Star Wars is back in a very big way. Star Wars: The Force Awakens very successfully relaunched the franchise to the masses and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story proved that people really want to see more movies in a galaxy far, far away. With or without a Skywalker in them. That said, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is probably going to appeal to more people out there, since there is at least one Skywalker in it. And the movie is fast approaching.

Disney purchased all of LucasFilm for more than $4 billion back in 2012 with the intention of making a whole bunch of new Star Wars movies. The centerpiece of those films is a new trilogy in the Skywalker saga, which kicked off with Star Wars: The Force Awakens and will continue later this year with Star Wars: The Last Jedi. As one would expect, many details about the movie are being kept under tight lock and key, but that hasn't prevented us from learning quite a bit about the highly-anticipated sequel.

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Star Wars 8 looks like it is going to be starkly different than what we got with Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Adam Driver compared it tonally to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. That would logically follow, since both movies are the second installments of their respective trilogies. Considering that most Star Wars fans consider The Empire Strikes Back to be the greatest Star Wars movie ever made, that should inspire some confidence as we move closer to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

One thing we definitely know is that expectations for The Last Jedi will be insanely high. Not only do fans expect great things from this movie for a variety of reasons, but Disney and Lucasfilm are going to have big expectations in terms of box office. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was only the third movie to ever gross more than $2 billion worldwide. It also earned close to $1 billion of that domestically, which is an all-time record. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story also managed to eclipse $1 billion worldwide, despite the fact that it featured almost entirely unknown characters. So with Star Wars: The Last Jedi focusing heavily on Luke Skywalker and other characters we know and love, expect this movie to be truly massive.

Disney and Lucasfilm will be pulling back the veil of secrecy in the near future, at least a little bit, as the release date for Star Wars: The Last Jedi approaches. But as it stands, we still know quite a bit about the movie. So, with that said, here is everything we know about Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Rian Johnson is writing and directing.

Star Wars 8 director Rian Johnson

One might have expected that, given his resume and how successful that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was, that Disney and Lucasfilm would have practically begged J.J. Abrams to say on and direct Star Wars Episode VIII as well. That didn't turn out to be the case and instead, it is Rian Johnson who is responsible for the next chapter in the Skywalker saga. In fact, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is really going to ride or die very largely based on his talents. Not only is he directing the movie, but he also wrote the script. That means when Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out, for the most part, your level of love or hate will rest heavily on his shoulders.

That said, this is not something Star Wars fans should be worried about. In fact, they should be excited. Rian Johnson may not be a household name, or at least he wasn't before he nabbed this gig, but he has proven his talents time and time again. His movie Brick made an impression on those who saw it, but it was his sci-fi flick Looper that really put him on the map. Not only that, but he directed some of the best episodes of Breaking Bad, which is well worth mentioning. Plus the original Star Wars trilogy had a new director for each installment. For better or for worse, it was George Lucas doing all three of the prequel movies. Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in Rian Johnson's hands and, really any way you look at it, he seems to have very capable hands.

Luke Skywalker plays a major role in the story.

Luke Skywalker in Star Wars 8

Star Wars: The Force Awakens had an awful lot to accomplish. It was the first Star Wars movie anyone had seen in more than a decade and it was the first in the Disney era. It had to be very good. That means it couldn't do absolutely everything fans may have wanted it to do. Like, give Luke Skywalker any dialogue, for example's sake. Granted, that cliffhanger has built up an awful lot of anticipation heading into Star Wars: The Last Jedi and, rest assured, Luke isn't only going to talk, he is going to be a huge fixture of the movie. Most of the world hasn't seen much if any footage from Star Wars 8 yet, but even those who have know that Luke at least talks. Plus, it has been said that Luke is going to be a main character in the movie. Which totally makes sense, given the title.

There is some debate over what The Last Jedi means, but the credits in Star Wars: The Force Awakens refer to him as such and Snoke calls him by that name as well. Not to mention that Mark Hamill was on set for the entire shoot. That all points to Luke Skywalker getting a whole bunch of screen time in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. What he'll be doing on screen? That is a bit more up in the air. He will surely be mentoring Rey, but fans are hopeful he will get to ignite his lightsaber and show off his probably improved Jedi skills. Who wouldn't want to see that? In any case, bet on seeing a whole lot of Luke in this movie.

