What we learned about Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Vanity Fair’s recent issue

It’s a good week to be a Star Wars fan (like it normally is).  So far, the franchise has been celebrating its 40th anniversary by a full slate of reveals from Vanity Fair in their feature on the upcoming film The Last Jedi.

The reveals included four awesome covers and some amazing pictures, as well as a terrific cover story by David Kamp and some other information.  So what have we learned so far about the new movie?  Below we’ll list the things that have stood out, and we will update this post if any new information comes out in the coming days as Vanity Fair releases more info.

1. Three new characters revealed

We now know the identities (at least somewhat) about three new characters in the Star Wars universe.

Of course, the biggest newcomer to the film is Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose, whom we now know is named Rose Tico.  We knew that she was a maintenance worker for the Resistance and we knew that hers was the largest part of the new additions, and the Vanity Fair cover story confirmed that she does indeed go on a mission with Finn “behind enemy lines” and the two will at one point visit Canto Bight (more on that later).  Furthermore, Rose has a sister in the movie, a character named Paige who is played by Veronica Ngo.  Paige, a gunner, is at one point receiving training from Poe Dameron.

The name of Laura Dern’s character was also revealed, as she will be playing Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo.  There is also a photograph of her in regal-looking clothing and with purple hair.  Holdo is a “prominent officer in the Resistance,” though it’s unclear whether she has always been with the Resistance or whether she was with the New Republic and joined after the destruction of the Hosnian system.

We also get a bit of information about Benicio Del Toro’s character, who isn’t named in the film but who the the filmmakers call D.J.  According to Rian Johnson, there’s a good reason for that will be obvious to fans: “You’ll see,” Johnson said, “there’s a reason why we call him DJ.”  In a Reddit AMA, the author of the cover story, David Kamp, said that Johnson called Del Toro’s character “shady” and said that part of the inspiration for his mannerisms was Tom Waits.

2. More MSW reports confirmed

If you follow along with Making Star Wars, a lot of the information that was revealed wasn’t actually a surprise but rather just confirmation, such as Rose’s mission with Finn, the name of Admiral Holdo and her purple hair, etc.  But in the story we also have gotten a few more things confirmed that MSW previously reported.

First, there is a planet named Canto Bight, which we’ll discuss more in the following point.  That name is now confirmed.

Second, the name of Luke’s planet is officially confirmed as Ahch-To.  That may have been confirmed already and everybody has just assumed that’s it, but it’s now for real.  It was also confirmed that it’s true that Luke went to the first Jedi Temple, as Ahch-To is “the temple’s home planet” according to the article.  But also, we know that Luke isn’t alone on his island.  Those huts that we’ve seen were built for this little village that Luke has been living in “among an indigenous race of caretaker creatures whom Johnson is loath to describe in any more detail, except to say that they are ‘not Ewoks.'”  Could these creatures be the Porgs that had previously been reported, or are these new creatures we haven’t heard of?

Third, Captain Phasma is seen in the pictures with the spear that was previously reported.  In a separate Vanity Fair article, Pablo Hidalgo says that the spear doesn’t have a true name yet, but it was revealed that it’s a retractable pole that can collapse and be easier to carry.  We’ve also seen pictures of Phasma without her helmet, so it seems like we’ll see a character whose face is revealed and who is fighting with this spear in The Last Jedi, which should be pretty cool.

And fourth, it was confirmed that Finn will begin the movie in a bacta suit recovering from the injuries he suffred at the end of The Force Awakens.

3. Canto Bight is filled with the galaxy’s elite

Canto Bight is a new planet in the Star Wars universe that is a casino planet, one that Rian Johnson described as “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief.”  This is the planet that Finn and Rose wind up on during their adventure, and it’s a planet with a lot of wealthy people – whom Johnson described as a playground “basically, for rich assholes.”  It is on this planet that we will see a number of new creatures and species.

“What we’re going to see in The Last Jedi,” Pablo Hidalgo said, “are some people who have managed to carve out a life for themselves where they can live apart from the galactic struggle. They found a way to live above it or beyond it. There’s a class of wealthy that have helped build all sorts of loopholes in society that will always ensure that they’ll survive or even thrive no matter what else is happening out there.”

4. Leia was going to star in Episode IX

A big part of the issue was also paying tribute to Carrie Fisher, who plays General Leia Organa and who helped Johnson edit the script for The Last Jedi.  Here’s the good news for fans: we’ll see a lot more of Fisher’s Leia in The Last Jedi, as she “logs significantly more screen time in Episode VIII than she did in VII.”  We also know that there is a scene in which she slaps Poe Dameron, though we don’t know the background behind that (Dameron is extremely loyal to the General).  We’ll see Leia in a bigger role.

