What we learned about Star Wars: The Last Jedi from Entertainment Weekly’s recent issue

Though many Star Wars fans are hoping for a new trailer for The Last Jedi soon, in the meantime we’re getting a lot of new information about the movie from Entertainment Weekly’s fall movie preview issue.

Accompanying the issue are two beautiful covers, one of Luke and one of Rey:

They’re rolling out the content today and tomorrow, so we’ll update this post when more articles and information drop.  But below we’re gathering all of the pertinent hints and tidbits about The Last Jedi – so, if you don’t want any spoilers, you might not want to go any further.

Ben is the chosen one?

One interesting thing about Luke Skywalker was revealed by Mark Hamill:

“[Luke] made a huge mistake in thinking that his nephew was the chosen one, so he invested everything he had in Kylo, much like Obi-Wan did with my character,” Hamill says. “And he is betrayed, with tragic consequences. Luke feels responsible for that. That’s the primary obstacle he has to rejoining the world and his place in the Jedi hierarchy, you know? It’s that guilt, that feeling that it’s his fault, that he didn’t detect the darkness in him until it was too late.”

Wait, what?  The idea of the chosen one is something that’s quite familiar to Star Wars fans, and throughout the trilogy we’ve seen people believe that both Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker were the chosen one, the one who would bring balance to the force.  Obviously the force still isn’t balanced, however, so does that mean the prophecy was misread?  Or is there another?  It seems that Luke believed the chosen one was Ben, which would be quite striking and interesting.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that Luke is right, and it also could be referring to the chosen one to help revive the Jedi Order with Luke, but most naturally it refers back to the prophecy of the chosen one.  And it makes things a bit more interesting, if Luke really believed that.

Anthony Breznican also tweeted that it was director Rian Johnson who used the phrase, too, meaning that this doesn’t seem to just be Hamill’s interpretation but rather Luke’s real feelings:

For more on EW’s stuff on Luke Skywalker, check out my article here.

Finn still wants to leave

During The Force Awakens, Finn wanted to leave.  At Maz’s palace on Takodana, Finn prepares to run away from the First Order with Sidon Ithano, but the destruction of the Hosnian system causes him to return and delay leaving.  He winds up traveling with Han and Chewie to Starkiller Base to get Rey and helps in the destruction of the planet, but he is badly wounded by Kylo Ren.

One thing we learned from Entertainment Weekly, however, is that in The Last Jedi, Finn still wants to leave.  Even though he really is a “big deal” in the Resistance now, he’s ready to leave, and that seems to be where Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose comes in.  We know that her character is a behind-the-scenes worker in the Resistance, and she holds Finn up as a hero.  Similar to Luke and Rey, it seems that Finn isn’t actually who Rose thinks he is, but as Anthony Breznican writes, “Seeing himself through her eyes gives the ex-Stormtrooper something to live up to.”  So throughout the movie, it seems we’ll see Rose convincing Finn to stay with the Resistance… which means he’ll be on Crait.

We knew that thanks to the behind-the-scenes video that showed John Boyega and Daisy Ridley in costume on Crait, but the EW stuff also gave us this interesting picture of Finn:

FullSizeRender (2)

Yes, that’s Finn piloting one of those ships on Crait, which you can clearly tell because of the red dust and mountain ridge in the background.  So he gets a speeder on Crait, where he’ll fight for the Resistance.

Lastly, one other thing that stood out about Finn in TLJ is that he’s still hurting from his lightsaber wound.  At the end of TFA he was in a coma after being sliced down the back by Kylo Ren, and we’ll see Finn wake up at some point presumably quite early in The Last Jedi.  But although he’ll be out of his coma, it seems he’ll still be hurting: Breznican writes that, “He has been critically wounded by a lightsaber attack that still burns and has never quite healed.”  That sounds painful.

Rose

Speaking of Rose, we also get a bit more information about her.  Firstly, we learn that she thinks Finn is “a big deal” and that Finn is “a hero to people Rose,” according to John Boyega.  So that helps inform the dynamic between Finn and Rose a bit.

