The biggest movie of the year, arguably the most anticipated movie of all-time going by pre-ticket sales, is now in theaters. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens not only extends the original saga, picking up the story threads from three decades ago but it relaunches the franchise that'll continue going forward with annualized releases. And so far, it's been a smashing success.
We're not here to talk about box office milestones, critical acclaim, and merchandise/licensing records though. If you've seen the movie, there are a lot of questions raised throughout the course of The Force Awakens, in how it ends, and even in the gap between it and Return of the Jedi.
Below is a list of these mysteries and unanswered questions that need to be addressed in Rian Johnson's Episode VIII and Colin Trevorrow's Episode IX.
*Warning: If the title didn't give it away, Star Wars 7 Plot Spoilers Ahead.*
You’ve been warned.
15 Is Kylo Ren Redeemable?
The first act of Star Wars 7 plays with the idea that Kylo Ren is at odds with the light side of the force, that he’s suffering from temptation of rejoining his family. He’s even concerned that Supreme Leader Snoke does not have faith in him.
But then, at what appears to be his moment of weakness, Kylo does the unthinkable and renounces his old identity and murders his father. After this, he proceeds to attack Finn and Rey, showing that he has no sign of slowing down his vengeful conquest. Has he already crossed too many lines that there is no way to redeem him? Is Kylo Ren 100% "evil" now or is there still a possibility of an Episode IX change of heart (Darth Vader style) where Kylo turns against Snoke?
14 How Does Maz Kanata Have That Lightsaber?
When our heroes head to the beautiful planet of Takodana, the force lures Rey into the dungeon of Maz Kanata's castle where an old chest is host to a lightsaber hilt. Touching it brought back flashbacks of Rey's past, to Luke's academy and what happened with the Knights of Ren which led to her being abandoned on Jakku. Rey then fears the weapon and those memories and runs off.
Han Solo recognizes the lightsaber as Luke's - the one lost at Bespin when Luke fought Darth Vader for the first time and lost his hand (The Empire Strikes Back) - but when he asks Maz how she got it, she replies by saying it's a story for another time. This question must be explored in the upcoming Star Wars films.
13 Who Is Supreme Leader Snoke?
Snoke is introduced vaguely in Star Wars: The Force Awakens only through a hologram that exaggerates his physical presence. He's inexplicably in charge of The First Order, presumably responsible for reassembling the resources of the Empire after the fall of Emperor Palpatine and the second Death Star.
Who he is, whether he had any involvement behind-the-scenes in the first six Episodes of the saga, and why he's heavily disfigured remains all unanswered. All we know is that he's a force user, he had something to do with recruiting and training Kylo Ren, and Han, Leia, and the others are all very aware of him.
A common point of speculation is that Snoke could be Darth Plagueis, the master of Palpatine who was named dropped in Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. In that film, Palpatine describes his old trainer with some choice words, include "wise" that was also used by Kylo Ren to describe Snoke.
“Darth Plagueis was a dark lord of the Sith, so powerful and so wise. He could influence the midichlorians to create life. He had such a knowledge of the Dark Side, he could even keep the ones he cared about from dying.”
The ability to create life could explain the character's heavily disfigured zombie-like appearance.
12 Is Rey A Skywalker?
The origin story of Rey, from her being a tech savvy, force-sensitive scavenger on a desert planet, lends to the obvious conclusion that Rey is a descendant of Anakin Skywalker. This isn't revealed in Episode VII and her history is only teased with vague explanations and mysterious flashbacks where we learn she was abandoned on Jakku by her "family" but she doesn't seem to remember much of her history outside of horrifying flashbacks when the force draws her to Luke Skywalker's blue lightsaber - a weapon she's scared to take at first.
Is she a Skywalker? Who left her, alone, on Jakku? Was Luke's plan all along to have Rey find him? Would J.J. Abrams go out of his way to establish all of these parallels and connections, for her not to be a Skywalker when the saga really is about that family?
11 What Made Ben Solo Turn to the Dark Side?
It's revealed during the conversations between General Leia and Han Solo that it was Leia's call to submit their son, Ben Solo, for training with Luke but that somehow sent him on a path to dark side. It's not explained but Snoke gets to Ben and turns him evil, so much so that he and the Knights of Ren butcher all the students at Luke's academy.
But what would turn Ben against his parents, against is cohorts and against Luke? Why does he look up to Darth Vader so much? Why does he consider Snoke wise and is he ignoring the fact that his grandfather actually turned back to the light at the end of Return of the Jedi? Luke and his parents must have taught Ben that, right?
10 What Does The First Order Really Look Like?
Star Wars 7's galactic conflict is relatively limited in scope outside of a brief scene of a few planets being eliminated by the First Order's Starkiller weapon. Snoke, Kylo Ren, Hux, and Captain Phasma seem to be the First Order's top hierarchy but they are presented as all working aboard a single vessel, a new Star Destroyer, and commanding their one planetary base.
How big is there fleet? What happened to the thousands of Imperial ships from years earlier? Do they really only have one new model Star Destroyer and one type of modernized TIE Fighter? If Hux is stationed around the Starkiller base, what is the rest of the First Order navy doing and who commands it? Why weren't these ships stationed around Starkiller as well?
9 What Does The New Republic Look Like?
Even though the Resistance is backed by the government (the New Republic) they are presented as being a miniscule ragtag grup, just as they were in Episode IV at their Yavin base. And just like that original Star Wars film, this new Resistance only has one type of starfighter and... zero capital ships?
