Star Wars: The Last Jedi

10 Big Questions Going Into Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
As The Last Jedi approaches, many Star Wars fans are coming up in full preparation mode, scrutinizing every detail of the eighth episode in the Saga whether it be the exciting props, from box office odds to who will Kylo Ren kill, the questions are endless.  I’ve pared it down to ten critical queries as we hit T-minus two weeks until Episode VII opens.  No spoilers below, simply my best guesses, combined with a few answers straight from director Rian Johnson.
Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

1. Who is “The Last Jedi”?

This one has a simple answer.  The titular “Last Jedi” in Episode VIII is Luke Skywalker.  There have been those who have tried to read deeper into the question than is necessary, but both Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill have confirmed that Luke is the title character.  Skywalker’s visage looms large over the film’s theatrical poster, dominating the image.  Luke is the last of the Jedi, and I believe-even more than the marketing has indicated-that this will be his defining film as a character.

Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Last Jedi 2. Why does Rey scare Luke?

Well, she did show up on his island with a lightsaber that he last saw plummeting down a Cloud City chasm along with his hand, but that’s not what panics Luke about Rey.  The door that was opened to Rey’s Force abilities at the end of The Force Awakens seems to be unleashing a flood of wild power.  Luke says it himself in the trailer: “I’ve only seen this raw strength once before.  It didn’t scare me enough then.  It does now!”  Luke is clearly referring to his nephew, Ben Solo, and the failure that was his training.  Rather than taking another crack at a Force savant, Luke seems to want nothing to do with Rey, and I think the reason why lies in his past failure as a teacher.

Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
3. Why does Luke think the Jedi should end?

We know from Han in Episode VII that after the fall of Luke’s academy, he went into a self-imposed exile to search for the first Jedi temple.  The island of Ahch-To clearly contains ancient secrets about the founding of the Jedi Order itself.  I believe that Luke found something out about the origin of the Jedi that was so at odds with what he was taught and held to be true, that he no longer believes the Jedi should exist.

Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
4. Why does Kylo destroy his helmet? 

In the first teaser for The Last Jedi, one of the most iconic images was the shattered helmet of Kylo Ren.  Then in October’s trailer, we see the cause for the destruction of his Vader-esque helmet is Kylo himself bashing it to pieces in one of his patented temper tantrums.  But why?  The helmet is evocative of his grandfather’s, and Darth Vader is Kylo’s idol.  As Luke is training Rey on Ahch-To, Kylo is receiving training from Supreme Leader Snoke.  What, if as a part of his training, Snoke reveals that before Vader’s death he embraced the light that Kylo has been trying to desperately to extinguish?  That kind of shock might cause a rejection of Vader and anything that represented him.

5. Who is Supreme Leader Snoke?

Perhaps no question about The Last Jedi has as many varied theories than the truth behind the enigmatic leader of The First Order: Supreme Leader Snoke.  We know that Snoke is a strong Force user, we know that both Han and Leia knew him at some point from their conversations in Episode VII, and we know from Rian Johnson that he is not a Sith.  Is he an old character we’ve met before, or is Snoke simply a new villain?

Andy Serkis, who plays the wizened character, says that Snoke is simply Snoke.  However, who knows how much of his script he had when he said that given the militant security Rian Johnson kept on The Last Jedi’s set.  One of the major themes in this new trilogy is that the Force is bigger than just Jedi and Sith, and Luke says something to that effect in the film’s teaser.  I think Snoke fits into the Saga in a way that no one has yet pegged precisely.  I believe he’s a very patient person who has played a very long game with republics, empires, and rebellions.  He may have the most complete grasp of the nature of the Force of any character, but we’re not going to get all our answers on Snoke until Episode IX, much as Emperor Palpatine wasn’t the full focus of the original trilogy until Return of the Jedi.

Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
6. Will Kylo Ren kill Leia?

