Star Wars: The Last Jedi just got a lot more exciting. Entertainment Weekly‘s become a major source for info on new movies set in that galaxy far, far away and on Wednesday they just dropped an epic cover story full of fresh details about Episode VIII. Check out the exclusive EW coverage of The Last Jedi below (cortesy: Tumblr):
We’ve already had major news for the sequel care of Star Wars Celebration in April and Vanity Fair in May, but this is on another level, with amazing high-quality movie stills and many substantial plot reveals. In fact, there’s so much in the cover story and accompanying online content that it’s easy to miss something, so here’s our now-customary breakdown of all the major new information and what it means for The Last Jedi.
LUKE INITIALLY REJECTS REY
Daisy Ridley previously said of Luke and Rey’s initial meeting that “it is difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect” and boy was she not lying. It sounds like The Force Awakens‘ cliff-top ending will be followed up by Luke rejecting Rey, in Ridley’s words coming across as “a grumpy guy on an island who doesn’t want me here“. This is an essential part of both character’s trilogy arcs, challenging Rey’s slow-built sense of belonging and serving as a window into why Luke’s in exile in the first place.
LUKE THOUGHT KYLO REN WAS THE CHOSEN ONE
Quite what went down between Luke, Ben and Snoke that led the Skywalker into exile and turned Solo into Kylo Ren is still a mystery, but we did learn one key detail that will only serve to amplify the issue: Luke thought Kylo was the Chosen One. This highlights how close a relationship the pair had before things went all fire-and-dark side, but also reveals that the sequel trilogy is going to be exploring massive parts of the mythology from the prequels, something some fans thought was completely off the cards.
We also learned the exact reasoning for the exile was the first plot point Rian Johnson addressed when writing the script and will be answered in the film. However, the full scope of the changes made to Luke since Return of the Jedi may not be fully explored (at least not in the movie itself); Hamill said he and Johnson came up with a complex backstory of everything that’s happened to Skywalker but it was more for his performance than anything to be explicitly conveyed.
REY’S PARENTS WILL BE REVEALED (BUT IT’S NOT IMPORTANT)
Yes, we will learn who Rey’s parents are and why she was left on Jakku. There’s been a lot of questions over whether we’ll get an answer to the sequel trilogy’s biggest mystery in Episode VIII, and the EW report resolutely states that we are. Although it also suggests the real weight will be in the complicated impact on Rey, as opposed to the shock of the reveal itself.
Johnson and Ridley both made a point of how, despite spending a film accepting the future, Rey is still curious and driven by questions of her past. However, they further made clear that finally learning where she came from doesn’t actually provide any neat narrative solution and isn’t all that important to her arc. There’s so many ways this could go – Skywalker, Solo, Kenobi, none of the above – but it seems clear, whatever the resolution, it won’t be the cheeriest or most satisfying one.
MORE TEASES OF REY’S FAMILIAL CONNECTION TO LUKE
It’s not the biggest nugget, but Hamill managed to once again stoke the flames of the fan theory that Rey is a Skywalker. As already established, the pair’s first meeting doesn’t go too well, something Ridley puts on Rey being someone Luke doesn’t know; however, EW‘s article that’s followed up with Hamill stating “But does he not know her?”
To be fair, he’s been teasing this notion for a while to purposely wind fans up – he did something very similar at Celebration – but the fact he’s winking so much would suggest there is going to be some big reveal in Rey’s backstory.
MARK HAMILL OBJECTED TO LUKE ENDING THE JEDI
At Star Wars Celebration, Mark Hamill said that he initially “fundamentally disagreed” with what Rian Johnson was doing with Luke in The Last Jedi (a statement that was swiftly exaggerated to him actively hating the film). Now we have some idea of what exactly he was talking about; it was the notion of Luke wanting “the Jedi to end“ that so shook the actor, who “struggled” seeing how far the once wide-eyed farmboy had gone.
Of course, there could be more to it – EW will have just published the parts that relate to currently released materials – but this would at the very least indicate Skywalker isn’t making empty threats to Rey here.
HOW CHEWBACCA’S COPING WITH HAN’S DEATH
One place where The Force Awakens really dropped the ball was how it handled Chewie’s in regards to Han’s death; the Wookiee lost his longest friend and yet the movie pretty much skipped over his heartbreak, with Leia consoling newcomer Rey rather than her old friend at the end. The Last Jedi looks to be addressing that, with Johnson promising a look at Chewbacca’s coping with Han’s murder.
