In Depth

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi reviews - the force is (mostly) strong with this one

Spoiler-free review round-up: majority of critics lavish praise on new instalment but some question its length and ambition

Star Wars 8: The Last Jedi - will the first trailer arrive at Super Bowl?

2 February

After months of speculation, the title for the eighth instalment of long-running space opera Star Wars was unveiled last week, sending fans into paroxysms of excitement and frenzied discussion.

A post on the official website announced Star Wars 8 will be titled The Last Jedi.

With that out of the way, fans are now debating when we can expect the arrival of the first official trailer.

The front-running theory is that it will arrive on Sunday, a theory that has gained traction for two reasons: the time between the announcement of Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens and the arrival of its first trailer was two weeks and Disney may wish to unveil the film during the Super Bowl on 5 February.

The annual American football fest is traditionally the moment for the biggest advertising launches in the US.

Not everyone agrees, though. Reddit user Yowgurt says it doesn't align with Disney's marketing strategy to mount a Super Bowl launch, suggesting instead the trailer is more likely to be unveiled at the Star Wars Celebration fan event in Orlando, Florida, on 13 April.

He writes: "Disney hasn't done any Star Wars stuff for Super Bowls in the past, why would they now? Isn't Celebration more likely to be the first teaser?"

Fellow Redditor Smallz86 says the Super Bowl is not being broadcast on Disney's network of choice:

"Super Bowl is on Fox, previous trailers launched on ABC," he argues.

So what will we see in the first trailer?

Fans on Reddit are offering their theories about what we can expect when the trailer drops.

Some, such as Ryan Brasher, are pretty vague about what will be in the short - "Arguing, espionage, shuttles in space etc," he says. 

Reddit user Corrog, however, is among those with very specific ideas about how the trailer will unfold.

Corrog says: "Opening shot is Luke and Rey. Lasts 2 seconds, fades into second shot. Second shot is Kylo Ren with scarred helmet on. Lasts 2 seconds, fades into third shot. Third shot is Finn looking up, as if something just caught his attention. Lasts 2 seconds, fades into black screen. From black screen (itself lasting 1 second), Millennium Falcon soars in a space battle, Rey and Luke next to each other and both ignite their blades. Both shots last 1 second. Title slide is next, and credit slide. Both last 2 seconds. Final shot is Snoke getting up off his throne, and beginning to walk towards the screen, lasting 3 seconds."

As well as when to expect a trailer and what it will offer, the other question fans have been debating is the significance of the title – specifically, who is The Last Jedi?

In an exhaustive article discussing the question, Quartz runs down the leading contenders, who include Luke Skywalker, General Leia Organa, new hero Rey, villain Kylo Ren and former storm trooper Finn.

It even considers the possibility that the last Jedi may turn out to be Star Wars's most hated character, Jar Jar Binks, saying: "Amazingly enough, there's an argument out there for the idea."

Another suggestion is that the word "Jedi", in this case, may be plural rather than singular and refer to a group of force-trained warrior monks.

It was this discussion that comedian and Frozen star Josh Gad took up with The Force Awakens star Daisy Ridley, in a tongue-in-cheek video posted to Instagram.

Highlighting the absurdity of the frenzy of speculation, he invites the actor, who plays Rey, to his trailer under false pretences and then grills her about the forthcoming film.

Speaking in London at the Star Wars Celebration Europe, the 42-year-old film-maker said he had also drawn inspiration from classic films such as The Bridge on the River Kwai.

In addition, he had told his production crew to watch Henry King's Twelve O'Clock High from 1949 ahead of filming.

So what may be gleaned from his choices? "Bridge on the River Kwai saw a part of a group of British and American POWs working to build the titular structure for their Japanese captors - and plotting to destroy it," the Daily Mail says, while Twelve O'Clock High "centred around a pragmatic fighter pilot (Gregory Peck) who assumes command of a ragtag crew and attempts to whip them into fighting shape".

The connection with the most recent Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, is therefore fairly obvious, the paper adds.

The link Johnson is creating between Star Wars and the work of Steven Spielberg is perhaps less surprising. The ET director collaborated with Star Wars creator George Lucas on not just Raiders of the Lost Ark, which Lucas executive-produced, but also Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Star Wars 8 won't be released until December 2017, but the next Star Wars film, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will arrive in cinemas on 14 December this year.

Star Wars 8: Will Luke Skywalker die in The Force Awakens sequel?

15 July

Mark Hamill has given an indication that the next Star Wars film, the as yet untitled eighth instalment in the long-running sci-fi saga, may be his last.

After "Episode 8, I'm out of work", the Luke Skywalker actor revealed at an event for Big Issue, which he sponsors.

