As the new stewards of the Star Wars franchise, Disney has a lot of responsibility to handle the beloved property well as far as the fans are concerned.
Many fans have their gripes with the conglomerate over certain Star Wars material since the takeover. Not to mention the jettisoning of so much previous expanded universe stories that fans had come to love. However, it seems that most fans agree that there has been plenty to like about the new Star Wars media.
One Star Wars tradition fans are undoubtedly happy to see continue is the numerous continuity nods and internal consistencies throughout the movies and supplemental material.
These could be anything from little details for meticulous fans to notice to less tangible themes and messages. It’s hard to tell how much Disney influences these details themselves, but they definitely don’t expect the average fans to pick up on these.
However, the passion that runs among Star Wars fans is special. We look for these messages and details and connections because we have looked for them for decades. And thankfully there are still plenty of people involved in making Star Wars who care enough to put these things in there for us to find.
Here are 16 Hidden Messages Disney Thought You Wouldn’t Notice In Star Wars!
16 THE MULTIPLE MEANINGS OF “THE LAST JEDI”
Ever since the title of Episode Eight was revealed, fans speculated as to the specific meaning of “The Last Jedi.” Now that the film is out, the title is clearly less specific and more general. Yoda told Luke that he would be the last of the Jedi on Dagobah in Return of the Jedi, and by the time of The Last Jedi, he is known in the galaxy as the last Jedi.
However, the film is much more concerned with the idea of major changes that the Jedi order must undergo. Luke will be the last Jedi for all time if he doesn’t let go of his guilt and summon the strength to safeguard the Resistance one last time.
Thankfully he does, and thanks to a combination of Luke’s lessons and Rey’s own convictions, Rey may emerge to lead a new generation of reformed Jedi.
15 THE FLAGS HANGING IN MAZ KANATA’S CASTLE
Maz Kanata is more than a thousand years old and has been travelling the galaxy building connections and collecting trinkets. Eventually she made her home in a castle on Takodana that became a hub of the galactic underworld in its own right. Maz allows pirates and smugglers to rest and convene on Takodana.
One of the most distinct features of her castle is the courtyard. In the center there’s a larger than life statue of Maz with her arms outstretched to the sky, almost as if she is welcoming the seedier sorts of the galaxy towards her abode.
The courtyard is also bedecked with dozens of various flags all hung haphazardly around. The symbols include the banners used by Anakin and Sebulba in the Boonta Eve Podrace and the horned skull symbol of Mandalore.
14 THE CAVE AND THE CAVERN TELLING THE HERO WHAT THEY NEED
The storyline on Ahch-To has more than a few obvious parallels to the storyline on Dagobah from Empire Strikes Back. This includes the mysterious, Dark-side-related location that holds a lesson for the hero.
In the cave on Dagobah, Luke sees himself within Darth Vader’s mask, warning of the harm he could do to himself if he confronts Vader in anger and hate.
In the Cavern on Ahch-To, Rey is confronted with her own mystifying vision. She sees endless copies of herself all mimicking her with a slight delay.
Even in the foggy mirror all she can see is her reflection when she longs to see her parents. It means that Rey does not have any special connection with her idols or parents and that it is up to her to determine what her role in this story will be.
13 A NEW CLONE ARMY?
The origins and true purpose of the Clone Army of the Republic was one of the biggest mysteries of the Prequel Trilogy. After Darth Sidious used the clones to exterminate the Jedi, they became some of the earliest soldiers to serve in the reformed Galactic Empire.
However, their growth acceleration led their conditions to deteriorate to the point that most of them were unfit for service. By the time of Battle of Yavin, the fighting forces of the Empire were comprised entirely of conventionally born recruits.
The idea of a clone army was not completely abandoned, though. A bit of dialogue between Kylo Ren and General Hux in The Force Awakens suggests that a clone army was something that Supreme Leader Snoke had considered. The debacle with FN-2187 would make the genetically programmed loyalty of clones more appealing.
12 2187 AND ESCAPING PRISON
There are several different numbers that have become repeat references throughout the Star Wars movies. Probably the most famous is 1138. The number first appeared George Lucas’s early film TXH 1138 and since then appeared in all the Star Wars movies and many expanded media in some form or another.
The Sequel Trilogy made some of its own numerical references to previous Star Wars movies. In A New Hope, the cell number where Princess Leia was being held on the Death Star was 2187.