The film will see him more angry than depressed, and will also have him learn to move on with the help of his new team of friends. And, of course, Porgs.
PORGS RIDE IN THE FALCON
If you thought the adorable book Chewie and the Porgs was just going to be an off-screen adventure, here’s some good news. One of the EW images features how one of the alien birds riding in the Millennium Falcon cockpit with Chewbacca, suggesting they’ll be a fun little subplot between the Wookiee and the new creatures (which Johnson reveals are based on the real inhabitants of Skellig Michael). Given how much love has already been directed towards the Porgs, expect memes aplenty come December.
THE CARETAKERS – AHCH-TO’S OTHER INHABITANTS
Porgs aren’t the only Ahch-To natives keeping Luke company. EW also gave us our first look at The Caretakers; amphibious-like, squat, humanoid creatures that maintain the buildings on the island. Realized via practical costumes, they’re described as all female, nun-like, and speaking in “Scottish fish talk“. All this plays into the tranquility of the Jedi’s exile, although it sounds like they’re not too keen on their guest; they “tolerate” Luke rather than truly welcoming him.
THE VILLAGE (MAY BE) THE FIRST JEDI TEMPLE
This is a minor reveal in-and-of-itself, but a cool one all the same. It was confirmed in Vanity Fair‘s previous expose on the film that the real life huts on Ireland’s Skellig Michael were going to be a village on Ahch-To, but not the temple itself and instead the home of then-unrevealed natives (who we now know to be the Caretakers). EW begs to differ, with a photo caption citing the buildings as the first Jedi temple
It seems that this is a case of miscommunication and they’re both; the hits are the ruins of the temple, which are now lived-in and maintained by the fish women.
CAVE PAINTINGS WILL REVEAL JEDI HISTORY
Because we’re going back to the first Jedi Temple, many have assumed that we’ll be learning some serious secrets of the Force’s origins in The Last Jedi. Per Johnson, it sounds like that deep mythology won’t be directly delved into, although will still be present in the film – just in the background. The Jedi Cave (seen in the teaser trailer with its Force tree) will have wall paintings that take us further back in the Order’s history than the most far-reaching Star Warsstories (official canon or otherwise) have gone – so keep your eyes peeled.
FINN’S BECOME A HERO (BUT WANTS OUT OF THE RESISTANCE)
Now that it’s well established Finn recovers from his saber injuries, the EWfeature provides some new details on the film’s Resistance lead and his next adventure. Since his string of heroic actions in The Force Awakens, he’s become something of a legend in his own right. Which is all grand, except he doesn’t really want to be involved.
Following up his plan to leave the fight while at Maz’s castle, at the start of The Last Jedi Finn’s main goal is to leave the Resistance (the article suggests a desire to run away with Rey) and head to the calm of the Outer Rim. Of course, it won’t be that easy to walk away.
FINN’S PAST (AND FAMILY) IS IMPORTANT
It seems that Finn’s family history will be explored in the movies going forward. Per Boyega not much is revealed in The Last Jedi, but it likely could factor into Episode IX in some form.
However, unlike Rey’s which has so much potential to directly influence major events, this seems to be purely thematic and singularly focused. It’s about exploring what brought Finn to where he is now, from brainwashed Stormtrooper to unwitting Resistance hero; any backstory will be going into how the First Order operates and strengthening Boyega’s role, rather than expanding the mythos.
FINN AND POE ARE ROSE’S HEROES
One of the people who looks up to Finn is Rose Tico, Kelly Marie Tran’s Resistance Mechanic who winds up teaming with the former Stormtrooper. As Johnson said at Celebration, she’s conceived as a ground level character who gets swept up in the fight, something elaborated on here to mean she has a particular adoration for our heroes; as well as idolizing Finn, she views Poe Dameron as “super cool” (something that’s true, but worth highlighting all the same).
All the new heroes in The Force Awakens were variations on various types of Star Wars fan, and it seems that Rose is filling that of the the more direct superfan.
NEW DETAILS ON CANTO BIGHT’S PLANET
Rose and Finn team-up for an undercover mission that takes them to Canto Bight. We’ve already seen a lot of photos and behind-the-scenes footage of the practical creature-heavy city and in particular one of its fancy casinos, but EWprovides a bit more backstory on the planet where it’s situated.
The city is a luxury resort on an otherwise deserted planet, which despite previous descriptions calling it Monte Carlo in space suggests something a bit more Vegas-like. Indeed, it’s specifically cited as “arid”, although surely we’ve not got another desert.