"Many fans took this seemingly simple and straightforward answer as a hint upon Luke Skywalker's destiny in the Star Wars franchise," said Game N Guide. The comment aroused suspicions that Luke "would die in Star Wars: Episode 8."

Following the death of Han Solo in The Force Awakens, another "legendary character's death may be something diehard fans will take heavily", the site added.

As speculation about the future of the original Star Wars hero began to mount, Hamill took to Twitter to clarify that his comments didn't mean Skywalker will necessarily die in the next film.

"I meant 'out of work' because #Ep8 is wrapping soon, OK? #DontOverThinkEVERYTHING #ParsingHamill #WaitForVIII."

Star Wars Episode 8 will be released in December 2017

Star Wars 8: Luke Skywalker to have 'explosive' new powers

14 July

Luke Skywalker will get "explosive" new powers in the next Star Wars film, including the ability to destroy buildings and throw people into the air, according to leaks allegedly from the set.

A Reddit post submitted two months ago claims that in one scene, an angry Luke "blows up" a building.

"A few weeks ago they blew up – specifically, blew apart – a hut," the user wrote. "According to my source, [villain] Kylo and [new hero] Rey have a conversation that Luke does not like. Luke tries to stop them. Luke gets angry... and the whole hut they are in disintegrates (or 'blows up'). My source did not specify as to the exact cause of the disintegration, but based on the info I believe Luke accidentally (or perhaps even purposely) does so using the Force."

Another leak from the set in Dubrovnik claimed to show Luke using the Force to throw a character into the air.

The film has now finished shooting in Ireland and the production crew and cast took out a full-page advertisement in a local newspaper to thank the public for their warm reception.

"Mark Hamill could not stop raving about his time filming Star Wars Episode 8 in Ireland," said the Belfast Telegraph.

Star Wars 8: Luke Skywalker and Rey to battle Kylo and the Knights of Ren

19 May

The last Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, did not end on a cliffhanger so much as a cliff. The movie closed with the young heroine Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, coming face to face for the first time with the series' original star Mark Hamill's Luke Skywalker, on a dramatic hilltop on the planet of Ahch-To.

The ending offered a conclusion of sorts, but questions remained: why had Luke hidden himself in a remote corner of the galaxy? Will he return to help the Resistance defeat the evil First Order? And critically, what is his relationship with Rey?

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

Some of these questions may end up being answered in the next instalment of the long-running space saga, but not before there is an almighty battle between the light and dark sides of the Force, according to the latest reports.

Star Wars 8 opens with Luke and Rey fighting Kylo Ren and his evil black-clad clansmen – the Knights of Ren, says MakingStarWars.Net.

Sources close to the production have apparently reported the following details from the forthcoming picture.

  • Luke Skywalker and Rey begin the film on Ahch-To just before nightfall as the sun sets in the background and it starts to rain
  • Kylo Ren and the Knights of Ren arrive along the coast
  • Kylo Ren, who is not wearing his mask, advances towards the heroes
  • Rey and Kylo Ren end up fighting a duel on a cliff-face
  • Kylo wants his revenge after Rey disgraced him at the end of the last film
  • Luke dispatches the Knights of Ren one by one with the Force and the green lightsaber he had at the end of Return of the Jedi
  • In the fight, Rey disappears. As Luke approaches his former student, Kylo flees

Security around the next episode of the Star Wars saga has been tight, so as yet, the details above remain unconfirmed. All will be revealed when Star Wars 8 is released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Finn and Rey's romance 'won't go the way you think,' says Boyega

16 May

The budding romance between the two new young leads of the Star Wars franchise "is not going to go the way you think" in Star Wars 8, says one of the film's young British stars, John Boyega.

The relationship between Boyega's reformed Stormtrooper, Finn, and the saga's new heroine, Rey, played by Daisy Ridley, was one of the most appealing things about The Force Awakens. But in an interview with Variety magazine, Boyega stressed that the pair were "just friends".

Asked how the bond between the two will develop in Star Wars 8, Boyega replied: "I mean, we didn't establish a romance in seven; we never played it that way. Daisy and I, we're friends."

Variety pressed the 24-year-old actor, asking whether that meant there would be no romantic connection between the two in the next film. Boyega replied: "Yes, Finn and Rey – they're just friends. Finn is a storm trooper, so he doesn't really know what's going on. So the romance thing is something that's going to be interesting in the next instalment. It's not going to go the way you think it's going to go."

Boyega then dodges the interviewer's questions about his character's future direction because "Disney has spies everywhere. If I answer this, I get killed, and I'm not in episode nine."

