The next chapter in the Star Wars saga films has an ominous new title.
What was once Episode VIII is now The Last Jedi.
When cameras started rolling last year on the eighth film in the Skywalker family story, writer-director Rian Johnson used the tongue-in-cheek working title “Space Bear,” and numerous rumors (most of them false) about the possible real title have circulated ever since.
The title was announced Monday without any further explanation from Lucasfilm. There’s not much to analyze except that the second film in the trilogies (remember, casual fans, Rogue One is a stand-alone) usually tilts the balance of power toward the villains.
The Empire Strikes Back left the Rebellion and our heroes in tatters, and Attack of the Clones similarly brutalized the Jedi and the crumbling Republic. The Last Jedi is bracketed by the traditional Star Wars emblem, which is outlined in what can only be described as “Sith red.”
The new title also answers one question while raising others: Just who is The Last Jedi?
Once upon a time, it was Luke Skywalker. But now the obvious answer would seem to be Daisy Ridley’s cast-off Rey, who in The Force Awakens discovered powers she never dreamed possible, using the Force to Anakin and Luke Skywalker’s old lightsaber from the snow and defeating Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) in single combat.
Johnson has confirmed there will be no lapse in time between The Last Jedi and The Force Awakens, with the story picking up close to where the previous film left off: Rey standing before the self-banished Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), ready to start her Jedi training after helping to deal an explosive blow to The First Order.
Does The Last Jedi suggest doom for our old buddy Luke? Perhaps, but not necessarily. Remember, Yoda was also still a Jedi back when Luke was beginning his training as a new (and last) hope against Vader and the Empire, although his days of front-line battle were well behind him.
John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Driver, Gwendoline Christie, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Andy Serkis, and the late Carrie Fisher return for Episode VIII, alongside franchise newcomers like Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran. The movie is produced by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, longtime Johnson collaborator Ram Bergman (Brick, Looper) and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.
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The Last Jedi will hit theaters on Dec. 15, 2017.