Up until now, we’ve been referring to the next installment of the Star Wars franchise as Episode VIII. Today that changes. Lucasfilm has announced that the film’s title is Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Directed by Rian Johnson, the film is said to take up immediately after the final shot of J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, when Daisy Ridley’s Rey was handing Luke Skywalker his old lightsaber. Skywalker, it would seem, is the last Jedi of the title, and while it’s not clear what the plot of the film is in any sense, the title alone could indicate the film will be largely centered around Mark Hamill’s character. But as my colleague Sean O’Kane points out, the word "Jedi" can be used when talking about either a single Jedi or a group — which could make the title a hiding-in-plain-sight reference to Rey, or others, joining Luke as guardians of peace in the galaxy.
According to the backstory revealed in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Luke had spent the years since the Rebels defeated the Empire trying to establish a new Jedi order. One of his students was the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, who turned to the Dark Side of the Force, slaughtered the rest of the students, and changed his name to Kylo Ren. Skywalker went into hiding after the murders, leading to the search for him that made up most of Awakens.
If the new film’s name sounds familiar to some fans, that’s because it has already been part of the Star Wars universe. In 2013 authors Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff wrote a novel called The Last Jedi, which followed a lone Jedi that had gone underground after the events of Revenge of the Sith. Ironically, The Last Jedi was that book’s second choice for a title at the time, as the name the authors had originally preferred was already part of series canon.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15th.