When Finn was introduced in The Force Awakens, his Stormtrooper number was FN-2187. In both films the numbers relate to characters who escape from the Empire or the First Order and they were both spoken by characters who happened to be wearing Stormtrooper armor at the time.
Star Wars fans have found a lot of magnanimous ways to show their love of the franchise. The real life 501st Legion is an international group of dedicated Star Wars cosplayers who also hold events and fundraisers for charitable organizations.
In 2004, Katie Johnson, daughter of 501st founder Albin Johnson, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Katie loved Star Wars and reportedly wished that she could have her own droid to watch over her like R2 did for Padme in Attack of the Clones.
Various 501st chapters raised funds to build a fully functional astromech droid for Katie named R2-KT. She was canonized in the Star Wars universe when she appeared in Star Wars: The Clone Wars and she made a background live action appearance in The Force Awakens.
10 ROSE’S RING AND THE ORIGINS OF RESISTANCE
A lot of Star Wars fans feel that the sequence on Canto Bight is superfluous to the story. However, it actually serves to show us more about some of the film’s most important themes and details.
Admiral Holdo tells the beleaguered remaining Rebels that the downtrodden throughout the galaxy look to them for hope and inspiration. In Canto Bight, in the fathier pens, that is exactly what happens. Rose convinces the child slaves to help them escape by showing them the ring with the Rebel symbol.
The ring with the hidden symbol dates back long before the First Order and the Resistance. Members of the original Imperial Senate who secretly supported the Rebellion wore rings like these. They would reveal the fire bird symbol to secretly communicate amongst each other.
9 THE HISTORY OF “STARKILLER”
Starkiller Base was the name given to the mobile command center and superweapon developed by the First Order. It used technology originally seen in the Death Stars and drained entire suns for its power to annihilate entire star systems. In that way it was doubly suited to its name.
Starkiller Base wasn’t the first item in Star Wars to bear that name. The first appearance of the name was in the now Legends continuity relegated Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video games.
Several years before the events of A New Hope Darth Vader had reared a secret apprentice of his own codenamed Starkiller. Starkiller rebelled against Vader’s purpose and died, but Vader tried to make clones of Starkiller that were even more powerful and more obedient.
8 LIGHTSABER WILHELM SCREAM
The Wilhelm Scream is one of the most recognizable sounds in movie. It is believed to have originated in the 1951 film Distant Runs. The common name for the stock sound effect came from sound designer Ben Burt when he was working on the original Star Wars.
He discovered the sound on a studio reel labeled, “Man being eaten by alligator,” and renamed it the Wilhelm Scream after a character named Wilhelm who emitted it in 1953’s The Charge at Feather River.
At least all of the episodic Star Wars films have included the Wilhelm Scream somewhere in the film. Although it’s not distinctly heard in The Last Jedi-- many fans are claiming that the scream can in fact be heard when Kylo Ren takes his first lightsaber strike at Luke Skywalker on Crait.
It seems to be mixed in with the screech of Kylo’s saber.
7 “DON’T JOIN.”
The Canto Bight sequence in The Last Jedi gave us a sobering look at how both the elite and outcasts of the galaxy can ignore the grand conflict between the Light and the Dark. Some of them can even exploit it. Through Rose’s backstory we see an example of how ruthlessness can be a powerful ally for the greedy.
Benicio Del Toro’s “DJ” is an example of how opportunism can be a powerful ally for the amoral. He goes along with Finn and Rose’s plan up until the First Order captures them and offers him an even bigger payoff.
His short philosophical speech to Finn about how you shouldn’t join arbitrarily designated “good guys” or “bad guys” is even abbreviated in his name. “Don’t Join.” His hat also has an Aurebesh version of the phrase etched onto it.
6 COMMEMORATING COMMANDER RADDUS
When the finally assembled Rebel Fleet made its first major strike against the Empire on Scarif, the fleet was led by the Mon Calimari Admiral Raddus. Raddus commanded the MC75 cruiser Profundity as the flagship of the Rebel fleet.
During the battle he devised the tactic of ramming a disabled Star Destroyer with a Hammerhead Corvette to break through the Scarif planetary shield.
