After years and years of waiting, Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivered not only thrills, but also answers to some of the biggest questions that fans have been asking about the fictional universe since the release of Return of the Jedi. Of course, the film was not only considered Episode VII, but also the launch pad for a brand new trilogy of movies that will work to complete the story of both the characters to whom we've just been introduced, and the ones we've known and loved for decades. Basically, once the wait for The Force Awakens ended, the wait for Star Wars: The Last Jedi began.
As we do with all big upcoming blockbusters, we've thrown together a handy guide for the next chapter of the legendary sci-fi story -- utilizing all of the information that we got from The Force Awakens as well as all of the rumors and reports that have been swirling around. Let's start with a look at the most recent theatrical trailer:
That trailer gave us a taste of what we can expect from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but what else have we learned in the multi-year-long run-up to the eighth chapter in the Star Wars saga? Read on and find out!
SPOILERS AHEAD: This article contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you want to read our spoiler-free review, click here. The rest of you, read on... but know that you have been warned.
What Is The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Release Date?
Arriving almost exactly two years after its immediate predecessor series-wise, Star Wars: The Last Jedi will arrive in theaters on December 15, 2017. If every day is a struggle for you not seeing it, you can always bust out copies of the original trilogy, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (we can't morally recommend revisiting the prequels).
What Is The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Rating?
Intended to be family-friendly entertainment, the Star Wars movies have always gone for either a PG or PG-13 rating, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi is not breaking with that tradition. The MPAA has given the blockbuster the latter grade, citing that parents should attend screenings with audience members younger than 13 because of "sequences of sci-fi action and violence."
Director J.J. Abrams was the man put in charge of laying the groundwork for what will be the future of the Star Wars saga, but it was decided that he would not be back to take the helm of the next chapter. After directing The Force Awakens, Abrams will be staying on as an Executive Producer and creative consultant for the franchise, while the reins will be handed over to writer/director Rian Johnson (who landed the gig back in June 2014). Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be the first time that the young filmmaker has taken the helm of a franchise feature, though his experience does give us a great deal of confidence in his abilities. He broke out onto the scene with his fantastic, gritty neo-noir Brick, and he has followed it up with both the fun caper The Brothers Bloom and the trippy time travel action movie Looper. With that most recent title in particular he has demonstrated a knack for sci-fi storytelling, and it's exciting to think of what he will do with a mix of iconic characters.
Fans spent years referring to Rian Johnson's entry in the Star Wars franchise as simply Star Wars: Episode VIII, but on January 23, 2017 it finally got a title. As seen above, it was officially announced that the blockbuster would be called Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The news came with no further details about the blockbuster, leaving many to question exactly to whom the name is referring. It turns out that it's Luke Skywalker, as he was identified as such in the opening crawl of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
What Is The Star Wars: The Last Jedi Story?
Rian Johnson has written the script for Star Wars: The Last Jedi - though no firm details about the larger plot have been revealed yet (let's not forget that we never actually got a full plot description for Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Really, the only thing we know about the story is where it will begin: it's been confirmed by the writer/director that the movie will break from franchise tradition and begin immediately after the end of The Force Awakens, bringing us back to the frozen moment shared between Rey and Luke Skywalker at the end of J.J. Abrams' blockbuster.
At this point, we really can't say what the established characters will be facing -- but we certainly do expect the new movie to continue some important plot threads from Episode VII. Will Luke wind up teaching Rey in the ways of becoming a Jedi, or is he still too shattered after the events with Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren? (given his line, "the Jedi must end" in the trailer, training may not be his bag anymore). How will Leia operate in the aftermath of her son killing his father? (and how will it deal with the sad real life loss of Carrie Fisher?) What will Finn do now that he's free from the First Order's clutches? What will Poe Dameron and BB-8 get up to now that they are reunited? These are all questions that we will address as we get further into this feature!
Rey, as portrayed by Daisy Ridley, shares many things in common with the path of Luke Skywalker -- with perhaps the most important being that she is positioned to be the central protagonist of a Star Wars trilogy. When we were first introduced to her, she was a scavenger living in poverty on the desert planet Jakku, trading parts from crashed ships for food. As The Force Awakens played out, however, she not only proved herself as an adept fighter and pilot (now at the helm of the Millennium Falcon), but also was revealed to be Force sensitive and on the path towards becoming a Jedi.
