"It's about family." Those are the words of the late Carrie Fisher at the end of the behind the scenes reel for Star Wars: The Last Jedi that was released last month. And indeed, Star Wars has always been about family. The original trilogy was a father-son saga, while the prequels centered around a man who falls to the dark side in an attempt to save his family (more or less). This theme has not been abandoned by the sequels (after all, the big twist of The Force Awakens was the reveal of the bad guy's parentage), but based on what we know so far, Star Wars' take on the concept of family might be moving beyond the concept of bloodlines and inheritance.
The Force Awakens did center on family, and not just because the villain of the piece, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver), was the sole child of Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). Both protagonists - scavenger Rey (Daisy Ridley) and former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega) - are orphans, lost children who were either taken from or abandoned by their families. Rey longs for parents she doesn't remember, and Finn states that he'll never know his. Both heroes are looking for a place in the galaxy, and so far they have not been revealed to be part of any special family.
Now, it's impossible to talk about family without bringing up the bantha in the room. We do not know if Rey is Luke's daughter, or Obi-Wan's granddaughter, or even Emperor Palpatine's granddaughter. She could still be part of some legacy line. But a recent quote from Entertainment Weekly's The Last Jedi coverage throws a wrench into the idea that she is a legacy character's offspring, or that her relationship to any legacy character she's related to will be an easy one.
An article on Rey and Finn's family history cites Ridley saying that while Rey will find out her mysterious lineage, she'll discover that it doesn't matter that much, and it certainly won't change who she is and who she wants to become. Ridley goes on to say that people can make good and bad decisions, and it could have nothing or everything to do with one's parents. The "everything" could certainly be in reference to Kylo's decision to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and actively choose evil, and the "nothing" could be Rey rejecting her heritage in favor of becoming the person she wants to become. This especially could support a theory in which Rey's parents were Dark Siders; Rey could reject her family's darkness and become a beacon of light.
The parallels to Finn's journey. Kidnapped and raised to be a soldier, Finn also comes from the evil First Order, but losing his close friend and witnessing the massacre of innocent villagers on Jakku causes him to have a crisis of conscious and, like Rey, actively seek to do good. Boyega confirmed that we'd learn more about Finn's recent history and what made him defect - a topic somewhat explored in Greg Rucka's prequel novel Before the Awakening. This confirms that he and Rey will be set on parallel journeys in the film, and re-confirms his role as male lead/co-protagonist. He and Rey are parallels, with Kylo serving as their foil.
- 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