I’ll go on record saying Star Wars: The Force Awakens has the most thrilling ending out of any Star Wars film (so far). The look between Rey and Luke, the hope and promise of the next adventure; Disney has got me hook, line, and speeder. Even after numerous screenings in theaters, I salivated for a chance to watch it on blu-REY at home.
So after scouring the light, but still compelling behind-the-scenes documentaries, I wanted to share my thoughts on the future of the saga based on quotes and conversations from the filmmakers, cast, and crew. ‘Episode VIII,’ directed by Rian Johnson (Looper) won’t be released until December 18th, 2017, but that’s sooner than you think! Let’s speculate away!
1. “Going forward, what they’ll add to the fight against the First Order will be really exciting to see where that goes.” – Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron)
Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan and director J.J. Abrams go into detail briefly regarding star pilot of the Resistance, Poe Dameron, and his original demise early on in The Force Awakens. Once they saw Oscar Isaac’s handsome face I imagine they lost the nerve to kill him. Thank god they kept Poe alive (so that we may be blessed with more onscreen Oscar Isaac), but Poe’s character served as a foil to Finn’s self-actualization after defecting from the First Order (he even gets Poe’s jacket!). He wasn’t a fully formed character on his own and Rian Johnson has his work cut out for him to develop a compelling arc for Poe. Perhaps Poe’s journey will be even more tied with the next stage of the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order.
2. “This is not just The Force Awakens in a young woman, this is the dark side of the Force awakening in the villain.” – J.J. Abrams (Director)
Both Rey and Kylo Ren’s eyes are opened to a much larger world by the end of The Force Awakens. Their climactic fight in the snow is going to have repercussions for the remainder of the saga. If The Empire Strikes Back (the middle chapter of the OT) is any indication, both Rey and Ren will dive deep into training for the inevitable rematch down the line (I’m getting chills just thinking about it). I can’t imagine they’d miss out on the opportunity to show the contrasting training styles of Luke Skywalker and Supreme Leader Snoke. It would be a unique chance to see Rey and Ren tempted by the dark side and the light simultaneously.
3. “There’s something about her that’s going to broaden the story.” – Daisy Ridley (Rey)
Let’s not kid ourselves, Luke will turn out to be Rey’s father. We don’t need to M. Night Shyamalan ourselves into knots to prove otherwise. It’s the repercussions of the eventual reveal that will prove to be more interesting. The most iconic twist in the original Star Wars trilogy didn’t retroactively diminish A New Hope. I can’t even imagine the wild ride producer Kathleen Kennedy and the writers have cooked up for Rey’s journey in the next two films. I’m more interested in who Rey’s mother is anyway. Oh look, Academy Award-nominated actress Laura Dern was just cast in ‘Episode VIII’? How interesting…
4. “If you imagine a place where the Jedi Order could have actually first emerged, that’s what led me to Skellig Island at the end of this movie. Because this is a place that emerged in 600 AD as a christian retreat from the world.” – Rick Carter (Production Designer)
Han Solo mentions in passing that Luke started training new Jedi before it all went horribly wrong due to Supreme Leader Snoke and Kylo Ren. How do all these pieces fit with Luke’s New Jedi Order? I doubt we’ll be getting any fully-formed flashbacks or pedantic exposition scenes, but I can totally see Rey learning more details about the true horror of Ben Solo’s fall to the dark side around a campfire from Luke on Ahch-To. This information funneled through Rey’s training and her continued exploration of the Force will give her struggle more context in the story and may give her the necessary information on what to do next.
5. “It was all about how critical Luke is to the continuation of this amazing story.” I – J.J. Abrams (Director)
It was pretty gutsy to save the appearance of Mark Hamill as an older Luke Skywalker until the very end of The Force Awakens, but it worked like gangbusters. J.J. Abrams has stressed in these behind-the-scenes documentaries how much this film is supposed to be a handoff between the older generation and the new school of heroes. With Luke looking to be in the picture for the next film, what does this mean? Will he be a blend of former Jedi Masters like Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi or has Maz Kanata taken on the mystic role from Luke? Hamill describes the conflict Luke feels in the final shot of the film when he see’s this young woman presenting him his old lightsaber. Will he put his faith in Rey to restore balance to the Force? Will Rey let him off the hook for leaving it all behind? I can’t wait to see this dynamic play out on screen.