When a franchise is as historic and beloved as Star Wars is, it's only natural that fan expectations for any future installments tend to rocket sky high. After the less than stellar initial reception of the prequel trilogy, and Disney's acquisition of the franchise for $4 billion in 2012, it's also understandable for fans to find themselves growing concerned about the future of the galaxy far, far away.
There's no denying that The Force Awakens had quite the steep hill to climb prior to its release; and while some have criticized the movie and rejected it as different kinds of fan service, for the most part, the box office numbers speak for themselves. Despite the many naysayers, it's clear that audiences flocked to the thrilling new chapter in the space saga.
Yet it is perhaps precisely due to this same success that the forthcoming episode VIII, The Last Jedi, finds itself in the incredibly unenviable position of following through on a major success. Can Disney and Lucasfilm really do the impossible and make lightning strike twice? Just in case you're as worried as we are, we've compiled a list of 15 Ways The Last Jedi Could Go Horribly Wrong, so you know what to be on the lookout for when entering theaters this December.
15 It's a retread of Empire Strikes Back
One of the most popular critiques about The Force Awakens was that it relied too heavily on the nostalgia factor, with certain unhappy fans calling it a blatant ripoff of A New Hope. J.J. Abrams himself has since admitted that the referential feeling was intentional, in order to assure viewers that they were returning to the Star Wars of old instead of the prequels.
However, with that reassurance now established, it's in the best interest of the sequel trilogy to move forward and away from narrative parallels. While Rian Johnson has assured fans that The Last Jedi won't merely be a remake of Empire Strikes Back, the parallels are already worrying. Based on what we know so far, Jedi features a mentor and student relationship, the uprising of the dark side, and a resistance plot that will inevitably join the other plots in the end.
Which...sounds a lot like Empire Strikes Back. We can only hope that these plots differ greatly enough from Empire's for the film to feel entirely fresh.
14 Too much focus on too many new characters
It's usually a good idea to bring in new characters to keep a franchise fresh and moving forward. However, there can also definitely be too much of a good thing, and we're starting to get worried that this might be the case with what Jedi has taken on.
Early reports indicated that a rewrite had been undertaken to reduce the roles of new characters in favor of assuring new fan favorites such as Rey and Finn would receive the proper amount of screen time. However, even taking these rumors are credible, Jedi has a full slate of new characters including Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico, Benicio Del Toro's DJ, Laura Dern's Admiral Holdo, Snoke's Praetorian Guards, the Caretakers on Ahch-To, and the porgs.
While it can surely be done, it will take a lot of careful work to ensure that the film doesn't feel weighed down by the endless new characters in the way that each successive prequel film struggled with.
13 Captain Phasma is underused again
Given the heavy promotion Captain Phasma received in both advertisements and merchandising prior to The Force Awakens, it was more than a little confusing and disappointing to see the armored baddie receive so little screen time within the film itself. Based on her appearance and position alone, Phasma is clearly meant to be considered an imposing character. At the very least, she is merciless in her militaristic pursuits, and also offers a personal nemesis for onetime subordinate Stormtrooper Finn.
John Boyega has assured fans that Phasma and Finn will have another face-off in Jedi, and Rian Johnson has promised more for the character in the film altogether. Yet since Phasma was greatly talked up prior to episode VII, only to receive a mere handful of scenes and a few minutes of screen time, we can't help but be wary about whether her next confrontation with Finn will be more satisfying than the last, or if her appearance will leave more of a lasting impression this time around.
12 Luke remains a mystery for the entire film
If the mystery at the heart of The Force Awakens was "Where is Luke Skywalker?" it seems like one of the central mysteries of The Last Jedi will be "Who is Luke Skywalker?"
With nearly thirty years having passed since viewers have seen Mark Hamill's farmboy turned galactic hero, it's understandable that there are many questions about what he's been doing for all these years. While we know that he tried to train a new generation of Jedi, only to be betrayed and enter exile, we don't know much of what happened before or after that.
And according to Hamill himself, we might not find out a whole lot of it. As he puts it, "massive amounts" of Luke's life have been left out of the film, either to be filled in via expanded universe works or explained in episode IX. However disappointing that may be, it is absolutely crucial that we learn enough about Luke to know who he is as a person now—and, dare we even think it, whether we can still trust him after all this time.
11 We don't learn what happened at the Jedi Academy with Luke and Kylo Ren
In order to know how to feel about not only Luke Skywalker, but also Adam Driver's mercurial Kylo Ren, viewers especially need to learn exactly what happened at Luke's fledgling Jedi Academy. As Han explains it in The Force Awakens, Luke "was training a new generation of Jedi. One boy, an apprentice, turned against him, destroyed it all."
It's clear that the apprentice Han refers to here is meant to be Kylo Ren, once known as Ben Solo. Yet what remains unclear here are the events that led to Kylo's betrayal of his uncle. Excerpts from books such as Alan Dean Foster's novelization of The Force Awakens also indicate that a young Ben Solo was deliberately targeted by Snoke:
[Han] had trouble believing what he was hearing. “So Snoke was watching our son.”