Daisy Ridley will return as Rey.

Daisy Ridley Rey Star Wars 8

There are certainly some criticisms that can be aimed at Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but it is hard to criticize the new cast members that were introduced. J.J. Abrams did a great job of blending the old with the new and, more importantly, giving fans characters they can really care about moving forward. Daisy Ridley as Rey is specifically someone fans really connected with, and looks to be our main focus of this new trilogy. So Daisy Ridley is definitely coming back in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And she is going to be a huge part of it.

Possibly more than any other character that is going to be featured in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Luke Skywalker included, people want to know about Rey. Is she going to turn evil? What is she going to say to Luke? Why was she left on Jakku? And, probably most importantly, who are her parents? Daisy Ridley is surely going to have her plate full in The Last Jedi. She is surely going to be doing some Jedi training and she is probably going to have some pesky things to deal with. Like a very pissed off Kylo Ren, for one. He is known for his temper tantrums and, given how things left off between those two, we can assume he isn't super happy with Rey at the moment. As the Star Wars franchise progresses into the distant future, it is going to require us, as fans, loving new characters and with Rey, we have a character worth loving. So having Daisy Ridley back and learning more about Rey is an excellent reason to look forward to Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

John Boyega is back as Finn.

Finn Star Wars 8 John Boyega

For having a relatively small resume heading into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, John Boyega was able to make a very big impression as Finn, or FN-2187, if you will. Finn arguably had the most complex emotional arc in Episode VII and he will be an interesting character to watch in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. He bravely held off Kylo Ren until Rey was able to recover and put him out of commission, but Finn was injured badly in the fight. Rey had to leave before he fully recovered, so our two main heroes will be separated, at least for part of the story, in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It isn't clear what he'll be doing while Rey is presumably off training to be a Jedi, but we can probably guess he'll be on some kind of important mission for the Resistance. Either way, getting to see Finn in action a bit more will be fun and hopefully, we'll get a little more depth to his already interesting character this time around.

Oscar Isaac will continue to fly the skies as pilot Poe Dameron.

Poe Dameron Star Wars 8

If Star Wars: The Force Awakens delivered us an heir apparent to Han Solo, it was most definitely Poe Dameron. He was used sparsely, but he definitely made an impression. Lucky for us, the best pilot in the Resistance is coming back for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Oscar Isaac will once again be the man playing him. Though, he is probably going to be sporting a new jacket, since he gave his old one to his bff Finn. It isn't quite clear how meaty his role will be in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but since he assaulted Starkiller base and helped off the First Order at Maz Kanata's palace, not to mention his escape that prevented the First Order from getting the map to Luke, it seems like the bad guys aren't going to be overly thrilled with him. Poe probably earned a great reputation among his peers, but the First Order will probably be out for revenge. No matter how he is used and no matter how much screen time Poe winds up with, having an actor like Oscar Isaac in your movie can only serve to benefit it. So having him around for Star Wars: The Last Jedi is most definitely a good thing.

Kylo Ren will be back to complete his Sith training.

Kylo Ren Star Wars 8

Every great saga needs a great villain and this new Star Wars trilogy has one, or at least the makings of one, in the form of Kylo Ren. Adam Driver brought a lot to the table as Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and, lucky for fans, Rey left him alive, so he is coming back in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We can safely assume that he is not going to be in the best of moods and he may be a little conflicted. Killing your own father is likely to do that to a person. We also know that he will have completed his training to become a Sith Lord, or he will be in the process of completing it, since Snoke said as much at the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. We are probably going to be seeing a different Kylo Ren in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but as with most things related to this movie, things are being kept very secret. Either way, after killing Han Solo, he is definitely the villain of this new trilogy, and fans will want justice. As will the Resistance.

We'll learn more about Snoke.