Star Wars 8 will reach cinemas in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Rey is the 'Emperor's granddaughter'

13 May

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

Since the release of Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens, there has been considerable speculation about the parentage of the saga's new heroine, Rey.

But according to a new theory, Star Wars 8 will see her revealed as the Emperor's granddaughter.

A post from a "hacker" that appeared on Reddit yesterday claims to detail some key scenes from the next instalment of the long-running space epic.

It alleges that Rey and villain Kylo Ren are locked in a lightsaber duel when Supreme Leader Snoke intervenes.

"He speaks to Rey [and] tells her her destiny lies with him. She tells him she will never join the dark side. He tells her it is in her blood. He reveals that she is the granddaughter of the former Emperor and that Luke killed her parents and intended to kill her too before she was hidden from him."

The post also claims the film will be called Heir of Darkness.

Whether true or not, Star Wars 8 will see its characters being "tested intensely", it was revealed yesterday.

In an interview with ET, actor Oscar Isaac, who plays Starfighter pilot Poe Dameron, said he "gets to be more a part of the story, and all of the characters in the film, they get tested, intensely… It's a lot of conflict in it, which is great."

The blockbuster will also feature scenes of great intimacy performed by some of Hollywood's leading actors.

"The new additions to the cast, like Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro, they're incredible actors and Rian [Johnson, Episode VIII's director], his sensibility is one of smaller films. So, within all of the bigness and the epic scope of the film, it does feel like we're getting to find some of that nuance and that intimacy."

Star Wars 8 will be released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Luke 'blows up buildings' in clash with Kylo Ren

03 May

Leaked images have been published of a massive set being constructed on the Dingle peninsula in Ireland – and with them have come sensational new claims about the plot of Star Wars 8.

According to a Reddit user, the hero of the original trilogy, Luke Skywalker, will blow up buildings in a fight with Star Wars: The Force Awakens' villain Kylo Ren.

According to the Irish Independent, a set being constructed at the top of Ceann Sibeal, on the Dingle Peninsula, "resembles the settlement on the Unesco World Heritage Site at Skellig Michael, which was used for filming last year".

It was at Skellig Michael that new heroine Rey came face-to-face with Luke. 

So what will the set be used for?

Many fans say the next film will see Luke train Rey to be a Jedi. The new set "is supposed to be the planet Ahch-To, home to the First Jedi Temple where Luke Skywalker has been in exile", the Irish Independent says.

One fan on Reddit says the location will be the site of a major clash between Luke and Kylo Ren in Star Wars 8.

"A few weeks ago they blew up… an Ahch-To hut," writes BothanSpy. "According to my source, Kylo and Rey have a conversation that Luke does not like. Luke tries to stop them. Luke gets angry... and the whole hut they are in disintegrates (ie: 'blows up'). My source did not specify as to the exact cause of the disintegration, but based on the info I believe Luke accidentally (or perhaps even purposely) does so using the Force."

Star Wars 8 will be released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Rey is Luke and Leia's daughter - fan theories

29 April

Having explored all the more logical explanations, fans are coming up with increasingly bizarre theories for how scriptwriters might resolve the loose ends from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Most recently is the suggestion that Rey is the daughter of Luke Skywalker and his sister, Leia Organa.

The theory was put forward by Reddit user CaptainA1917 and stitches together a number of "clues" from the original trilogy which point to the possibility of a sexual relationship between the siblings.

"Historically, there is on-screen precedent in Episodes 4, 5, and 6," says the post. "The main scene (the kiss in E5) is typically seen as Leia trying to make Han jealous, but this is not the whole story. Earlier versions of the screenplay gave much more importance to the love triangle, and it was even supposed to be a major motivation for Luke to be tempted to the dark side, by Vader playing upon Luke's jealousy of Han.

"Moreover, the fact remains that the kiss has never been disavowed, altered, or deleted. So there is already a tacit acceptance (though with a healthy dose of embarrassment) of this plot point among both fans and creators."

CaptainA1917 also notes that "psychologically speaking, this would be a near textbook case of 'genetic sexual attraction,' where relatives separated for most or all of their lives meet as adults and fall intensely in love".

Another unusual fan theory that gained traction this week was the suggestion that Rey is neither Luke nor Leia's daughter but a reincarnation of their father, Darth Vader, and is the product of a virgin birth (see here for more).

Other Redditors have attempted to find further links between the films. Jojolulu has suggested that Forest Whitaker's character in Rogue One will turn out to become the Sith villain from The Phantom Menace, Darth Maul.

There are also many theories offered about what the next film will be called, including The Last Jedi, Echoes of the Dark Side and Tale of the Jedi Temple.