Decades later the Resistance found itself in another space confrontation centered on another Mon Calimari cruiser. The MC85 cruiser Raddus led the small Resistance fleet that evacuated from D’Qar at the start of The Last Jedi.
At the end of the movie Vice Admiral Holdo used the Raddus itself as a hyperspace projectile weapon to decimate the First Order fleet. A move that would have surely made the original Admiral Raddus proud.
5 HARDWARE WARS LIVES ON
When Star Wars first became a phenomenon in the '70s and '80s, fans didn’t have instant access to all the movies, lore and online communities like they do now.
They couldn’t always play the video games, share theories, or instantly cross reference continuity details. They had to find any means they could to scratch their Star Wars itches between films.
One of the most popular and enduring Star Wars diversions was a 1977 short parody film called Hardware Wars. It was deliberately low budget in its production and actors, including using suspended household appliances in place of model space ships, hence the title.
In The Last Jedi there’s a gag shot where it looks as though a ship is touching down, but it’s actually a clothing iron being placed on a uniform in the laundry room of Snoke’s ship. Rian Johnson is clearly a Hardware Wars fan.
4 LUKE MADE THINGS RIGHT BY GOING BACK TO YODA’S BASIC TEACHINGS
Luke Skywalker gave into his old weakness in lashing out to protect his legacy when he tried to preemptively kill Ben Solo. The same fear lead him to almost kill his father on the second Death Star. He realized his mistake immediately, but it was already too late.
The shame and the sorrow that afflicted Luke apparently led him to isolate himself from the Force and the rest of the Galaxy for years. When he finally does make his grand return, he follows the most important principle Yoda taught him about using the Force. “A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack.”
He failed that principle when first confronted Ben Solo. When he goes to confront Kylo Ren on Crait he never strikes back at him, only dodges and stalls him.
3 THE LONG DEVELOPMENT OF HYPERSPACE TRACKING
This was one of the most conspicuous plot devices in The Last Jedi. Even after the Resistance Fleet had jumped to light speed, the First Order was able to follow them almost immediately. It’s a big shock to all the Resistance characters. However, where did this technological breakthrough suddenly come from?
Turns out the Empire had been working on it back during the Galactic Civil War. When Jyn Erso and Cassian Andor infiltrate the Imperial archives on Scarif, one of the plans she uncovers mentions Hyperspace tracking. When the Millennium Falcon escapes from the Empire in Empire Strikes Back they try to track it by calculating their possible destinations.
According to The Last Jedi Visual Dictionary, the Hyperspace tracking Technology on Snoke’s ship is all based on massive amounts of number crunching from sensor and telemetry readings. It lets them predict the Resistance's destinations with tactical speed.
2 REY SECRETLY TOOK THE JEDI TEXTS
Yoda appears in The Last Jedi to summon lightning and set the tree housing the original Jedi texts on fire. Luke is stunned. Surely he had assumed Yoda would not approve when he tried to do it.
However, Yoda uses the act to lead into his final lesson for the cynical Luke. Even if the ways of the past have led to failure, we must learn from our failure going forward.
Yoda says, “There is nothing in that library that the girl Rey doesn’t already possess.” This could mean that Rey already has the gifts and instincts within her to learn the Force. But in fact this is another clever double meaning from Yoda.
Off screen, Rey took the texts from the library and stashed them on the Millennium Falcon before leaving Ahch-To. We see them in a drawer when Finn is looking for a blanket for Rose.
1 ELLO ASTY, THE BEASTIE BOYS RESISTANCE PILOT
J.J. Abrams is a huge Beastie Boys fan. When Abrams directed two of the new Star Trek movies he included some explicit shout outs to the band. In one of the scenes with young James Kirk in Star Trek (2009), the band’s song “Sabotage” underscores Kirk’s reckless behavior. J.J. Abrams included another Beastie Boys song “Body Movin” in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Star Wars isn’t as conducive to real world song soundtracks as Star Trek but Abrams found ways to reference the Beastie Boys all the same when he directed The Force Awakens.
The Abednedo Resistance pilot who flew in the mission to sabotage Starkiller Base was named Ello Asty, in reference to the Beastie Boys’ album Hello Nasty. Ello also has an inscription on his helmet that says “Born to Ill” referencing the album “Licensed to Ill.”
Are there any other subtle or hidden messages you have noticed in the new Star Wars movies you could point out? Let us know in the comments!