This week, Entertainment Weekly published its Fall Movie Review, and The Last Jedi takes center stage. Along with the covers, the site published a series of articles along with a batch of new pictures that give us our best look yet at the upcoming film.
The revelations touch upon Luke and Rey’s relationship, Finn’s status in the Resistance, the identity of Benicio Del Toro's mysterious character, and the new cute, cuddly creatures known as Porgs. Here’s what we learned.
Luke initially pushes Rey away
The series kicks off with one of the biggest things that we’re looking forward to in The Last Jedi: what will Rey and Luke Skywalker’s relationship be like? The franchise has a long history of gifted young people getting help from wizened mentors, but that doesn’t appear to be the case here. EW’s Anthony Breznican says there’s “that old adage: never meet your heroes.” This will apparently be a huge element of The Last Jedi. When we left off from The Force Awakens in 2015, Rey finally comes face-to-face with Luke on the island of Ahch-To, returning his long-lost lightsaber to him. That meeting doesn’t go as Rey thought, as she’s basically met with a cold shoulder. Luke left galactic society for a reason, and he’d rather stay a hermit. f
This hits Rey really hard; she’s already contending with abandonment issues from being left behind on Jakku, but also losing Han Solo at the end of The Force Awakens.
We’ll learn what happened between Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren
In The Force Awakens, we see some glimpses of events that transpired between Return of the Jedi and the new trilogy, and we learn that Luke Skywalker attempted to restart the Jedi Order. That obviously didn’t go well, and The Last Jedi will help explain why. In the interview, Mark Hamill notes that “[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.”
The “chosen one” reference is particularly interesting, because that’s the role Anakin Skywalker was once supposed to fill.
Everything from Revenge of the Sith to The Clone Wars to Star Wars Rebels has played and tinkered with the nature of the Jedi Order. Invoking the “chosen one” concept could hint that some of the known mythology will be explored further, something Johnson hints at.
Finn is a big deal in the Resistance
When we last saw Finn in The Force Awakens, he was in a pod, healing from his fight with Kylo Ren on Starkiller Base. We know from the behind-the-scenes reel that he’s awake and kicking in Jedi, and the film will continue to develop his relationship with the Resistance and First Order. John Boyega tells EW that Finn “just wants to get away and not be involved,” first trying to escape in The Force Awakens, only to be pulled in again by Rey. This time, it’ll be another character — Kelly Marie Tran’s Rose Tico — who keeps him in check.
Rose idolizes Finn as a hero of the Resistance, and when he tries to leave, she “comes in and basically gives him a depiction of himself that wasn’t necessarily true,” says Boyega. She sees the heroic, idealized version of Finn, rather than the scared young man who almost left halfway through Force Awakens, and it gives Finn something to live up to.
It sounds like audiences will also get a better sense of Finn’s backstory, and what preceded his appearance in the last film. “We will learn more about his past and where he came from,” Boyega explains, including a better idea of why he decided to leave The First Order in The Force Awakens.
The Last Jedi will be a bit like Empire Strikes Back, but that’s unintentional
Rian Johnson says that there’s going to be some structural similarities with The Empire Strikes Back, given the multiple, parallel storylines: Rey is off training with a grumpy Jedi Master, the Resistance is having some real trouble, all while Finn and company are dispatched on a mission to a casino metropolis called Canto Bight. (Johnson describes this as a Star Wars version of Las Vegas.)
However, the writer-director says any echoes are coincidental. “I just tried to kind of ignore that aspect of it and have the story take the shape that it needed to.”
Star Wars fans have a complicated relationship with cute creatures and merchandising. When the Ewoks appeared in Return of the Jedi, many were put off by what appeared to be a cheap cash grab for stuffed toys. (Early concepts for the film reportedly involved Wookiees rather than the diminutive creatures, but that’s beside the point.) The same concerns will no doubt be revisited, thanks to some new cute creatures that will be making an appearance in The Last Jedi: Porgs.
According to descriptions that have popped up on the internet, these fuzzy, penguin-like creatures inhabit Ahch-To. They’re cute (and will undoubtedly be coming to a toy store near you), but they’re also apparently pretty annoying, particularly for Chewbacca, who keeps finding them on the Millennium Falcon.
The Porgs were inspired by Johnson’s trips to Skellig Michael, the filming location for Luke’s island. When confronted by an irritated fan on Twitter, the director had a good counter:
I'm sorry you're so upset. For me, a big part of why SW engaged me creatively from age 4 - 43 is it's a world you want to play with.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) August 10, 2017
Porgs and Luke Skywalker aren’t the only inhabitants of Ahch-To. Luke is joined by a group of aliens known as the Caretakers. Johnson describes them as “these sort of fish-bird aliens who live on the island [who have] been there for thousands of years, and they essentially keep up the structures on the island.”
They’re sort of like nuns, but they’re not exactly thrilled that Luke has taken up residence on their island. On the island, they will also connect in some way to the Force’s larger mythology. “Let’s push this all the way back and see how deep we can go into the foundations of where this all started,” Johnson notes.