“Always,” [Leia] told him. “From the shadows, in the beginning, even before I realized what was happening, he was manipulating everything, pulling our son toward the dark side. But nothing’s impossible, Han. Not even now, at this late time. I have this feeling that if anyone can save him—it’s you.”
No matter what happened in this crucial turning point, two things remain clear: Snoke had a major part in the events leading up to it, and viewers need to know exactly what happened as soon as possible.
10 Snoke's plans are still kept super vague
Which brings us to our next concern. Supreme Leader Snoke is clearly the sequel trilogy's equivalent of Emperor Palpatine, a mysterious puppet master who pulls the strings of the weak-willed in order to prey upon the galaxy. However, while Palpatine clearly desired domination of an empire, it is unclear what Snoke wants at this point in time.
In The Force Awakens, Snoke fears that his apprentice Kylo Ren might not be strong enough in the face of the titular awakening. He needs to know Luke Skywalker's location, presumably in order to kill him and put an end to the Jedi for good; similarly, when he hears how powerful Rey is, he requests that Kylo bring the girl to him.
Yet beyond his looming speeches and larger than life graphics, we still have no clue what Snoke really wants. What are his goals? Why does he want Rey? Why did he choose Kylo Ren? Even though we won't be getting all of Snoke's backstory in Jedi, these are some questions that we really need answered.
9 An over-saturation of the cute factor
It's hard not to fall in love with the porgs as soon you see them: just look at that face.
But as cute as the puffin-inspired birds may be, Jedi could have a real problem if they are granted the narrative prominence that the Ewoks had in Return of the Jedi. While the Ewoks appeared cute and fluffy from a distance, they proved themselves to be quite vicious. Although there's no denying that many of their scenes are amusing and impressive, the fact that they play such a crucial role in the Battle of Endor is still something that sours the film for many fans.
Since the porgs are far smaller and cuter, and since are bonding primarily with Chewbacca and R2-D2, we can perhaps hope that they won't be taking up sizable amounts of the narrative, or detracting from the character-based action in any way.
But we can also already feel ourselves falling prey to the inevitable marketing of the cute little guys sooner rather than later.
8 Too much scenery chewing from General Hux
While it's rare for characters to be as universally reviled as Jar Jar Binks, it's inevitable that some characters will toe the line between disinterest and dislike.
Domhnall Gleeson's General Hux falls precisely within this gray area. Hux's status as an easy-to-dislike character is through no fault of Gleeson, who is always a capable actor in roles including Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter series. However, where Star Wars stumbles with Phasma, it takes a nosedive with Hux—and it can all be traced to one particularly egregious scene.
Hux's foaming at the mouth fervor as he raves about the destruction of an entire civilization, as well as their submission to the First Order, would be uncomfortable enough without the blatant use of fascistic imagery. Star Wars has never shied away from political commentary with its depiction of the Empire; however, in this particular incident, it may be a step too far, and Jedi would be better off dialing back Hux's overly animated and murderous role.
7 On over-reliance on CGI instead of practical effects
One thing that was constantly discussed around The Force Awakens' release was the fact that J.J. Abrams made use of primarily practical effects. Whether it was Rey's instant bread in her home on Jakku, or the dramatic explosions as Finn and Rey try to escape the desert planet, Abrams chose to use practical effects wherever he could, and with amazing levels of success.
Initial reports about The Last Jedi suggested there would be a turn toward embracing practical effects even more, particularly with a rumor that Snoke's true form would be revealed in the form of an ornate, fully functioning puppet. However, Rian Johnson recently shot down that rumor, confirming instead that Snoke, even in his non-projected form, would be entirely motion capture CGI, much like Maz Kanata's role in The Force Awakens.
While it's understandable that such a complexly designed character would need to be rendered with CGI, it would be disappointing if Jedi didn't make use of practical effects in the same way as episode VII did. Hopefully, Johnson will deliver.
6 Kylo Ren becomes a hollow, cartoonish villain
Ever since The Force Awakens was released, certain fans have mocked Kylo Ren for being "emo," spurring on countless parodies and the incredibly successful Twitter account Emo Kylo Ren (@KyloR3n). Since he openly expressed emotional conflict and removed his mask within the first film, some fans perceive him as a weak and ineffectual villain, and nothing at all like the legendary Darth Vader they revere.
However, in the process of idolizing Vader, they ignore the most crucial component of his character: his humanity. Anakin's emotional arc in the prequels may be incredibly derided by some, but the fact remains that it is still canon to the Star Wars universe. Likewise, even if Vader is ruthless for much of the original trilogy, he is ultimately saved in Return of the Jedi by his love for his son.
When Adam Driver was asked in January by Larry King what he was excited for Star Wars fans to see in Kylo Ren's journey in The Last Jedi, his initial answer was simple: "humanity." Kylo Ren's emotional arc is clearly far from done, and it would be a real shame if he was forced to become a hollowed out cartoon villain if only to appease the bitter fans who don't want actual feelings in their Star Wars.
