The arrival of the first teaser trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Friday was met with tremendous excitement amid the hysteria at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. At last, the world had caught a glimpse of Rian Johnson’s vision for the next chapter in the Star Wars saga, the continuation of Rey’s journey, the re-emergence of a long-exiled Luke Skywalker, the return of Finn and Poe and Kylo Ren and BB-8.
Fans immediately started breaking down the teaser in search of clues about the new movie’s still-mysterious plot. In amongst all the analysis, some fans noticed something else about the teaser: its striking similarities to the second teaser for Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi’s Trailer is the same as The Force Awakens’
Observant YouTube user James VanFleet fired up his editing tools and put together a side-by-side comparison of the Last Jedi and Force Awakens teasers, and it turns out they are more-or-less identical in format. Each teaser runs down the same checklist of elements: setting up new-trilogy characters with a particular emphasis on Rey, bringing in voice-over that sets a certain mood, calling back to original trilogy characters, reminding the world that Star Wars owns the Christmas release window, teasing action and space battles, and then one last blast of nostalgia courtesy of an original character speaking dialog on-screen. Music, editing, shot selection all uncannily mirror each other, as VanFleet’s clip shows.
At the very end of the clip, VanFleet drives home the point of how closely the Last Jedi teaser adheres to the formula laid down by the teasers for The Force Awakens: he shows the slow fade-in that leads to our first, somewhat startling look at Rey in the Last Jedi teaser along with the now-famous “boo” moment from the very first Force Awakens teaser when we saw the desert of Jakku and then suddenly Finn appeared. The two images sync up perfectly, highlighting these parallels as likely intentional.
The Last Jedi Teaser compared to clips from The Force Awakens Trailers
Another YouTube user, Morphin Bad, noticed that The Last Jedi Teaser has shots look familiar with scenes in the trailers for The Force Awakens and made an exhausting but incredible editing work putting shots from trailers of TFA side-by-side with the The Last Jedi Teaser. The result is awesome.
As The Last Jedi trailer unspools on the right, clips mostly taken from The Force Awakens‘ teasers and trailers (with a handful of exceptions taken straight from the film), have been edited together and presented on the left. While it’s not exactly a one-to-one comparison, it’s still a gentle reminder of why this new trailer feels familiar — almost certainly on purpose — and why we feel very, very excited and please December just get here already.
Of course, it’s no surprise that Disney, a company committed to maximizing the value of an incredibly important asset, would adopt a strict “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” policy when it comes to marketing. There’s no denying the effectiveness of the marketing for The Force Awakens, and it makes sense that Disney would stick to that template, even going so far as to copy the first movie’s teasers beat-for-beat.
The Last Jedi Teaser matches Man of Steel’s perfectly
From the moment Star Wars: Episode 8 – The Last Jedi‘s trailer dropped, fans spotted a few images eerily similar to Zack Snyder’s own Man of Steel marketing. The truth is… fans had no idea just how right they were. It was hard for comic book fans to miss the obvious parallels between the two films and trailers, with Rey’s hand most noticeably causing tiny pebbles to float in the exact fashion of Henry Cavill’s Superman origin story. But when you dig deeper and actually play the two trailers side by side… the results are downright spooky. And no, we’re not exaggerating.
We’ve gone to the trouble of laying the audio of Man of Steel‘s second trailer over the first Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer, so fans eager to see the results won’t need to struggle with the synchronizing themselves. The fusion of audio and video works far better than one would ever think, and shows that director Rian Johnson’s own visual style in the galaxy far, far away comes from a similar school as Snyder’s, if not paying outright homage. And as good as the Last Jedi trailer is, once you’ve seen this video, it may be hard to ever see it – or hear it – the same.
For clarification, the Man of Steel audio and that of The Last Jedi trailer are synchronized from the start at exact zero, which makes the eerie parallels and double meanings so startling (not to mention the synchronized cuts to black). We have made just a single edit, due to the Man of Steel trailer running approximately twenty seconds longer than The Last Jedi‘s. There’s no forced trickery, though: we simply cut the additional time prior to the point at which Man of Steel‘s own musical crescendo kicks off, so that it matches the same moment in John Williams’s Last Jedi score.
To reiterate: the Man of Steel audio up to the point of Rey’s lightsaber training is completely untouched, as is what follows, exactly as presented in the official Man of Steel Trailer #2. Even before our single edit, the paired trailers reveal the following mindbending, heartbreaking, and utterly confounding moments:
- Martha Kent’s (Diane Lane) line, “Focus on my voice. Pretend it’s an island, out in the ocean” as The Last Jedi reveals exactly that, Luke Skywalker’s home on Ahch-To.
- The question of “what Clark did,” as Rey shows off her power to manipulate matter around her, as Clark later can.
- Young Clark asking if keeping his powers secret truly means letting those die whom he could save… as the Last Jedi reveals General Leia observing a starship’s control console, played by the late Carrie Fisher.
- Jonathan Kent (Kevin Costner) wondering in response if letting some die for a greater good actually would be best… as Kylo Ren’s smashed helmet lies smoking.
- Clark (Henry Cavill) stating “I have so many questions…” as a beam of light illuminates what we believes to be Luke Skywalker’s prized Jedi books of wisdom, which he will use to teach Rey the ways of The Force.
- Clark asking “where do I come from?” as a hand, believed to be Luke’s, reaches out to touch the ancient symbol of the first Jedi, suggesting this book may actually be ‘The Journal of The Whills,’ an ancient book literally explaining where the Jedi came from.
At that point comes our edit, which we state once again, isn’t intending to artificially force any parallels. The rising change in Hans Zimmer’s Man of Steel score is simply aligned with the “This Christmas” title card, which in the trailer is likewise aligned to John Williams’s own score for the same purposes. Even if some will point to that as manipulation, the music is unedited from there. The explosions punctuating the music, and the final dialogue of Clark Kent’s question, Luke’s proclamation that the Jedi must end, and the soaring title are the product of Man of Steel‘s trailer score, to its own conclusion.
While the similar imagery, be it Rey’s hand pulling stones from the ground as Superman’s did, or even the familiar shot of a hand reaching out to touch the character’s origins – for Clark, a childhood photo, and for Luke, the aforementioned Journal of the Whills. On one hand, they’re both evocative for the same reasons… on the other, Man of Steel fans may point to the different reactions Zack Snyder tends to receive with the early excitement and praise for Rian Johnson’s work. It’s hard to dispute that there is a difference by now, but more than anything, this mash-up shows just how much artistry as well as science goes in to cutting a blockbuster trailer.
The slow opening, use of blackness to punctuate the setting or broad ideas, before the music builds to meet a coming montage of action and spectacle. All closing in to one somber thought, the final word of a pivotal character, and the theme audiences should be left considering and, in the case of these two films, searching for an answer of their own to the questions the film will raise.
Still, the presentation of an island in the middle of the ocean as Martha Kent describes one boggles the mind, as does the reference to the late Carrie Fisher (and, presumably, General Leia before Episode 9). The pursuit of the knowledge needed to know oneself in both trailers suggests this can’t be a coincidence, and the synchronization of Man of Steel‘s music to the Star Wars visuals now give audiences TWO incredible composers to choose between.