All will be revealed when the film is released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Rey 'is becoming a powerful Jedi'

26 April

Star Wars actor Daisy Ridley has posted a video to Instagram showing complex new lightsaber techniques that tend to be associated with the most powerful Jedis.

The short clip shows the British star training with Chinese martial arts expert Liang Yang, completing a range of fluid moves that culminates in her leaping into the air.

"So [Liang Yang] is a WUSHU FRICKING MASTER and I always try to get him to teach me things… This was today," Ridley writes alongside the video. "Obvs not great but HE'S amazing and he's also featured at the end. Our stunt team are the most incredible group of people, so lucky I get to train with them!"

Star Wars 8: Kylo Ren 'still at war,' says Adam Driver

01 April

Kylo Ren has not been discouraged by the First Order's defeat at the hands of the Resistance, the actor who plays the baby-faced villain has revealed.

"They're still at war. It's still Star Wars," Adam Driver told Entertainment Weekly of the situation in the upcoming Episode VIII. "They're not at peace."

When audiences last saw Kylo Ren, revealed to be the errant son of Han Solo and Princess Leia, he was hardly in what you'd call fine fettle. First, he was blasted with a Bowcaster by an enraged Chewie before being bested by Rey in their big showdown. But Driver's comments suggest that Ren is far from down and out.

It's hardly a ground-breaking spoiler, but fans will be reassured by his comments that the untitled sequel has a "great script."

Driver, who is also familiar to TV fans as Adam in the HBO comedy-drama Girls, was as tight-lipped as you might expect when pressed for more details of the top secret plot. However, he had plenty to say about new director Rian Johnson taking the helm from JJ Abrams.

"I can't wait to get on set, just because he's so unassuming and intelligent and approachable," Driver said.

"I feel like there were so many moving pieces in the first one – just trying to solve it and set the vocabulary for what it was. A lot of that anxiety is gone, because people have developed a language."

Star Wars 8: Luke Skywalker to visit a casino in new movie

29 March

Has Luke Skywalker developed a gambling problem? That's the newest question for Star Wars fans to ponder after a set insider from Episode VIII revealed that the Jedi knight will pay a visit to a casino.

In one scene from the as-yet untitled sequel, Luke searches the gambling den for an unnamed character, the source told fan site Making Star Wars, which has made a name as a reliable source for scoops.

The casino has been compared by insiders to a much larger version of the iconic cantina from Star Wars: A New Hope, with lots of strange-looking patrons from all corners of the galaxy. Hopefully there'll be no extended musical number this time…

A casino doesn't seem like a natural habitat for a clean-cut hero like Luke – but then again, the grizzled hero viewers glimpsed at the end of The Force Awakens wasn't exactly what you'd call clean-cut. Has his failure to stop the First Order from rising to take the Empire's place taken its toll? Or is our hero simply straying into unfamiliar territory in search of someone who could help the Rebel forces strike back at Kylo Ren and Supreme Leader Snoke? After all, if the scene is intended to mirror A New Hope's cantina sequence, it would make sense if the casino was used to introduce a wheeler-dealer character to take on Han Solo's bad boy mantle.

Star Wars 8: Is Han Solo really dead?

24 March

Han Solo's fate in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was one of the most shocking moments in the saga's history. Audiences all over the world recoiled in horror as the Millennium Falcon ace was murdered by his son, Kylo Ren, after failing to persuade him to leave the dark side. 

From the moment the film was released, wishful fans have naturally wondered if there is a way Solo could have survived.

Their hopes have now been raised after Harrison Ford, appearing on US chat show Jimmy Kimmel Live, toyed with the rumours that his character may reappear in the space saga.

The 73-year-old actor turned cagey when it was mentioned he would presumably not feature in any more Star Wars film, asking: "Who said that? Who made you the boss?"

Perhaps sensing the chance for a scoop, Kimmel continued: "Do you know if the character Han Solo will continue or do you not know?" But Ford stayed coy, saying it was a "good question".

So could Solo have survived his encounter with Ren, just as Luke Skywalker survived his plummet from Cloud City in The Empire Strikes Back? Theoretically, yes - but the chances of Solo also finding a conveniently placed rubbish chute seem slim.

Perhaps more realistic is the speculation that Solo might appear in Episode VIII as a spirit or a vision.Josh Hill of Fansided thinks a ghost Solo could play a vital role in the next Star Wars. "If Kylo's arc involves battling his demons and what he's done, we will almost surely see Solo in a vision or as a Force Ghost-style guide for his son," he writes.

It's an attractive theory. After all, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker and Yoda all came back in phantom form. And although Jedis have been able to become "Force ghosts" so far, sci-fi films are notorious for their ability to find a loophole to any plot problem.

