After weeks of near-silence, writer-director Rian Johnson is finally starting to talk about December’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi (seriously, for those looking for details on the new movie, there’s a lot straight from his mouth below), but never you mind that. Even as Johnson started sharing Star Wars super-secrets, Lucasfilm accidentally stole his thunder by parting ways with the man who was supposed to direct the next movie in the series. Is it time to start worrying about every Star Wars film coming in 2018 and beyond? Or is it OK to just focus on the next movie in the franchise and let the future sort itself out? Hard to tell, but if you’re trying to catch up on where everything stands in the galaxy far, far away, here’s all the news you might’ve missed over the last couple weeks.
Who Gets to Direct the Next Star Wars Movie Now?
The Source: Anonymous folks reportedly close to Lucasfilm
Probability of Accuracy: Take with as many grains of salt as necessary.
The Real Deal: So, with Colin Trevorrow departing Star Wars: Episode IX, the rumors are already flying as to who is likely to replace him. All kinds of names are being thrown around online—no, it’s really unlikely to be Joss Whedon, despite plenty of claims to the contrary—but the frontrunners seem to be Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. (Deadline, for what it’s worth, is suggesting Lucasfilm had always hoped Johnson would direct two movies in the series.) Does this mean that either will return for the final episode in the current trilogy? Stay tuned—only two days passed between the time Christopher Miller and Phil Lord left the Han Solo movie and the moment Ron Howard was announced as their replacement, so there could be word about a new Episode IX director at any moment.
So That’s Who the Last Jedi Is
The Source: Rian Johnson himself
Probability of Accuracy: If you can’t trust the man making the movie, who can you trust?
The Real Deal: Speculation about the meaning of Star Wars: The Last Jedi‘s title started perhaps one second after it was announced, but apparently that guessing game was largely unnecessary—Rian Johnson is happy to just explain the title if asked. “It’s in the opening crawl of The Force Awakens,” Johnson told The New York Times. “Luke Skywalker, right now, is the last Jedi. There’s always wiggle room in these movies—everything is from a certain point of view—but coming into our story, he is the actual last of the Jedi. And he’s removed himself and is alone on this island, for reasons unknown.” He’s entirely right about it being in the crawl for The Force Awakens; it’s right there in the first paragraph. Johnson went on to say that “the heart of the movie is Luke and Rey,” adding “its real essence is the development of the two of them. And it’s absolutely tied up in that question of, What is Luke’s attitude towards the Jedi?” So, sounds like that dramatic line about it being “time for the Jedi to end” will be particularly important after all. Sure, Luke might be the eponymous “last Jedi” at the start of the movie, but will that be the case by the end?
Bring on the Bad Guy (Just One)
The Source: Rian Johnson again
Probability of Accuracy: Once more, he’s the one person who can say this stuff for certain, so let’s just believe him.
The Real Deal: Meanwhile, if the heart of The Last Jedi is Luke and Rey’s relationship, what does that mean for everyone else? One thing that Johnson revealed to Empire is that audiences hoping for a lot of Supreme Leader Snoke backstory will be disappointed. “We got the whole story of Palpatine’s rise to power in the prequels, but in the original films he’s exactly what he needs to be, which is just ‘The Emperor’… He’s a dark force: the scary thing behind the thing. That was entirely how I approached Snoke,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t interested in explaining where he came from or telling his history, except where it serves this story.” That doesn’t mean there won’t be an appropriately large bad guy presence, but the focus will be on Kylo Ren, whom Johnson sees as the co-protagonist of the story alongside Rey. “The fascinating thing about Kylo and Rey is that they’re two sides of something,” Johnson said. “We can all relate to Kylo: to that anger of being in the turmoil of adolescence and figuring out who he’s going to be as a man; dealing with anger and wanting to separate from his family.”
Could The Last Jedi Break Barriers?
The Source: A lot of speculation from fans, based upon a particular reading of a particular line
Probability of Accuracy: This one is entirely open to interpretation for now, so let’s say there’s a 50/50 chance of accuracy.
The Real Deal: Will The Last Jedi be the first movie in the franchise with LGBTQ representation? That’s the current fan theory after the release of Leia: Princess of Alderaan, a prequel novel by Claudia Gray. At one point in the book, a young Leia is having a conversation with Amilyn Holdo, who’ll debut in The Last Jedi, played by Laura Dern. Holdo refers to Leia’s romantic preference for “humanoid males” as “so limiting,” which is being read by many as a sign that the character is queer. Neither Gray nor Lucasfilm have commented on the speculation, but it’s worth noting a couple of things. Firstly, Holdo’s comment might be about the “humanoid” preference as much as the “male” one. Secondly, even if Gray intended it as a nod to a bisexual Holdo, that doesn’t mean that the subject will come up onscreen during The Last Jedi. After all, aside from Anakin and Padme and Han and Leia, it’s not like the series spends much time on any romantic relationships. In other words: Don’t get too excited just yet.
Finally, Some Juicy Details About Captain Phasma
The Source: New spin-off novels and comic books
Probability of Accuracy: It’s all canonical storytelling, so presumably pretty darn canonical.
The Real Deal: For fans entranced by Gwendoline Christie’s Captain Phasma in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, yet disappointed by how little the character revealed onscreen, the past couple of weeks have been a bonanza of good times. First, Delliah Dawson’s Phasma novel revealed the origin story of the character (short version: a child on a savage planet who escaped via an unexpected connection with the father of The Force Awakens‘ General Hux and is more concerned with her own survival, and success, than anything else). Then, Marvel Entertainment’s Star Wars: Captain Phasma series debuted with the story of how the character escaped Starkiller Base at the end of The Force Awakens, which involved betrayal, dealing in self-interest, and a cameo from BB-9E, of all droids. Whether or not this suggests a larger role for Phasma in The Last Jedi proper is entirely unclear, but when it comes to new ancillary material, everything is coming up shiny selfish stormtrooper.