At the end of 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens rejuvenated the Star Wars series. Taking place around 30 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, new characters Rey, Finn, Poe, and BB-8 joined Rebel heroes Han Solo, General Leia, Chewbacca, and others in fighting the First Order. Leading the First Order was a rather emotional Jedi named Kylo Ren, who had a familial connection to Han and Leia. And throughout the whole adventure was the mystery of what happened to Leia's twin brother, Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker.
Fan enthusiasm clearly has not waned since then. At the end of 2016, Disney and Lucasfilm released a standalone film within the franchise, Star Wars: Rogue One. It's actually a prequel to the first film, but not a part of the prequel trilogy. Rogue One told the story of how Princess Leia got hold of the Death Star plans, a major plot point in the first film, Star Wars: A New Hope. Told with mostly new characters, with a few cameos and scenes featuring characters from A New Hope, Rogue One was one of the highest grossing films of 2016.
The next film in the saga, currently known only as Star Wars: Episode VIII, will continue the story of Rey, Finn, Poe, Kylo Ren, and the other characters from The Force Awakens. While speaking recently to Variety, director Rian Johnson dropped a few teases and hints about the upcoming entry to the franchise. From what he said, it sounds like there will be a lot of emphasis on character:
"I wanted to know more about each of them, and that doesn’t just mean information or backstory. Figure out what’s the most difficult thing each of them could be challenged with now — let’s throw that at them and dig into what really makes them tick by seeing how they handle that."
Backstory has more or less been promised for Rey, whose parentage is a mystery and whose character is largely informed by her being abandoned as a child. But it sounds like Johnson plans on going deeper than her family relations and really wants to look at what the potential Jedi is dealing with. A part of that will be her relationship to Luke Skywalker, who she found in the final moments of The Force Awakens. Or, as Johnson said about Rey's feelings towards Luke and her coming of age:
"Both not knowing what’s going to happen and also having a lot of expectations in her head about how this is going to go. It very much feels like what we all go through in adolescence, the dawning of this new chapter of our lives."
Johnson also had something to say in terms of Rey's parentage, or at least how it works into the story: "[It's] a really powerful part of her setup and something I really wanted to dig into with this." Most of the internet seems to believe she is either the daughter of Luke, or of Leia and Han. But considering how earth-shattering it was when Luke learned he was the son of Darth Vader, hopefully something equally as surprising is planned for Rey.
Whatever else happens in Episode VIII, Johnson definitely has one goal in mind:
"I want it to be a blast and to be funny and to be a ride the way The Force Awakens and the original Star Wars movies were."
So, no matter the reveals that are unveiled in Episode VIII, fans can at least expect something on par with the success that was Episode VII - and, perhaps, the original trilogy as well.