Secondly, Breznican writes that Rose “is a gearhead, a grease monkey, a behind-the-scenes jack-of-all-trades.”  Kelly Marie Tran says that, “Poe Dameron is super cool.  Finn’s super cool.  Even though [Rose] is good at what she does, she’s not known.  She’s notcool.  She’s this nobody, this background player, which is what makes her interesting.  She’s not the best.  She’s not royalty.  She’s just someone who is just like everyone else.”  Somehow, Rose gets caught up into a bigger role, as she goes on a mission with Finn that we know includes going to Canto Bight and going undercover in the First Order.  But Rose begins with humble origins and a humble job.

Thirdly, we knew that Rose’s sister Paige was a gunner, and we got a big more information about her too.  In contrast to Rose, Breznican writes that Paige “is the dynamic one — a Resistance gunner who fights on the front lines alongside Resistance luminaries like Poe Dameron, Oscar Isaac’s X-wing ace.”  So it seems that Paige is far more of a ‘hero’ when the film starts, fighting in battle – whether as a pilot or a gunner – but this also means that she might be in more danger…

Snoke in the flesh… but not neccessarily fleshed out

In The Force Awakens, we only saw Supreme Leader Snoke via hologram, but in The Last Jedi we’ll see him live in the flesh.  But in the EW article about Snoke and his guards, Rian Johnson did confirm that Snoke is done entirely via motion capture with Andy Serkis, meaning that they didn’t use a puppet during filming for the character.  He’s entirely CGI, but Serkis knows how to handle that type of role better than anyone.  Johnson seems thoroughly impressed with Serkis’s performance too, saying, “I’d be sitting at the monitor just with my eyes as big as dinner plates. It’s one of those performances where after every line, I’d look over at whoever’s standing next to me with an expression on my face like, ‘Oh, my God, we just got that.”

Johnson also confirmed that that we’ll see more of Snoke than we did in TFA – “We will see more of him, and Andy Serkis will get to do much more in this film than he did in the last one.  And that guy is just a force of nature.”  But even though we’ll see more of him, and even though we’ll see him in the flesh, it doesn’t neccessarily mean that we’ll see his character fully fleshed out.  In fact, it might be the opposite – we’ll find out more about Snoke, but that doesn’t mean we’ll know his whole backstory or anything like that.  Here’s what Johnson said:

“Similar to Rey’s parentage, Snoke is here to serve a function in the story. And a story is not a Wikipedia page,” the filmmaker says. “For example, in the original trilogy, we didn’t know anything about the Emperor except what Luke knew about him, that he’s the evil guy behind Vader. Then in the prequels, you knew everything about Palpatine because his rise to power was the story.”

In The Last Jedi, Johnson says, “we’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to.”

I’m sure some will leave disappointed we didn’t get more about Snoke if indeed we don’t get his whole backstory, but I love what Johnson said: this is a movie, not a wikipedia article.  There will be plenty of time for Lucasfilm to expand upon Snoke’s character, but that doesn’t mean that Johnson needs to unpack every detail in the film.  We’ll learn more about who he is and probably more about his motivations, but we might not get a complete biography.  And I think that’s the way it should be.

As for the Praetorian Guards, Johnson confirmed that they are indeed Snoke’s personal bodyguards, meaning that they stick by the Supreme Leader.  But they seem far more dangerous and capable of fighting than the Royal Guards did, and that’s by design:

“The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t,” writer-director Rian Johnson tells EW. “They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. The Praetorians, my brief to [costume designer] Michael Kaplan was that those guys have to be more like samurai. They have to be built to move, and you have to believe that they could step forward and engage if they have to. They have to seem dangerous.”

It will be interesting to see whether we actually do get to see the Praetorian Guards fight or not in this film.  One of the biggest questions I have about them, however, is whether they’re the Knights of Ren or not.  It’s quite possible that the Knights of Ren got an ‘upgrade’ and now serve as Snoke’s bodyguards – because at the very least, the weapons they wield look similar to the ones the Knights of Ren did/do.