C3PO makes mention of the "Republic Fleet" but we don't know if they are elsewhere, doing something not addressed, or if they were destroyed in the Starkiller's first (and last) assault. Where are the Calamari cruisers, Corellian capital ships, Corvettes, Frigates and array of fighters (A-Wings, Y-Wings, B-Wings, etc.) previously used by the Rebellion?
8 Who Are The Knights of Ren?
Kylo Ren's name was adopted by Ben Solo in the same way Anakin Skywalker embraced the identity of Darth Vader. The name "Ren" refers to the Knights of Ren, first introduced in Star Wars: Episode VII as a team of warriors who we assume from Rey's flashback sequence are responsible for the slaughter of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Academy.
Who they are, how they formed, and whether or not all of them are Force users isn't explained. In fact, the only shot we have of them only shows Kylo wielding a lightsaber. Do they work for Snoke? When did they originate? Did they recruit Kylo Ren or was he there from the start? Why aren't they serving with Kylo Ren during the story of The Force Awakens?
It's possible they all serve Snoke and are with him. Star Wars 7 ends with Snoke ordering General Hux to bring Kylo Ren in to complete his training so we may learn about all of this in Episode VIII.
7 Will Chewbacca Stay With Rey?
Chewie owed his life to Han Solo for freeing him in the past - something we hope is explored in the Han Solo Anthology spinoff - but now he has no master. Chewbacca has earned his place as a hero and loyal ally many times over so he can do whatever he wants. Still, his undying loyalty seems to have extended to Rey and the Resistance by the end of the film.
Will he stick around as Rey’s companion and will the pair of them keep the Millennium Falcon operational through this new Star Wars trilogy?
6 Who is Max Von Sydow's Character?
The main plot of Star Wars 7 begins with Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) having acquired a key piece of map data needed to locate Luke Skywalker. He passes it to Resistance Pilot Poe Dameron before Kylo Ren cuts him down.
Who this character is or was during the days of the Empire isn't explained but some hints are given when Tekka refers to Leia as "royalty," indicating he may have served the Rebellion many years earlier. He also knew Kylo Ren before he turned to the dark side since Ren makes a comment on how old Tekka looks now. Despite this character being on Jakku , there is oddly no connection to Rey.
5 Why Luke Created A Galactic Map?
After Ben Solo became Kylo Ren and led his knights against Luke and his Jedi Academy, Luke felt responsible and went into hiding after locating the original Jedi temple (or failing to find it). For some reason he put a map on R2-D2 and seemingly sent him back to Leia and the Republic for safekeeping, but the map was not complete.
The missing piece was with Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) on Jakku although it is not explained if he had it the whole time or how he acquired it. And if he did have it the whole time, why is he handing it over the the Resistance now? There must be another player behind-the-scenes or a plot point that's intentionally missing as to what kickstarted the events of The Force Awakens when it did. It must have to do with there being an awakening, right?
Why did Luke create a map to be found? Did he want to be found at this very moment? What made R2-D2 wake up when he did? How did one part of the map get separated and to Jakku? Was it held for Rey the whole time?
4 How Badly Were Kylo and Finn Hurt?
During Star Wars 7's lightsaber battle, an injured Kylo Ren defeats Finn, cutting his shoulder and the slicing his back and spine open, rendering him unconscious. Will Finn make a full recovery?
And how much damage did Rey do to Kylo Ren? Did Ren lose a limb or an eye when his face was hit? The last we see of this character he's unable to get up.
And to a lesser extent, how did Captain Phasma, General Hux and Ren escape an exploding planet in time? We know Snoke ordered Hux to grab Kylo Ren and to bring him to Snoke to “complete his training” but we didn’t see how that happened in the few minutes before the Starkiller base was blown to bits, especially given that Ren was in the middle of a torn a part forest. Suspension of disbelief is expected of audiences on much of this but we are interested in seeing how the characters have changed by Episode VIII, physically and otherwise.
3 Starkiller 2.0?
The original trilogy saw two Death Stars constructed and subsequently destroyed and one of the criticisms of Star Wars 7 is that it follows the story of A New Hope almost beat by beat. We can't help but think since the Empire/First Order is unable to learn from their mistakes, they'll remake an even bigger Starkiller in Episode IX.
Even if they do not, what will the next space-based threat be for Lucasfilm to introduce more First Order and Resistance starships (and hence, toys!)? Snoke and Hux need something for the Republic to fear and after three superweapon failures, will they lean on another superweapon?
2 What Made R2-D2 Reactivate?
When BB-8 is returned to the Resistance base, General Leia and her army need the rest of the galactic map before they can find Luke. BB-8 knows R2-D2 has this info but has been in sleep mode ever since Luke left. Why couldn't the techs turn the droid on? How did BB-8 know Artoo had the rest of the map? Why was R2 only given part of the map?
And most importantly, what activate R2-D2 at the exact moment he needed to be awakened? Was it all part of Luke's master plan?
1 How Did Finn Break Free?
Finn is a Stormtrooper, conditioned by the First Order since birth to be a loyal and efficient soldier and worker. He's unique though and is the only Stormtrooper of the entire saga so far who was able to break free of his programming and disobey orders. This makes him special, and different. And it all happens when there was an "awakening."
Is Finn therefore Force sensitive? He may not be as a strong as Rey or have overt Force powers but he has ace precision with a blaster and the guns of the TIE Fighter and Millennium Falcon when he needed it most. He was also able to hold his own for a while against Kylo Ren, a trained lightsaber warrior.
Are there other big questions you have that weren't answered? Let us know in the comments!