The Last Jedi (2017) is set to come to theaters on December 15th, and while the first trailer has been released and a series of pictures have come out in Vanity Fair, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding the film. How will Luke Skywalker's return affect Rey? What will become of Finn, Poe Dameron, and the rest of the Resistance against the First Order? Is there anything left to be redeemed within Kylo Ren after his brutal murder of Han Solo? Perhaps the most pressing questions involve the names and traits of new characters, planets, and aliens.
There are greater questions for the Star Wars saga after The Last Jedi. Carrie Fisher's death in late 2016 apparently did not change Episode VIII, but is putting the final (and currently unnamed chapter) Episode IX into intensive rewrites. While the Vanity Fair article also writes about the loss of Fisher and the effect it has had on her collaborators and co-stars, this list focuses on what we have learned about The Last Jedi in particular - and what we want to know.
This is What We Learned About The Last Jedi From Recent Coverage:
16 Benicio Del Toro is the mysterious "DJ" - What Does It Stand For?
Benicio del Toro's character and his role in The Last Jedi continues to be shrouded in mystery. However, there are a few important details that have been revealed about del Toro's part. First, del Toro is playing a "shady" character, and by the looks of his wardrobe and the background, he is some sort of smuggler, criminal, or galactic low-life. Apparently, during the film, del Toro's untrustworthy character has unclear allegiances and a mysterious past. Director Rian Johnson said that while del Toro's character is not named during the film, the crew referred to him as "DJ". Johnson teased that there was a reason that they called him "DJ" - but what does "DJ" stand for?
Does the name DJ come from an inside joke, like how bounty hunter Aurra Sing was based off a character sketch labelled "Babe Fett"? Or will DJ be the initials of the character's real name which will be revealed in a later Star Wars installment?
15 What Is The Secret Of Admiral Holdo's Wardrobe?
There are a number of military officers in Star Wars; commanders of starships on both sides of the Imperial-Rebel conflict are often identified by naval officer rankings. However, the photograph of Laura Dern as Admiral Amilyn Holdo caused quite a stir, because she doesn't look like the typical Star Wars commander. Instead of a uniform, Admiral Holdo is shown wearing a dramatic purple gown, along with a matching hairdo of short purple curls. This costume drew mixed reactions from fans, along with a number of Hunger Games comments, as the bright style seems more like a resident of the Capitol than a Star Wars military leader.
So, why is Admiral Holdo dressed from head to toe in a rich magenta shade? Of course, given one of the revealed locations of the film is the lush and luxurious "Canto Bight", it's possible that the Admiral's purple outfit isn't her regular get-up.
14 Why Are Finn and Rose Headed to a casino on Canto Bight?
Why are Finn and Rose going to Canto Bight? What part of their mission is tied up in the rich and famous partygoers? It's possible that both Admiral Holdo or the mysterious DJ or both could be be involved in Canto Bight. There is a rumor that DJ is connected to Canto Bight, but his aesthetic seems in direct contrast to the description of the city and its inhabitants...
13 What Are The New Aliens On Canto Bight?
Some of the most dazzling pictures in the recent Vanity Fair spread on The Last Jedi are of the aliens on Canto Bight. Mostly dressed in white and black, with complex updos, tall hats, and and dramatic accessories to their evening wear, the many species showcase the life of luxury found at the casino. In the picture above, Neal Scanlon who is the creative supervisor of the "creature shop" sits with an alien puppet. The characters appear to be standing on a grand staircase with a dramatic arch overhead, which may be the set of the casino at Canto Bight.
After the pictures were released, some fans believed that one of the aliens pictured was a Bothan (the same race that stole the plans for the second Death Star). However, Pablo Hidalgo of the Star Wars story group confirmed that the alien with the sash and white gloves shown above is not a Bothan, and that Canto Bight will include new alien species. Sorry, Bothan enthusiasts, but we will have to wait to learn the who and what these creatures are.
12 How Will Episode IX be Changed By Carrie Fisher's Departure?
In the wake of Carrie Fisher's death, it's not surprising that much of the Vanity Fair coverage explored her life and effect on Star Wars. Not only was Fisher an icon, but she was close with many of her co-stars, especially her on-screen brother Mark Hamill, who she had known since she was a teenager. Fisher's personality and energy were praised, and it was clear that her absence had taken a toll on everyone involved. Kathleen Kennedy revealed that Fisher was especially excited about Episode IX. Harrison Ford had been at the forefront of Episode VII, Mark Hamill will be at the forefront of Episode VIII, and Carrie Fisher was meant to be at the forefront of Episode IX. Tragically, because of Fisher's death, Episode IX is being re-worked. Kennedy reiterated that despite bringing Peter Cushing's likeness back with CGI to play Grand Moff Tarkin Rogue One (2016), LucasFilm does not intend to make it a habit to bring back actors who have passed away. While much has been made of what will not be done in the wake of Fisher's death, the question still remains: how will Episode IX be changed?