Nuns confirmed!

Making Star Wars earlier reported the existence of nun-like creatures on Ahch-To with Luke, in addition to puffin-like creatures named Porgs.  They were absolutley right on the latter – as porgs have since been confirmed and heavily promoted – and it turns out they were absolutely right on the former too (though it’s no surprise).  This picture from Entertainment Weekly gives us our first glimpse of what they look like:

nuns.jpg

Rian Johnson explained more about who they are:

“They’re kind of these sort of fish-bird type aliens who live on the island,” Johnson says. “They’ve been there for thousands of years, and they essentially keep up the structures on the island.”

Johnson speculated that they may have even originally been in the sea, since they’re amphibious, but they now live on land.  In addition, they can communicate with Luke.  As Breznican writes,

They can communicate with Luke through what Johnson describes as “a blubbery sort of Scottish fish talk” but they’re not thrilled to have him hanging around. Johnson says they “tolerate” his presence.

What we don’t know, however, is whether these nun-like creatures have a connection with the force that is significant, or whether they’re simply protectors/care-takers of Ahch-To.  One thing that we are seeing more and more of, however, is that Ahch-To certainly isn’t this desolate island planet, but it’s one that doesn’t seem to see many visitors.

The EW stuff did address porgs too, however – including an adorable and interesting picture of Chewbacca and a porg in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon.

chewie and the porg.jpg

There are some ESB parallels

One of the criticisms that people had about The Force Awakens was that there were plenty of A New Hope parallels, and that has led those same people to hope that The Last Jedi avoids parallels to The Empire Strikes Back.  That was never realistic (and probably not good, either), however, and Rian Johnson confirmed that there are some parallels – because that’s what the story called for.

“I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to,” the filmmaker says. “But look, Rey is off in a remote location with a Jedi master, and the Resistance is in a tough spot, and we’re intercutting those stories. By its very nature, there are some structural parallels. But these are new characters, they’re dealing with new things, and that ultimately is what defines the movie. So I think that’s going to be unique.”

Johnson is absolutely right on this matter: there are going to be parallels, and some will inevitably complain about it.  After all, it’s hard for there not to be parallels with the way this story is taking shape.  But this seems to be far from a remake of ESB, and I think most people will be able to actually grasp that, even though there are some parallels.

Leia views Poe as a surrogate son

We all know what happened with Leia Organa’s biological son, as Ben Solo rebelled against Luke, turned to the dark side, and murdered Han Solo.  But as Rian Johnson points out, Leia’s entire story has been marked by loss – she lost Alderaan, lost Han, lost Ben, lost Luke – but Leia maintains her resolve and perseveres in the fight even with her pain and grief, and that means leading the Resistance.  She also has a close relationship with Poe Dameron, one that was hinted at in TFA and that will be further explored in TLJ.  In fact, Oscar Issac said that Leia views Poe as a surrogate son and as a potential leader:

“Poe is in some ways a surrogate son for Leia,” Isaac tells EW. “But also I think she sees in him the potential for a truly great leader of the Resistance and beyond.”

What this means is that Leia will be training Poe in some ways in TLJ about being a better leader:

“Poe’s arc is one of evolving from a heroic soldier to a seasoned leader, to see beyond the single-mindedness of winning the battle to the larger picture of the future of the galaxy,” Isaac says. “I think Leia knows she won’t be around forever and she, with tough love, wants to push Poe to be more than the badass pilot, to temper his heroic impulses with wisdom and clarity.”

