Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Here’s what you need to know about Episode VIII

On December 15, 2017, a film will be released worldwide that could be the biggest box office hit of the year. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (previously known as Star Wars: Episode VIII) will be the second in the next trilogy of films in the massively successful space opera saga, and a direct sequel to the 2015 mega-hit Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Many fans have been waiting to see what answers The Last Jedi will provide after the conclusion of The Force Awakens. The film’s production company, Lucasfilm, and its parent company Disney, have been highly secretive so far about just what plot points will be revealed in The Last Jedi, but there are hints that the story could take the Star Wars saga in some new, and perhaps unexpected, directions. Will we see the last of the Jedi Knights, the Force-based protectors of the galaxy? Indeed, in the movie’s first trailer, the series’ central character Luke Skywalker states flatly, “It’s time for the Jedi to end”.

So what do we know so far about Star Wars: The Last Jedi? Here’s what we have so far on the movie, and we plan to update this post when more information is revealed prior to its December 15, 2017 release date.

One thing we want to get out of the way first. This article will contain information about the plot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so if you have yet to see that movie, you might want to stop reading this right now. Otherwise, consider the rest of this article as one big spoiler warning for that film.

The story and the filmmakers

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

As we said, we know very little about the plot of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We do know that it takes place right after the end of The Force Awakens.  At the end of that film, we saw Rey, the orphaned woman who discovers she can use The Force, travel to the planet of Ahch-To to hand over a light saber, a Jedi’s main weapon, to Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight and hero of the classic Star Wars film trilogy, at some kind of remote island location. Meanwhile, the Resistance is still at war with The First Order. Lucasfilm has confirmed that Finn, the defecting First Order Stormtrooper from The Force Awakens that is now with the Resistance, will be included in a squad that’s sent on a mission to Cantonica, and specifically to the city of Canto Bight, which has been described as a Las Vegas-style casino city.

Other than that, Lucasfilm is not really confirming anything else about the storyline for The Last Jedi. Based on the two trailers that have been released, we can also assume that The First Order is back to do some evil deeds, Kylo Ren, the Dark Side Force follower of The First Order’s main leader Snoke, and the son of the now deceased Rebel leader Han Solo, will return, as well other villains like Captain Phasma, the commander of the First Order’s Stormtroopers.

Some of the rumors about The Last Jedi claim we will get to see the funeral of Han Solo early in the film. Other rumors claim that we may see some older Star Wars characters pop up in the latest movie that we haven’t seen in a while, and that there will be at least one major character death as well.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is being written and directed by Rian Johnson, taking over from J.J. Abrams, who co-wrote and directed The Force Awakens. Johnson previously wrote and directed two acclaimed indie films, Brick and The Brothers Bloom, before getting much more attention in 2012 with his sci-fi time travel crime film Looper. His long time producer, Ram Bergman, will share those same duties with Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy for The Last Jedi.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi characters

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Nearly all of the characters that appeared in The Force Awakens will appear once again in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That includes the four biggest new human characters: Rey (played by Daisy Ridley) Finn (John Boyega), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Resistance pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac). Other supporting characters returning for the movie include Captain Phasma (Gwendoline Christie), Snoke (Andy Serkis in a motion capture performance), First Order General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) and alien pirate Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong’o in yet another motion capture performance). Yes, the cute rolling droid BB-8 will be back as well.

Several characters and actors from the original Star Wars movie trilogy will also be back for The Last Jedi, chief of which will be Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher). The Millennium Falcon’s Wookie pilot Chewbacca (played by both Peter Mayhew and Joonas Suotamo) will be returning, along with protocol droid C-3P0 (Anthony Daniels) and maintenance droid R2D2. Other characters like Admiral Ackbar, junkyard manager Unkar Plutt and others will return as well.