But here’s the sad news: she was going to star in Episode IX.   What has long been rumored was confirmed to be true by Kathleen Kennedy: that just like Harrison Ford was the star of Episode VII and just like Mark Hamill is the star of Episode VIII, Carrie Fisher would have been the star of Episode IX taking center stage.  Each of the big three legacy characters was going to get their movie, and Leia’s was still to come – and will sadly never happen.  As a result, The Last Jedi will be the farewell to Fisher’s character in the Star Wars saga; they will not be using CGI to bring her into the sequel.  Currently, Kennedy, Collin Treverrow (the director of Episode IX), and others at Lucasfilm are “working out how to reconceive the next film in the saga, which is scheduled to start shooting in January.”

5. Kylo is still trying to deal with killing his dad

The most emotional moment of The Force Awakens was when Kylo Ren – Ben Solo – killed his father Han on the catwalk at Starkiller Base.  That’s a move that has to have implications that will surely be felt throughout the remainder of the trilogy, and it seems that one of the people most affected by it will be Kylo himself, who is still dealing with murdering his father.

“I feel like almost everyone is in that rehabilitation state,” Adam Driver, who plays Kylo Ren, said.  “You know, I don’t think that patricide is all that it’s cracked up to be.  Maybe that’s where Kylo Ren is starting from.  His external scar is probably as much an internal one.”

One of the major themes of the movie could very well be seeing Kylo struggling with his decision to kill his dad.  We know that he already was feeling torn and feeling a call to the light, so we’ll have to see how the murder of Han Solo impacts him.  One thing is certain, though: it will have an impact.

6. Luke Skywalker is the main character of the movie

It’s been thirty years since we’ve seen Luke Skywalker talk, and the buildup lasted through The Force Awakens.  It seems like it may be a huge payoff, however, as Skywalker will star in The Last Jedi as essentially its main character.  For example, the article states that, “The Last Jedi is to a large extent about the relationship between Luke and Rey.”  Part of that probably means Luke training Rey in the ways of the Force, but Rian Johnson did make it a point to say not to expect it to be just like the Yoda/Luke training: “There’s a training element to it, but it’s not exactly what you would expect.”

Furthermore, when Johnson began writing the screenplay for the movie he considered the question of what’s the hardest thing each character could be faced with, and his list started with Luke Skywalker.

Additionally, Johnson said that The Last Jedi “shows a very different side of the Luke character.”

Oh, and one last incredibly exciting tease?  It seems Luke’s role toward the end of the movie is especially cool.  Here’s what Oscar Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron, had to say:

“So to be there, and to watch Mark revisit Luke, particularly in these scenes we were shooting towards the end of the film, was bizarre and jaw-dropping.  It’s like when you see an old band re-unite and go on the road, and they don’t quite hit those high notes anymore—though in this situation it’s completely the opposite.  It’s the fulfillment of where your imagination would take you when you imagine where Luke would go, or what he’s become.”

Though that doesn’t quite prove that Isaac and Hamill shot scenes together, it could be viewed as a hint that Luke does get off his island and join the larger fight with Poe Dameron, General Leia, and the Resistance.  But either way, it seems that we get some very cool Luke moments toward the end of the movie.

In a video feature on Vanity Fair’s website, Mark Hamill thinks fans will be happy with the result of The Last Jedi: “It’s so much different in many ways than the other episodes, and yet I think it’s very satisfying in delivering what the fans want to see.”

7. It’s dark

You probably could have guessed this given that it’s the middle film of the trilogy, but The Last Jedi is dark, but Rian Johnson tried to add in some elements throughout that still felt like it was a fun movie.  As the article states, “The Last Jedi is dark enough as it is, so Johnson has made a point of infusing the movie with levity.”  In a Reddit AMA, the author, David Kamp, was asked if he got a different feel from this movie than The Force Awakens, and the first thing he said was, “it’s darker.”     Kathy Kennedy said that the progression of a trilogy is “setup, conflict, resolution,” so this would obviously be the conflict part.

And Kamp, noting that Johnson’s films Brick and Looper are also dark, wrote that the director is trying to add some comedic relief to it: “Johnson is aware that his movie by its very nature is dark—he used the word “operatic” with me—but he is also conscious of not wanting it to be a “dirge.”  So he has gone out of his way to leaven the movie with humor.  I don’t know exactly how, but he says there’s a lot of humor in the film.”

So in short: this movie is dark, though Johnson hopes it has enough comedy that it’s not too bad or depressing.