But will Rey actually become a Jedi? That's certainly a question that Star Wars: The Last Jedi will need to address. Following the map provided by BB-8 and R2-D2, Rey is able to find Luke Skywalker at the end of The Force Awakens, but after everything he's been through it's hard to say whether or not he will be up for taking on a new Padawan. The teaser certainly suggests some work using the Force, both lifting rocks and meditating on both sides of the universe-binding energy, but the last line suggests that Skywalker may not be willing to train Rey as a knight. Our heroine really doesn't have anything to lose in the matter, because if he says no she can either go back to her life of waiting on Jakku or join the Resistance against The First Order (fighting with her nifty new lightsaber). But knowing how Star Wars typically works, one can guess that she is on the path towards fighting for the Light Side -- perhaps to finally bringing balance to the Force.
Another continuing mystery about Rey is the identity of her parents. We learn in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that she was left on Jakku at a young age with no real knowledge of where she came from -- so that will surely be a thread that's picked up in The Last Jedi. Fans have speculated that she could be the daughter of Luke Skywalker, but obviously we have no way of really knowing whether or not that's true just yet.
When we last saw Finn (John Boyega), he wasn't in the best of shape. Adequately enraged following the death of Han Solo, he decided to take on Kylo Ren in a lightsaber dual, and ended up on the losing end. The good news is that he survived the battle, ready to continue on as a soldier for the Resistance... but he will probably also have a wicked scar going up his spine as a result of the student of the Dark Side's final blow.
It's hard to say what Star Wars: The Last Jedi will have in store for Finn, beyond a desire for some revenge against Kylo Ren. It certainly doesn't look like he will be up on his feet when the story starts, given that the earliest look we got at him in the teaser was him in a comatose state. One possibility story-wise is an exploration of exactly why he decided to betray The First Order and leave his life as a Stormtrooper. As we learn in The Force Awakens, he never had any discipline or attitude problems prior to the moment we meet him on Jakku -- so why did he suddenly have such a big revelation? Was it just seeing all of the madness around him, or perhaps something bigger?
Like Rey, there is a certain "origin story" element that seems open for exploration. "Finn" is not really the character's name, but instead an adaptation of his given Stormtrooper code number, FN-2187. But who was he before he was taken by The First Order? What happened to his parents? These are all questions to which the sequel could wind up delivering answers.
Though he wasn't given quite the same level of spotlight that was given to Rey and Finn, Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron is equally as exciting as both of them as a new character. Not only does he own the cutest droid in the entire Star Wars universe (more on BB-8 later), but he is also a badass X-Wing pilot who helped the Resistance blow up The First Order's Starkiller Base.
Presumably we won't spend half of Star Wars: The Last Jedi thinking that Poe is dead (not that we believed it in The Force Awakens), but there is a big question mark when it comes to exactly how he will be involved. His position as the ace fighter for the Resistance means that he will be a key part of any mission against The First Order, but hopefully we will see him spend more time as part of the core group of characters including Rey and Finn (a la Luke, Leia and Han from the original trilogy). Given the torture session that occurs in the first act of J.J. Abrams' movie, Dameron does have a personal bone to pick with Kylo Ren (like a lot of people), so perhaps that will be what connects him to the main story in the sequel and keeps him involved. Unfortunately, the trailer only gave us a look at him in a sequence where a Resistance hanger is doing a bit of exploding - which could wind up being really thrilling.
After barely appearing in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (and not even having a single line of dialogue), Luke Skywalker has a chance to play a significant role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi - with Mark Hamill finally getting some legit screen time. As mentioned, the movie will begin with his legitimate introduction to Rey, but there is still the looming question as to whether or not he will actually train her in the ways of the Jedi - and Rian Johnson will most definitely have to address that issue.
