STAR WARS: Episode VIII Revealed – The Last Jedi!
If finally happened this week! Star Wars: Episode VIII – previously known by the ridiculously great production title “Space Bear” has now been officially unveiled as being titled Star Wars: The Last Jedi. There’s a teaser poster and everything. I took it well:
Let’s get the necessary speculation out of the way, the speculation that this announcement was designed to create, the kind that keeps us busy as Rian Johnson hones down that Star Wars cut that we’ll all be taking in December 15th…
The wait for VIII begins… pic.twitter.com/2X6AXnz9yx
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 23, 2017
The Last Jedi’s “Star Wars” title font is in red. What could it mean? Up until now, red titles have been reserved for the trilogy cappers of the Star Wars saga. Revenge of the Jedi was most certainly a red logo before George Lucas decided revenge wasn’t a Jedi concept and it was revised to what we now recognize as Return of the Jedi. In certain places Return of the Jedi still has red decoration or a red font, but it also occasionally is presented in normal Star Wars yellow.
In the prequel trilogy, the third film has a red logo: Revenge of the Sith. Again, this title is occasionally presented in Star Wars prequel gold, especially when the whole “Episode III” heading is included or prominent.
The Last Jedi is not going to end the latest trilogy, the sequel trilogy, but the logo is red, which changes what we previously thought a red logo meant when it came to a Star Wars film. If we’re overthinking it, and we are, we notice that the previous two red logos are also set apart in that they deal with the core religious dichotomy of the Skywalker Saga: Jedi vs. Sith. The two belief systems have been fighting for decades in real time and centuries in Star Wars story time.
The only problem this presents if we’re really overthinking it, and – again – we are, is that The Phantom Menace technically also applies to the Sith as the unknown Darth Sidious is that titular Menace. The Phantom Menace isn’t a red title, but that ends up being okay because by the time period of The Force Awakens, it seems pretty clear that the Sith are either in hiding or completely done as far as a belief system goes. We’ve heard a lot about “the dark side” in The Force Awakens and the ancillary material set in the time period after Return of the Jedi gives a lot of lip service to the remnants of the Empire looking for Palpatine’s dark side stuff, but not much of people looking to become the next grand master Sith. It appears the Sith were actually defeated in Return of the Jedi. The Last Jedi’s title redness, then, indicates that a red title most likely means a movie where something significant happens to the Jedi order and if we take the title at face value, that development is that it ends.
Another instantly obvious and long debated point is that the plural of “Jedi” is “Jedi.” Sure, Luke is actually called The Last Jedi in The Force Awakens (at least twice, once in the crawl and once by Snoke), but what if Rey is also one of the plural last Jedi? If the subtitle of the Marvel Comics Kanan Jarrus mini-series was “The Last Padawan,” does that mean that Rey doesn’t actually get to learn in the Padawan system? Didn’t Luke try to train a bunch of new Jedi, were those the real last Padawans? Is Ben Solo the actual last Jedi, having rejected the Jedi order, sending Luke into hiding to find a mysterious third way in the Force?
Let’s linger on that last one for a moment as it’s the idea I’m most into: there’s going to be an entirely refreshed way of dealing with the Force in the sequel trilogy and I’m hoping it goes long beyond the Jedi/Sith binary. There is, of course, a light side and a dark side of the Force just like anything can be used for good and evil, but every time that the Force is defined in the Star Wars universe (even with Midichlorians) the power comes from all living things and is just focused by consciousness into a light and dark reflection.
The introduction of Bendu in Star Wars: Rebels, whose name was taken from George Lucas’ original Journal of the Whills outline for what would become Star Wars, is the new-canon’s strongest push into a third, neutral view of harnessing this power. The idea that we discussed in a previous column, that there may be Force sensitive creatures that have been living with Luke on Ach-To suggests a way for the Tatooine Moisture Farmboy who only learned about Jedi and Sith to discover a non-humanoid view of the universe.
This way, even if “The Last Jedi” is a true title, it’s only referring to a belief system, not a person or persons’ life. Which is to say that I’m very interested in to what – if anything – Luke has to say about being a Jedi. Sure, Yoda said Luke would be the last of the Jedi, but it was always unclear what being a Jedi was and the prequel trilogy did NOT help clear things up (was Luke ever a Padawan? No). I’m fully expecting Luke to have discovered that he wasn’t the Jedi he thought he was, and I’m interested to hear how he describes himself by the time his old lightsaber has returned to him.
That’s pretty much all we can glean from the title (oh and that it makes a phrase with the previous title: “The Force Awakens The Last Jedi”), now all that’s left is the movie, right? With no solid news on when we’re going to see a trailer for The Last Jedi, the most up-to-date dispatch on how Episode VIII is progressing comes from an interview Empire Magazine got with Rian Johnson. Here are the Episode VIII relevant parts:
How are things going on Episode VIII?
RJ: Great! We’re in the thick of editing, really digging into it. It’s taking shape and I’m very excited.
Name three non-Star Wars films you watched in preparation.
RJ: Twelve O’Clock High was a big touchstone, for the feel and look of the aerial combat as well as the dynamic between the pilots. Three Outlaw Samurai for the feel of the sword-fighting, and the general sense of pulpy fun. And To Catch A Thief was a great film to rewatch, for the romantic scale and grandeur.
The other good news is that John Williams has already begun recording the Episode VIII score. Production wrapped six months ago, so I’m glad things are starting to take shape in time for the eleven month march ahead of us.
The other big thing to happen in the Star Wars movie universe this week was a coy Woody Harrelson at Sundance who apparently said that he’d be playing Garris Shrike, A.C. Crispin’s character from his old EU Han Solo Trilogy kick-off The Paradise Snare.
Now, it’s been easily two decades since I’ve read The Paradise Snare, so I’ll probably have to dust that off before Aftermath: Empire’s End hits in February, but before you join me in that foolhardy effort, take a look at this:
I'll let others sort it out, but ask yourself – what question was he answering? #cryptictweets.
— Pablo Hidalgo (@pablohidalgo) January 23, 2017
Basically, Pablo Hidalgo argues that Harrelson was just answering that he was playing Han Solo’s mentor, not that the Star Wars universe is bringing back the character of Garris Shrike, Thrawn-like, from the kingdom of Legends. Harrelson knows his part, he might not know his character name yet.
I’m still amazed at this aspect of it:
"Woody, we have to ask you a Star Wars question…"
LAURA DERN OF THE LAST JEDI IS RIGHT THERE SIDE-EYE FROM LAURA DERN pic.twitter.com/VPCxaxKWKZ
— Da7e Gonzales (@Da7e) January 23, 2017