The entirety of the Disney Star Wars movies up to this point have traded high on nostalgically repurposing plot points and story elements from earlier movies in the franchise.
Nothing from the Prequels, obviously, but if it’s even vaguely hinted at in Episodes IV-VI you can bet Disney will find a way to co-opt it somehow.
From the looks of the new trailer for The Last Jedi, it seems that Rian Johnson’s very stylish upcoming movie will be no exception.
We get a curmudgeonly old mentor refusing to train a potential Chosen OneTM, an evil villain who is struggling with his humanity and his love for his family, and, most crucially of all, that same evil villain offering the movie’s protagonist the opportunity to take an entry level position in his company in exchange for a solid 401K and the chance to become an unbeatable evil killing machine.
The message of this trailer seems to be that we should expect Rey to make some poor decisions over the course of The Last Jedi.
It all fits together quite well – Luke Skywalker is terrified that Rey is so powerful that her power can’t be tamed (essentially, she’s Jean Grey from X-Men: The Last Stand, so expect this to end well).
Meanwhile, The Emperor Darth Plagueis Snoke is busy pointing out how wonderfully corruptible this kind of power is. Rey, like Ben Solo, is too strong in the Force for her own good, and is going to have to fight hard to resist the power of the Dark Side.
With Luke not willing to teach Rey to control her power, of course she’ll seek out a darker, quicker, easier path instead to get that same knowledge. It’s a smart bit of storytelling that retroactively fixes just how dull The Force Awakens becomes once you realize that Rey is so good at everything that none of the villains can do anything more than mildly inconvenience her.
After all, while fanboys have attempted to explain away Kylo Ren’s defeat at the hands of someone who’s never even touched a lightsaber before for more than a second, the fact remains that we have seen him horribly beaten, and as such, he doesn’t hold much weight as a villain any more. If Rey can beat him when untrained, then it’d be a walk in the park for her to destroy the First Order and all of its lackeys once Luke has taught her to actually use the Force properly.
But, this trailer seems to suggest, what if Rey isn’t the hero of this saga after all? What if the first movie sets her up as an unconquerable power, the second film then shows her consumed by her power as she joins Kylo Ren on the Dark Side, and the third movie sees the heroes forced to face off against their former greatest ally?
That’d certainly be an interesting direction to take this franchise in! It’d also provide a satisfying conclusion to Finn’s character arc. Maz Kanata certainly seems to think that he should be practicing using a lightsaber, so perhaps he’ll appear as the last hope of the Resistance and Luke Skywalker in the final movie in the trilogy, on a mission to save Rey from the Dark Side.
It’d perfectly echo Return of the Jedi, while making the mission of redemption all the more potent because we already genuinely care about both of the heroes involved in the final conflict.
That said, we already know that Lucasfilm is not above using a fakeout dark side tease in a Star Wars trailer.
One of the early trailers for Rogue One heavily implied that that Jyn Erso would be faced with a moral quandary, and might end up allying with the Empire instead of the Rebellion. By the time the movie was released, though, this plot point had evaporated, which suggests that it was only ever invented for the sake of making the trailer look more dynamic.
We’ll have to wait and see whether this new trailer for The Last Jedi is similarly playing with our emotions. Certainly, the Disney strategy with these movies thus far is to keep original ideas to a minimum, so it’s unlikely that we’ll see Rey embrace the Dark Side and join Kylo and Snoke in the climax of the upcoming film.
That said, it certainly would make things more interesting. After all, think of all the Evil Rey action figures that Disney could sell.
Except, wait, hang on a second. Disney doesn’t like manufacturing Rey action figures, because she’s a girl.
Never mind, scratch all of this. The Last Jedi almost certainly won’t end with anything controversial or challenging whatsoever.