This relationship should be quite interesting in The Last Jedi; we know that Poe is a tremendous pilot and the best that the Resistance has, and we know that he’ll fly at least during the evacuation of D’Qar, and most likely during the battle of Crait too.  But it seems Leia is trying to teach him that the way to solve problems isn’t always to jump into the cockpit and begin firing, and she has modeled over the years how to fight in other ways too even while proving more than capable with a blaster.  This likely will prove challenging for Poe, but it seems part of Leia’s plan for the pilot long-term – and, perhaps, her plan for the Resistance long-term after she’s gone.  This movie wasn’t made to be Leia’s last, but that could be a way it ties in nicely, as she trains Poe to take up a larger leadership role and then IX shows him thriving as the leader of the Resistance.  That’s getting ahead of ourselves, but Leia sees Poe’s potential as more than just a hotshot pilot but also a great leader.  This causes her to be tough on him some, but all the while seeing him as a son.  In Star Wars, family doesn’t always have to mean biological bonds (something that could perhaps factor into the Luke/Rey relationship too, like it did with Han/Rey).

The Resistance is in trouble

The Force Awakens didn’t dive into the nature of the New Republic much, but what we know from that movie and from the books (namely Bloodline) is that Leia formed the Resistance because she understood the rising threat of the First Order while the New Republic didn’t take it as seriously.  It seems that somewhere along the way the New Republic formed an uneasy and unofficial bond with the Resistance, however, as General Hux says in TFA that the Republic supports the Resistance.  So, naturally, wiping out the New Republic means that the Resistance is alone.  The Resistance isn’t stepping in to become the government of the galaxy; rather, without the Republic, the Resistance is in trouble.  Writes Breznian:

Anyone who expected the Resistance to fill that void and maintain order would be mistaken. “No, no, no. Not at all,” Johnson says. “They’re a small band that’s now cut off, on its own, and hunted when the Republic is shattered. When the First Order did that hit, the Resistance is isolated, and they’re very, very vulnerable. That’s where we pick them up.”

That means we’ll likely see the Resistance in some pretty tough spots in The Last Jedi as they fight to survive as they fight against the First Order.  It seems it’s a time of desperation for them… which means it’s a good thing they have General Leia in command.

Vice Admiral Holdo

We know of Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and we’ve seen a few pictures of her (including one of her with Leia, in the BTS video) – but we don’t really know much about her character.  That is intentional, says Rian Johnson: “The secrecy does have a purpose in that part of the fun with Laura’s character, with Admiral Holdo, is figuring out what her relationship is to everybody as you go along through the movie.”

Here’s what we do know: she’s a “fellow commander in the Resistance,” and it seems she and Leia – regardless of what their history is – won’t get along perfectly in the film.

“I don’t want to tip the hat too much, but I will say that the heat is immediately turned up on the Resistance,” Johnson says. “Everybody is put in a pressure cooker right away, and relationships crack and strain under that pressure. That was really interesting to me, the notion of putting this small army under a lot of external pressure and showing some of the results within the Resistance itself.”

So Leia is the leader of the Resistance, but Holdo has some level of authority and command within the group.  Rather than Holdo being an adversary right from the start, however, it seems instead that she will cause the tension to rise in the Resistance, which could lead to some less-than-friendly exchanges with Leia.

DJ is a slicer

All we really knew about Benicio Del Toro’s character in The Last Jedi is that he’s not named in the movie but the crew calls him DJ, and for a good reason.  Additionally, we knew that he’ll be involved with Finn and Rose’s mission, but beyond that we don’t know much.  The Entertainment Weekly article on him gave us a bit more.  First, there was an official description from Lucasfilm:

“DJ is an enigmatic figure whose tattered, threadbare clothes and lackadaisical attitude conceal a sharp mind and expert skills.”

So he’s smart and skilled – that much isn’t that surprising. But we also got confirmation that his skills include being a slicer.  Here’s what John Boyega said:

“We just need a codebreaker and he’s the best in the galaxy. Unfortunately, he’s very dodgy and only in it for financial gain. He doesn’t fight for any side,” Boyega says.

So DJ doesn’t take a side with either the Resistance or the First Order, but simply helps whoever will pay him best.  In this case, it seems that the Resistance might be willing to, with Finn and Rose needing his skills as a slicer for something – could they need this in order to infiltrate the First Order and go undercover, like we know they do at some point?  Either way, DJ’s character doesn’t sound like the most trustworthy person, which means that there’s certainly the chance of a betrayal somewhere along the lines if someone pays better.