While Luke didn't have much of a role, Star Wars: The Force Awakens did give us the opportunity to learn a good amount about what happened to him in the 30 years since we last saw him... and most of it isn't positive. After discovering that his nephew, Ben Solo, was Force-sensitive, Luke decided to take the young one under his wing and teach him the ways of the Light side. Unfortunately, his student wound up getting corrupted, killing a bunch of people, and sending Luke into exile. That's quite a lot to come back from, and I'm sure we'll witness a lot of his emotional journey in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It's also worth noting that the title of the film refers to him, as he has spent many, many years as the only person in the universe to go through Jedi training and remain on the Light Side of the Force.
General Leia Organa
Star Wars: The Force Awakens was certainly more about introducing the new characters than revisiting the old ones, but the reality is that Carrie Fisher's General Leia Organa was put in an extremely important position for the future of the Star Wars franchise. Of course, a small part of it is her sibling relationship with Luke -- what with him being the last Jedi and all -- but that just generates a fraction of what makes her important.
Certainly more significant than the identity of her brother is the fact that her son, Ben Solo a.k.a. Kylo Ren, is not only the new central antagonist of the series, but also the man that killed her husband and true love, Han Solo. She also happens to be the leader in the largest organization fighting back against the tyrannical rule of The First Order, and is the one giving missions and instructions to characters like Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron. She should play an extremely important part in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Of course, how that will lead into Star Wars: Episode IX is now a major question mark. When Carrie Fisher passed away in December 2016, she had completed all of her work on Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but nothing for the final chapter in the modern trilogy. We don't currently know how the actress' untimely death will affect the future of the franchise, and probably won't know for a good amount of time following the release of the Rian Johnson blockbuster.
Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) and Han Solo were friends for decades and decades, going back long before we met them in a Mos Eisley bar in A New Hope. As the story goes, Han actually managed to rescue the Wookie from slavery -- and in eternal gratitude, Chewie promised a life debt that would see him stay with the space pirate until the very end. Sadly, that end came during the events of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, when Kylo Ren put his lightsaber through Han's chest.
So where does Chewbacca go from here and into Star Wars: The Last Jedi? He probably has the option to go back to his home world, Kashyyyk, but given how many years he's dedicated to anti-totalitarian movements, one can assume that he will probably stay with Resistance going forward. As we saw at the end of Episode VII, he seemed more than happy to stay on as the co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon with Rey, so perhaps those two will wind up becoming best buddies. Considering Rey can speak droid, maybe she can speak the Wookie language as well.
Now that we've taken a close look at all the good guys, let's change gears and switch over to the Dark Side of the Force, shall we? You've already read a good amount here about Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, but let's look at things from his perspective...
Born Ben Solo, Kylo Ren was Force sensitive from a young age, and was one of the students taken in by Luke Skywalker after he started his own Jedi academy. Unfortunately, he wound up being seduced to the Dark Side of the Force thanks to Supreme Leader Snoke, and after killing all of the other Padawans, he went after Luke. The Jedi master went into hiding, and Kylo Ren found himself positioned as one of the leaders within The First Order. His number one mission above all else is to see the death of the last Jedi -- which he still believes was the ultimate goal of his grandfather, Darth Vader.
Kylo Ren comes close to finding Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but after meeting the duo of Finn and Rey, he walked away empty handed and sporting a brand new scar on his face (at least it's a legitimate reason for him to wear his mask). His quest to kill Luke certainly isn't over -- especially now that he has killed Han Solo -- but it is worth noting that he is a guy filled with inner conflict, and uses his connection to the Dark Side of the Force to control the light within him.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens had no shortage of bad guys to root against -- from Kylo Ren to General Hux to Captain Phasma to Supreme Leader Snoke (more on all of them in a bit) -- but it seems that there will be yet another new antagonist introduced to the Star Wars universe in The Last Jedi. In July of 2015, it was reported that Benicio Del Toro was offered a key villain role in Rian Johnson's upcoming film. Since then we've learned that he will be playing a character named DJ, but very little has been revealed about him beyond that. He's only been featured fleetingly in the marketing, so it seems that his full impact on the movie will only be shown up on the big screen.