11 10.Will Episode VIII's editing be affected by Carrie Fisher's death?
Despite only working with Carrie Fisher on The Last Jedi, director Rian Johnson spoke about his deep friendship and profound loss. Johnson said that he instantly connected with Fisher, even editing rewrites of the script of The Last Jedi in her bedroom while Carrie Fisher and her dog, Gary Fisher, kept him company. Fisher, who was a writer in addition to being an actress, formed a close bond with the director in the limited time that they worked together. Johnson said that of everyone in the cast, Fisher was the person who he believed he would have a lasting friendship with. Will Johnson change the film in editing in any way to honor his friend? Given that the film was edited after her death, it's entirely possible that her death could affect the film, even if the story is not outright changed.
Mark Hamill, too, mourned Fisher's death, although unlike Johnson, he had known Fisher for most of his life. Hamill spoke fondly of Fisher, and revealed that they had made a pact that whoever lived longer would heckle the other at their funeral. It's clear that Fisher's friends, old and new, miss her dearly, and that The Last Jedi will be a final tribute to her and her beloved character.
10 Who are the native inhabitants of Ahch-To?
In The Force Awakens, there is a rumor that Luke Skywalker went looking for the earliest Jedi temple; as it turns out, that rumor is true. Skywalker went to Ahch-To (filmed on the beautiful Skellig Michael in Ireland), where Rey finds him in the closing moments of Episode VII. In Episode VIII, the pair of Force-sensitive protagonists are still on Ahch-To. Rian Johnson also revealed greater detail about Ahch-To, saying that Luke has been on this planet, living in a village of beehive-shaped shelters "among an indigenous race of caretaker creatures". Johnson was purposefully vague when pressed further about these creatures, although he did reveal that they were not the Ewoks who inhabit the forest moon of Endor in Return of the Jedi (1983). Ewoks aside, Johnson's description feels specific: the creatures are native to the planet and they are caretakers... of the temple? Of Jedi? Of Luke? What role will these creatures play in the upcoming film?
8 What 'challenges' will the main characters face in Episode VIII?
In addition to directing The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson is also responsible for developing and writing the screenplay. Johnson said that as he tried to figure out the story of the "middle chapter" of the sequel trilogy, he wanted to challenge each of the major characters, giving them an incredibly difficult obstacle to overcome that reflected their strengths and weaknesses personally. As Johnson puts it, he began by writing down each character's name and then posing the question: "What’s the hardest thing they could be faced with?" While Johnson reveals the question, he doesn't reveal the answer, leaving fans to speculate what the most difficult thing for Rey, Finn, Poe, and perhaps other characters (for instance, Kylo Ren?). Since Johnson had adversity in mind during the inception of the film, it seems likely that the challenges that these characters will come up against be worse than anything they have ever faced before.
7 How will Kylo Ren be affected by the end of The Force Awakens?
Given how the last film ended, it seems that Episode VIII will emphasize the "war" in Star Wars. The First Order has made a devastating offensive attack, destroying the system of Hosnian Prime, and the Resistance has retaliated with the destruction of Starkiller Base. Finn is unconscious; Han Solo is dead at the hands of his only son.
Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, however, described everyone in "a state of rehabilitation" at the beginning of Episode VIII. The most obvious character for this, of course, is Finn, who has been shown in a bacta "suit" recovering. But Driver's description in some ways makes The Last Jedi sound like the quiet before the storm. The end of The Force Awakens was daunting, and its ramifications need to be addressed in The Last Jedi before the characters can move forward. Driver says that for Kylo specifically, his character struggles internally with killing his father, which can only lead fans to wonder: how will Kylo Ren be different in The Last Jedi now that he has killed Han Solo?
6 How Did Rose And Paige Tico Join The Resistance?
Not much is known about Rose Tico, the new character who will have the most screen time in The Last Jedi. She is a maintenance worker for the Resistance who becomes an unlikely hero on a mission with Finn (which takes her, at the very least, to Canto Bight). Vanity Fair revealed that Rose has a sister in the Resistance as well; the Vietnamese actress Veronica Ngo (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny) will play her sister "Paige". Paige is also in the Resistance, but she is a gunner who works alongside Poe Dameron.
