5 Things We Learned From the Big Star Wars Image Drop

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Fans from here to the farthest stretches of the outer rim were bombarded with a barrage of new behind-the-scenes photos from Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, courtesy of Vanity Fair. In addition to the images, though, we also got tons of juicy details about characters and planets both old and new, major plot points that took place off-camera, and exciting concepts that nearly became realities.

If you consider yourself a true Star Wars fan, then you definitely owe it to yourself to read the entire Vanity Fair cover story. However, it’s a long read, so if you’re short on time or you’re simply looking for the biggest takeaways, you can check out this list of 5 things we learned from the big Star Wars image drop: 

  1. Laura Dern And Benicio Del Toro’s Characters Explained

    When a franchise has been captivating audiences worldwide for 40 years, there are certain things fans come to expect from each new chapter. For Star Wars, one of those things is the introduction of memorable new characters, and in The Last Jedi, we know that we’ll be getting two that pack some major star power thanks to Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro. Details surrounding their respective characters have been scarce thus far, but thanks to Vanity Fair, we not only have our first look at their on-screen personas, but we also have a slightly clearer idea as to how they will factor into The Last Jedi’s narrative.

    Dern will portray Vice Amilyn Holdo, a character who is completely new to the Star Wars universe. Holdo, who we see donning a gorgeous purple gown and similarly-colored hair, is said to be a prominent officer in the Resistance. As for Del Toro, we don’t actually know the name of his “shady character” yet, but we do know that the filmmakers have taken to referring to him as DJ. According to director Rian Johnson, “there’s a reason why we call him DJ.” What, exactly, he means by that is anyone’s guess.

  2. New Details On The Casino City Of Canto Bight

    Much like new characters, another thing fans have come to expect from the Star Wars franchise is the introduction of exciting and diverse new planets and cities – a feat that was perhaps best executed in The Empire Strikes Back, where we were transported from the icy Hoth to the swampy Dagobah, and finally to pristine metropolis of Cloud City. In The Last Jedi, we know we’ll explore more of Ahch-To and venture to the uncharted mining planet of Crait, but perhaps most intriguing is the idea of the glittering casino city known as Canto Bight.

    According to Johnson, Canto Bight is “a Star Wars Monte Carlo–type environment, a little James Bond–ish, a little To Catch a Thief.” He then added, “It was an interesting challenge, portraying luxury and wealth in this universe. I was thinking, O.K., let’s go ultra-glamour. Let’s create a playground, basically, for rich assholes.”

    While the idea of such an aesthetic finally being explored in the Star Wars universe is interesting, fans can also expect the Canto Bight scenes to break up some of the film’s darker moments, which we fully expect there will be no shortage of. “I didn’t want this to be a dirge, a heavy-osity movie,” Johnson explained. “So one thing I’ve tried really hard to do is keep the humor in there, to maintain the feeling, amid all the heavy operatic moments, that you’re on a fun ride.” 

  3. What Happened To Luke After Kylo Ren’s Betrayal

    In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year-and-a-half, the driving force (no pun intended) behind the plot of The Force Awakens was the search for Luke Skywalker – the main protagonist of the original trilogy who went into a self-imposed exile after his attempt to build a new Jedi Order was thwarted when he was betrayed by Kylo Ren. And while we know that Luke’s exile eventually led him to an island on the planet of Ahch-To, we now have a bit more insight as to what happened between the time of his departure and his long and poignant stare-down with Rey in Episode VII’s final moments.

    “People that knew him best think he went looking for the first Jedi temple.” Those are the words that Han Solo spoke to Rey and Finn when he confirmed that Luke Skywalker was more than just a myth. This has since been confirmed by Johnson, who said that The Last Jedi’s set builders “duplicated the beehive-shaped huts where the monks lived on [the island] and made a kind of little Jedi village out of them.” Johnson would go on to explain that Luke had been living in this village, not entirely in seclusion, but among a race of caretaker creatures, who the director would only describe as “not Ewoks.”

  4. Mark Hamill Wanted Luke To Witness Han Solo’s Death

    One of, if not the most powerful scenes in The Force Awakens, without a doubt, is when Han Solo is tragically killed – impaled by the crackling, fiery-red lightsaber of his very own son. And while it made sense for Chewbacca – Han’s oldest and most loyal companion – to be present during that scene, the only other characters there to help carry the emotional weight of the moment were Finn and Rey, who had only just met Han in the second act of the film. According to Mark Hamill, though, he thought the scene would have benefitted from his own inclusion.

    “Now, remember, one of the plots in the earlier films was the telepathic communication between my sister and me,” Hamill said. “So I thought, Carrie will sense that Han is in danger and try to contact me. And she won’t succeed, and, in frustration, she’ll go herself. Then we’re in the situation where all three of us are together, which is one of my favorite things in the original film, when we were on the Death Star. It’s just got a fun dynamic to it. So I thought it would have been more effective, and I still feel this way, though it’s just my opinion, that Leia would make it as far as she can, and, right when she is apprehended, maybe even facing death—Ba-boom! I come in and blow the guy away and the two of us go to where Han is facing off with his son, but we’re too late. The reason that’s important is that we witness his death, which carries enormous personal resonance into the next picture. As it is, Chewie’s there, and how much can you get out of [passable Chewbacca wail] ‘Nyaaarghhh!’ and two people who have known Han for, what, 20 minutes?”

    Obviously, director J.J. Abrams decided to go in a different direction, inciting a largely positive reaction from fans, and as Hamill would go on to say, “I’ve never been more happy to be wrong.” 

  5. Episode IX Was Going To Feature Carrie Fisher At The Forefront

    Arguably the biggest blow to Star Wars fans in the 40 years since the franchise’s inception was the tragic death of Carrie Fisher – the actress best known for her portrayal of the Princess-turned-General Leia Organa – who sadly passed away on December 27, 2016. And naturally, her untimely death raised a number of questions regarding the direction of the saga moving forward. However, while we do know that Fisher will play a more prominent role in The Last Jedi than she did in The Force Awakens (her scenes were all filmed before she passed), we now have the bittersweet revelation that Leia was originally going to be one of the focal points of the untitled ninth chapter of the saga.

    News of these initial plans to make Episode IX a Leia-centric film were made public by Star Wars producer Kathleen Kennedy, who told Vanity Fair about a conversation she had with the late Carrie Fisher after the actress completed filming her scenes for The Last Jedi. “She was having a blast,” Kennedy recalled. “The minute she finished, she grabbed me and said, ‘I’d better be at the forefront of IX!’ Because Harrison was front and center on VII, and Mark is front and center on VIII. She thought IX would be her movie. And it would have been.”

    It’s both touching and heartbreaking to learn of this news, but nonetheless, we can at least take some comfort in the fact that we’ll still get to see Fisher portray Leia one last time when The Last Jedi hits theaters December 15.