Star Wars 8: Is Lando Calrissian Finn's dad?

21 March

Ever since The Force Awakens hit screens in December last year, fans have been trying to work out where Rey and Finn fit into the Star Wars universe. The most common theory is that Rey is Luke Skywalker's daughter – but Finn's heritage remains a mystery, too.

Very little is known about Finn's past life. Removed from his family and raised by the First Order to become a Stormtrooper, he was simply named FN-2187 until he was rechristened by Poe Dameron.

With his parentage a total mystery, it's no wonder fans have been wondering if it's possible Finn is related to fan favourite Lando Calrissian.

The idea first gathered steam in November last year, when eagle-eyed bloggers noticed a Star Wars puzzle on sale which describes Finn as the son of Lando Calrissian.

Billy Dee Williams, who played Lando in the original trilogy, isn't listed among the cast members for Episode VIII. However, the cast list is far from complete – and it isn't uncommon for actors' names to be hidden in order to keep their roles under wraps.

Williams did not star in The Force Awakens, but in an interview last year with Cinelinx he fuelled speculation: "I have a feeling I'm going to show up," he said, in reference to the planned trilogy.

John Boyega, who plays Finn, has his own "conspiracy theories" about the ex-Stormtrooper's origins. The London-born actor told Variety that when he met Samuel L. Jackson, who played Mace Windu in the prequel trilogy, Jackson joked "You're my son!".

Star Wars 8: Will there be a funeral in the next film?

18 March

At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker held a private funeral for his father, Darth Vader, whose armour he had managed to rescue from the Death Star before it was blown to smithereens by Rebel starfighters.

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Warning: spoilers ahead

The most recent film in the long-running space saga, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, saw the death of another major character, Han Solo, but as yet, his passing has gone largely unremarked, save for an emotional scene between Rey and General Leia Organa. 

However, according to the latest rumours, he will have a funeral in the next film, the as-yet-unnamed Star Wars 8, possibly be held at sea. 

Spy pictures of shooting, which just finished in Dubrovnik, show formally dressed humanoids and aliens in a gathering on a boat. According to Collider, "some believe that the location could be [Solo's] funeral". 

Meanwhile, the shortlist for who will play the role of a young Han Solo in the upcoming spin-off films has now reportedly been whittled down to three actors: Hail Caesar's! Alden Ehrenreich, Transformers Age of Extinction's Jack Reynor and Kingsman's Taron Egerton.

While the swashbuckling character may be finished in the main saga, it appears he is set for many more swindles, scrapes and romantic clinches in Disney's off-piste Star Wars side projects.  

Star Wars 8: Cast film explosive new scene in Dubrovnik

15 March

The cast and crew of Star Wars 8 traded Pinewood in London for a set in Dubrovnik to film a number of scenes involving unusual-looking aliens in outlandish costumes.

Filming reached an explosive climax last Sunday, as a blue landspeeder looking something like a futuristic Bugatti Veyron was blown up in a shower of pyrotechnics.

The sleek vehicle exploded in a shower of sparks and fire, sending extras leaping for cover.

According to the Daily Mail, two stars who seemed to resemble John Boyega and Daisy Ridley "climbed atop a horse-like creature in the confines of the set".

The trilogy's young stars have had a busy week, with Boyega making an appearance at a London hospital dressed as his character Finn.

The actor visited the Royal London Hospital to meet five-year-old boy Daniel Bell from Ormskirk, in Lancashire, who is living with a brain tumour. Together, they handed out presents to other young patients, with Boyega, who said he'd "jumped at the chance" to grant the little boy's wish, remaining in character throughout the entire visit.

The meeting was "priceless", Daniel's mother said.

Meanwhile, Ridley has been asked to a high school student's prom in a rap video that has gone viral.

In the clip, Kevin Carlock asks if the actress will join him at his school dance in Davidson, North Carolina, with a song featuring lyrics including: "Like the force in a lightsaber, I am calling to you, I think that you would enjoy Davidson much more than Jakku. So before you go to leave to be a Jedi with Luke, there's just one more simple question that I'm asking to you."

The clip has been watched more than 10,000 times but so far, Ridley has yet to respond.

Star Wars 8: Daisy Ridley asks followers to stop attacking her 'body-image troll'

10 March

Daisy Ridley has called on her fans to end their hate campaign against a Twitter user who posted pictures claiming the actress’s appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens had set "unrealistic expectations" for young girls because "real women have curves."

In an initial post, Ridley included a screenshot of the image and wrote: "'Real women' are all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, all levels of brave, have families, don't have families. I am a 'real woman' like every other woman in this world."