I honestly think he will.  This question might have had a different answer before Carrie Fisher’s tragic death last year, because her storyline was originally to have extended into Episode IX.  So how do you give Leia a completed story arc without recasting her or using CGI?  You have to kill her.  Any doubt that this was an option was erased by the trailer’s dramatic shots of Kylo preparing to fire on Leia’s flagship accompanied by his voice intoning, “Let the past die.  Kill it if you have to.”  Slaying his father wasn’t enough to fully extinguish his light.  The most obvious way for Kylo become the most despicable villain in the Saga and give Leia’s storyarc a definite, if heartbreaking, close is to have her share her husband’s fate.

Mark Hamill in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
7. What went wrong at Luke’s Academy?

Clearly a whole lot of things went horribly awry at Luke’s academy and attempt to restart the Jedi Order.  I think that Snoke was in some way present or influencing events at the academy, twisting a troubled Ben Solo to form his Knights of Ren, and slaughter Luke’s students.  From the flashback we saw in The Force Awakens, it appears that The First Order may have also joined in the attack that brought down the school physically, but I think it had long been poisoned from within.  Luke clearly wildly underestimated the darkness in Ben, and his own training from Obi-Wan and Yoda was so short and abbreviated, that he simply wasn’t equipped with the skills to outmaneuver Snoke.  The full story behind the fall of the academy is something I think we will get to in The Last Jedi.

Adam Driver in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
8. Would Rey really join with Kylo?

The shocker at the end of the trailer for The Last Jedi is a desperate Rey seeming to take Kylo up on the offer he made her in Episode VII to be her teacher.  This could all be clever editing and misdirection, but we know from the shot of Rey being immobilized by Snoke, that she finds herself in the presence of The First Order’s leader somehow.  Whether by choice or not, Rey and Snoke will meet.  If Luke turns her away completely, who else does she know that can teach her in all the galaxy.  After watching Kylo kill his own father, you’d like to think Rey would never become that desperate, but the trailer certainly implies that she does.

Darth Vader in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
9. What is the Giant Twist

For months, the only thing that anyone connected with The Last Jedi was allowed to say about the film was that it was going to change the way fans saw the Star Wars universe forever.  Disney was so deliriously happy with the way Rian Johnson directed this film and ran his set that they have given him the keys to write and direct a completely new trilogy that will follow the sequel trilogy, so whatever Johnson (who also wrote The Last Jedi) came up with, Lucasfilm loved it.  Several of the cast and crew have compared it to the “I am your father” moment from The Empire Strikes Back in terms of its jaw-dropping nature.  I don’t think any of the previous questions rise to that level, so I think people are going to be genuinely shocked by whatever this is in a way that’s rare in today’s Internet age, spoiler-drenched environment.

Daisy Ridley in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
10. How big will the film open at the box office?

The Last Jedi is the most-anticipated film of 2017, and will likely have the biggest opening of any film in 2017.  Current estimates are tracking the film at roughly a $200 million dollar opening weekend in the United States.  That would put it ahead of Rogue One’s opening and behind The Force Awakens.  At 150 minutes, The Last Jedi is the longest Star Wars film to date, and that cuts down on the number of times theaters can show it, but let’s not kid ourselves: this film is going to make somewhere between $1.5 – 2.0 billion dollars globally for Disney, and that’s a conservative estimate.

Speculating what’s next in the Star Wars Universe is part of the fun of being a fan.  These are just the best guesses I can put together based on the trailers and mainstream reporting.  I have every confidence that I will be surprised and thrilled by the answers The Last Jedi will provide, and that leaving the theater I will already be compiling a list of questions for 2019’s Episode IX.

7 thoughts on “10 Big Questions Going Into Star Wars: The Last Jedi”

  1. The big twist is going to royally screw with classic, long-established SW mythology. Be prepared. It won’t be about something that happened in TFA, because people are not invested enough in the new characters for a twist like that to make an impact. And at this point I believe them when they say the twist will be big. I’m glad. You can’t move the storyline forward in a significant or dramatically satisfying way if the old parts are too sacred to be touched. I hope that Luke is taken to dangerous places too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the scope of Luke’s involvement in the film has been drastically underplayed. I also think the wildcard is Benicio del Toro, who has not appeared in any marketing, whose character is a secret, and who just appears in the poster on the credits. There are 50 more questions going in, but I just wanted to cover some general discussion ones that don’t delve into spoilers because I will NOT have this film spoiled for myself or anyone if I can help it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not sure about Del Toro. I would hesitate to call anyone a wild card, because SW has a long history of taking fascinating characters and actors and relegating them to very small roles, even near-cameos. Not nessasrily anything wrong with that, it creates the impression that things are going on around the edges and adds credibility to the world building.

