Star Wars: The Force Awakens was full of big surprises that completely changed the beloved franchise. The most talked about was, of course, the identity of Kylo Ren, revealed to be the son of Han and Leia (and grandson of Darth Vader) before later killing his father. One with just as big an impact, however, was that isolated desert scavenger Rey was actually adept in the Force, during the climactic battle on Starkiller Base pulling the Skywalker lightsaber from Kylo and besting him in a duel.
To keep the fact that she was the true hero of the whole sequel trilogy a secret, any allusion to Rey's Force sensitivity was hidden in the film's marketing - only John Boyega's Finn was shown using the saber - and, more specifically, the merchandising. This was - according to Hasbro - the reason behind the "Where's Rey?" controversy where Ridley was absent from a lot of the merchandising in favor of other characters. Thankfully, it already looks like that won't be a problem for Episode VIII.
StarWars.com have shared an image of The Last Jedi's merchandise packaging, which puts a lightsaber-wielding Rey front and centre. Beyond that, though, it also reveals her new look for the film, with her hair hanging and no longer tied up.
The packaging comes with the announcement of this year's Force Friday, the now-annual event each September where Disney unveils its toys for the upcoming cinema release. After both The Force Awakens and Rogue One we've come to expect several major details to come out, but this year we didn't have to wait. Rey's new look is definitely more fitting of a Jedi, with shades of the prequel styles to it, which chimes with her growing Force power. In addition to the new hairstyle, Ridley's costume also appears slightly different to the two she wore in Episode VII - note the black underlayer - although it's hard to discern any real details due to the cropping.
Finn and Poe also appear on the packaging, although there's no major change up to their designs - Poe's got his black Resistance pilot helmet and Finn's sporting the much-discussed jacket. That they're second only to Rey reaffirms this trio as the core of the new series, meaning that while most of The Last Jedi speculation is taking cues from the title and focusing on the Force, the Resistance-First Order conflict will still play a major part. Poe in particular is expected to have a bigger role after sitting out the middle part of The Force Awakens.
It's in Star Wars tradition to have new character designs for each new entry to show the development of heroes and better distinguish the individual episodes, so it's likely most of the core cast will have slightly new looks in The Last Jedi; Kylo Ren specifically now has a facial scar to deal with and presumably lost his helmet in the destruction of Starkiller Base.
This is only our second official look at the obscenely-anticipated sequel after the production announcement from all the way back in February 2016. A trailer is expected to (finally) arrive at Star Wars Celebration in April, which will no doubt give a better idea of how Rey and co. have changed since we last saw them.
- 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