She later took this post down and uploaded a new message, saying: "Guys, it was not my intention for anyone to send messages to that poor person that posted the original picture. My whole post is about being kind to each other, so please refrain!"

She added: "I'm a normal girl thrust into extraordinary circumstances, just like [her Star Wars character] Rey. I will not [apologise] for how I look, what I say and how I live my life … and I am striving to be the best version of myself, even if I stumble along the way."

Disney is unlikely to announce the film's full name for another two months, says Movie Pilot, "so I guess we will just have to wait".

Star Wars 8 will be released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: working title revealed as Space Bear

22 February

Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher has inadvertently revealed the secret working title of the next film in the series – Space Bear.

 

Some commentators speculate the name could be a reference to the sci-fi saga's hairy starship pilot, Chewbacca, while others say it could herald the return of the Ewoks, the small but vicious teddy bear creatures last seen in The Return of the Jedi.

 

The working title was spotted in a tweet by Fisher, who plays General Leia, who posted a photo of her dog sitting on a director's chair with "Space Bear Episode VIII" printed on it. A series of emoticons with it read: "You rang?" 

 

 

It's a "relief" for fans that the next film has gone into production so early, says Inquistr. "That's because, in January, 2016, it was announced that Episode VIII would actually be delayed due to scripting rewrites" ordered "so that the new film could focus more on the characters that had been introduced to us in The Force Awakens, which included Daisy Ridley's Rey, John Boyega's Finn, and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron", the site says.

 

The rewrites meant that not only was production delayed, but also that the film's release would be pushed back from May 2017 to December 2017.

 

The film, which will most likely not be called Space Bear when it reaches cinemas, is expected in the UK on 16 December, 2017.

 

Star Wars 8: Rey is Snoke's daughter and other fan theories

19 February

As filming for Star Wars 8 gets underway, the internet is awash with new rumours about the future direction of the space saga as fans attempt to guess what the writers will do next.

Warning: spoilers ahead

Long-time Star Wars writer Lawrence Kasdan has already promised that incoming director Rian Johnson's is doing things very differently from reboot specialist JJ Abrams.

"These movies will all be so different," he told the LA Times. "Rian Johnson is a friend of mine – he's going to make some weird thing. If you've seen Rian's work, you know it's not going be like anything that's ever been in Star Wars. You couldn't have three more different people than JJ, Rian and Colin [Trevorrow, Episode 9 director]."

So what might those weird things include?

Enthusiasts have come up with a range of ideas about the core relationships in the sci-fi epic. Slashfilm's Peter Sciretta suggests the theory that Rey – the heroine of Star Wars: The Force Awakens – is Luke Skywalker's daughter may turn out to be totally off the mark. Instead, he proposes she could turn out to be the daughter of Supreme Leader Snoke.

"The symmetry seems perfect," he says. "Our villain (Kylo Ren) is the son of one of our heroes (Han Solo), so why not have our new hero (Rey) be the offspring of one of our new villains (Snoke)? Much has been made about how JJ Abrams has mirrored A New Hope in The Force Awakens, so what if Empire Strikes Back is being mirrored slightly in Episode 8? We already had the prequel trilogy's Obi-Wan Kenobi killed at the new Death Star, why not end Episode 8 with a twist on the most legendary 'I am your father' moment."

Another theory looks at what will become of Luke, who only appeared at the very end of the latest film. In the lead-up to the release of Star Wars 7, some fans were convinced he had turned to the dark side of the Force. Now, some say the truth could be even darker.

"It looks like things might be even worse than Luke Skywalker being evil," says CinemaBlend's Dirk Libbey. "Luke Skywalker might be an asshole… By not fighting, isn't Luke, at least indirectly, responsible for everything bad that happens in the movie? Shouldn't we blame him for Han Solo's death?"

Another interesting theory doing the rounds suggests that Supreme Leader Snoke is in fact Darth Vader. The idea hinges on the positioning of a scar on both characters' faces. But, as the Toronto Sun says, "given that Vader’s body was burned in a funeral pyre in front of dozens of witnesses, and that there are plenty of other ways Snoke would fit into the Empire/First Order hierarchy, it’s mostly fanciful thinking."

One other unusual idea is that Luke might have killed his Jedi students. This premise emerged from close scrutiny of the nightmarish vision Rey experiences when she first touches Luke's lightsaber in the basement of Maz Kanata's castle. Most fans believe the images show Kylo Ren slaughtering his fellow Jedi students - but some fringe theorists argue Luke's Jedis may have all turned to the dark side, leaving him no choice but to kill them himself.

