Is Star Wars: The Last Jedi going to be a massive tonal shift in the series? Is it really?


Wondering what to expect next month when Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters? Me too. In fact, I’m a little nervous and here’s why: I don’t get the tone.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi dropped its first teaser in April that ended with Luke Skywalker’s line about “It’s time for the Jedi to end,” and the Internet went bonkers. Since then, you’ve probably heard a theory or two or sixty about the Gray Jedi and what happens when the line between the Dark Side and Light Side is truly blurred.

While that’s all well and good, the second (and first full) trailer really shook us up by its heavy-handed misdirects. Naturally, I broke down the red herrings, but this was mostly for my own peace of mind. Luckily, the latest spot eased its foot off the gas a little.

Now, when the first trailer came out, I did say I wanted Adam Driver to elevate Kylo Ren. But I didn’t want this to come at the cost of Rey’s convictions. The second trailer tried to make it seem like she’d fall to the Dark Side, but that would be more of a bummer than naming the Han Solo standalone Solo. Why would you want to send the message that the only way you can be a female in Star Wars saga film is if you’re a third of a group, a minor character, or facilitating a man’s redemption arc? I don’t want a halfhearted franchise heroine here. I want Rey to lead this thing the whole way as a member of the Light Side. Seriously, the darkest she should ever go is an all-black Jedi outfit that’s both striking and attractive.

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Where does that leave us? Drastic change or more of the familiar?

If we have to focus on a Skywalker’s journey, let it be Luke’s. But then again, I’m sure there are armies of fanboys from the ’70s who would fall off their rockers. With good reason. And that’s how it feels to tempt Rey to the Dark Side as a Millennial who came up during the prequels and didn’t feel her first visceral connection to Star Wars until The Force Awakens.

According to reports, even Daisy Ridley says that things won’t be clear:

"What you should pay attention to is that The Last Jedi is putting out the message that things might not always be so clearly black-and-white. The dividing line between good and evil is becoming more and more ambiguous, and you could say that the relationship between Rey and Kylo symbolizes that."

So, what is my point here?

Well, the Star Wars brand as a whole has come under fire recently for always playing it safe. Phil Lord and Chris Miller fired. Ron Howard hired. Colin Trevorrow fired. J.J. Abrams re-hired. And in the middle of all this, we have Rian Johnson quietly sneaking around in the background. It’s probably safe to guess that he’s not walking around with a giant ticking time bomb meant to derail the franchise. He might make you want to think a little more or try to push the envelope. But you can’t really push the franchise that far without alienating a large group of people.

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Don’t forget, this is going to be a really long movie. So a lot can happen, and if Rian Johnson wrote it right, nearly anything can happen. By all means, get hyped and maybe a little nervous for Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but don’t expect anything too, too wild. Rey probably won’t kill Luke Skywalker or Snoke, or marry Hux and take over the galaxy. Especially if they’re going to keep her for another 10 years.

For me, Star Wars is as comforting as my favorite blanket or a homecooked meal. It’s a constant. More importantly, it’s a brand I trust. Trailers be damned, I don’t see them going off the deep end here and making it too dark of a film. Though I’m curious what you guys think about it. Will Star Wars really fly in the face of everything we know in The Last Jedi? Or is this just an effective way to sell tickets?