8. Snoke remains a mystery

One of the more interesting revelations about the new film came in that Reddit AMA from Kamp, as he was asked about Supreme Leader Snoke… and it seems the Supreme Leader remains quite mysterious in this chapter of the saga.  Here was Kamp’s response to being asked about Snoke: “I asked Rian Johnson about Snoke—Who/what is he?—and Rian was fairly up front in saying that Snoke is not a character he particularly gets into in TLJ.  Hmmm.”

That seems to heavily imply that Snoke will be saved for a larger role in Episode IX, but there surely will be at least some scenes with Snoke and some information about his background, since we are very likely to get information about Ben’s fall and the destruction of Luke’s Jedi Temple.  But we might not see as much of Snoke or learn as much about him in The Last Jedi as we initially thought.

9.  Rian Johnson has the creative reigns of the film

Some have wondered how much control Johnson has over the film, since J.J. Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan kicked off the new trilogy with The Force Awakens.  Did they plan out the general plot all three films in advance?  It doesn’t sound like it, as Johnson told Kamp that he was surprised how much leeway he got on The Last Jedi, saying that “the pre-set was Episode VII, and that was kind of it.”  Kamp said in the Reddit AMA that it was the biggest thing that surprised him when working on this story, as Johnson was basically ahdned the reigns and has control over the characters and plot – and he’ll do the same for Colin Trevorrow for Episode IX.

10. The score is all John Williams

While Star Wars legends Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa are both back for the film, so is another legend from a galaxy far, far away: John Williams.  The composer for all seven Skywalker films so far, Williams is back for The Last Jedi – and Rian Johnson, Mark Hamill, and Laura Dern were all recently in attendance to hear Williams score the film.  In his Reddit AMA, David Kamp said that he specifically asked Johnson whether the score was all Williams, and Johnson said that he initially didn’t want to overburden Williams so he went to his cousin Nathan Johnson (who has scored Johnson’s other films) to do some work on it, but John Williams said he was happy to do it all.  So, as Kamp writes, “it is ALL John Williams in this film.”

11. A hint about Luke’s lightsaber

One of the big mysteries to hardcore nerds of the franchise revolves around Luke’s green lightsaber last seen on screen at the end of Return of the Jedi (yes, he had it at the Ewok celebration) and last seen period in the Shattered Empire comic (set shortly after ROTJ).  Though very early reports from MSW had Luke using his green saber in The Last Jedi, more recent reports are less certain.  Basically, the reports all now say that Luke may or may not use the saber in the movie, but no one seems to have seen confirmation one way or the other yet.

So in an article by Vanity Fair published on Thursday about lightsabers, Pablo Hidalgo was asked whether Luke uses his green lightsaber in the upcoming film.  His response?  “We take to heart the lesson that Obi-Wan tried to impart to Anakin: ‘This weapon is your life.’  We’re not ones to lose track of lightsabers.”  I think the most natural way to take that is that Luke does indeed have his lightsaber in the upcoming movie, which would be great news for the fans.  But it could also be possible that Luke doesn’t have it but that there’s a specific story in place as to why – therefore it’s not just misplaced.  I do think the best way to take this, though, is as an implication that Luke probably does have it.  Now whether he uses it or not?  That would remain to be seen.

3 thoughts on “What we learned about Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Vanity Fair’s recent issue

  1. Do you think that General Organa will die or do you think she will “leave” the the film in some other way. Also what do you think about Episode 8 Rey having what appears to be Obi Wan’s Lightsaber in gameplay of Star Wars Battlefront 2?

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    1. I think the question of what will happen to Leia is one of the most interesting ones about the film… I was trying to figure out what would be the best way to have her die in The Last Jedi while acknowledging that re-shoots would be impractical, but it sounds like TLJ is unchanged and that they won’t CGI her for 9, which makes their options very limited. So I’m beginning to wonder if they might write her out of 9, but they’d have to do so in a very tactful way that doesn’t belittle the character – and, I’m assuming, that still factors in to a potential return to the light side for Ben. But at this point, it sounds like she might not die in TLJ, which will be interesting.

      As for your second question, yeah I saw that! I also saw, however, that a developer confirmed that it’s just a bug (https://www.reddit.com/r/StarWarsLeaks/comments/6h5rmr/battlefront_2_hero_designer_about_reys_lightsaber/). I can’t imagine that Lucasfilm – who is very tight with information and any potential spoilers – would let something like that slip in the promo for a video game. But it does raise the interesting question of whether Rey will at some point construct a new lightsaber in the course of the trilogy of whether she will keep the Skywalker saber.

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