Without question, the biggest movie of 2017 will be Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Forget Wonder Woman, Fast and Furious 8, and Spider-Man: Homecoming; this will wipe the floor with everything when it comes to sheer buzz, spectacle, and ticket sales.
And while The Force Awakens raked in over $2 billion at the box office, garnering rave reviews along the way, the signs are there that TLJ will, to cliché it up, be bigger and better.
But how will the follow-up to the biggest Star Wars event in over a decade manage to compete with, let alone surpass, JJ Abrams’ sci-fi extravaganza?
Well, I’m glad you asked…
This isn’t to say JJ Abrams is by any means a bad director or scriptwriter – far from it. With JJ, you know what you’re getting and is by-and-large a safe bet. The Force Awakens felt fresh, funny, and packed a lot into its runtime. Yet one of its biggest criticisms was how familiarly it trod the same path as A New Hope.
Not that this was an issue for me (and no doubt millions of other Star Wars fans across the globe). Johnson’s addition adds an exciting spark to the mix, much like Gareth Edwards’ helming of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story which was unusually dark for a Disney flick, let alone a Star Wars entry.
The director, having previously gifted us, Brick and Looper, feels more of a risk-taker when it comes to storytelling. The hope here is that the expressive filmmaker will give us what we want while offering some of his trademark narrative style to spice up the galaxy far, far away.
Porgs et al
In the past, we’ve seen plenty of wacky alien types and funny-looking robots (or droids) make names for themselves. From Ewoks popping up to help save the day in Return of the Jedi to Jar Jar Binks (*shudders*) flapping about in The Phantom Menace, to BB-8 charmingly darting about in TFA, there’s something memorable about them all. Love ‘em or loathe ‘em, they’re all a massive, iconic part of the Star Wars universe, and TLJ should make its mark with Porgs.
Simply put: they look awesome and, like BB-8’s intro, we should have another hugely likeable source of comic relief on our hands.
This doesn’t generally sound a big deal when looking forward to a movie, but the fact that Luke Skywalker (played by the wonderfully charming Mark Hamill) hasn’t uttered a single syllable since 1982’s RotJ is a pretty big deal.
What will those first words be? How vocal will he be as a character? And, more specifically, what will his role entail throughout the film and beyond it? Truthfully, I have no flippin’ idea and, unless you’ve got inside info, neither do you.
Just when we thought Han Solo murdered at the hands (or sabre) of his own son in TFA (yes, that’s a spoiler for anyone who’s been hibernating for the past two years) wasn’t traumatic enough, the real-life loss of Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) was devastating at the end of last year.
Apparently, she has a much bigger part in TLJ than TFA, but what isn’t clear is how integral her role will be and what exactly happens to her character by the end of Episode 8 (*cries uncontrollably*).
That inevitable reveal
So, the Star Wars franchise is known for its massive twists and reveals. Ever since we heard Darth Vader declare himself as Luke’s old man – a moment that sits highly in film’s greatest ever moments – we’ve been hit with various jaw-droppers over the course of each respective trilogy. While Queen Amidala and Padme’s switch-up was arguably the most underwhelming (thanks, George) in certainly the worst episode instalment, the bar is set high for TLJ.
Here, everyone’s speculating what the big twist (or twists) will be. Of course, no one actually knows how the story will unfold but there are a few theories going round regarding Luke and Rey (Daisy Ridley). Has this now elder Skywalker gone to the Darkside? Is Rey a Skywalker or a Solo or neither? The signs are there (if one looks hard enough) but with Disney being so damn good at keeping secrets, it’ll only come out once we’re in our seats watching the opening crawl (or unless some dick spoils it on Twitter).
Han Solo’s revenge
Ok, Harrison Ford’s character won’t come back from the grave, but the fallout of Solo’s death will be huge and could lead to some very dark places for our heroes. With Rey, Finn (John Boyega), and Chewbacca having witnessed Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) slaying his own pops, their desire for bloody revenge will be immeasurable.
But how will the galaxy function without the scruffy-looking nerf herder this time around? With Leia likely conflicted between the death of her love and the murderous intent of her wayward son, it might be left to Rey to finish the job – or at least give him some more scars and injuries than she inflicted in TFA. It’s going to be vengeful and tense, that’s for sure.