Spoilers for "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" follow!
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" owes a lot of its momentum and plot structure to the original "Star Wars" movie, otherwise known as "A New Hope." And part of that includes its triumphant victory against a giant planet-destroying weapon full of faceless, nameless (literally!) stormtroopers.
But we know that as with the Empire before, the fight against the First Order is anything but over -- those guys are all gonna be back in the second and third parts of the trilogy, and they're gonna be more dangerous than ever. But where will we find them when "Episode VIII" opens? In charge of the Galaxy? Overwhelming the Resistance? Putting all their emo feelings on Twitter?
Jokes aside, here's what we think might be in store for the baddies of the next (well, after "Rogue One") "Star Wars," starting with:
After the best Stormtrooper ever got beaten by Han and Finn (who's the other Best Stormtrooper, but for different reasons), Phasma (Gwendoline Christie) presumably ended up in a garbage chute as planned -- and most likely had to fight her way out, judging from what we know about Imperial trash compacting technology. So she's probably dead now like the rest of her soldiers, right?
Nope! According to Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy, Phasma will definitely be back for more, thus continuing her current reign as the helmet-wearing "Star Wars" badass who also only has three lines. Sorry, Boba Fett, your time has long passed.
But in what capacity will she return? Given that Kennedy called her "a baddie in the best sense of the word," probably in the same role she's already filling: as an ominous henchman. That said, I could very much see her taking Finn's betrayal, and her humiliation at his hands, quite personally and going after him herself, like an evil Brienne of Tarth. But if that happens, let's hope she gets an evil Podrick, too.
Unlike previous uniform-clad officers of the "Star Wars" franchise, Hux (Domhnall Gleeson) knows when to get the heck out of Dodge. We can also assume that he managed to get Kylo Ren off-world and is taking him to receive more Force training, as per Supreme Leader Snoke's commands. From there it's hard to say. Presumably he'll continue to be Snoke's right hand man, making terrifying speeches and inspiring their soldiers to be terrible all over the Galaxy.
However, it seems pretty unlikely that he'll be the Supreme Leader's golden boy or anything, given how terribly and publicly his brainwashing program backfired with Finn. It already seemed like there was tension between him and Snoke, who clearly favors the much less methodical Kylo Ren. Perhaps Kylo's recent failures will exacerbate that further, and we'll see a much more stressed out Hux in future films.
Unlike his grandfather before him, Kylo Ren's (Adam Driver) on some pretty uneven ground right now -- and not just because the planet he was standing on blew up. We know he feels a pull to the Light Side that he's desperately trying to rid himself of; his anger issues make him hard to take seriously as a leader; and he's not even fully trained in the ways of the Dark Side yet. Add in the film's climax, where he murders his father, gets a bowcaster blast right to the chest (and tries to fix it using the Fonzie method of beating the problem into submission, which was bound not to work), and then is not only rejected but outright defeated when he offers to train Rey -- and the kid is very far away from being a Vader-level badass.
At the end of the movie we know he's on his way to receive his "final training" from Snoke, having passed the Supreme Leader's test. But did killing Han allow him to clear his head and embrace his Sith goals, or is he going to be even more unstable and messed up as a result of his patricide?
Either way, make no mistake that Ren and Rey are bound for a rematch at some point down the line -- and odds are he'll probably have the upperhand, regardless of which emotional path he ends up on.
Supreme Leader Snoke
Man, we don't even know who or what this guy is yet, except that he's Andy Serkis. Who knows what his endgame is?
The First OrderLucasfilm
So, things do not appear to be looking great for The First Order after "The Force Awakens." A good chunk of their space Nazi army is probably dead, and their planet-sized Starkiller base is kaput.
But that doesn't mean they're down for the count just yet. Remember that before their Death Star knock off did what Death Stars do and exploded into a million womp-rat sized pieces, the weapon effortlessly took out five major planets in the Hosnian system, wiping out most the New Republic's entire fleet and the entire Galactic Senate -- save the ones who weren't there, like General Leia. The Resistance still exists under her command, of course, but like the Rebel Alliance before it, the organization is hopelessly tiny in comparison.
Despite the setbacks they've faced, it would not be unthinkable for the First Order to gather enough troops that they could re-establish themselves as the fearsome military junta they are, and take control of some prominent, strategic planets in the Galaxy -- Coruscant, for example, if it didn't get blown up with other planets in that part of the Galaxy.
If they don't already have some human civilizations under their control already of course... They have to be getting their child soldiers from somewhere. If they've found a way to secure child soldiers, they must already have some civilizations under their control.
Speaking of which, they'll have to make up for the loss in manpower, which has got to involve cloning new troopers, given the lip service the idea got in "The Force Awakens." They need to build numbers quickly, after all, and obviously can't rely on Hux's method of brainwashing children. And while everyone likes to pretend that "Attack Of The Clones" never happened, bringing clones back to the forefront would make for an interesting cyclical theme without being too call-backy, if they did it right. Plus, given that the next film is being directed by Rian Johnson, it's safe to say that he'd be able to knock some real clone horror out of the park if given the chance. Let's hope that he does!