While every possible permutation of Rey's parentage is being explored, one idea proving more popular than others is the suggestion that rather than being either Snoke or Luke's child, she will turn out to be the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia. In the many books and comics released after the original trilogy was complete, the couple had three children, one of whom turned to the dark side. Although those plot lines were subsequently declared non-canon after Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4bn (£2.7bn) in 2012, some believe the core relationship will be revived.

Other fan theories include the suggestion that the entire cast of the first spinoff film, Rogue One, may become the villainous Knights of Ren and that the whole plot of Star Wars 8 may occur in flashback.

All will be revealed when Star Wars 8 is released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: John Boyega hints at romance between Finn and Poe

16 February

There may be romance in the air in the next Star Wars episode, with actor John Boyega hinting that his character, Finn, and ace Resistance pilot Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac, could become more than just good friends.

In an interview with Radio Times, the actor suggested that while he thinks the relationship between the two men is purely platonic, it is possible it could turn to romance in the future.

"As far as I'm concerned when JJ [Abrams] sat us down to go through the script, it was a bromance," he said. "But now I'm learning what Mark Hamill said before, when he didn't know that Darth Vader was Luke's father - you never know what they're going to pull."

Boyega said that there appears to be enthusiasm for the relationship to continue to evolve from Star Wars fans.

"What's so funny, I posted a video the other day of myself working out, skipping, and in the background Oscar is just like, 'Yeah baby go on,' and people just went crazy," he said.

Given the high level of secrecy around plot points, Boyega said he is keeping a close eye on incoming director Rian Johnson for any further clues about what is to come.

"I'm looking at the director Rian closely so he can get me involved early, so I can prepare myself. So who knows?"

In other news, Star Wars enthusiasts hoping for a miracle after the dramatic turn of events in The Force Awakens appear to have had their hopes dashed yesterday. Disney released its full cast list – and Harrison Ford will not be returning as Han Solo.

Warning: spoilers ahead

In a climactic scene in the last film, Solo was stabbed through the heart and thrown into a ventilation shaft by his villainous son, Kylo Ren.

While it is possible the producers may hope to pull yet another surprise by filming secretly and springing the hero's return on an unsuspecting public, early indications appear to suggest Solo's death will be final.

All will be revealed when Star Wars 8 is released in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: Daisy Ridley and John Boyega reveal punishing fitness regimes

15 February

John Boyega and Daisy Ridley have shared videos of themselves undergoing strenuous training as they prepare to shoot the sequel to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

In his film, Boyega, who plays former stormtrooper Finn, reveals footage of himself skipping rope in a boxing gym. "It doesn't hurt to have Oscar Isaac in the background cheering me on!" he wrote next to it.

Hamill looked casual in a checked shirt and beanie and appeared to have grown his beard since he filmed The Force Awakens in 2014.

Star Wars 8 has already been delayed amid rumours the script needed to be rewritten to focus more on the new characters introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Those changes seem now to be complete, as members of the cast and crew are arriving in London in preparation for filming.

Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, posted a picture on Instagram of a bouquet of flowers and an appreciation note from LucasFilm president Kathleen Kennedy.

Star Wars 8 is scheduled to reach cinemas in December 2017.

Star Wars 8: why Rey might not be Luke's daughter

26 January

A hint by Mark Hamill about Luke Skywalker's sexuality has led to a reappraisal of one of the core relationships in The Force Awakens.

Although the clues appear to lead viewers to conclude Rey is Luke's long-lost daughter, fans are now rallying around a different theory.

Warning: possible spoilers ahead

Several details in The Force Awakens suggest the two characters are father and daughter: Rey was abandoned by her parents around the same time Luke went into hiding; the Force appears to be strong in the young heroine, and she finds herself mysteriously drawn to Luke's lightsaber in the dungeons of Maz Kanata's castle. But the franchise is known for wrong-footing its viewers and director JJ Abrams cut his teeth on Lost, a TV series infamous for ever-twisting plotlines.

Consequently, Star Wars aficionados are coming to new conclusions about Rey's lineage. Most recently, they have leapt on Hamill's answer to a fan's question about whether or not Luke was bisexual. "His sexuality is never directly addressed in the films. Luke is whatever the audience wants him to be, so you can decide for yourself," said the actor.

The reply unleashed a torrent of speculation about what it might mean for the films to come as well as the core relationships in The Force Awakens – specifically, whether it contains a hint that Rey and Luke are not actually related.

"Maybe," says MoviePilot. "I mean, bisexual people have kids all the time, so it doesn't rule out that possibility. But the fact that Hamill said we can decide for ourselves means that all options are probably left open by Episode 8. If there's no confirmation that Luke is attracted to any gender in particular, then Rey couldn't be his daughter."

