I’m freaking out.
For as long as I can remember, I have been a Star Wars fan. In fact, I remember the first time I discovered Star Wars. It was in the mid 1980s and I was still a young single-digit age. I used to walk around the sleepy little New England town where we lived in a nice Victorian house near downtown. I collected my comic books and baseball cards and toys. I had all the cool Red Sox player’s cards and (For some odd reason) the Atlanta Braves. And my G.I. Joe, collection was impressive but beat up because they’d be fighting with army men in my sand box.
Anyway, I would walk around town to the baseball card store, the comic book store (That eventually became a Chicago-style deep dish pizza restaurant) and the local movie rental place. They had all the latest VHS. Well one day I wandered in there, to return a movie, and checked out the racks. And there it was. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back sitting there proudly on the rack with its cover art promising high adventure, tons of action and space! It was from that one defining moment that I became a life-long Star Wars fan.
I got very excited towards the end of my sophomore year of High School because I had learned from my new comic book shop owner that George Lucas would be firing up the franchise again for a new movie. It turned out to be The Phantom Menace and that movie was what it was (I’ll save my opinion on that for another time) I was excited when Star Wars: Battlefront was released for my Playstation, when Simon Kinberg brought Star Wars Rebels to the small screen in 2014, when The Force Awakens was announced, and – of course – when the world first learned about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
So why am I freaking out today?
The Last Jedi is coming. Today – at least for me – is the first day where I truly feel this new Skywalker Saga installment is on the way. Aside from that day a few weeks ago when we learned the title for Episode VIII would be “The Last Jedi”, today is the first day when we got some official movie news and I just know the proverbial floodgates are now open. I remember the events and speculation and official press releases and the massive marketing campaign around the previous movies and how much I enjoyed learning about the new movie, its plot and characters and I fully anticipate that happening with the “The Last Jedi” throughout the year.
Because I know you love Star Wars just as much as me, I am going to give you a weekly run down of the latest news and happenings as we know them, surrounding “The Last Jedi”. So let’s begin with what we know so far:
1. May the 4Th will always be known as “Star Wars Day” but today Disney and LucasFilm have announced September 1st 2017 as “Force Friday II”. This will be a global event and both mark and celebrate the launch of all the “The Last Jedi” toys and merchandise. Beginning at 12:01 a.m. of 09/1/2017, all of the toys, statues, books, apparel, LEGOs, Sphero robots and more will be available for purchase. In addition, the packaging for the toys was revealed, which you can see above. While entirely expected, you can see that Rey, Poe and Finn will be back for the film. Something new? Rey’s haircut.
“We’re excited to confirm that Star Wars Force Friday is back for The Last Jedi. Plans for this year’s worldwide event are top secret, but expect something befitting the excitement around the next episode of the Star Wars saga.” said Disney Consumer Products Chairman Jimmy Pitaro.
2. Jimmy Vee will replace Kenny Baker as lead R2-D2 actor. Vee played backup and assistant to Kenny Baker, though uncredited and actually appeared in the droid in “The Force Awakens.” Since Baker passed, Vee has stepped in to the role full time and “The Last Jedi” will be his first full, credited appearance as the lovable “overweight glob of grease”.
3. Star Wars Celebration The annual phenomenon known as “Star Wars Celebration” will be taking place in Orlando, Florida in April. This event is always a huge success and has been anticipated for quite some time as it features a massive amount of appearances, innovations, celebration and revelation. Newly announced, however is that on Friday April 14th, both Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson will appear on-stage for a special “The Last Jedi” panel. It is sure to bring with it a plethora of insight, behind-the-scenes perspective and, hopefully, our first teaser clip for the movie. The pair attended Star Wars Celebration Europe last year, during which fans were treated to a lot of behind the scenes goodness.
4. Rian Johnson recently posted this image to his Tumblr page, which shows a lineup of Stormtroopers. One of them has his helmet up, it must be hot under those helmets! There’s been talk about a new “Executioner Stormtrooper” but these appear to all be regular front-line troops.
5. Daisey Ridley returns as Rey, as do most of the cast from TFA which includes Adam Driver, Carrie Fisher, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Andy Serkis, Mark Hamill, John Boyega and Gwendoline Christie. Benicio Del Toro is reportedly joining the cast as is Laura Dern.
6. After filming for months in Ireland, Croatia and England, the film wrapped filming in July of 2016. The movie was directed by Rian Johnson, with Kathleen Kennedy on as producer and J.J. Abrams as E.P. John Williams returned for the movie’s score. This is John Williams’ eighth time scoring the soundtrack for a Star Wars film.
Now for a couple of rumors (ALERT – the below may contains plot spoilers, read at your own risk):
1. Tom Hardy is reportedly to appear in the film as a Stormtrooper that knows FN-2187 – Finn. In fact, he is already listed on the film’s IMDB page.
2. There is apparently a massive First Order Super Star Destroyer ship that serves as their base of operations since Starkiller Base was destroyed. It is a sleek, solid wedge-shaped ship and is – perhaps – the new big threat the rebels must destroy (like the Death Stars and Starkiller Base). Part of the movie takes place aboard the ship as Finn sneaks aboard. This is presumably where he will encounter Tom Hardy.
3. The movie will pick up right where “The Force Awakens” left off, with Luke Skywalker receiving his long-separated light saber from Rey on the island mountain-top amongst the ruins of the Jedi Temple on Ahch-To.
4. The Last Jedi is a singular term and directly refers to Luke Skywalker, whose exile and motivations are at the center of the movie’s plot. This week the official French and Spanish Twitter accounts announced the title to the movie using the plural versions of words in their respective languages: “Star Wars: Les Derniers Jedi” and “Los Últimos Jedi”, respectively. But does this mean Jedi is plural? It COULD mean Luke and Rey, with Episode IX or X being a “Rise of the Jedi” type story. However, to those who say it may refer to another, I offer you two things: Snoke’s conversation with Kylo Renn and also this part of “The Force Awakens” opening crawl:
“Luke Skywalker has vanished. In his absence, the sinister FIRST ORDER has risen from the ashes of the Empire and will not rest until Skywalker, the last Jedi, has been destroyed.”
Check back with ComicBooked next week as we learn more about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.