After three years of fanfare, hype and countless rumors, Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought balance to fanboys around the world when it finally hit theaters last weekend. Disney's $4 billion purchase of LucasFilm is already paying off huge dividends, with this sci-fi blockbuster shattering box office records over its first few days of release. Now that fans are savoring this new adventure in a galaxy far, far away, the countdown has already began for Star Wars: Episode VIII, set for release on May 26, 2017.
Before that next sequel adventure arrives, the first spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, will hit theaters on December 18, 2016, which is set between the events of Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope, centering on a mission to steal plans for the first Death Star. It isn't known if this spinoff will offer any connections to this new trilogy, but it will certainly satiate the undying appetite of Star Wars fans across the galaxy. Still, Star Wars: The Force Awakens not only provided the highly-guarded story fans have been waiting decades for, but it also revealed new secrets for fans to ponder as the countdown continues towards Star Wars: Episode VIII. We've decided to break down the 14 biggest secrets that we need revealed in Star Wars: Episode VIII below, so if you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, be warned, because there will be Star Wars SPOILERS below.
The Force Awakens is already a hit with both fans and the nation's critics alike, with an impressive 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Box office records have fallen by the dozen, with the highest advanced ticket sales in history and the highest Thursday preview gross in history, with $57 million. These figures lead to Star Wars: The Force Awakens scoring a jaw-dropping $238 million over its three-day opening weekend, shattering the record set this summer by Jurassic World ($208.8 million). It also became the first movie to make more than $100 million on its opening day ($120.5 million).
A new generation of Star Wars heroes were introduced in Star Wars: The Force Awakens with John Boyega's Finn, Daisy Ridley's Rey and Oscar Isaac's Poe Dameron, along with Adam Driver's villainous Kylo Ren. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and Carrie Fisher (Leia Organa) are also reprising their iconic roles from the original trilogy. The Star Wars: The Force Awakens supporting cast includes Domhnall Gleeson as General Hux, Lupita Nyong'o as Maz Kanata, Gwendoline Christie as Captain Phasma, Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke and Max von Sydow as Lor San Tekka.
Much to the delight of many fans, Star Wars: The Force Awakens also marks the first Star Wars movie that George Lucas is not involved in. The franchise creator was expected to serve as some sort of consultant on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the sequels that will follow, but he revealed in several interviews that Disney wasn't interested in his ideas, although he said earlier this month that he "really liked" the movie. Still, even without George Lucas at the helm, the franchise is in very good hands, with producer Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams, who will serve as producer on the several follow-ups coming in the next few years.
Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be followed by the first spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, arriving on December 16, 2016. Star Wars: Episode VIII is slated for release on May 26, 2017, with Star Wars Anthology: Han Solo Movie arriving on May 25, 2018 and Star Wars: Episode IX premiering sometime in 2019. Lucasfilm is also developing a Third Star Wars Spin-Off Movie, which is presumably set to arrive in 2020. Josh Trank was initially set to direct, before he left the project earlier this year, and LucasFilm hasn't announced his replacement yet.
Star Wars: Episode VIII director Rian Johnson has already shot some scenes for this sequel at Skellig Michael Island in Ireland, a key location in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but principal photography won't begin in earnest until this spring. While there is very little we know about that new adventure, we do know that there is a lot left to be revealed about the new characters in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, whether it be their family heritage, or where the villains may have escaped to. Star Wars: Episode VIII is shaping up to be even more of an epic adventure than its predecessor, but, for now, all we can do is speculate about the secrets that will be revealed, and how they may shake the foundation of Star Wars fandom to its core. And perhaps some of the things Star Wars 7 got wrong can be righted.
So, with all of that being said, we present the 14 biggest secrets teased in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that we absolutely need to be revealed and/or resolved in Star Wars: Episode VIII. This is your absolute last and final warning. If you haven't seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens yet, ENORMOUS SPOILERS will be revealed below. If you're still with us, we begin where Star Wars: The Force Awakens ends.
1 Where is Luke's island of exile and why did he choose it?
Technically, we know part of the answer to this already...In a manner of speaking. The final scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot at Skellig Michael Island in Ireland, which early rumors had pegged as some sort of Jedi temple. That rumor was among the few that was actually true, since Han Solo reveals in Star Wars: The Force Awakens that the last he heard, Luke had set off on a journey to find the very first Jedi temple, and he was never heard from again. What's ironic is, while a good portion of Star Wars: The Force Awakens centers around finding the map to Luke Skywalker, when it's finally put together, we don't actually know WHERE in the galaxy this sanctuary is. Since the First Order obviously had no clue where Skywalker was located, Luke chose his isle of exile wisely, but we still don't know why he retreated there. Rumors have surfaced that this Jedi temple houses a great power, which Luke may or may not be guarding. One can only hope that Star Wars: Episode VIII picks up RIGHT where Star Wars: The Force Awakens left off, and, if anything else, we'll finally get to hear Luke Skywalker speak for the first time in over 30 years.