Given that she was played by the incredibly likable Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie, Captain Phasma emerged as one of the most exciting new characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens during its marketing campaign... but we were all really let down. The character doesn't really do much of anything in the movie, and has earned negative comparisons to Boba Fett (looks seriously cool, but doesn't actually have an active role).
Fortunately, the door is open for the character to be seriously expanded in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The fate of the chrome-covered Stormtrooper was a bit unclear at the end of The Force Awakens - dropped into a garbage compactor somewhere in the Starkiller Base -- but it's not impossible to believe that she could have escaped before the whole place blew up. If that's the case (and we've certainly heard rumors that suggest that it is), then hopefully Rian Johnson will take full advantage. Similar to how practically everyone is looking for some kind of payback against Kylo Ren, Phasma probably isn't too happy with the heroes who left her for dead in a garbage chute.
General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) is clearly a very important part of The First Order in Star Wars: The Force Awakens - given that he is regularly seen barking orders, and is specifically carted away by Supreme Leader Snoke before the Starkiller Base can be destroyed. That being said, we really don't know anything about him. He clearly takes a good amount of pleasure in his rank, but nothing has been revealed about his past or why he wound up joining the post-Empire bad guys in the Star Wars universe. Given that he survived the events of the first movie, Rian Johnson will at least have the opportunity to give him a bit more of the spotlight and possibly provide him with a bit more backstory.
Supreme Leader Snoke
If you were disappointed by Supreme Leader Snoke in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, know that you're not alone. The character is supposed to be the ultimate new big bad in the Star Wars franchise, and he's played by performance capture legend Andy Serkis, but he doesn't actually do anything in the J.J. Abrams film beyond show up as a giant, seated hologram and ask for updates about what's going on with The First Order. This would be especially lame if there wasn't any guarantee for a sequel, but thankfully that's not the case.
At the controls of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson now has the chance to really deliver us a full-on look at Snoke (hopefully not in hologram form), and give Serkis something to do. Presumably he is a master of the Dark Side of the Force, and the truth is that we'll never get sick of seeing that on the big screen. After how lame the ultimate villain appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, hopefully he gets fully redeemed in the next chapter.
Played by Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, Maz Kanata certainly ranks as one of the weirdest new individuals introduced to the Star Wars universe in The Force Awakens, but she's also one of the most exciting. She is easily one of the oldest characters in the fictional universe (ranking alongside Yoda), and she manages to come across as both cute and wise simultaneously (not the easiest thing to do). Perhaps most importantly, though, is the fact that her age has given her a lot of knowledge, and it's very clear that she knows a hell of a lot more than just what's revealed in the 2015 blockbuster.
It should be noted that there's no guarantee that Maz Kanata will return in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, given that she mostly played a bit role in The Force Awakens - but the smart money says that she will be back. After all, she still has to help answer one of the biggest lingering mysteries from J.J. Abrams' movie: where did she find the lightsaber that once belonged to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker?
First there was Luke, Leia and Han, and now we not only have Finn, Rey, and Poe, but also the droid triumvirate that includes legends C-3PO (Anthony Daniels), R2-D2, and the newcomer BB-8. The ball droid certainly got the most action in Star Wars: The Force Awakens - riding around in Poe's X-Wing and carrying around the movie's big MacGuffin -- but 3PO and R2 had their roles to play as well. Both of them are still on the side of good as part of the Resistance (albeit while R2 remains in a low power state).
We don't really know how all of the droids will fit into the events of Star Wars: Episode VIII, but we fully expect their roles to, at the very least, be expanded. Given his immense popularity, BB-8 will probably still be rolling around with Poe and his pals, and both R2-D2 and C-3PO will probably be absolutely thrilled that Luke Skywalker is back in the picture. The story of Star Wars has arguably always been told through the perspective of the droids, and it's hard to imagine the new movies breaking from that tradition.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens obviously introduced fans to a lot of great new heroes, but Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be getting in on that action as well. Soon audiences will be getting to know Rose Tico, who is played in the movie by Kelly Marie Tran. Because of the secrecy surrounding the project, there isn't a great deal of information publicly available about the character, though we do know that she is a maintenance worker who fights for The Resistance, and that she has a sister who is also a dedicated member of the cause.