They also gave an image of the casino’s exterior, which not only shows some Jabba’s Palace-esque architecture but reveals the city’s police vehicles.
AN OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION OF DJ
By far the most mysterious and hard to speculate element of The Last Jedi is DJ, Benicio del Toro’s new character. He’s been teased since before The Force Awakens came out yet details are incredibly scarce on the scoundrel-like sort-of-villain. EW expands things a little with a Lucasfilm logline on the character: “DJ is an enigmatic figure whose tattered, threadbare clothes and lackadaisical attitude conceal a sharp mind and expert skills.”
OK, so it’s not much, but it along with quotes from the other cast members hint that there’s a lot more to him than the shabby getup of the single officially-released image suggests. There’s also some clarification on the conflicting statements on him being a bad guy; he’s outside of the galactic conflict, allying with neither the Resistance or First Order.
DJ’S BROUGHT INTO ROSE AND FINN’S MISSION AS A HACKER
What we do get regarding DJ is a hint at how he’ll factor into the plot. It’s confirmed he’s introduced into the story in the Canto Bight section, hired by Finn and Rose to serve as a hacker – or, in canon parlance, slicer. Not knowing why the pair are going undercover. it’s hard to really garner much from this, but it would seem to suggest this side of the plot will be more tech-based than the mythology heavy Ahch-To adventures.
FINN IS IN THE CRAIT BATTLE
It’s looking like the Hoth-esque Battle of Crait is going to be in the film’s final act. As such, beyond it seeing Resistance speeders go up against the First Order’s gorilla walkers, not much context for the skirmish is known. Now, though, we do know it’ll be following a beloved character; one of the new images shows Finn piloting one of the Rebel crafts (something teased in the behind-the-scenes reel). This not only confirms he sticks with the Resistance until the end, it also continues his specific development as a pilot from The Force Awakens. (Poe might have competition).
FINN AND REY SPEND MOST OF THE MOVIE APART
They spent most of The Force Awakens together, but it looks like John Boyega and Daisy Ridley spent some time apart on The Last Jedi. Obviously they both start off in separate places and go on different adventures, but EW confirmed in its text that Rey and Finn aren’t going to be sharing the screen much in Episode VIII, with their journies’ instead working as parallels of self-discovery.
That said, we do know the pair will reunite from the behind-the-scenes video, which suggests a major reunion in the final on Crait.
POE IS LEIA’S SURROGATE SON – AND FUTURE RESISTANCE LEADER?
Poe Dameron was underserved in The Force Awakens mainly because the original script had him killed in the Jakku crash – but now that he’s a proper member of the hero trio, The Last Jedi‘s giving him a very important role. Following up lots of behind-the-scenes photos of Oscar Isaac and Carrie Fisher, the former said that Leia views Poe as something of a “surrogate son“.
That’s just teasing healing over the betrayal of Kylo Ren, though; the General sees the Resistance’s best pilot as a potential inheritor of her leadership role both in the war and after. This, in turn, reveals a lot about Poe’s arc, with him essentially the soldier who’ll have to eventually move into peacetime.
This relationship went beyond just the movie, however, with Isaac and Fisher becoming very close during production; in the EW feature shared a tear-inducing story of the late actress dancing on set.
THE RESISTANCE IS VULNERABLE
The Force Awakens was kind of a victory for the good guys; the Republic was destroyed and Han Solo died, but they managed to deliver a massive blow against the First Order by destroying Starkiller Base. The Vanity Fair feature previously highlighted how the First Order were leading the charge and out for revenge, and now the EW exclusive has expanded on that, with Johnson saying to them the Resistance is “very, very vulnerable” without the organized government to protect them.
It looks like the film will open with them trying to escape their base on D’Qar only to come up against a strong blockade, then have to defend themselves on Crait, meaning they’re not in a dissimilar place to the Rebels in the original trilogy.
LAURA DERN’S VICE ADMIRAL HOLDO MAY BE DUPLICITOUS
As well as the galactic-scale, there’s also some hints at internal conflicts going on within the Resistance, debates which seem to center on Laura Dern’s new purple-haired character Vice Admiral Holdo. Aside from rank little is known about the new participant, but from the way those involved dodge the questions from EW it seems like she’ll not be just a standard ally to Leia.
Whether this is bureaucracy, rivalry or something more actively malicious is unclear and it seems like it’ll be a mystery all the way up to the movie’s release.