2 Who are Rey's parents?
Director J.J. Abrams has become a Jedi master himself in the art of not only keeping secrets, but giving fans just barely enough to go on. Earlier this year, he revealed that it's no coincidence fans weren't given the surnames of Rey and Finn, both in the lead-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and, as it turns out, in the movie itself. Many were hoping that Rey's mysterious heritage will be unveiled once and for all in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it seems that will be a secret left for another movie to answer, presumably (hopefully), Star Wars: Episode VIII. Many fans already think that the most obvious answer is true: that Luke Skywalker is Rey's father. But, here's another thing to consider.
We know that Luke Skywalker was training potential Jedi recruits in the aftermath of Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, before his pupil Ben Solo betrayed him and became Kylo Ren. So, then, why wouldn't Luke include her in this training? With the rise of the First Order, one would think Luke could use all the help he could get. He would also surely know how strong she is with The Force, so why banish her to a life of solitude and misery? Also keep in mind that the most obvious answer isn't always the correct one, and it's possible that her force strength could have been passed down from others. Still, whoever Rey's parents may be, hopefully Star Wars: Episode VIII provides us with the answer.
3 Why did Rey experience those visions after touching the lightsaber?
As soon as the official title for Star Wars: The Force Awakens was unveiled, many wondered how said force would awaken, and, who it would awaken within. The answer, as many had suspected, was Rey, who provided perhaps one of the most memorable moments in franchise history, when she bested Kylo Ren in a battle of Force strength. Before that exciting moment, though, her powers were teased during a scene at Maz Kanata's bar, where this mysterious creature presented Rey with Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, which she had kept hidden in the basement. When Rey touched this ancient Jedi weapon, she had a powerful vision of pivotal Jedi moments from the past, present and future. While this is an obvious display of Rey's force strength, we have never seen any other Jedi have visions like this before. Many believe that, since it was Luke's lightsaber, her vision could be attributed to Luke being her father. Still, wouldn't Luke have had the same visions, when presented with HIS father's lightsaber? Speaking of Maz Kanata...
4 Who is Maz Kanata and why does she have Luke Skywalker's lightsaber?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens features two very important characters portrayed through motion capture, who are, ironically, the largest and smallest characters in this adventure... as far as we know. Supreme Leader Snoke is only seen through a hologram projection, but, until proven otherwise, we are to assume that he is a massive creature that rules the first order. The other character is just as mysterious and important, the diminutive Maz Kanata, a former pirate who is over 1,000 years old and runs a bar reminiscent of the Mos Eisley Cantina. But, the basement below hides the bar's greatest treasure, Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, which Maz gives to Rey. Since this is the first we've ever heard of Maz Kanata, the big question that remains is: how did she come across Luke Skywalker's lightsaber?
We know this is the same lightsaber that fell into the massive void when Darth Vader cut off Luke's hand in Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back, never to be seen again. Luke Skywalker himself presumably didn't know where the lightsaber fell to, since he made his own lightsaber in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi. So, how, then did it fall into Maz's hands? Star Wars: The Force Awakens begins decades after that iconic event, and since Maz specifically says that this was Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, and that it's "calling" to Rey. Did Luke find his weapon in the years after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, only to entrust it to Maz? It's certainly possible, but if that's true, why did he leave it with Maz? Hopefully her connection to Luke and/or the events of the original trilogy will be answered in Star Wars: Episode VIII.
5 How and when did Supreme Leader Snoke come into power? And what does he REALLY look like?
It's clear that Supreme Leader Snoke is, essentially, The Emperor of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with Kylo Ren serving as the Darth Vader and General Hux taking on a role similar to Gran Moff Tarkin in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Snoke was one of a handful of characters who were never seen in any of the footage/photos/posters leading up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When we finally saw Snoke appear via a hologram in the movie, it raised many questions about this villain's true size (remember, The Emperor's hologram was much larger the first time we saw him), but also, how he truly came into power.
All that we know about The First Order is that it was born out of the ashes of the fallen Empire, but when exactly this happened is up for debate. The character's official Star Wars Database entry states that Snoke has no permanent base of operations, and that he is "strong" with the Dark Side of the Force. It never states whether or not Snoke is a Sith, or how he is so strong with the Force. Many fans compared Snoke to The Wizard of Oz, with his mysterious methods of communication, but hopefully we'll get to see Snoke in his true form soon, and learn more about how and why he formed The First Order.