Kylo Ren

Regarding Kylo Ren, there are two interesting things right off the bat in EW’s article that would be very significant if true… but that require a bit of caution.  They’re both contained in this statement:

The aspiring Sith let his last bit of light slip away when he drove his janky, handmade lightsaber into the heart of his father, Han Solo.

What’s significant about that?  Firstly, the fact that Kylo is referred to by Anthony Breznican as an “aspiring Sith.”  Remember, Lucasfilm and Star Wars have been quite clear that Kylo Ren is not a Sith (nor is Snoke), so this would be the first indication we have that Kylo is in fact wanting to be a Sith.  That can be implied or speculated by the fact that he uses the dark side and wants to follow his grandfather, Darth Vader, but it’s something that hasn’t been confirmed yet – because as of The Force Awakens, Kylo was a user of the dark side but wasn’t a Sith.  Will that change?  Perhaps – or perhaps it’s just a bit of editorializing by Breznican.

Secondly, Breznican writes that Kylo “let his last bit of light slip away” when he killed Han.  That would imply that he has fully succumbed to the dark side, a hit to the theories that think Kylo will be redeemed before this trilogy is over.  Of course, one would argue that Vader also fully succumbed to the dark side, so these things might not be mutually exclusive.  Along these lines, a quote from Daisy Ridley about who Rey’s parents are and why it’s significant was this:

“What’s wonderful is it’s not so cut and dry, who’s good and who’s bad and that’s not me saying, ‘Oh, my God, some people are gonna go bad,’” Ridley says. “There’s always room for bad people to make good decisions and vice versa. Again, that could be nothing to do with your parents and it could be everything to do with your parents.”

Bad people making good decisions?  Could that be what we wind up seeing from Kylo Ren?

That’s all speculation, however, so let’s turn to something more concrete about Kylo’s character: he’ll be wrestling with the implications of killing his father, and Rian Johnson says that his character is in some ways the story of a young man’s journey through adolescence:

Johnson said Ben Solo’s shift to darkness is symbolic of “the treacherous road through adolescence” that Star Wars often explores.

“Kylo represents kind of the rebellious anger that you feel during that period. Honestly, sometimes it’s a healthy desire to push away from the place that you know, from the things that you came from. But he obviously does it in an extreme that’s not healthy at all.”

It will be interesting to see how Kylo deals with the effects of killing Han Solo, which might not have had the liberating aspect he hoped it would…

Han’s ghost

Han Solo will be in The Last Jedi… well, kind of.  More accurately, his presence will be felt throughout The Last Jedi, even though the legendary scoundrel won’t be in it.  Here’s what Rian Johnson said:

“Han, the ghost of — well, not literally,” Johnson says, interrupting himself with a laugh. “I don’t want to misguide. I have to be very careful with my words here. But a figurative ghost of Han had to be present throughout this entire film.”

It was very important for Johnson to clarify that, as many would have taken the statement and ran with it.  But in reality, this is absolutely a good thing and what TLJ needed to do.  Killing one of the most beloved characters in the franchise was a huge move, and it has to have implications – especially in a film that will pick up right where the last one left off.  We’ll have to see how Leia, Chewie, Rey, and others deal with the loss of Han Solo, and it sounds like we’ll get to see some of the impact that it has had.  For example, Johnson says that Chewie is dealing with it but that he’ll be fine, mainly because he still has a mission:

“Chewie’s doing all right. It’s tough. It was obviously a big loss for him, but, you know, he’s Chewie. He’s resilient,” Johnson says. “He’s got broad Wookiee shoulders, and he also has a new mission. He’s got Rey, and she’s someone that Han, to a certain extent, handed the keys to. So I think that that helps.”

It could be worse.

“If Chewie was just unemployed and sitting at home, things might be a little rougher, but he’s got a task to focus on,” Johnson adds.

