While Rogue One is still doing well at the box office, the eyes of Star Wars fans are now starting to turn to the highly anticipated Star Wars: Episode VIII. I don’t think we’ll get anything concrete on the film, whether it be an official image or the title, until at least April (Disney wants Rogue One to run unimpeded for as long as possible), so right now we’re a bit in the desert.
Thankfully, USA Today did a big 2017 preview piece where they were spoke to writer-director Rian Johnson about what’s in the works for Episode VIII:
Remember that Star Wars: The Force Awakens cliffhanger with new heroine Rey (Daisy Ridley) bringing Jedi master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) his old lightsaber on a remote intergalactic island? Writer/director Rian Johnson is picking up right where they left off in the beginning of the Star Wars saga’s still-untitled next chapter. “I don’t want to skip ahead two years,” Johnson says. “I want to see the very next moment of what happens.” How Rey and Luke relate to each other is the key relationship in Episode VIII, and Johnson says “a large part of the movie” will be spent addressing why Luke’s there and what he’ll do next. Like Luke, Rey has been pulled into a bigger world by connecting with the Force, “but part of what’s she’s dealing with is the realization that she has this power and this gift,” Johnson adds. “She’s taking her first step to coming to terms with this thing inside her that she never knew was there and is just starting to reveal its potential.” Another cliffhanger: How General Leia might figure in the film in light of Carrie Fisher’s death last month.
What’s neat is that these are clearly only a couple components of a much bigger film. J.J. Abrams did an admirable job setting the table with The Force Awakens, and now we’re invested in not only with what happens with Rey, Luke, and Leia, but also with Finn, Poe, BB-8, Chewbacca, and Kylo Ren. And perhaps there will even be room in Episode VIII for Snoke to become interesting instead of just a new Emperor figure.
I also like that Episode VIII is picking up right where The Force Awakens ends. While I’m sure there’s a temptation to make it in the mold of The Empire Strikes Back, I like that Johnson is seeing his sequel as its own beast rather than making sure all of the echoes are in the right place.
Star Wars: Episode VIII opens December 15th.