Where do we go from here?
Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released a few months ago, but it already feels like years. The major events that took place in the film sent waves of controversy across the Star Wars Fan-Universe. Our own website is divided on the film. But that’s okay. It shows just how devoted and loving Star Wars fans are. Almost to a fault. But most everyone can agree some elements of the film are objectively great.
The Kylo Ren and Rey relationship was very intriguing, and is arguably the second best romantic relationship in a Star Wars film behind Han and Leia. Their duel with the Praetorian Guards was incredible, one of the best fight scenes in the entire franchise. Luke’s last stand against Kylo and the AT-AT’s was the Jedi Master Luke Skywalker fans always expected to see in a Star Wars sequel… even if he arrived late to the party. Holdo should have been more forthcoming with her plans, but there was no better way to go out than light-speeding your way through a First Order Fleet.
These moments are just as iconic as any to come out of a Star Wars film. Which is why Rian Johnson is getting his very own trilogy. It will likely be something brand new, with all new characters and locations. Recently, producer Ram Bergman confirmed to Deadline that the team has begun work on the project. Details will be secret for a long, long time.
But there are a TON of clues as to where Johnson could go with his new trilogy! They’ve been right in front of our eyes for months. Because it turns out, Rian Johnson has already made a Star Wars film. Let’s break down the Star Wars Johnson has already made to discern what he will make.
World War Metaphors
Make no mistake, the filmmakers behind Star Wars: The Last Jedi know there’s no gravity in space. They’ve known since the very first Star Wars film that there’s no sound in space either. Nevertheless, the bombs at the beginning of the film fall from the bomber toward the Dreadnought below. If you read any of the explanations, they’ll tell you it was due to the magnetism of the bombs. But the real reason is completely different and entirely film-related.
It’s a World War Fighter Plane reference.
The iconic fighter-pilot sequences in the Millennium Falcon are essentially lifted from films depicting World War air battles and dogfights. That’s why the entire opening of Star Wars: The Last Jedi focused on the massive space battle. Rian Johnson likes taking his genre films back to their roots and influences. He probably won’t show the same kind of battle sequence again. But he is clearly fond of excellent piloting and large spaceships. Expect any of his Star Wars films to continue depicting massive vehicles and ships in large-scale battles.
Military Ranks and Order
Military rank and order was extremely important in Johnson’s latest film. One of the first major incidents is Poe’s demotion for insubordination. Not only that, his entire arc is about learning to be a better leader for the Resistance. But he had to do so by realizing when to follow orders and when to lead. Harsh lessons to learn from the likes of Holdo and Leia. But they were important to fulfilling the legacy of one and the memory of another. While some of the issues of the film may stem from Holdo’s decisions as a leader, it was important to establish that the Resistance is a military and not just a ragtag collection of heroes.
The First Order were also more than just a random force of evil and Nazi-metaphors. This film displayed more members of the militaries of both the Resistance and the First Order/Empire than any other film. Audiences understood who was in charge and what the chain of command was in every battle. But politics has been largely absent from the new Star Wars films. You can thank the Prequels for that. All political or societal moves and changes have been military actions. That probably won’t change for a while, so expect there to be some big and orderly military forces in whatever Rian Johnson has planned for the future.
Not only do most of our heroes fail in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, they’re constantly the underdogs. In every Star Wars film, except for the Prequels, our main protagonists are the David(s) fighting Goliath. That is even more prevalent in The Last Jedi. Everyone is fighting an uphill battle against larger forces. That’s because Rian Johnson knows audiences want someone to root for. And for the sake of drama, it helps if your hero isn’t winning for most of the movie. It builds tension and makes their journey more meaningful. If things were easy they wouldn’t grow and audiences wouldn’t empathize with the characters.
They weren’t the best trained warriors; they didn’t have the best equipment. But they believed in their cause and fought for the greater good as a real military. Like all of the rebels from every previous Star Wars film. Except for the…well, you get the idea.
Elements from the Extended Universe
Make no mistake, Luke Skywalker’s force projection came straight from the Extended Universe. Yes, there are legitimate explanations. Yes, the power is included in a Lucasfilm Force-related handbook. But this was Luke Skywalker force projecting himself. That is the biggest display of Force ever seen in a Star Wars film, and it was used in the Extended Universe multiple times by none other than Luke himself. In fact, he was pretty much the only Jedi capable of the incredible talent. It wasn’t so powerful that it caused his death, but then again he never projected himself across the galaxy. This was a clever way for Rian to reference a power millions of fans adore that was removed from canon with the rest of the Extended Universe.
Johnson probably won’t ever reference the EU directly. Like the use of force projection, he will likely borrow some older elements from the EU to serve as a nod to fans. New aliens who are immune to the force like the Yuuzhan Vong or force-strong, hive-mind insects like the Killiks. Who knows? He could even be thinking up female, force-trained assassins like one Mara Jade.
Passing the Torch to the Next Generation
A major theme of Star Wars: The Last Jedi was passing the torch to the next generation. The slave children of Canto Bight are already telling the tale of Luke Skywalker’s bravery at the end of the film. Not only that, they were already helping the Rebellion just because of Rose’s ring. The symbol of the rebellion is something that can light a fire under the galaxy. Starting a rebellion and movement to end tyranny for all time…until the next trilogy.
The good guys will probably never really totally win the fight in any Star Wars film. Otherwise the fight is over. Or, as Infinity War is about to show us, if our main characters are too powerful it might be better to tell the story from the perspective of the enemy. Because make no mistake, Thanos is the main character of the next Avengers film.
But who will be the next generation of Jedi? That was the question posed by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. When this slave boy summoned the broom stick to his hands, fans gasped in awe. The force has truly been awakened. The movie wanted to pass on the story to the next generation, personified in the death of Luke Skywalker. Johnson will probably bring that young and new mentality into whatever his next Star Wars story becomes.
On a distant star
The world of Star Wars can seem limitless. It spans many worlds and cultures with many races, creeds and religions. Yet every film has contained the Empire/First Order, the Rebellion/Resistance, and maybe a Jedi or Sith here and there. Stormtroopers are always the main cannon fodder baddies and the ships always look the same. The bad guys always seem like bad guys and the good guys always seem like good guys. Believe it or not, those are all elements that severely limit the scope of the Star Wars Universe. It will be difficult for even the best filmmakers to introduce anything new into that story. But that seems like exactly what Rian Johnson is going to do.
As far as we know, his new trilogy will have nothing to do with any of the previous characters in the Universe. He could be telling the story of the very first Jedi and Sith, he could be telling the stories of the last. It seems he has a golden ticket to tell whatever story tickles his fancy. That’s a good thing. Many fans were upset that The Last Jedi wanted to subvert expectations. Whether or not that was a good choice for Episode VIII is up for debate, but it is the perfect mentality to bring to a new trilogy.
Fans want something new.
The force is probably the most unique thing about the Star Wars Universe. It’s not that the power of telepathy is something new, it’s that the power symbolized responsibility and life. Because the force is the simplification of the ideas of good and evil. The story instilled the morals that your actions determine your destiny, for better or worse. That probably won’t change in Rian Johnson new trilogy.
But who knows? In Star Wars, the two-sun sky is the limit.