What to Expect From ‘Star Wars: Episode 8’
Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters and breaking every box-office record imaginable, it’s time to start looking ahead. Lucasfilm president Kathy Kennedy announced over the weekend that Star Wars: Episode 8 would begin filming in January with the entire cast (well, almost the entire cast…) set to return. But, what do we know about Star Wars: Episode 8 so far, and what questions from The Force Awakens can we expect to be answered in the next film? Let’s take a look at some things we can expect from Rian Johnson’s Star Wars follow-up.
Obvious spoilers ahead!
Who Are Rey’s Parents?
As a young child, Rey was unceremoniously dumped on Jakku, left in the hands of Unkar Plutt, the ruthless junklord of the desert planet. He had no interests in raising a girl and Rey was left to fend for herself, scavenging for parts and living a meager existence inside a downed AT-AT. Inside she was counting down the days, one-by-one, until whoever left her finally came back for her. As Maz Kanata told her in The Force Awakens, “Dear child…you already know the truth. Whomever you are waiting for on Jakku, they’re never coming back.” If they’re not coming back, maybe it’s up to Rey to find them. And, maybe she already has?
The end of The Force Awakens has Rey, Chewbacca and R2-D2 headed off to find Luke after piecing together the map that revealed his whereabouts. Common thinking is that Rey is somehow related to Luke, his daughter with a wife we haven’t met yet. But, here’s another theory: What is Luke was only her surrogate father? And what if she was actually a Kenobi? What if Obi-Wan secretly had a family and, after Kylo Ren went crazy, Luke had Rey shipped off to Jakku to keep her safe? Remember, during Rey’s “Force vision” you hear Obi-Wan (voiced by Ewan McGregor) say, “Rey…these are your first steps.”
Whoever she is, she’s someone Kylo Ren recognizes. In a line that was deleted from the film, but appears in the novelization, when Rey uses the Force to snatch Luke’s lightsaber from the snow, Kylo says, “It is you…”
This is one of the biggest questions circling the Star Wars franchise and certainly something to be answered in Star Wars: Episode 8.
Who is Finn?
Finn doesn’t even have a name, or at least a name we’re aware of yet. He was assigned the number FN-2187 by the First Order and only later does Poe Dameron say he’s going to call him “Finn” instead of his old designation. But, Finn was smart and strong enough to resist the First Order, so you’d expect he’s not just any regular person. Finn mentions frequently that he has no idea who he is or where he came from, enough where it seems obvious this is foreshadowing some larger reveal.
We don’t expect Finn to be the son of Lando Calrissian as some have suggested (that’s way too easy and based on nothing more than their race), and to date, he has shown none of the Force sensitivity that Rey has. It’s possible he comes from a family we’ve yet to meet. At one point Rian Johnson was looking to cast Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Star Wars: Episode 8 (though recent reports suggest that deal may have fell through), which may indicate he’s looking to cast one of Finn’s relatives. The issue of Finn’s parentage is probably not as important as Rey’s, but still a question that Episode 8 will have to answer.
What Happened to Kylo Ren After His Lightsaber Battle With Rey?
The last we see of Kylo Ren, he’s left badly injured in the snow on Starkiller Base as a giant chasm splits the ground between him, and Rey & Finn. Inside the Base, Supreme Leader Snoke (more on him in a minute) tells Hux to bring Kylo Ren to him so he can complete his training. You would think having him kill his own father bring him to just about the end of his training on the Dark Side, but there appears to be more. Will Snoke physically augment Kylo Ren to heal some of his injuries, including that pretty gnarly facial scar he’s going to have? Early concept art for Kylo Ren involved certain robotic appendages, including a hand and neck; perhaps they’re going back to that look?
What Has Luke Been Up to This Entire Time?
When we finally meet Luke, possibly on a planet called Rakata Prime, he’s just kinda chilling outside a stone hut, looking out at the horizon. Considering he’s been missing for approximately 15 years, what’s he been doing the whole time? He can’t possible just stare out into space every day. As Master Yoda once said, “Adventure. Excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.” But, has Luke continued his work as a Jedi, or has he sworn off the practice after Kylo Ren’s massacre? How aware is he, using Force sensitivity, of the events that have been going on? Did he feel it when Kylo Ren killed Han Solo? Does he recognize Rey at all?
Just as important is what Rey and Luke plan to do now. We know that Daisy Ridley and Mark Hamill have already filmed scenes for Star Wars: Episode 8 on Skellig Michael, the real life location where Luke has been hiding out this entire time. The reason they shot these scenes last year, according to rumor, is that the lush greenery you saw in The Force Awakens, would naturally be turning a dark grey for the winter, a crucial look for the scene Star Wars: Episode 8 needed. Do they spend time here training, or does Luke travel back to Resistance headquarters to reunite with his sister? Does Rey get itchy and abandon Luke at his new home just like Luke left Yoda?
Does Han Solo Get Some Sort of Funeral?
Han Solo was stabbed through the chest by his son, fell into a deep abyss and was then blown to pieces when Starkiller Base was destroyed. So the chances of having an open-casket funeral seem slim. But, it would make sense for Star Wars: Episode 8 to begin with some sort of tribute to Solo. Minus the quick screams, his death was only acknowledged by a quick hug between General Leia and Rey. Doesn’t Han deserve a little better? Obviously you want to end The Force Awakens on an up note and not on a funeral, but it would only be fair to give the character the goodbye he deserves in the next installment.