At least three major new characters have been confirmed for The Last Jedi. One is Rose Tico, played by newcomer Kelly Marie Tran. She is a Resistance maintenance officer who goes with Finn and the rest of his squad to the mission to Canto Bight. Two well known actors, Laura Dern and Benicio del Toro, will also play major roles in The Last Jedi. Dern will play Resistance Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, while del Toro’s character, DJ is still something of a mystery, although some people believe he is one of the movie’s villains. Another known actor, Tom Hardy, is rumored to play a Stormtrooper in an uncredited scene, similar to how Daniel Craig did the same in The Force Awakens.

We can also expect to see some new droid characters show up in The Last Jedi. One of them is BB-9E, a rolling droid similar to BB-8, but black in color and loyal to The First Order. New spaceships and other vehicles are also expected to be shown in the movie. They include the First Order Heavy Scout Walker, a bigger and heavily armed version of the classic AT-AT walker first seen in The Empire Strike back. We will also see the TIE Silencer, which will be Kylo Ren’s personal modified version of the TIE Fighter ship. There’s also the Resistance Bomber, the larger ship that was seen briefly near the end of the first teaser trailer for The Last Jedi.

How will Carrie Fisher’s death affect the movie?

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

On December 27, 2016, Star Wars fans, and indeed the entire world, mourned the death of Carrie Fisher, who passed away unexpectedly due to a heart attack. At the time of her passing, Fisher had already completed filming her part of General Leia Organa for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lucasfilm will use that already completed footage for the film, which will be Fisher’s final movie role as an actor.

Fisher was also supposed to play Leia again in the untitled Star Wars: Episode IX film. However, Lucasfilm has since confirmed that those plans have changed and that Leia will be written out of that upcoming movie. It’s currently unknown if The Last Jedi will make changes of its own to deal with Fisher’s death, or if Lucasfilm will wait until Episode IX to reveal the fate of Leia.

Other known parts of The Last Jedi

Principal photography of Star Wars: The Last Jedi began in February 2016 and ended in July 2016. Some of the scenes on Skywalker’s planet were filmed on Skellig Michael Island, off the coast of Ireland, along with other locations in that country. Other parts of the movie were filmed in Croatia, and Pinewood Studios in England was also used for interior scenes.

We know there will be new aliens in The Last Jedi, including cute puffin-like creatures called porgs that live on Skywalker’s planet that have already become hugely popular among Star Wars fans. Another new alien race that will appear in that location are called the Caretakers, which are amphibious creatures that keep up the planet’s ancient Jedi structures. We have also seen a glimpse of a cat-like creature with tall ears and white fur, in the second trailer.

In addition to Skywalker’s planet and the casino planet of Cantonica, we also know that The Last Jedi will take place on a new desert-like planet called Crait, If you have seen the teaser trailer, that’s where those speeder-like vehicles are seen throwing up red dust in the sky.

John Williams, who has written the soundtrack for all of the main Star Wars films, will do so again for The Last Jedi.

How dark will The Last Jedi get?

As we said, Lucasfilm is keeping nearly all of the story info on Star Wars: The Last Jedi to itself. However, there have been hints that this movie could prove to be a dark one for audiences, especially if they are fans of Luke Skywalker. Both Hamill and Ridley have hinted strongly in interviews that the meeting between Skywalker and Rey will not be a smooth one.

There are also rumors that we will learn more about the history of Rey (we still don’t know who her mother and father are) and we will also learn more about The First Order’s leader Snoke, although a full reveal may have to wait until Episode IX. The recent trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi also hints that Rey may even turn to Kylo Ren for help in learning how to use her Force abilities.

Upcoming events ahead of The Last Jedi’s release

LucasArts posted the final trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi on Oct. 9, and tickets for the movie went on sale on that date as well. Lucasfilm and Disney are now slowly ramping up their full marketing and promotional assault for the movie. We should also get some more clues about the movie with some upcoming comic book and prose novel releases. That includes both a Marvel comic and a novel that will focus on the character of Captain Phasma. A short story collection centered on the casino city of Canto Bight will also be released before the movie.

Conclusion

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is already generating a ton of buzz ahead of its release, and the second movie in this new trilogy of films promises to be a huge hit, while also taking the Star Wars saga into new story directions. Until that happens, may the Force be with you.

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