford was on board. But still, Han’s presence will still be felt throughout the movie.
7. Leia’s arc in The Last Jedi is “incredibly emotional”
Due to the tragic passing of Carrie Fisher last year, The Last Jedi will be the last time we see her on screen. Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy has promised that, by way of respecting Fisher’s legacy, they will not be digitally recreating her for 2019’s Episode IX. So, The Last Jedi is also the last time we will see Princess Leia—now the more badass General Leia.
But according to Rian Johnson, the fact that this has retroactively become Leia’s final appearance changes the context of her scenes to make them “incredibly emotional.” He said, “Having these scenes in the film recontextualize tragically with her not being here anymore, it’s incredibly emotional.” Johnson said her performance was “really beautiful.”
6. Grizzled Luke in The Last Jedi made Mark Hamill’s jaw drop
When Mark Hamill read the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, his jaw dropped at Luke Skywalker’s first words to Rey. It indicated a darker, more grizzled Luke who had turned his back on his old, long-held ideologies.
As he explained himself, “The fact that Luke says, ‘I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end…’ [Luke’s first words to Rey in the trailer for The Last Jedi], I mean, that’s a pretty amazing statement for someone who was the symbol of hope and optimism in the original films.”
He continued, “When I first read it, my jaw dropped. What would make someone that alienated from his original convictions? That’s not something that you can just make up in an afternoon, and I really struggled with this thing.”
5. It’s Carrie Fisher’s final film role
Last December, Carrie Fisher passed away and it was a tragedy that shook the world. She was a truly amazing person. Originally, Leia was being built up in The Last Jedi for a really key role in Episode IX, but following her tragic and unexpected death, The Last Jedi will be her final movie appearance.
Not only did she bring the icon that is Princess Leia Organa to life, but she was also a really awesome person in real life. She was a heavy drinker and drug user.
On the set of The Blues Brothers, John Belushi—the guy who died from a drug overdose—told Fisher that she did too much cocaine. Fisher was a fantastic writer, too.
She was asked to polish the Star Wars scripts on set, wrote a bunch of novels, and also penned a candid, hilarious, must-read memoir called Wishful Drinking, which she wrote simply to see what she could remember of her life following shock treatment.
4. The Last Jedi is all about Rey’s journey
According to writer-director Rian Johnson, the key to The Last Jedi’s story is the journey of Rey, and as a nice little addition to that, the journey of Luke and the backstory that led him to be the gruff, grizzled version of Luke that we see at the end of The Force Awakens and in the trailer for The Last Jedi, will be a lens to show Rey’s journey.
Johnson himself explains it better: “The very first step in the writing of this was figuring out why he’s on that island. We know that he is not a coward. He’s not just hiding because he’s scared. But we also know that he must know his friends are in danger. He must know the galaxy needs him.
And he’s sitting on this island in the middle of nowhere. There had to be an answer. It had to be something where Luke Skywalker believes he’s doing the right thing—and the process of figuring out what that is and unpacking it is the journey for Rey.”
3. We’ll see Luke Skywalker more conflicted than ever
We’ve always seen Luke Skywalker as a clear-cut hero and a symbol of hope and optimism. He is the very definition of the Light Side of the Force and yet, now, in The Last Jedi, we see him as a cynic who has lost all of that hope and optimism and light.
There have been a lot of theories that Luke will go to the Dark Side in The Last Jedi, but those aren’t true. He’s simply a conflicted character, and that’s something Mark Hamill has been grappling with creatively.
He said, “He is betrayed, with tragic consequences. Luke feels responsible for that. That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late.”
He went on, “I think he probably looks out on the horizon and wishes that he could be more effective, could be what Obi-Wan wanted him to be. But life is imperfect and without conflict there is no drama. Believe me, you’re going to see a lot of conflict in The Last Jedi. That is for sure.”
2. We’ll finally learn who Rey’s parents are (maybe)
One of the biggest mysteries left in the wake of The Force Awakens was the question of Rey’s parentage. The movie was full of hints, like the flashback scene where her guardian leaves and the strong Force connection that she has to Luke’s old lightsaber, suggesting that maybe it’s him.
They’ll be spending a lot of The Last Jedi together, so we could get the answers we want. We’ll at least get to find out if Luke is the father or not.
Family dynamics have always been an important part of Star Wars—the revelations that Leia is Luke’s brother, Vader is their father, and Kylo Ren is Han and Leia’s son have shown that. So Rey’s parents will almost undoubtedly be an important pair of figures in the Star Wars mythology.
1. It’ll be darker than The Force Awakens
The Last Jedi is expected to be The Empire Strikes Back of this new Star Wars sequel trilogy. Both The Force Awakens and A New Hope were these light, breezy, flashy adventures, but Empire marked a distinct shift in tone where things went to a darker place, and that’s what The Last Jedi promises to do based on its marketing materials.
You can just tell from the murky, gloomy posters that this will be a darker movie that the lovely, colorful The Force Awakens. Plus, the operative color in all the posters for The Last Jedi is red, and we know what red means in Star Wars terms—it’s the color of the Sith’s lightsabers! So, like all the best sequels, The Last Jedi will take us down a darker path than its predecessor.