Horses, Wolves, and Space Puffins
Finally, of course, there are the critters. Star Wars has always been an innovator in the realm of creative alien species/exotic other-worldly animals, from Wookies to Ewoks, Kaminoans, Nautolans, and everything in between. From the looks of things here, The Last Jedi will have no shortage of new creatures, many of which are being created by hand, rather than in the computer.
Canto Bight, in particular, looks like it will play host to a wide variety of creatures, both local residents and tourists from across the galaxy. Little bug-like creatures appear to serve as employees at the casino, and the diminutive aliens wear tiny suits, complete with vests and cummerbunds. A large, horse-like creature can be seen in a stable, and it looks like a real animal, even though it is apparently a sufficiently-advanced animatronic, and obviously not computer-generated. Real life is always more convincing than CGI; just compare A New Hope's Banthas (literally just elephants with masks) to the CGI herd seen in the Special Edition of Return of the Jedi. There's no debate: the effect in A New Hope is far more convincing. The effort that goes into making these 'fictional real fake facsimiles' is on full display when the sizzle reel shows off the mask-less face of a crystalline white wolf; it's comprised of so many parts, it's so much more complex than something like Yoda's puppet from The Empire Strikes Back, or even the then-impossibly complex Jabba the Hut rig from Return of the Jedi.
One creature in particular stole the show for many, and – while the name isn't 100% official – we're calling them porgs. They live with Luke on his secluded island exile, and they look like a cross between Atlantic puffins (the most adorable animal ever) and baby sea lions (the third most adorable animal ever). Beyond being set decoration for the planet Ahch-To, it's currently unclear how much of a role these cuties will get to play in The Last Jedi, but here's hoping Disney's merchandising machine commits to making a plush version of the cuddly critter.
New Characters and Familiar Faces
Practically every surviving character from The Force Awakens is returning for The Last Jedi, and nearly all of them are shown, even if only for a second or less, in the D23 footage. Domhnall Gleeson returns as the ruthless and bombastic General Hux, though he is only on screen for a single shot, and his face is partially obscured. Poe Dameron appears, rocking an Indiana Jones-style flight jacket, and we also get first looks at Benicio Del Toro and Laura Dern. Del Toro remains as mysterious as ever in his short debut, though he wears a cool black longcoat. Meanwhile, Lara Dern is absolutely stunning with her easter egg hairdo and beautiful dress – cosplayers, take note.
As for returning heroes from Episode VII, all of Rey's appearances here seem to be on Ahch-To with Luke, except for one; Ridley is seen killing time with John Boyega by dancing on a sandy set surrounded by large rocks, possibly planet Crait. She wears an outfit similar to her regular clothes, but with a grey color scheme. Elsewhere, Poe is seen more frequently behind the scenes than in actual footage, though he doesn't provide any interview voiceover for this reel. Hopefully, he will have a larger role to play in The Last Jedi than he did in The Force Awakens, where he was mostly just a plot device to kick things off and then return just before the end.
We're also betting on an expanded role for Gwendoline Christie's Captain Phasma, who might just do more in this three-minute teaser than she did in the entirety of Episode VII. Adam Driver is also shown as Kylo Ren (with a gnarly scar from when Rey gave him a taste of her innate talent with a lightsaber), though his story is being kept under even tighter guard than the rest of the cast. Based on a few backstage shots of fight choreography, though, it's a safe bet to assume that the leader of the Knights of Ren will draw his blade at some point.
An interesting new pairing seems to be John Boyega's Finn and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran, who plays Rose Tico. Her character has been described as a low-level Resistance member, and – one way or another – she seems to find herself on an important mission with Finn, who is seen wearing a First Order outfit, suggesting they're undercover on a mission of either reconnaissance or sabotage. However, given Star Wars's penchant for show-stopping action sequences, they probably won't remain hidden for long.
As for the old guard, Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker, as mentioned before, is seen exclusively on Ahch-To, where he presumably trains Rey in the ways of the Force. It's unclear if Rey will go straight from Ahch-To to Crait, or if Luke will accompany her. However, one shot of the D23 teaser does show Luke in a different outfit from his Episode VII Jedi robes; it's a snazzy brown number, complete with a satchel. If Luke is not traveling with Rey, then perhaps he's going off in a different direction.
Finally, The Last Jedi sees the late Carrie Fisher reprise her iconic Princess Leia role, and the film will release a year after she tragically passed away in December 2016. She's shown away from the set with Oscar Isaac, and with Mark Hamil, and on set in her spectacularly regal costume, including a brand new hairstyle which is sure to become as instantly iconic as literally every single one of Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia hairstyles. The last word in the sizzle reel goes to Carrie, who sums up the main theme of Star Wars, as well as her perspective on being part of the franchise since the very beginning: "It's about family, and that's what's so powerful about it."
- 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