Supreme Leader Snoke has some menacing bodyguards
One of the pictures published by EW shows off some menacing First Order soldiers clad in bright red armor. These are the Praetorian Guard, Supreme Leader Snoke’s personal protectors. Where The Force Awakens reimagined the classic stormtroopers and members of the Empire for the First Order, these guys are a new take on the Emperor’s Royal Guard from Return of the Jedi.
“The Emperor’s guards were very formal, and you always got the sense that they could fight, but they didn’t,” Johnson explains. “They looked like they were more ceremonial, and you never really saw them in action. [For] 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.”
I already know that fan costume designers are making up their own versions of these guys, and I’ll bet that we’ll see some people wearing these when the movie opens.
Your Snoke theory might not get an answer
Along with those guards, we’re going to see a bit more of the guy that they’re protecting: Supreme Leader Snoke. While theories about Snoke’s identity have been plentiful in the past two years, don’t expect to learn everything about him. Johnson told EW that “we’ll learn exactly as much about Snoke as we need to,” and that there will still be quite a bit more to him than what we’ll see in this next film.
Leia is grooming Poe Dameron to succeed her, and the Resistance is in trouble
Poe Dameron’s character has changed drastically since he was first conceived: he was originally supposed to die after escaping The First Order in The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams ended up expanding the role, however, and Poe’s importance only seems to be growing.
According to Isaac, Poe is going to grow as a leader, and General Leia herself sees him as a surrogate son after the loss of Ben Solo. “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,” Isaac explains. There will also be some internal factions within the Resistance, making its survival even more difficult. Isaac describes the situation as a pressure cooker, and that “relationships crack and strain under that pressure.”
As for Carrie Fisher’s character, Johnson says that Leia’s journey “has been defined by loss through this whole saga” — the loss of Alderaan, her son, her former husband. Despite those losses, Leia is still forging ahead in The Last Jedi, finding herself in familiar territory: leading the galaxy’s best, last hope after the loss of the New Republic.
Benicio Del Toro’s character doesn’t fight for either side
When he joined The Last Jedi in 2015, Benicio Del Toro was rumored to be a villain in the film. That might not be entirely true, according to Del Toro, whose character goes by the name DJ. He will apparently show up when Finn and Ross journey to Canto Bight, but Del Toro claims to EW that he doesn’t know where the villain discussion is coming from. “People are saying that, but it’s like they read a different script than I read.”
John Boyega says that Finn and Rose need a codebreaker on their mission, and DJ is the best option — even if he’s just in it for the money. The character comes out of the galaxy’s criminal underworld, and both heroes and villains are equally bad news for him. That makes him sound a bit like Han Solo, or Hondo Ohnaka from The Clone Wars.
We’ll learn who Rey’s parents are, and a bit more about Finn’s past
Some of the biggest unanswered questions from The Force Awakens were about Rey: who was she, and where did she originally come from? The Last Jedi will apparently reveal the answers to these questions, but Johnson notes that her parentage actually might not matter all that much. “What’s going to define her in this story?” Johnson asks. “She was told in the last movie that the answer’s not in the past; it’s looking forward.”
But it’s still something that’s on her mind, and Daisy Ridley notes that when Rey learns who her parents are, it’s not going to make her life any easier. People aren’t always going to fall easily into categories of good or evil, with Ridley pointing out that “there’s always room for bad people to make good decisions and vice versa.”
Kylo Ren, Rey, and Chewbacca will contend with the murder of Han Solo
Johnson says that Han’s death is going to exist in the background of the film. Kylo Ren has “definitely been knocked off base,” after murdering his father at the end of The Force Awakens. He’s going to be working through that a bit. It was a defining moment for the character, and that anger that he’s experiencing as he goes deeper into the Dark Side of the Force is an extreme that’s not healthy, to say the least.
Kylo/Ben was also humiliated by Rey, who cut up his face and left him to die on Starkiller Base. She too will be dealing with her own feelings over Han’s death, Ridley explains. “When all she wanted was parents, why would a person who has parents do that? It’s so beyond comprehension, it’s ridiculous.”
Finally, Chewbacca will be mourning the death of his closest friend and partner. Johnson says that Chewie is resilient, though, and that it’s fortunate that he has a new mission, helping Rey, and contending with Porgs on his ship.
Captain Phasma will get more to do
We’ve known that the silver-clad Captain Phasma will be returning for The Last Jedi, and Johnson says that the character will get some more action. We see her briefly in the first trailer for the film, and Johnson explained that he was really looking forward to seeing her join the fight. “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.”
Unlike some of the film’s other mysterious characters, we’re not going to learn all that much about her. That job is going to be reserved for a tie-in novel coming out next month: Phasma, as well as a comic book miniseries, Captain Phasma.
Maz Kanata will have a smaller role in the film
We got a brief glance of Lupita Nyong'o in the behind-the-scenes reel for the film, but she’ll have a smaller role this time around. Johnson says that while her role is smaller, she will turn up at a pivotal point, and will have some new insights into the galaxy’s recent history, and could be on the hook to deliver some important information.
Update August 12th, 10:00AM ET: Updated to include EW’s final report on Kylo Ren, Phasma, Chewbacca and Maz.