We’re just two weeks away from the release of the heavily-anticipated The Last Jedi, which will be the second film of the sequel Star Wars trilogy. The third Skywalker trilogy undertaken by Lucasfilm, the first movie dropped in 2015 with the very successful The Force Awakens, and the director of that film, J.J. Abrams, is returning to the galaxy to direct Episode IX – a movie that Abrams views as the final one in the Skywalker saga.
In a Rolling Stone feature by Brian Hiatt on The Last Jedi released today, there’s an interesting quote from Abrams in which he addresses his view of it being the last one: “I do see it that way. But the future is in flux.”
Of course, the quote that’s getting the headlines comes right after that, as Daisy Ridley made it clear she doesn’t want to play Rey beyond Episode IX.
“No,” she says flatly. “For me, I didn’t really know what I was signing on to. I hadn’t read the script, but from what I could tell, it was really nice people involved, so I was just like, ‘Awesome.’ Now I think I am even luckier than I knew then, to be part of something that feels so like coming home now.”
But, um, doesn’t that sort of sound like a yes? “No,” she says again, smiling a little. “No, no, no. I am really, really excited to do the third thing and round it out, because ultimately, what I was signing on to was three films. So in my head, it’s three films. I think it will feel like the right time to round it out.”
That’s not exactly a foreign sentiment for a leading Star Wars actor to have, however, as it’s similar to the sentiments of Harrison Ford after Return of the Jedi – but, as we know, he returned in 2015 for The Force Awakens. Time, nostalgia, and money can certainly change things. At the same time, if Ridley really is intent on moving on from the character following the completion of the third film, it would make it more difficult for Lucasfilm to move forward with a fourth Skywalker trilogy, at least right away, though we still don’t know whether she actually is a Skywalker or not. Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, on the other hand, is the grandson of Darth Vader and one of the leads of the new trilogy, alongside Ridley.
Nonetheless, it’s significant that J.J. Abrams views the movie as the final one. He’s right in saying that things can change a lot – a wise Jedi Master once said that “always in motion is the future” – and I can’t help but think Lucasfilm might eventually want to return to the saga’s core storyline, but I think we begin to see the sentiment surrounding this trilogy: it’s closing things out. The prequel trilogy was exploring the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker, while the original trilogy explored his son, Luke, becoming a Jedi and redeeming his father. The sequel trilogy, then, explores the descendants of Anakin Skywalker and follows the beloved heroes of the OT. In many ways, it’s fitting closure to wrap things up with a third trilogy.
At the very least, following the release of Episode IX it seems like Lucasfilm’s attention will turn away from the Skywalkers, if not forever then at least for the forseeable future. They’ve already begun exploring standalone films, including Rogue One last year and Solo in 2018, and just recently they announced that The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson has been tapped to create a brand new trilogy of films away from the Skywalkers. Additionally, they’re wrapping up Star Wars Rebels in 2018 and have plans for a live action TV series in 2019, while there could be further production from Star Wars animation as well. Plus, they’re getting involved with VR now, and they’re attempting to expand the universe in as many directions and with as many vehicles as possible. So they’re not hurting for material, and that should enable them to give a fitting conclusion to the Skywalkers in Episode IX before moving on to explore other areas and time periods of the galaxy far, far away.
At least that’s the plan… for now. But either way, that’s the way that Abrams is approaching The Last Jedi, presumably wrapping up the prequel, original, and sequel trilogy in one final film. It’s a tall task, but one he seems up to.