THE STORY IS A LOVELY SEND-OFF TO FISHER
There’s no getting around that The Last Jedi will be the final film to feature General Leia after Carrie Fisher’s death in late 2016, although even though the film was wrapped before her untimely passing it sounds more and more like it’s going to be the perfect send-off.
The specifics weren’t cited because, well, spoilers, but Johnson made a point of saying that what the former Princess does in the film will act as a fitting cap to her five movies and forty years on screen. Presumably that means a heroic, unrelenting Leia who gets a bit more to do than in Episode VII.
MAZ HAS A SMALLER PART (BUT A BIG REVEAL TO MAKE)
Although she was confirmed to be returning when filming began, we’ve heard very little about Lupita Nyong’o’s role in the film. And that seems to be because Maz Kanata isn’t going to be in The Last Jedi all that much; Johnson said she has a smaller part, and seeing as the shriveled tangerine was only in The Force Awakens for the middle stretch that implies a couple of scenes at best.
Despite limited screen time, EW do hint she has something important to say – perhaps an answer to that “good question for another time” regarding how she wound up with Luke’s old lightsaber?
HAN’S LEGACY LOOMS OVER REY AND KYLO
We’re not going to be seeing any more of Han Solo in the sequel trilogy, but that doesn’t mean he’s gone and forgotten. As well as its importance on Chewie’s arc, it was revealed “the ghost” of Han will loom large over the film and specifically Rey and Kylo; it ties them emotionally together, with her having lost a hope at a father figure and him emotionally reeling from killing his father (it’s far more destructive for him than being beaten in combat by a scavenger). This appears to be an essential part in making the pair, in Johnson’s words, “two halves of the dark and the light“.
In his EW interview, Johnson made sure to correct himself when using the G-word lest anybody expect Harrison Ford to return as a blue apparition. Now that would be a twist.
PHASMA AND FINN FIGHT
He’s fought TR-8R. He’s fought Kylo Ren. Now Finn’s going to get to show down against his stern Stormtrooper Captain. Phasma was seriously underused in Episode VII, something that’s being corrected in The Last Jedi. We know she’s leading the charge against the Resistance in their opening battle and it sounds like she’ll later be on the tail of Rose and Finn as she’s going to be taking him on in combat.
While her role is expanded, it doesn’t sound like much of Phasma’s backstory will be elaborated on in the film itself, with that reserved for the previously-announced tie-in materials.
THE PRAETORIAN GUARD OFFICIALLY REVEALED
We’ve had so many toys and leaks suggesting these guys, but now we have an official proper look at Snoke’s personal protection, the Praetorian Guard. Basically an updated, fight-ready version of the Emperor’s red Imperial Guard, they’re decked in all-red armor with matching knife-staffs. As confirmed by Johnson, the name – like much of the Empire’s ephemera – comes from the guards of Roman Emperors.
MORE SNOKE (BUT NOT NECESSARILY BACKSTORY)
As the presence of his guards should clue you in, this means a lot more Snoke in The Last Jedi. Of course, that much we already knew, but there is now explicit word his increased role won’t mean an end to all those Snoke theories. Stating “a story is not a Wikipedia page“, Johnson said they won’t be delving deep into his origins, with any reveals centered on his role in the narrative at hand (which, as the director points out, isn’t that dissimilar to the Emperor as presented in Return of the Jedi). Fittingly, nothing was actually said of what his story involvement was.
THE PRACTICAL/CGI CONFUSION CLEARED UP
Aside from his true identity, one of the biggest mysteries about Snoke has been how he’ll be portrayed in Episode VIII – past rumors suggested a puppet was used on set, yet Andy Serkis has stated it’s all CGI. Now we have an answer – and both are true (kind of).
While, once again, Snoke is an entirely mo-cap performance from Serkis (a performance Johnson gushed about) and thus entirely CGI, a maquette was used during filming as reference for lighting and to give the actors something to play off.
THE EMPIRE PARALLELS ARE ACCIDENTAL
Between our hero training with an initially-reluctant, self-exiled Jedi Master and the rest of the good guys on the run in various exotic locales, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Last Jedi sounds a lot like The Empire Strikes Back; just like The Force Awakens used a lot of A New Hope‘s story, is Episode VIII also a remake of Episode V?
Johnson actually acknowledges these parallels in the EW feature but says it was all accidental; he constructed the story with a clear mind, but due to where The Force Awakens left off and his perception of Star Wars tropes certain elements fell that way regardless. He was, of course, very keen to point out that despite some parallels the movie is a totally different beast. And, all things considered, we’re inclined to agree.