5 Finn and Rey don't get a proper reunion
"We'll see each other again. I believe that. Thank you, my friend."
Rey's final words of The Force Awakens offer a tender message of hope, one that perfectly encapsulates the real kindness and affection that has blossomed as a result of her friendship with Finn. Even though Finn cannot hear her, her promise is one that the audience has been allowed to hear; and therefore, it is one that they are allowed to hold her accountable for.
Therefore, it will be incredibly disappointing if Finn and Rey do not have a proper reunion at some point within The Last Jedi. While it has been sadly confirmed that they spend much of the film separated—Rey has her training to undergo, while Finn goes on an adventure with Rose—it is nevertheless absolutely crucial that the film brings these two close friends back together, preferably with the both of them healed and conscious this time.
4 A lack of Leia and resolution for her character's arc
The tragic, unexpected loss of Carrie Fisher in December 2016 is one that has left the Star Wars community reeling for months now, and will leave it forever changed. Her inspirational life story mirrors the iconic status of the role she played so well, Princess turned General Leia Organa. Therefore, it's not only the fans of Star Wars who will feel her loss, but the narrative itself.
While Rian Johnson has assured fans that Jedi will be satisfying for fans of Leia's character, and Colin Trevorrow has likewise promised episode IX will honor her legacy, there's no way in which any amount of Leia will prove satisfactory for devoted fans. As the last film Fisher took part in is the second in a trilogy, there is an entire part of the journey in which Fisher's Leia will not be present.
The concerns about the story that will be told here cannot be overstated. It is very likely that Leia Organa will never see her twin brother again, nor will she ever be able to reunite with her son, regardless of whether he is redeemed. Leia, who has suffered and overcome so much, will not get the happy ending she rightly deserved. No amount of screen time can possibly make up for that.
3 Rey isn't tempted by the darkness
It's not exactly new territory for Star Wars heroes to be tempted by the dark side. Anakin's descent into darkness is so much more than just a cautionary tale; even Luke appears tempted by it in Return of the Jedi, particularly as he viciously hacks off Darth Vader's hand.
Yet Rey might present the saga's first hero who is often openly driven by rage. Her fighting style, in its unpolished state, is scrappy and violent, as she's had to defend herself with her quarterstaff for over a decade all on her own on Jakku. She also has intense psychological trauma and loss deep within her, spurring her on to fight against anyone else who threatens to take away what matters most to her. There are multiple moments within the duel with Kylo Ren in which she appears ready to strike to kill; Alan Dean Foster's novelization even expands upon this, including a mysterious voice urging her to "'Kill him.'"
With Rey so susceptible to intense and involuntary emotion, along with Snoke's and Kylo Ren's eager interest in her, it would be a wasted opportunity for Jedi to not explore the darker sides of her character.
2 The franchise refuses to go gray
It's not only Rey that has the potential for darkness, however. As confirmed by The Force Awakens, Kylo Ren continues to struggle with being pulled back to the light. In some ways, the two act as yin and yang to one another, with Rian Johnson himself noting that they act as "two halves of the dark and the light." Rey and Kylo might represent the balance hinted at by not only the Jedi teaser trailer, but also the original prophecy regarding a chosen one meant to bring balance to the Force.
However, what if this original prophecy has always been interpreted the wrong way? What if the only way to bring balance to the Force is to get rid of the opposites of dark and light and instead seek the middle gray area? The now no longer canon EU novels explored the concepts of Gray Jedi, so it wouldn't be off limits for Jedi to reintroduce those ideas in new and exciting ways. Similarly, Benicio Del Toro's DJ is described as neither good nor bad, but morally ambiguous, so the potential for gray characters has already been established.
Star Wars has always been a very binary world. With the introduction of these more complex characters, perhaps it's time to finally muddy the otherwise pristine waters.
1 Rey is a Skywalker
Ever since December 2015, Star Wars fans all around the world have been obsessively fixating on one question: who is Rey? And while we may not know who she is yet, we do know who she absolutely should not be: the daughter of Luke Skywalker.
Although this has been a popular fan theory, along with the idea of her being the granddaughter of Obi-Wan Kenobi, the simple fact is that making Rey a Skywalker would do the Star Wars universe far more harm than good. Luke would be painted in an incredibly unflattering light, as he would have deserted his young daughter on Jakku under the care of the predatory Unkar Plutt. It would also limit the scope of future non-Skywalker exclusive stories for the franchise, which is bad from a storytelling and financial perspective. Furthermore, it would take away from everything that made Rey so impressive to begin with; by making her a Skywalker, her strengths could now be deemed excusable by the rationale that "of course she can do that, she's just another Skywalker."
While we won't necessarily get any real confirmation about her identity in Jedi, Daisy Ridley has now gone on the record saying that Rey's origins may not be as important as she believes them to be.
So maybe, just maybe, all of this speculation was for naught.
What else do you think The Last Jedi should absolutely not do? Let us know in the comments!