6 Is Finn's secret heritage just a red herring?
Star Wars: The Force Awakens has been praised for its diversity, with its three leads being a woman (Daisy Ridley), a black man from the U.K. (John Boyega) and a Guatemalan native (Oscar Isaac). As a whole, though, the Star Wars franchise isn't exactly steeped in diversity, at least among its human characters, with the only two prominent black characters being Lando Calrissian (Billy Dee Williams) and Mace Windu (Samuel L. Jackson). When it comes to Finn, a.k.a. FN-287, we know he was raised from birth within the First Order, but they most certainly didn't actually GIVE birth to him. As with Rey, director J.J. Abrams has said that it's no coincidence that Finn's surname has not been revealed, with many fans speculating that Finn is either a descendant of Lando or Mace. Lando appears to be the most viable answer, since Mace lived decades before Finn and it isn't mentioned that he has any children, especially since the Jedi order forbids it. It's certainly viable that Lando settled down and had a child after Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, but even if that's the case, did the First Order just swoop in and take Finn directly from birth? It's entirely possible that Finn's heritage is just a red herring, a mystery that may or may not ever be solved.
7 What does BB-8 say to Rey at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
At the very end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the last lines of dialogue is Leia telling Rey, "May the Force be with you." But shortly after that, BB-8 says something to Rey, which Rey responds to with only a nod and a stern look. Obviously, we can't decipher BB-8-speak yet, so it isn't known what the beloved BB-8 actually said to Rey, but since this happened just after one of the franchise's most iconic lines, and just before she journeys to meet Luke Skywalker for the first time, BB-8's robotic message may certainly be of some importance. It's worth noting that BB-8 didn't accompany Rey on her journey to the Jedi temple with R2-D2 and Chewbacca, and many fans have wondered why the Resistance sent just Rey, Artoo and Chewie to meet the man both the light side and the dark have been searching for. Given how Star Wars: The Force Awakens ends, most have assumed that Star Wars: Episode VIII will pick up directly where this last adventure left off, so hopefully we'll learn what BB-8 said to Rey in this highly-anticipated follow-up.
8 Who are the Knights of Ren?
We heard briefly about The Knights of Ren before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and we only got one photo of these mysterious characters before the movie came out. Most assumed we'd learn more about the Knights of Ren in the movie, but apparently this is another mystery to be addressed at a later time. The scene in the above photo came from Rey's vision after touching Luke Skywalker's lightsaber, with some speculating that the dead bodies scattered around these Knights could be some of Skywalker's Jedi pupils that Kylo Ren turned against. Then again, since Rey's vision showed moments from the past, present and future, sort of like a Jedi version of Greensight from Game of Thrones, it's certainly possible that this shot could be foreshadowing an upcoming slaughter in Star Wars: Episode VIII, or perhaps even in Star Wars: Episode IX. The only other mention of the Knights of Ren is when Snoke says that Kylo is their master, but how long after Kylo's betrayal of Luke did he form these Knights of Ren? Is it possible that these Knights are also Jedi pupils that betrayed Luke WITH Kylo? Certainly we know that Ben/Kylo turned against Luke, but it was never explicitly said that he did so alone.
9 How will Kylo Ren complete his training?
After the anti-climactic lightsaber battle between Kylo Ren and Rey, the ever-present Supreme Leader Snoke dispatches General Hux to retreat before the entire Starkiller Base explodes. Snoke orders Hux to retrieve Ren and come to his undisclosed location, before ominously teasing that it's time to complete Ren's training. This is a very important line, because it teases that Star Wars: Episode VIII will actually show how the Dark Side trains their pupils. Sure, we've seen what lead Annakin to become Darth Vader, but we never saw how he was "trained" to complete his Dark Side skill set. The same goes for Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. We saw him as a highly-skilled Sith apprentice to the Emperor, but we never actually saw any of his "training," so to speak. We still don't know if Snoke is part of the Sith or not, but, even if that isn't the case, we very well may see how Snoke completes Ren's training. Many assume that Star Wars: Episode VIII will take place directly after Star Wars: The Force Awakens, given the cliffhanger ending, but it's also possible that there will be a large gap in time between the movies, although we don't know for certain.
10 Does the First Order have a second Starkiller Base waiting in the wings?
Many fans are seemingly both delighted and annoyed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens featured a lot of the same tropes and plot devices as the one that started it all, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. Both movies featured an exiled Jedi, an immense weapon of mass destruction and colorful characters as far as the eye could see, just to name a few similarities. The heroes of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope destroyed the Death Star, just as Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron and the rest of the good guys in Star Wars: The Force Awakens took down the Starkiller Base. We know that the Empire went ahead and built a second Death Star in Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi, so does this mean that history will repeat itself once again? Does The First Order already have plans in the works for a second Starkiller Base? It's certainly possible, and perhaps they'll even construct a base without that one crucial weakness that always gets exploited.