Others argue this is not entirely true and that Luke could still have had a child regardless of his sexuality.

Two more leading theories have also emerged: Cinema Blend suggests Rey might be the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia while some sites claim she is a descendant of Obi-Wan Kenobi.

All will be revealed in December 2017, when Star Wars 8 is released.

Star Wars 8: Why has it been delayed and what will it be about?

21 January

SPOILER WARNING: this article contains plot lines for Star Wars: The Force Awakens 

Disney has revealed that the release date of Rian Johnson’s Star Wars Episode VIII has been pushed back.

The next film in the new trilogy was originally expected in May 2017, just 6 months after the release of spin-off Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Now, though, Episode 8 will not hit cinemas until 15 December, meaning fans have nearly two years to wait before finding out about Rey, Ren and co.

"The move makes sense," says Gizmodo's Germain Lussier. "Not only does it give Johnson, who is rumoured to be doing major rewrites, more time, it will now mirror the release schedule of The Force Awakens, which is still enjoying massive success over a month after release thanks to a lack of competition."

She adds: "The May release, the traditional date for the previous six Star Wars movies, would mean stiffer competition from other summer blockbusters."

With Johnson given more time to sculpt the perfect sequel, what do we know so far about what's in store in Episode 8?

The future for Rey

Disney has released the script of The Force Awakens to the Writers Guild of America for awards consideration, revealing more background about the film and some tantalising clues about Episode 8.

While much of the latest plot focused on Kylo Ren's internal battle between good and evil, the screenplay shows he wasn't the only one struggling. "In fact," says Phillip Martinez for iDigitalTimes, "the script even goes even further to show that it is Rey, not Ren, that has a harder fight with the dark side."

During the key battle with Rey in The Force Awakens, the script emphasises that Ren feared for his life, noting that Rey nearly killed him before she realised she was standing "on a greater edge than even the cliff — the edge of the dark side". This leads Martinez to conclude: "It seems like Episode 8 will be dealing with Rey's fight with the dark side."

Luke who's back

Last September, news began circulating that the Star Wars crew had returned to Skellig Michael, the stunning World Heritage site off the west coast of Ireland. It has since transpired that this filming was not re-shoots for The Force Awakens, but was actually for Episode 8, with the Irish Examiner citing Mark Hamill and his son Nathan as being present.

What this means for the plot of the next film is still up in the air, but with Rey and Luke reunited at the end of The Force Awakens, could the sequel focus on Luke training Rey as Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi trained him?        

A new director and a new way

Looper director Rian Johnson will be at the helm for Episode 8 and the internet is abuzz with rumours about what directions he might take the trilogy. "These movies will all be so different," The Empire Strikes Back screenwriting legend Lawrence Kasdan told the LA Times. "Rian Johnson is a friend of mine – he's going to make some weird thing.

If you've seen Rian's work, you know it's not going be like anything that's ever been in Star Wars." According to Benicio del Toro, the main villain for Episode 8, Johnson will bring a "cool sci-fi realism" to the franchise, reported Empire Magazine.

As for the script, Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, told Variety that it was "good, very very good", while The Force Awakens director JJ Abrams went as far as telling friends that after reading it, he wished he had written it, according to the Washington Post

Star Wars 8: after the next two movies, will Disney make a Star Wars / Avengers crossover?

19 January

Luke Skywalker could join the Avengers and Spiderman might one day utter the words "May the Force be with you", according to Marvel legend Stan Lee.

The creator of some of the most popular heroes in modern history has suggested that Disney's acquisition of both Marvel and Star Wars makes such crossovers a possibility.

"Obviously the people who produce these [movies] are looking to be as successful as possible," Lee said in an interview with the Big Issue magazine. "If they feel that incorporating Star Wars with the Marvel characters will be very successful, they’ll find a way to do it. Can you imagine Spider-Man saying, 'May the force be with you'? It may come to that! I created the Avengers by taking many of our characters and making a team out of them. We can have as many characters join the Avengers as we want to for future movies. That might be fun, all of a sudden Luke Skywalker is an Avenger!"

According to reports, the next episode of the main saga, Star Wars 8, is currently being rewritten to shift the focus back to the central characters of The Force Awakens. But it is not impossible that in a future episode, the film's writers may attempt to bring the fictional universes of Marvel and Star Wars together, movie website Cinema Blend says.

"If it was something the public would want to see, then Disney would find a way to make it happen."

According to the site, the most logical way to begin a crossover would be to bring the Guardians of the Galaxy characters together with the Skywalkers and Solos.

"After all, the Guardians are spacefarers, so they’re more likely to come across a realty-bending wormhole that leads into the Star Wars universe," the Cinema Blend concludes.

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