Star Wars 8 Snoke

There are nearly countless questions heading into Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but Supreme Leader Snoke remains incredibly mysterious and many of those questions have to do with him. Andy Serkis, as always, created a very compelling character with Snoke, but we know very little about him at this point. Is he actually someone familiar from the Star Wars canon? Is he actually a giant or was that just how his hologram was projected? We can assume that some of the mystery is going to be revealed in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but even if Rian Johnson wants to drive us all crazy and not answer a single thing, we know for sure that he will be in the movie. And we can pretty much bet that he won't just be a hologram this time around. LEGO sets have revealed that Snoke will be wearing golden robes in this sequel. He'll have a confrontation with General Leia. But Johnson has stated that Snoke won't be the focal point of the story. And in all actuality, while we'll have some secrets about Snoke revealed, he won't actually get much screen time. He does have a couple of red armored guards by his side, who will, however, get to fight at least one battle. Which may be against Luke Skywalker in the epic climax.

Captain Phasma survived the trash compactor.

Captain Phasma Star Wars 8

Star Wars: The Force Awakens used the awesome looking Captain Phasma an awful lot in the marketing for the movie and, sadly, the character had very minimal screen time and really didn't do all that much. But Gwendoline Christie is coming back for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and, hopefully, we will get to see more of the rad Stormtrooper in action this time around. When we last saw Captain Phasma, she had taken down the Starkiller base shield, which allowed the Resistance pilots to swoop in and destroy the oscillator. Then Finn and Han Solo threw her in a trash compactor. It looks like she made it off the planet before it blew up, but she will definitely be out for revenge and she probably won't be in the good graces of the First Order. Characters like Boba Fett have garnered a lot of attention and love with minimal screen time over the years, but the difference is that they weren't overly hyped up initially. Fans took to the characters on their own. Captain Phasma was hyped up a lot and was one of the few things that fell short in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Gwendoline Christie is definitely capable of delivering on the awesomeness we were all hoping for, so hopefully Rian Johnson found a way to make up for the character's shortcomings in the last entry.

Lupita Nyong'o returns as Maz Kanata.

Star Wars 8 Maz Kanata

It isn't yet clear if we will be seeing Yoda show up again in a Star Wars movie, specifically in this new trilogy, so Rey and the gang need an old, wise alien to look to for wisdom. In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, that alien was Maz Kanata and it looks like that will also be the case in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Lupita NYong'o is coming back to provide the voice and motion-capture for Maz Kanata again and, much like Andy Serkis as Snoke, this is something we should definitely be looking forward to. Not only is Lupita NYong'o a great actress, but Maz Kanata is an interesting character that we didn't get to learn all that much about in the last movie. So getting to see her back in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and probably learn a bit more about her history will be good for Star Wars fans. She may not wind up with all that much screen time, since this is a pretty crowded ensemble and it probably won't be a crazy, 4-hour space epic. But Maz Kanata will be back in some capacity, that much is certain.

New R2-D2, same old C-3PO.

Star Wars 8 C3PO R2D2

What would a Star Wars movie be without R2-D2 and C-3PO at this point? The droid duo has been featured in some capacity or another in every single Star Wars movie and Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be no different. However, as the franchise grows, some things will have to change. Sadly, we lost the original R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker last year, so he won't be able to make his mark on the latest entry in the Star Wars saga. However, things aren't like they were back in the days of Star Wars: A New Hope. An actor isn't required to be in the suit at all times, but for the times one is needed, there is going to be a new actor portraying R2-D2 in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That actor is Jimmy Vee, who is best known for his work on Doctor Who and Harry Potter. He even got to work with Kenny Baker, so he should be able to fill those very big shoes just fine. But nobody can replace Kenny Baker and his impact on the franchise can't be understated.

As for C-3PO, expect the same droid we all know and love. Anthony Daniels is once again coming back to play the protocol droid in Star Wars 8. The franchise simply wouldn't be the same without him. It isn't clear how big the roles for R2-D2 or C-3PO will be this time around. R2-D2 had very minimal screen time (in operational mode, at least) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so we can assume that will change this time around. As for C-3PO, he had a decent chunk of screen time in the last entry, so who knows? Either way, they are both coming back and that is definitely a good thing.

BB-8 is as feisty as ever.