        It’s been decades since I went into a film I was so excited about this unspoiled, but I do have to say that given the very little we know, and assuming the film takes a more or less predictable path, it is possible to piece together the basic narrative of a plausible-sounding Last Jedi. Of course that hardly makes it so. Here’s hoping Johnson has lots of surprises up his sleeve.

        God I hope Chewie really does eat a porg. Means the things won’t be THAT cute.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Please forgive this, I just want to get some SW ruminations off my chest.

    I don’t think it’s knowledge gleaned from the first Jedi temple that makes Luke think the Jedi should end. You don’t need to remotely go there to make his feelings on the matter understandable. As I have said before I think it’s simply the fact that in a single lifetime he himself has witnessed Jedi training going horribly awry and coming close to bringing the galaxy down, and the second time, it was him doing the training. If you remember I initially thought that he went into exile directly after the events of ROTJ, that when he cast away his saber in the presence of Palps he was casting away the Jedi too, but he was not as sharp as I thought and it took the same exact scenario, playing out again with Ben Solo, for Luke to get the message.

    Rey is not a terribly likable character in TFA and the fact that she knows how to wield the Force so instinctively, without any training, actually is quite scary. I hope that when she goes to Ren it is not just a temporary lapse. It might not be. Anakin was the hero of the prequels, and whatever else you want to say about his character, he set a precedent. I want to see TLJ make waves that ripple through the galaxy, and keep rippling for a long time. I don’t want contrived conflicts that are dispensed of by the end of one movie.

    Of course Luke is the Last Jedi. These new films are going out of thier way to show us we have moved outside the box of Jedi/Sith. Hopefully Luke is not just the last one temporarily, because I want Rey to become something else, and I want the films to run with the concept of a galaxy with a Force, but no sith or Jedi. I know that with all of this I am asking too much of Disney, that they need to keep the comfotrable and familiar in the balance, but it would be nice if the new chapters really had some teeth, so that they could sell themselves as actual installments on equal footing with the originals. Right now I think there are a lot of folks who are unsure.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some random thoughts:
    My theory, is that Snoke is really Lord Vitiate. Has he “seen the rise of the Republic”?

    WHERE?–are Rey’s parents now? No one is asking this. What if Rey’s parents were evil Siths, and Luke killed them? What if Rey finds out? What if Luke tells her?

    Suppose Kylo Ren got killed in The Last Jedi. Would this lead into Rey going Dark?

    What if it was NOT Kylo Ren who killed Luke’s young padawans? Who else might it have been?
    Who created the first order and why?

    How did Snoke get so “Damaged”? Who would be able to do that to him?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s so much we don’t know. All we can do is guess and that’s the fun part. There are so many Snoke theories, that you can make a case for a lot of people, and I don’t know that this film is going to answer our question. I think we’ll definitely get a lot more clues, and I think based on the comics and novels that Snoke pulled the remnants of the Empire together as The First Order, but as to who he is and is he a character we’ve met…..I honestly have no clue. I think Kylo is safe because Leia has to die and if Rey is not part of the lineage (and Luke and Leia both certainly didn’t seem to recognize her as theirs) then the whole Skywalker line is down to just Luke. I think Kylo’s story, like Rey’s, is going to arc over the three films and think they’re about as safe from a surprise death as any characters can be. I think the Force flashback of Kylo and The Knights of Ren standing over the bodies of the slain pretty well establishes they did the killing at the academy unless that’s a giant red herring, and I’m not sure why unless they want to find a way to make Kylo redeemable, which he’s trying very hard not to be. As for Snoke’s damage, it looks like an electricity burn (based on being married to a dermatologist) so perhaps Force lightning. Rian Johnson says he’s not a Sith. This is a lot of the basis for him being Mace Windu, but his scars ARE very intriguing. So much fun to try to guess and Rian Johnson’s gonna make us all guess again; I know it.


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