WARNING: This post contains SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Force Awakens
As J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens shatters box office records, many fans are starting to look ahead to the future of the sequel trilogy. And fortunately for them, they won't have to wait long for Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII. Principal photography on the project will commence shortly, as the film is scheduled for a May 2017 release. While The Force Awakens had its fair share of shocking reveals and moments, there are a number of unanswered questions left to explore in the forthcoming installments, adding layers of intrigue to the next movies.
One of the biggest secrets Lucasfilm is keeping under lock and key is the parentage of Rey. There are no shortage of theories regarding the protagonist's familial history; some believe that Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker, others say she's a descendant of the Kenobi bloodline. Fans will remain in the dark at least until Episode VIII hits theaters, but Abrams is one of the few who knows the truth behind Rey's backstory.
During the Television Critics Association press tour (hat tip Variety), Abrams was asked about the various hypotheses moviegoers have devised in the weeks since Star Wars 7 came out. He slyly teased, "I know quite a bit" when it comes to the new heroine of the galaxy far, far away. But it shouldn't come as any shock that the master of the mystery box wouldn't reveal any juicy details:
“Obviously, it’s not for me to talk about in this moment because this is Rian’s story to continue now and the last thing I’m going to do is reveal something that he would be upset about. I want to make sure that Rian gets the courtesy.”
The Lucasfilm story group may not know how the sequel trilogy will end yet, but they definitely ironed out Rey's lineage a long time ago. Johnson was brought on board to direct Episode VIII early on so he would have the opportunity to work with Abrams and piece together the larger picture. When developing The Force Awakens with his co-writer Lawrence Kasdan, Abrams had to decide just how much of the story he was going to reveal. As tempting as it might have been to flood his film with revelations, Abrams displayed restraint and saved some surprises for later, which is in line with the franchise's history. After all, nobody knew Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker's father in 1977. It will be interesting to see how everything comes together as the series progresses.
With so much still to learn, moviegoers will once again be in a precarious situation when it comes to following Star Wars films on the Internet. Lucasfilm did such an admirable job avoiding spoilers in the Force Awakens marketing campaign, that some fans went to extreme measures in the days leading up to the Episode VII premiere. Now that plenty of people have seen the movie (to the tune of $1.7 billion worldwide), it's justifiable to wonder when exactly it's "safe" to freely talk about Star Wars 7's biggest twists and turns. While at the Golden Globes (via Variety), Oscar Isaac seemed to lift the statute of limitations in amusing fashion when asked about Star Wars spoilers:
“Isn’t it time now? Look, I’m here, I’ll put my number out there if anyone has any questions.”
It would appear that we're entering a time where movie fans don't have to tip toe around discussions involving Episode VII. The latest line of official tie-in merchandise features aspects such as Rey fighting with Luke's old lightsaber, and John Boyega seems relieved that now he can publicly talk about what happens in Force Awakens. If the people behind the film are starting to become more open to the idea of conversing over some Star Wars spoilers, now may very well be the time. That is, until the next adventure in a galaxy far, far away is gearing up for its theatrical premiere.
Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens is now in theaters, followed by Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on December 16th, 2016, Star Wars: Episode VIII on May 26th, 2017, and the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25th, 2018. Star Wars: Episode IX is expected to reach theaters in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.