Very few things ignite the internet hype train like the Star Wars franchise. Since The Force Awakens dropped smashing box office records and revitalizing fans love for the series it’s been positive pandemonium for anything new from a galaxy far, far away. Casting rumors, plot synopses, interviews, and similar promo material sends fans and news sites into a frenzy as they try to dig into and digest the latest morsels of information. The Han Solo standalone film held the web’s attention for a while with the casting news of Golden Globe winning actor Donald Glover and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, but then the momentum was derailed with the tragic passing of Princess Leia herself, Carrie Fisher. Last week, the hype was restored as the world was introduced to Episode VIII’s official title—Star Wars: The Last Jedi—and the web was buzzing with the fury of a thousand lightsabers.
But what do they mean The LAST Jedi?! Who IS the last Jedi—Luke? Episode VII’s heroine Rey? Both? Is someone going to die, leaving someone else to be the last? Or does the “last” refer to a group of surviving Jedi? There are so many questions, and so many months until we can get answers! We won’t know until the film is released this December (which may as well be renamed “Disember”), and until then the speculation and theories will dominate Reddit and similar sites. As I pitch in my own two cents on what I think the title could mean for the series and what expectations I have for the film, consider this my fuel to the Episode VIII internet fire.
— Star Wars (@starwars) January 23, 2017
Who Is The Last Jedi?
Probably the foremost thought on everyone’s mind is WHO IS the last Jedi? Of course, thanks to the ending of The Force Awakens, everyone is thinking Luke Skywalker. He was on that island alone, and as far as we know he is literally the last Jedi. Director Rian Johnson claims that Episode VIII will pick up directly where VII left off, with Rey reaching out to Luke on his secluded island sanctuary. The ending of VII and supposed opening of VIII makes it seem like a relationship between Rey and Luke will be a central focus of the film. Are they the last Jedi? Will Luke train Rey as Obi Wan and Yoda trained him raising her to the status of Jedi? The optimist in me is hoping Rey and Luke become a formidable team and together are the titular last Jedi. The pessimist in me is afraid they’re going to kill Luke, and Rey alone will be the last Jedi. Luke’s death brings me to my next point.
A Passing of the Proverbial Torch?
Since the title was announced most of the buzz seems to be focused on the particulars of who the last Jedi could be. While that’s definitely a reasonable route to go, many people (myself included) have also wondered whether or not it’s not supposed to be taken so literally. What if the title is referring to a passing of the torch from the old guard to the new? Harrison Ford’s Han Solo was killed by that handsome but pouty bastard Kylo Ren. We know General Leia was supposed to be playing a “larger role” in Episode VIII, but with Carrie Fisher’s unfortunate passing we may not see as much of her as was originally filmed or planned. That only leaves Luke and Chewbacca as the only main OG cast members and characters. The “Jedi” part does seem to refer specifically to Luke, but if you look back at TFA even that title isn’t hyper-specific. Many fans took it as Rey or Finn’s force sensitivity literally awakening in them, but it could also refer to the Star Wars franchise’s (re-)awakening in general. The Last Jedi could be referencing the last of the old characters/stars departing from the series and letting the new characters/stars taking their respective places in the Star Wars lore. Out with the old and in with the new, right?
Something Borrowed or Something New?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens is by now a beloved piece of the Star Wars canon, but it had its flaws. It was a financial success (to say the least) and it was well-received from (most) fans and critics, but some (again, myself included) weren’t stoked on the way it heavily borrowed plot points and story elements from A New Hope. The use of so much fan service led many to fear for the fate of The Last Jedi. Would it end up being an exciting but lazy retread of The Empire Strikes Back? Hopefully not. Episode V is widely regarded as the best Star Wars film. If Episode VIII recycles as heavily as TFA did, then it probably won’t be received anywhere near as well because the blind hype for anything Star Wars isn’t as present this time around, fans and critics won’t be as forgiving with another “redo” of an earlier film, and because of Empire’s reputation as the best film of the original trilogy. The Last Jedi sounds dark and ominous, so people are going to make the comparison either way, but it’ll be worse if those fears come true.
The Next Episode
What was Luke doing all this time? Why’d Luke turn his back on his problems (and friends and family) instead of facing them head on? Why is Kylo so obsessed with Vader? What’s up with the weird connection between Kylo and Rey? These questions (and more) are things we fans want to see answered in Episode VIII. As mentioned above, the title already adds an ominous atmosphere to the film. The red logo that was revealed with the title adds to that with red being a color always connected to the Sith. The title and color treatment combo doesn’t seem to bode well for the heroes, especially with cast members saying Episode VIII will be a darker film. The Force Awakens breathed new life into a franchise that had almost been flatlined by its own creator. Now we’ll see if The Last Jedi can take that fresh start and add something new and powerful to the legacy of Star Wars.