11 Why did R2-D2 shut down and was it Luke that turned him back on?
It took awhile for Star Wars favorites R2-D2 and C-3PO to surface in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but when we finally did catch up with these beloved droids, a lot had changed. C-3PO was seen sporting a mismatched red arm, a story that will be told in an upcoming comic book, and R2 has been stuck in a robotic coma of sorts. Threepio explains that Artoo has "never been the same" since Master Luke fell off the face of the galaxy, revealing that he has been in a "low-power mode," which BB-8 tries to cajole him out of. Of course, R2 comes back to life at the end of the film, revealing the large portion of the map, that fits perfectly with BB-8's piece, showing Luke Skywalker's location. R2-D2 is a robot, after all, and while there is certainly a connection between him and Master Luke, it may be hard to believe that this droid had an emotional breakdown of sorts, refusing to interact with anyone... until just the right moment. We saw Luke's hand being placed on R2's dome in Rey's vision, which is likely when Luke place the map inside the droid. It's certainly feasible that Luke could have used his force powers to program Artoo into this sleep mode, until just the right time. Of course, J.J. Abrams recently revealed that it was BB-8's earlier message that woke R2 from his robotic slumber, hinting that it just took R2 a long time to process that message and come to life again... just at the exact time he was needed the most. That could be true, but it's still incredibly convenient. Too convenient, if you ask me...
12 How important is BB-8 in the grand scheme of things?
Earlier this month, Neil Scanlan, head of creature and droid effects on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, dropped an interesting tidbit, comparing BB-8 to a "naughty puppy" or a "clever child," who knows how to manipulate people to get what he/she wants. He also teased that this robot "shouldn't be trusted," which could be an ominous hint for Star Wars: Episode VIII. Sure, BB-8 wasn't seen doing anything shady that would lead some to believe that he's "working" for The First Order, but consider this. Just moments after Poe Dameron and BB-8 arrived in Jakku, to retrieve the data disk from Lor San Tekka, The First Order suddenly attacked. Could BB-8 have lead these evil forces right to The First Order? It's possible, yes, but, then, why did the droid take off, far away from The First Order when it had the one thing they were looking for, the missing piece of Luke Skywalker's map? Before his arrival with Poe Dameron, nothing is known about BB-8 or where he came from, but hopefully Star Wars: Episode VIII will shed some new light about this ball droid's importance as the new trilogy continues.
13 Will Luke Skywalker cross lightsabers with Kylo Ren?
Since we only saw Luke Skywalker in a few seconds of footage at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, most are assuming (and hoping) that this iconic character will have a much, much bigger role in Star Wars: Episode VIII. We know that Luke went into exile after he was betrayed by Ben Solo/Kylo Ren, and we learned at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens that Supreme Leader Snoke plans on finishing Kylo Ren's evil training. Assuming that training is complete at some point in Star Wars: Episode VIII, could this be leading to a lightsaber showdown between former teacher and ex-student? Will Luke Skywalker engage in battle with the student that got away, Kylo Ren? It's possible this epic duel could be saved for the trilogy finale, Star Wars: Episode IX, but it would almost make more sense to have this battle in Star Wars: Episode VIII. If we are to assume that Luke Skywalker and Rey's meeting will result in the start of her Jedi training, then maybe the epic climax of Star Wars: Episode VIII is Luke vs. Ren, where the more powerful Ren kills his former teacher, setting up the duel between a fully-trained Rey and Ren in Star Wars: Episode IX. Of course, this is all speculation, matching up tropes from the original trilogy to this new series of films, but we can only hope that Luke and Ren will throw down, at some point.
14 What Will the title of Star Wars: Episode VIII be?
When Disney bought LucasFilm in October 2012, they revealed that Star Wars: Episode VII was finally happening, news that sent shockwaves through the Internet. It took just over two years from that date for Disney to finally reveal the full title, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which also sent fans into a flurry of speculation. Now that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is in theaters, it's (mostly) clear that the "awakening" in question was in Rey, but now as the countdown to Star Wars: Episode VIII begins, so does the speculation on what the full title will be, and when it will be revealed. It's almost futile to guess, at this point, since production doesn't start until January, and we don't even know if the brain trust at LucasFilm even knows what the full title is yet. After all, we still do have 518 days until this sequel hits theaters, but hopefully we'll find out what Star Wars: Episode VIII's true title is sooner rather than later.
That wraps up our breakdown of the biggest questions we need answers to in Star Wars: Episode VIII, which won't hit theaters until May 26, 2017. We have just one short year to wait until the first spinoff, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, arriving on December 16, 2016, but it's still unclear if that spinoff will have any connections to this new trilogy. Stay tuned for more on all of the upcoming Star Wars movies. Are there any big questions that you need to see answered when Star Wars: Episode VIII hits theaters in May 2017? Chime in with your thoughts below.