It's traditional for Star Wars to include romance in the middle chapter of a trilogy. The Empire Strikes Back featured the now iconic romance between Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). The prequels, especially Attack of the Clones, saw the doomed romance between Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christensen) and Padmé Amidala (Natalie Portman), best remembered for Anakin's heartfelt confession about not liking sand. Even Rogue One arguably featured a will-they, won't-they tension between Jyn (Felicity Jones) and Cassian (Diego Luna), though some fans would say that the main romance was between Baze (Jiang Wen) and Chirrut (Donnie Yen).
Now, with Star Wars: The Last Jedi on the horizon, fandom has started to wonder whether or not the film will follow the tradition set by it's predecessors and feature a romance between some of the characters. There are a few options for romance, but cases can be made against all three. And no, this does not include a Rey/Kylo romance; as previous articles have said, Lucasfilm should avoid pairing these two off for multiple reasons, even if they're not related.
The trilogy is setting up Finn (John Boyega) as the romantic lead of these fims; all ship options involve him. There's Finn and Rey (Daisy Ridley), Finn and Rose (Kelly Marie Tran), and the ever-popular ship of Finn and Poe (Oscar Isaac). If one was betting, these would be the most likely "ships" to happen in the saga, based on what the actors have hinted at and the previous dynamics in The Force Awakens. This is still mainly speculation - unlike the previous films, the teaser did not hint at any specific romance happening - but here's the breakdown of who might hook up, and why Lucasfilm might avoid a romance all together.
Finn and Rey are the most likely pairing, or at least were immediately following The Force Awakens. The two had instant chemistry and spent a majority of the film together. Finn even went back to a First Order base, where he swore he'd never go again, to find and rescue Rey. Before leaving the resistance base, Rey kissed Finn on the forehead and told him they'd see each other again. The pair seem to be the most obvious choice for a romance.
However, in an interview post-The Force Awakens, Boyega cast doubt on the romantic spark between them, saying that Finn and Rey are simply friends. That could mean that they were just friends in The Force Awakens and would grow to be more in later films, but Boyega also promised an unexpected twist to the romance. Finn and Rey make a wonderful couple, but at this point they're very much expected. Besides, Rey looks to be spending most of her time on the island training with Luke. She and Finn might not reunite until Episode IX, which would mean fans had to wait a long time for any sort of love story.
Finn and Poe were the sleeper hit pairing of The Force Awakens. Much like Finn and Rey, they had easy chemistry, and who can forget the famous jacket that they shared? Fans have been dying for more of them ever since the credits rolled, and both Boyega and Isaac have said, at different times, that their relationship will stay important in The Last Jedi. However, importance doesn't equal romance, and while Finn and Poe will have proximity on their side, it's also highly unlikely that Lucasfilm would be bold enough to make their next Star Wars couple LGBT (Disney only recently introduced the studio's first ever gay character in Beauty and the Beast, and it was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it bit of representation). At best, fans can hope for either a romance that exists more on the subtextual side as the two continue to be the closest of friends. Even though director Rian Johnson has tweeted Finn/Poe art, fans might have to settle for fanfiction when it comes to this pairing.
And then there's the newest contender: Finn and The Last Jedi's new character, Rose. This one doesn't have an entire move of proof or chemistry to rely on, just a rumor that Boyega did a chemistry read with Tran before she was cast and the promise that she will be swept up into an adventure with Finn. It's likely that the pair will spend a great deal of the movie together, and that provides ground for Finn/Rose to blossom (forgive the pun). However, would Star Wars want to pair Finn off with someone he hasn't spent a whole film with yet? Romance bloomed for Han and Leia after they'd spent a film and the ensuing time jump together, and the romance was received positively. Anakin and Padmé spent considerably less time together, and their relationship felt forced and rushed. Lucasfilm could face the same criticisms should Finn and Rose be hastily paired together.
Of course, this is working on the assumption that a romance will happen. So far, outside of Boyega's comments that the romance would be unexpected, there is no evidence that a romance will take place. Given the timeline of the film, it might be better if romance was left out completely. The film takes place immediately after The Force Awakens, with no time jump, no off-screen time for feelings to develop between Finn and whoever his romantic partner might be. The events of the film will also keep the characters very busy, with First Order attacks and Jedi training. Johnson doesn't seem to be a writer who'd deliberately force a plot that doesn't work, so we might see the first second film in a trilogy to skip the romance and instead focus on character development. If this happens, then the decision will be to the benefit of all characters involved, as it will allow them to grow naturally without using up precious screen time to force them into an unbelievable romance.
We still don't know much about The Last Jedi, even though today's biggest panel at Celebration focused on it. The trailer showcased many action sequences, as well as stunning visuals, but held back on the emotional arcs of the film. We might have to wait until December to discover whether or not there will be any romance. The real love story might be the bonds of friendship that form between the characters, as well as the familial themes explored in other parts of the story. Either way, The Last Jedi is sure to be a smash hit, regardless of whether or not shippers' dreams come true.
Screen Rant will keep you updated on the latest news from Star Wars Celebration throughout the weekend, and will be your number one spot for information regarding The Last Jedi.
- 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: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019