Do Paige and Rose have a family history in the Rebel Alliance/Resistance like Poe Dameron (whose parents were both in the Rebel Alliance and had Poe shortly after the Battle of Endor)? Or, perhaps, do they have a tragedy in their past that motivated them both to join the Resistance? The history of the Tico sisters will hopefully appear in The Last Jedi.
5 Why does General Leia Get Angry at Poe?
When Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron in the sequel trilogy, told an anecdote about his time on set with Carrie Fisher, he inadvertantly revealed a dramatic plot point in The Last Jedi. According to Isaac, Fisher gave it her all, especially when she spent twenty-seven takes slapping him. The story illustrates Fisher's passion for her role and her infectious zeal on set. However, it also raises the question: why is General Leia slapping Poe Dameron? Poe Dameron is Leia's most trusted pilot, so much so that she had him investigate her brother Luke's disappearance on Jakku. Does Poe begin to lose faith, or does he turn to extreme and dark tactics to fight the First Order? Do Poe and the General disagree so strongly that they fight? There seem to be innumerable scenarios, but Isaac's story makes for an exciting insight into one of the emotional moments in The Last Jedi.
4 How Will Luke be different in The Last Jedi?
Director-writer Rian Johnson, when praising Mark Hamill's performance in The Last Jedi, said that the film “shows a very different side of the Luke character.”This seemed clear even from the initial trailer for The Last Jedi, when Luke Skywalker gravely tells Rey that it is time for the Jedi to end. In the original trilogy, Luke begins as an earnest farm boy and ends as a calm and resolute Jedi who is certain he can save his father from the dark side of the Force: from beginning to end, Luke is optimistic and hopeful, even as he loses some of his naivety along the way. However, in the trailer, Luke sounds war-weary and pessimistic (to say the least). Just as Han Solo and General Leia are different in The Force Awakens from their younger selves, it follows that Luke will have also been changed and shaped by the events between Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi. But, it still begs the question: who is Luke Skywalker in the age of the First Order?
3 Luke and Rey's relationship isn't the New Luke and Yoda
Despite the viral picture of Daisy Ridley carrying co-star Mark Hamill on her back, Rian Johnson has pushed back a little on people who see a direct parallel between Rey and Luke Skywalker and Luke and Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
In addition to saying there isn't a "one-to-one correlation" between the two pairs, Johnson said that while Luke trains Rey, it isn't in the way that many fans might expect. The dynamic between Rey and Luke is still a mystery, but Johnson seems adamant that fans have not seen anything like their relationship before. But if Luke and Rey aren't like Luke and Yoda, how is their relationship different? Johnson also declined to comment on whether or not Rey and Luke are related, which seems to be a popular fan theory, and so the exact relationship between Rey and Luke (father/daughter, master/padawan) are relatively unclear.
2 And The Last Jedi isn't the new Empire Strikes Back
Rian Johnson pushing back on parallels between Luke and Rey and Yoda and Luke were just one example of how the differences between Empire Strikes Back and The Last Jedi were emphasized. Since The Force Awakens had strong parallels with A New Hope (some would even argue too strong), many fans seemed to expect the second chapter of the sequel trilogy to share many elements with the middle installment of the original trilogy. However, in addition to distancing Luke/Rey from Luke/Yoda, Johnson also highlighted two other key differences. First, Johnson said that he didn't want The Last Jedi to be a "dirge" and emphasized that there is humor and levity found through the film; this sounds like it could be in contrast to Empire Strikes Back, which, while it was not without humor, tended to have a bleaker tone. Secondly, Johnson has also said that romance will not be a "centerpiece" in The Last Jedi, saying that there is no parallel between Han and Leia's passionate romance in Empire Strikes Back. Given that Johnson himself keeps pointing out how parallels don't exist between The Last Jedi and The Empire Strikes Back, it's difficult to tell if there will still be strong parallels and he is making defensive arguments before the film comes out or if he has actively made his film starkly different from Episode V.
1 How will Johnson closely working with the LucasFilm Story Group affect The Last Jedi?
Rian Johnson offered some insight into how the LucasFilm story group functioned while he wrote The Last Jedi. The eleven person story group was responsible for giving feedback on every script draft that Johnson created, but Johnson found that generally, they were very hands off and allowed him to create whatever story he wanted. In fact, Johnson found them to be a little too hands off, and so Johnson moved to San Fransisco (where the story group is based) and had an office in their building so that he could meet with them twice a week over the six weeks that he wrote the film. Since Johnson chose to work closely with the story group, it will be interesting to see how that affects the final product of The Last Jedi. Will there be more Star Wars expanded universe tie-ins as a result? Will Johnson's collaboration lead to a surprising and fresh story? Only time will tell!
What questions do you have about the upcoming The Last Jedi? Let us know in the comments!