BB8 Star Wars 8

There will most certainly be some familiar droids showing up in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, like R2-D2 and C-3PO, but some newer robots, specifically a lovable orange and white one, will be in the movie as well. Yes, everyone's new favorite astromech droid BB-8 will be back in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which shouldn't come as any surprise. Not only did BB-8 not just feel like some sort of replacement for R2-D2. He had his own personality and was very much his own kind of droid. Not to mention that fans absolutely fell in love with the little guy. Plus, let's not forget that a huge part of Star Wars has always been merchandise. And BB-8 moves some serious merchandise. So you can guarantee that Disney and Lucasfilm will continue to push the BB-8 toys, shirts and whatever else they can come up with as the marketing campaigns ramps up. Even if you don't want to buy a remote control BB-8 before the movie comes out, having the energetic droid get some more screen time will probably get some butts in seats.

Carrie Fisher completed her role as General Leia Organa.

Carrie Fisher Star Wars 8 Leia

Star Wars: The Last Jedi was always going to be an emotional experience, but the untimely passing of Carrie Fisher last year ensured that this movie is going to be an unprecedented emotional event for movie lovers all around the world. The good news is that Carrie Fisher did finish shooting her scenes for Star Wars: The Last Jedi before her tragic passing, so we will get to see Princess Leia at least one last time. It has also been said that her performance in the movie will be unaltered and will be presented as planned.

That is great news for the many, many Carrie Fisher fans out there, but that does present some interesting questions moving forward. Princess Leia was reportedly going to be a huge part of Star Wars episode IX, so that could get complicated. Fisher's brother Todd has stated that Leia will return in Star Wars 9 using previously shot footage to complete the role, but we're not sure what that is going to look like at this time. Since her role in Star Wars: The Last Jedi won't be altered, she will still be alive in the next installment, but Carrie Fisher sadly won't be around to play her. And the powers that be have already said that they won't use CGI, like they did with Tarkin in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, to resurrect Princess Leia. So how they will proceed in the future is very unclear, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. For now, we can look forward to getting one more performance as Leia Organa from Carrie Fisher in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Will Obi-Wan and Yoda return as Force Ghosts?

Star Wars 8 Force Ghosts

This has not been confirmed, but it seems more than likely we will be seeing some Force ghosts show up in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Frank Oz recently hinted that Yoda could be coming back in Star Wars 8 when he was asked about it, saying that he could neither confirm nor deny his involvement. It was pretty transparent and made it seem as though we could very well be seeing Yoda back as a Force ghost. Also, since Hayden Christensen showed up as a Force ghost, which is totally canon, there is always the possibility that Rian Johnson decided to bring in Anakin Skywalker as a Force ghost. That is something that could make fans cringe, but if done just right, could sort of redeem the character a bit. There are other possibilities as well, like Liam Neeson as Qui-Gon Jinn, but that is speculative at this point. But it does seem more than likely that some very powerful Jedi will be coming back in the form of a Force ghost in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

A return to familiar planets.

Star Wars 8 planets

Star Wars: The Force Awakens introduced us to a lot of new planets, such as Jakku and Takodana, but fans are probably looking forward to seeing some familiar sights. It hasn't been confirmed, but there are rumors that suggest we will be visiting Tatooine, the forest moon of Endor and Mustafar in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It makes sense that Luke would revisit his home planet at some point, so Tatooine completely checks out. Mustafar also makes sense, given Kylo Ren's obsession with his grandad, Darth Vader. That is also how Endor could tie in, since Kylo Ren could be looking for artifacts tied to Darth Vader. These rumors haven't been officially confirmed, but it seems very likely we will at least see some familiar planets from previous Star Wars movies in Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

New Casino Planet Canto Bight.

Canto Bight Star Wars 8 Casino Planet

This latest installment of the Star Wars series isn't just returning to some familiar old stomping grounds. It will also introduce a new casino planet called Canto Bight, where gamblers from all across the country come to place their bets. It is rumored that Finn will visit the planet to help break gambling addict Benicio Del Toro out of jail with the help of a slicer played by Justin Theroux. They will be accompanied by Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico. Which helps lead us into our next section, and helps answer Kelly Marie who?

Who are the new characters?