Which leads us to our next question…
Will Harrison Ford Return in Some Capacity?
Conventional wisdom would say, “Uh NO dummy, he dead.” Point taken. But, Kennedy did make a point of saying at the London premiere of The Force Awakens, “All the cast members you see here tonight will be in [Star Wars: Episode 8].” Cast members in attendance at London included Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Max von Sydow, Adam Driver and…Harrison Ford. She may have been trying to protect the spoiler of Han Solo’s death, but why mention anything at all if you’re trying to protect spoilers? She could have just as easily said nothing.
It would not be the first time a dead character came back in a Star Wars movie. Boba Fett fell into a Sarlacc Pit and they’re ready to give him his own movie! We’re certainly not insinuating that Han Solo is still alive, but perhaps Rian Johnson will include a brief flashback, or message that Solo recorded before his death. Han wasn’t Force sensitive so he can’t pull the Obi-Wan/Yoda Force ghost routine, but there is the possibility that Ford could making a cameo appearance of some sort.
Who is Benicio Del Toro Playing?
A bad guy? Or, maybe not a bad guy? Del Toro has flip-flopped on whether his Star Wars: Episode 8 character is a bad guy or not originally saying, “I’m like the villain,” before later saying, “I don’t know if he’s a villain.” OK, so here’s what we know about Del Toro’s character in a nutshell: he may or may not be a villain. CASE CLOSED. We’ll assume he’s a villainous character (Adam Driver also didn’t think Kylo Ren was a bad guy, so…), and may even be part of Snoke’s plan to complete Kylo Ren’s training. Snoke looks kinda busted up and clearly can’t do the hands-on work himself, so maybe he brings in someone to help him. Or maybe…
Who Were the Knights of Ren?
We were told early on that Kylo Ren wasn’t Kylo Ren’s real name (that’s Ben Solo to you), but was a title bestowed upon him by the Knights of Ren, a mysterious organization that is up to no good. Unfortunately we don’t really see much of the Knights in The Force Awakens. There is only a brief shot of Kylo and the Knights of Ren (great indie band name, BTW) during Rey’s Force visions, as they stand over the slaughtered masses of his fellow Jedi apprentices.
Looking to distance himself from the prequel trilogy, J.J. Abrams opted against using terms like The Empire, the Rebel Alliance and The Sith, but each have their analogs in this movie. The Empire = The First Order, The Rebel Alliance = The Resistance and The Sith = …The Knights of Ren?
If The Knights of Ren, who take orders from Supreme Leader Snoke, are the new version of The Sith, perhaps Benicio Del Toro’s character is a senior leader within the Knights and reunites with his old partner to cause trouble for The Resistance?
Will Captain Phasma Get Her Revenge?
Let’s be honest: Captain Phasma is too cool of a character to have barely any scenes. What’s more, she gets completely jobbed by Finn at the end of this movie. It’s a little hard to believe a character as physically and mentally strong as Phasma is so easily coerced by one of her former stormtroopers. We have to think she’s got revenge on the brain and will set out to find Finn and kill him at any cost. At least, let’s hope so! We need one really good Captain Phasma action scene. Though, if Captain Phasma truly is this generation’s Boba Fett, we should just hope she doesn’t fall into some pit never to be heard from again.
Who the Hell is Supreme Leader Snoke?
We’ve talked about him throughout this article, and now it’s time to address it head on. Who is this guy? According to the official Star Wars Databank, “The mysterious Snoke has no permanent base of operations, preferring to contact his underlings from a mobile command post. Snoke is powerful with the dark side of the Force, and seduced Kylo Ren into abandoning the Jedi path to become his apprentice.” J.J. Abrams would describe him as being, “a hugely important part of the story and will continue to be,” which means big things are coming from Snoke in Star Wars: Episode 8.
A few questions, but let’s start with, What happened to his face? Snoke is badly scarred, with Andy Serkis saying, “He has suffered a lot of damage.” Yeah, no kidding. But at the hands of who? If he is the Supreme Leader of the First Order, who was powerful enough to do such damage, and where is that person now? Serkis also said that Snoke didn’t get his wounds from any battles found during the Original Trilogy, claiming this is an entirely new character, but one that is “aware of the past to a great degree.”
A popular fan theory is that Snoke is actually Darth Plagueis, Palpatine’s Sith master. We never seen Plagueis on film, but are told that he was one of the most powerful Sith Lords that ever lived. But, once he imparted all his wisdom to his apprentice, Palpatine/Sidious took on Darth Maul as his apprentice and then, according to the Rule of Two that states only two Sith can exist at any time, Palpatine assassinated him in his sleep. Perhaps Snoke’s scares are from surviving that assassination attempt and is the reason he rules from a “mobile command post.” If Snoke is not literally Plagueis (it seems unlikely that this new Abrams-verse would include such an obvious reference to a Prequel Trilogy film, when they’ve otherwise gone out of their way to avoid them), he could be a version of that character; an ancient Sith Lord who survived over the years.