Similarly, though Leia is obviously impacted and grieving, she also has a mission:

“Her character to some degree or another has been defined by loss through this whole saga, starting with the loss of her home planet. She’s just taken hit after hit, and she’s borne it, and she focuses on moving forward and the task at hand,” says writer-director Rian Johnson.

As far as developing the impact of Han’s death goes, however, it’s sounding like the primary way will come through the Rey/Kylo dynamic…

Rey & Kylo

We know that Rey viewed Han Solo as a father figure, one that she never had.  That will be developed more in TLJ, as Luke’s rejection when Rey arrives on Ahch-To will cause Rey to miss Han even more:

Luke’s brush-off makes Rey miss the gruff warmth of Han Solo, Ridley says, giving us a peek inside the head of her character: “’Oh my God, this other man that I lost within a couple days was somewhat of a father figure. Now he’s gone, and instead I’m with this grumpy guy on an island who doesn’t want me here.’”

As you might expect, then, Rey viewing Han Solo as the father she never had and always wanted leads into a more intense, natural, and personal rivalry with Kylo Ren: she can’t understand why he would kill Han, his actual father.

“She just doesn’t understand Kylo,” Daisy Ridley says. “When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous. So she has grief for the loss and then there’s anger. To be honest, she couldn’t understand doing something like that – let alone to your parents.”

Kylo, meanwhile, will be motivated by the humiliating defeat he suffered to Rey on Starkiller Base, and he’ll surely be wanting revenge.

Through it all, there is this sense of Rey and Kylo being connected.  This isn’t a new development, as the Star Wars Databank has for a while mentioned that “a mysterious connection seemed to link the two.”  What is this connection?  We’ll likely find out more in TLJ, and we’re obviously not getting much in the way of explanation now; but with that said, Rian Johnson did say that Rey and Kylo are “two halves of the dark and the light.”  Meaning that Rey is the light and Kylo is the dark.  Fans of the Rey Skywalker theory would think this to fit in line with that, as it would mean that Kylo is the representation of his grandfather’s darkness while Rey would be the representation of her grandfather’s light.  Whether that’s what it means or not, however, it means that this “mysterious connection” will surely be explored more in depth in the film.

More Phasma

We already knew this was happening, but we once again have confirmation that Captain Phasma will have a larger role in The Last Jedi – and that will include her in action this time.

“Gwendoline Christie is one of my favorite people, and you get to see her in action which I think is going to be really fun,” Johnson says. “That character is just so damn cool looking. Like, okay, let’s see what we can do with her. Let’s put her in action and see what happens.”

Additionally, the article mentioned that John Boyega said there would be a showdown between Phasma and Finn in this movie, something that was strongly hinted at during the D23 conference but never officially confirmed.  That should be a very cool fight, and it quite possibly takes place while Finn and Rose are undercover in the First Order.

Less Maz

While there’s more of Captain Phasma (thankfully), there’s also less of another character, and this also doesn’t come as any surprise.  Rian Johnson confirmed that there will be less of Maz Kanata in this one:

“She has a smaller part in this than she has in The Force Awakens, but it’s a really fun part, and Lupita is so awesome,” Johnson says. “I’m just happy I got to work with her.”

In a film that promises new revelations and insight into the nature and history of the force, it makes sense that Maz Kanata might have some key insight – whether it’s about the force, the Skywalker lightsaber, or Rey’s past.  So she could be used in a way that helps reveal some very interesting information both to the viewers but also to a character or group in the film too.  But I think having less of Maz in this is a very good decision, too, as it seemed at times that the slowest parts of TFA were at Maz’s palace, and with all this movie sets to accomplish – Rey and Luke’s story, Finn and Rose’s mission, Leia and Poe’s dynamic, Kylo Ren’s training, and more – there seemed to be little room for Maz left without detracting from the story.  So I’m glad Rian Johnson found a role for her still, but that he didn’t feel the need to make it a huge part.  She’s likely there to serve a purpose at a key moment, and that’s fine.

 

 

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