New Star Wars 8 Characters

It looks like, at least in terms of core cast members, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is going to focus on characters that we have already been introduced to. But that doesn't mean we won't be meeting some new faces this time around. Laura Dern, Benicio Del Toro and Kelly Marie Tran have all been added to the cast for Star Wars 8, but their roles are still somewhat a mystery. That was also the case with most of the new characters heading into Star Wars: The Force Awakens, so don't expect to learn a ton about them until the movie is actually released. Or at least not any time super soon. But there are some interesting theories floating around about Benicio Del Toro. Specifically, it is being speculated that he is playing an older version of Ezra Bridger from Star Wars Rebels. But we do know a few things for sure. We do know that he goes nameless in the sequel. Though, those on set referred to him as DJ. Some believe this stands for Dark Jedi, and he could be the key to the grey Jedi reveal.

Kelly Marie Tran is playing a Resistance mechanic named Rose Tico. She will be assigned to a secret mission with Finn in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The pair will be heading to Canto Bight, a casino planet were they recruit a slicer (Star Wars' version of a hacker) to break DJ out of jail. The slicer is being played by Justin Theroux. And this section of the movie is being compared to a James Bond thriller. It will also see Rose and Finn riding a majestic space horse used at the track for race betting.

Laura Dern is an exciting addition to the Star Wars family. She is playing Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo, a prominent officer in the Resistance. She sports pink hair and is very regal. In her section of the movie, she will be with Poe Dameron as they go on their own mission to take down a Mega-Star Destroyer. Rumor has it that they will fail, whoever, in their suicide mission. And not everyone will make it out alive.

John Williams returns once again to score the soundtrack.

Star Wars 8 John Williams

Up until Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was released last year, every theatrically released Star Wars movie (save for the animated Clone Wars movie) had been scored by John Williams. Michael Giacchino stepped in for Mr. Williams on Rogue One and, while the man is certainly no slouch, many fans felt that the score wasn't quite what we're used to when it comes to a Star Wars movie. Lucky for us, John Williams is coming back for Star Wars: The Last Jedi and will once again be making his mark on the legendary franchise. It is pretty much unquestionable at this point that he is the greatest film composer of all time, so having him score any movie is a credit to that movie. But when you pair John Williams with Star Wars, something magical happens. The man may be 85-years-old, but he is as good as ever and we have every reason to believe he will bring his A-game with him for Star Wars: The Last Jedi. We may not be getting many more movies, Star Wars or otherwise, scored by John Williams, so this is special and something we should really appreciate.

What does the Last Jedi really mean?

Star Wars 8 Title meaning

The veil of secrecy surrounding Star Wars Episode VIII will be coming down shortly, to some degree at least. But since we went so long with nothing at all, when Disney and Lucasfilm revealed that the official title was Star Wars: The Last Jedi, people went absolutely nuts. Not only that, but it was maybe the title that fans have read into the most in the history of the franchise. Possibly for very good reason. Jedi, as Star Wars fans know, is both the plural and singular form of the word. So, even though we know that Luke Skywalker has been referred to as the last Jedi, that doesn't mean Jedi is singular in regards to the title. In fact, the foreign versions of the title for the movie have implied that Star Wars: The Last Jedi does indeed have a plural meaning. That opens up a whole mess of questions. Who are the other Jedi? Are there actually other Jedi? Surely, this is not a title picked at random, but director Rian Johnson definitely picked a title that got fans in hardcore speculation mode.

When can we see The Last Jedi in theaters?

Last Jedi Release Date

Disney has had a borderline unfathomable amount of success in December with movies taking place in a galaxy far, far away so far. So it makes complete sense that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is also coming out in December this year. December 15, to be more exact. It also makes sense that, because they have had so much success, most everyone is staying out of their way. At least for now. Right now the only movie that looks like it will release wide the same day is the animated feature Ferdinand. Though, that could work as a fine bit of counter-programming. The only man brave enough to come out really close to Star Wars: The Last Jedi is The Rock, as his Jumanji sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, is set to bow on December 20. Beyond that, there are some movies like Pitch Perfect 3 coming out the next week on December 22, but for the most part, it looks like Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be owning the box office from the time of its release until into the new year.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott