It started out as a great day because I had no work and could sleep in. It became an incredible day as I watched the Star Wars: The Last Jedi panel at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando. Through the livestream we learned of many fascinating tidbits from the movie, witnessed the movie’s stunning promotional poster, and most importantly GOT TO SEE THE FIRST FREAKING TRAILER FOR THE LAST JEDI GAHHHHYESSSS! I may be a tad bit excited. Check out the trailer and poster and then check out my thoughts below.

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My favorite element of all these thrilling reveals is confirmation of Luke Skywalker’s prominent role in The Last Jedi. This is by no means a surprise but the confirmation is still so satisfying, particularly hearing the character’s first dialogue in film since Return of the Jedi in 1983. And with that dialogue came the most meaningful part of the new trailer where Luke says “I only know one truth. It’s time for the Jedi to end.” This is mind-blowing and filled with so much potential, but also makes me really happy because it largely confirms my thoughts when the title was first unveiled in January (refresh your memory by reading that blog post:

Arguably more important is that today not only confirmed Luke’s prominence but also teases the complexity of his character. Daisy Ridley hinted during the panel that meeting Luke and the beginning of their relationship is akin to meeting one of your heroes with high expectations and struggling to reconcile those expectations with reality. We see Luke training Rey (the visual representation of this training in the trailer is beautiful and further augmented by the music of John Williams) but as teased, it’s largely not going to be what Rey expects. Will Luke be initially resistant because of what happened when he trained the new generation of Jedi? Or will he immediately agree to train her, but only as a Force-wielder that is something different than Jedi which will be hard for Rey to reconcile? In The Force Awakens When Finn tells Rey that BB-8 is carrying a map to Luke Skywalker, Rey says “Luke Skywalker? I thought he was a myth.” The myth continues to grow for her throughout the movie as everyone seems to believe finding Luke is the answer to stopping the First Order and the terror they’re spreading throughout the galaxy. If Luke is unwilling to jump into galaxy-saving mode, that alone could be enough to cause Rey to struggle with reconciling her expectations with reality as she sees that the man behind this heroic myth may not be the benevolent, all-mighty savior she imagined.

It’s not difficult to imagine the difficult state of mind Luke is in following everything that has happened and the inner conflicts he is surely struggling to work through. Even when Luke asks Rey about her understanding of the Force in the trailer he responds by addressing that it’s much more complex than she realizes. The poster further represents the complexity of the Luke Skywalker we will be reacquainted with. He may be training Rey now and attempting to navigate the path that will bring balance to the Force and the galaxy even if that ends the Jedi for good. Yet, he is still somewhat responsible for Ben Solo’s fall to the Dark Side and the subsequent destruction of the new generation of Jedi and the rise of the First Order (much to learn we still have concerning these matters).

The excitement revolves heavily around Luke Skywalker right now, but that is not all we gleaned today. I loved learning that Kelly Marie Tran is playing Rose, a maintenance worker in the Resistance. We’ve known for a while that Benicio Del Toro, Laura Dern, and Kelly Marie Tran would play new characters in The Last Jedi. It’s gratifying to learn who Kelly Marie Tran is playing, to hear about the character not only from the actress herself but also from director Rian Johnson and to see the first official picture of the character. While the premise of the character may initially sound a bit underwhelming, Tran’s infectious enthusiasm immediately makes you excited for the character. Johnson furthered this excitement by talking about how he remembered watching the Star Wars movies as a kid and experiencing Luke’s journey from an unordinary farm boy to this extraordinary hero. He went on to explain that Rose embodies that as a character who goes from a somewhat unordinary role to becoming an unlikely but extraordinary hero. That is one of the most important motifs in Star Wars, a key facet of what made so many love the original trilogy (how Luke and Han went from being so unordinary and unimportant to being so extraordinary and important) and why The Force Awakens resonated with many as well (Rey and Finn undergo similar journeys in this sense). Through a character like Rose, Star Wars continues to deliver one of its strongest elements through the journey of unordinary to extraordinary. I’m also excited about Rose because her character will add more depth and understanding to the Resistance. Even after The Force Awakens and novels like Star Wars: Bloodline which explained the initial creation of the Resistance, there is still a great deal we don’t know about the organization. Getting to know a character like Rose who isn’t in charge like Leia or their best pilot like Poe Dameron will be fascinating to see and help us better understand the more common individual associated with the Resistance. Check out our first look at Rose:

Kelly Marie Tran as Rose.

Other tidbits we learned today and thoughts about the trailer and poster:

  • While the trailer largely focuses on Luke and Rey, I’m glad the trailer also briefly reacquaints us with the core characters introduced in The Force Awakens (Kylo Ren, Finn, Poe, BB-8) without giving much away. It’s the perfect kind of tease that shows the characters we’ve loved for a while and characters we’ve only recently started to love in new situations without revealing too much of what those situations are.
  • I’m glad we saw a glimpse of Kylo Ren and his volatile red lightsaber but were denied a glimpse of his whole face in both the trailer and poster. I don’t want to see the full extent of the damage Rey inflicted on him physically until the movie is released. That his mask is destroyed also speaks volumes about his character development from the beginning of The Force Awakens until now.
  • I wish we’d seen more of Leia in this trailer (we only get a shot of the back of her head). I know Luke is the original trilogy character the movie will focus on the most, but I hope she will still play a very prominent role and she should as she still leads the Resistance. With Carrie Fisher’s passing and the beautiful but heartbreaking tribute video released at Star Wars Celebration yesterday, I wanted to see more of her. I also would’ve liked to see Chewbacca and C-3PO in the trailer. I’m worried about Chewie coping with the loss of Han.
  • When it comes to the First Order, I’m not only glad Kylo Ren was featured in the trailer but that Captain Phasma was featured as well. I hope she plays a much more significant and menacing role in this film compared to The Force Awakens. Also, I feel it was a good call to not show Snoke in the trailer. While I expect to see more of his character in this movie than The Force Awakens and to learn more about him, it’s important to maintain that sense of powerful mystery cloaking his character. For now, let the First Order’s terror manifest itself through the likes of Kylo Ren, Captain Phasma and, General Hux. It should gradually build toward the ultimate terror of Snoke, similar to how we experienced the likes of Darth Vader and Grand Moff Tarkin terrorizing the galaxy far more before Emperor Palpatine in the original trilogy. Rian Johnson also teased that while the loss of Starkiller Base is huge for the First Order, they still had a major victory with wiping out the power of the New Republic and that we will see them taking advantage of that chaos right off the bat. I’m definitely looking forward to that and seeing the baddies perform evil deeds without relying on a planet-killing machine like the first or second Death Star or Starkiller Base.
  • The inclusion of the new ships kicking up red dust is also great as it shows something new, exciting and important added to the more familiar elements and characters of Star Wars. It’s important for Star Wars to retain the classic elements that define the franchise while continuing to incorporate fresh elements. Those ships are a great example of this and the uncertain future of the Jedi and the Force teased in this trailer is another fresh, meaningful direction the franchise is taking.
  • The gorgeous, haunting poster clearly represents the darker tone of this film and hints at the complex struggles Luke, Kylo Ren, and Rey are all struggling with. Finn, Poe, Leia and other characters will still be super important, but this movie really belongs to these three characters, and their struggles which heavily revolves around the Force.
  • It was a huge day for Star Wars! What are your reactions and thoughts to today’s numerous reveals? Share your thoughts in the comments below or on social media!
  • Image Credit 1:
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  • Image Credit 2:

5 thoughts on “Star Wars: The Last Jedi Trailer and Celebration Panel thoughts

  1. Excellent analysis, Matthew! Such insightful thoughts and ideas about what is to come. I am glad the focus was on Luke in this trailer as well and agree about the great complexity he faces in choosing to train Rey and the future of the Jedi.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your lead in to this blog. Made me smile! Superb analysis. I had wondered about Snoke not being in the trailer but your rationale makes sense. I’m excited to “meet” Rose, a character likely to progress, as you explained, from “a character who goes from a somewhat unordinary role to becoming an unlikely but extraordinary hero.” Indeed, “That is one of the most important motifs in Star Wars” and one of the reasons for Star War’s enduring, widespread appeal.

    Liked by 1 person

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