J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Force Awakens revealed a lot about the state of the galaxy far, far away in the 30 years since Return of the Jedi, but it also posed a great number of questions that are (probably) being saved for another day. Chief among those mysteries is the heritage of protagonist Rey. All viewers learn about her backstory in Episode VII is that she was left on Jakku by her family as a young girl and has been waiting for them ever since. Once Force Awakens was released, fans devised a plethora of theories about Rey's parentage, with the most prominent being that she is the daughter of Luke Skywalker.
Moviegoers analyzed all aspects of Star Wars 7 in an attempt to uncover Rey's bloodline, including the musical score by legendary composer John Williams. Exploring the character's themes from the soundtrack, one fan in particular noticed similarities between the new musical cues and pre-existing ones from the franchise, such as the Luke and Darth Vader cadences. One interpretation is that Williams did this intentionally as a means of planting seeds for a future reveal, but it now doesn't appear that's the case.
While performing with the Boston Pops Orchestra (hat tip Slash Film), Williams discussed the Star Wars series and offered his two cents on where Rey comes from. As it turns out, he believes in one of the more common hypotheses:
"I never asked J.J. Abrams who Rey’s father is, but I think it’s Luke Skywalker. Your guess is as good as mine, though."
There are a few clues in Force Awakens that support the "Rey Skywalker" theory, such as the Skywalker family lightsaber specifically calling out to her. Still, it's difficult to say for sure. The new novel Star Wars: Bloodline (which is part of the franchise canon) briefly mentions the likes of Luke and Ben Solo, potentially throwing a monkey wrench in some views about Rey. Regardless, the filmmakers have promised there are "satisfying" answers in store, understanding that Rey's history could make or break the sequel trilogy, depending on what they come up with.
Where it stands now, Rey's family seems to be a topic of greater pertinence to the fans than the people actually making the films. Daisy Ridley recently said that the relationships the scavenger-turned-Jedi is forming in the present day are more important than her origins, and as of December 2015, Lucasfilm had not yet ironed out the finale for Star Wars: Episode IX. Even as Rian Johnson's Star Wars: Episode VIII moves along in production, it sounds like there are some pieces waiting to be put into place. Force Awakens editor Maryann Brandon had this to say about Rey's parentage at a screening of the film at the Pollack Theater (via Slash Film):
"I actually don’t know. I am not even sure that they know. J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan weren’t talking about it. They shifted back and forth and they haven’t talked about it. Your guess is as good as mine. In some films that are serialized we change things all the time. We start with one intention and suddenly, you know what, scrap that idea, let’s change who everyone is."
These comments make it seem like the studio is marching forward without a concrete plan, but it's arguably for the better if they leave things somewhat open-ended and adaptable to change. After all, the original Star Wars film clearly states that Darth Vader killed Luke's father, before the sequel told audiences Vader was Luke's father. Toying around with different concepts and seeing what works could yield a stronger creative process, as opposed to sticking to one outline and never deviating from it. Each installment of the sequel trilogy is being helmed by a new director, and they all probably have their own ideas they want to bring to the table. Obviously, the filmmakers need to operate in conjunction with the Lucasfilm Story Group, but they still should have some freedom to play in the giant sandbox that is the Star Wars universe.
It will be interesting to see where this all goes. Abrams has said he knows "quite a bit" about Rey's past but has now passed the baton to the other directors. The ball is in Johnson's court now, and with Star Wars 8 featuring more of Luke, chances are fans discover more about how things came to be. The Force Awakens accomplished its goal of reestablishing Star Wars and setting up an exciting future. There's even more pressure on its followups to deliver on that untapped potential.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on December 16, 2016, followed by Star Wars: Episode VIII on December 15, 2017, the Han Solo Star Wars Anthology film on May 25, 2018, Star Wars: Episode IX in 2019, followed by the third Star Wars Anthology film in 2020.
Source: Slash Film