The next chapter of the continuing Star Wars saga, which began principal photography at Pinewood Studios in London on February 15, will undoubtedly see our heroes separated. With Rey and Luke on Ahch-To and Finn on the Resistance base with General Leia, it's hard to say if their stories will intertwine in Rian Johnson's Episode VIII. But one thing's for sure: don't expect any sort of an answer until the film's release on December 15, 2017.
However, we do know some details. Utilizing everything we learned in The Force Awakens as well as everything we've gleaned about Episode VIII, here's what we know so far about the next Star Wars adventure:
On Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Lucasfilm announced that the eighth film in the "Skywalker saga" would be known as Star Wars: The Last Jedi. But who is the last Jedi?
It would be easy to assume that, similar to The Force Awakens, the title would refer to Rey. After all, we know she's Force sensitive. That being said, we also know that The Last Jedi will focus on what Luke has been up to since his disappearance, so there's also a possibility that the film's title refers to Skywalker himself. Then again, Jedi is plural, so it's entirely feasible that The Last Jedi concerns both Rey and Luke, adding fuel to the fire that Rey is connected to the Skywalker family.
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Now that director J.J. Abrams has laid the groundwork for what will be the future of the series, it will be writer-director Rian Johnson's turn at the helm in Episode VIII. Abrams is serving as an executive producer and creative consultant on the project, while the reins will be handed over to Johnson, whose previous credits include Brick, Looper, and the best damn episode of Breaking Bad ever, "Ozymandias."
Disney and Lucasfilm have announced the return of Mark Hamill (Luke), Carrie Fisher (Leia), Adam Driver (Kylo Ren), Daisy Ridley (Rey), John Boyega (Finn), Oscar Isaac (Poe), Lupita Nyong'o (Maz Kanata), Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Gwendoline Christie (Captain Phasma), and Andy Serkis (Supreme Leader Snoke).
Though no firm details about the story have been revealed -- after all, we never actually got a full plot description for The Force Awakens -- we know that, unlike the previous films, Episode 8 will seemingly pick up immediately after Rey handed Luke his lightsaber on that island on Ahch-To. (However, we don't know what this means for Episode VIII's title crawl.)
The last scene in The Force Awakens is fraught with emotions, as Luke sees the first new Jedi in a generation approaching him with his own lightsaber, and Rey makes a decision to truly embrace her destiny. So, will Luke take back his lightsaber and teach Rey how to be a Jedi? We'll find out in... two years.
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New cast members joining the fray include Academy Award winner Benicio Del Toro, Enlightened star Laura Dern (!), and newcomer Kelly Marie Tran.
Del Toro has long been rumored to play someone who leans heavily toward the dark side, an observation the actor himself somewhat confirmed. Meanwhile, there has been zero indication of who Dern might play, but we wouldn't be surprised if Dern takes on a more motherly role in the sequel. Again, while no plot points have been confirmed by the Powers That Be, it's been suggested that Episode VIII will delve into the lingering question of Rey's parentage.
This is probably the most pressing question that will need to be answered in the next chapter of the saga. Who are Rey’s parents, and why did they leave her on Jakku? Given the vision she has in Maz Kanata's basement, we've been lead to believe that her destiny is directly connected with Kylo Ren's slaughter of Luke's Jedi apprentices. So, like Luke before her, could she have been dropped on a desert planet to save her life and protect her from the dark side? More so, is her father Obi-Wan -- which was rumored before filming started -- or Luke? Or someone else we know?
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Will Rey become a Jedi? When Rey found Luke Skywalker at the end of Star Wars: Episode VII, he seemed less than willing to take on a new Padawan. We can't blame the guy. All of his students were killed by a young man he trained to use The Force. That probably doesn't sit well on his conscious. But we have to believe that Luke will see Rey's potential to defeat The First Order. Or maybe R2 will knock some sense into him. Either way, expect Luke and Rey to share plenty of screentime.
Meanwhile, it's hard to say what Star Wars: Episode VIII will have in store for Finn, beyond a deep seeded desire for some revenge against Kylo Ren, who thoroughly whipped his butt and left him for dead in the snow. It's a good thing he's hanging with General Leia Organa now. Whatever happens, let's hope Finn and Poe get more bro-time.
Like Rey, however, there's definitely potential to explore Finn's backstory. Why did he betray The First Order and leave his life as a Stormtrooper? How did a Stormtrooper working in sanitation become Force sensitive? As we learned in TFA, FN-2187 never had any discipline or attitude problems prior to his freakout on Jakku, so what sparked his revelation? Perhaps there's something bigger to delve into, especially considering how little we know about him.
Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters December 15, 2017.