There Isn't Much Snoke In The Last Jedi
Snoke is barely referenced in the main VF coverage, and in the AMA Kamp revaled why; the Supreme Leader isn't in The Last Jedi all that much. The writer apparently asked Johnson about the character's much-debated identity, only to learn the director doesn't explore him much at all in Episode VIII. This could have just been misdirection, but it seems likely that the mystery of Andy Serkis' scarred puppetmaster will remain unsolved until May 2019 and Episode IX.
This is a minor detail, but does suggest the film will be focusing more tightly on Kylo Ren and the First Order than the being behind them, and like Return of the Jedi the sequel trilogy is saving its big bad for part three.
Kylo Ren Is Haunted By Killing Han Solo
The lack of Snoke is reflected in the presentation of the villainous trio brought over from The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren, General Hux and Captain Phasma. While Hux and Phasma at first appeared disposable, they're set to come back with a vengeance in Episode VIII.
The antagonists are all affected by their defeat in the last film, especially Ben Solo; Kylo has taken the full turn to the Dark by killing his father, but now has to deal with the deep internal scarring that's produced, wrestling with his actions. This is reflected in Adam Driver, who remained in-character - i.e. introverted and alone - at all times of set: "The things about that character that I find painful, that I really relate to, I kind of prefer to keep to myself". As a result, he refused a lunch invitation from Mark Hamill and cracking him becoming a running joke for the other cast members. Based on the images, the character definitely appears to be evolving, with no helmet and a new cloak.
Phasma is also unmasked with Gwendoline Christie scowling horrifyingly (something that wasn't always planned but will happen in the film) and boasting a retractable staff-like weapon.
It's Darker (But Has Humor)
One thing that's really apparent from all of the various quotes is that The Last Jedi is different to what's come before; as John Boyega said, "everything is being shifted in the opposite way to what the audience expected after VII". In the AMA, Kamp explicitly discussed how the film would tonally differ, picking up on two key running threads from conversations with Johnson; it's darker yet has humor. Apparently the former comes from the fitting "operatic" style Johnson is going for, but there was no indication where the latter comes in.
One major comparison to The Force Awakens, though, is that the sets will be mostly practical, continuing the Disney-era's balance of real and CGI.
The Title Came Before The Story
It's well known that the title of The Force Awakens wasn't decided on until after shooting; J.J. Abrams originally wanted to call his film Shadow of the Empire. It was presumed this would be similar for Episode VIII, but Johnson reveals that The Last Jedi "was the very first thing, when I had not even written the script" and that the name powered the story as it came together.
As for what the title means, the Vanity Fair story offers up two different angles. Kathleen Kennedy was typically tight-lipped, but the director revealed that he didn't think there was much mystery to it, it was intended as singular and while going in it's meant to refer to Luke, that could change over the course of the movie.
There's No Romance
One minor detail that severely plays against The Last Jedi being a remake of The Empire Strikes Back is the reveal from Johnson that there isn't a love story at the core of the film. As he says, there's "no one-to-one equivalent of the Han-to-Leia, burning, unrequited love. In our story, that’s not a centerpiece."
There was a lot of romance speculation coming out of The Force Awakens - Rey and Finn, Rey and Kylo, Finn and Poe - and Rose and Finn working together throws up another dynamic, but it appears none of these will be leaned on, at least not overtly.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019