Star Wars, once a sprawling, out-of-control beast with no clear leader for all the various books, films, video games, and comics, has been consolidated, streamlined, and mostly improved, by the sale of Lucasfilm to Disney. By cherry-picking elements of the massive older expanded universe, while introducing its own ideas, the new canon of Star Wars, while not perfect, is much more complete and satisfying than the old stories.
Obviously, the biggest addition Disney has made to Star Wars are the three (soon to be four) new full-length feature films that have hit the holiday box offices like the Death Star superlaser, creating a perfect storm of high-budget action and high-quality storytelling. From the new trilogy continuing the stories of the heroes of the original trilogy to the 'Stories' films released in between main installments that seek to fill in the gaps in the backstories of major events and characters, Disney's new films arrive with a massive impact.
These new films, taken without the various tie-in novels and comics, have added a ton of info to the world of Star Wars. There is a lot to digest in both the back and foreground of each movie, form their basic plots to the fates and motivations of characters to the intricacies of the series' dense mythology. With the release of The Last Jedi, which deliberately subverted expectations of what Star Wars is, there is even more to unearth from a series that is quickly moving away from the easy morality of the original film.
25 Snoke Doesn't Matter
Supreme Leader Snoke was set up as the Emperor Palpatine of the new trilogy, the big bad-on-a-throne that would haunt the entire trilogy. Fans drummed up all kinds of theories about Snoke's identity and motivations, the absolute best one being that the scar on his head was due to him being the Stormtrooper who bangs his head on the opening door in New Hope.
One of the major things The Last Jedi discards from Force Awakens is Snoke's importance to the story. He's not the antagonist, Kylo Ren is, a fact made instantly clear when Ren bisects him during his big evil speech to Rey. People who were angry about this are missing the point: Ren is a villain with texture, depth, and who we areinvested in. Snoke is a red herring in a red room, he was irrelevant to the larger plot before and even more so now.
24 It Was Time For The Jedi To End
Luke says this outright but it's something that's been running underneath Star Wars for decades: the Jedi were corrupt and deserved to collapse. In The Last Jedi, Luke says the Jedi failed to stop Palpatine at the height of his power and even allowed the Empire to rise by committing to the Clone Wars. Fans of Knights of the Old Republic 2 are familiar with this narrative: the Jedi are elitist snobs blinded by their own self-importance.
Anyone who steals kids from their parents isn't worth your adoration.
Grey Jedi are popular in the old expanded universe and have been canonized, in a way, by Ahsoka Tano in Clone Wars and Rebels. Even better are Force-using non-Jedi, like the Witches of Dathomir or Rogue One's Guardians of the Whills. Rey and the kid on Canto Bight represent a bright new future for Force users, one not restrained by ancient laws and fear of the Dark Side.
23 Luke Thinks He's Following Yoda's Advice
'If you leave now, help them you could; but you would destroy all for which they have fought, and suffered.' Yoda's words to Luke on Dagobah fall on deaf ears as he rushes off to Bespin to save his friends. In the long term, it seems that Luke made the right call. Sure, he loses his hand but he discovers the path to Vader's redemption and ultimately saves the galaxy at the end of Return of the Jedi.
But that's not the end of the story. Luke retreats from the galactic stage after Jedi and eventually founds his Jedi Academy, leading to the fall of Kylo Ren. Luke then retreats even further, closing himself off not just from the galaxy at large but the Force itself. Luke is trying to finally listen to Yoda's advice, though he misinterprets his master's advice. Yoda was trying to save Luke from himself.
22 The Force Can Be Spiritual Or Scientific But Not Both
Rey thinks the Force is "aa power that Jedi have." Luke explains how she's wrong, that it doesn't belong to anyone and isn't a tool to be wielded. It's simply the energy that unites everything in the universe and while some people can access it directly, its use is not limited to them. While some people are naturally very strong in the telekinetic use of the Force (Rey, Kylo, the kid with the broom on Canto Bight) for others it manifests in more subtle ways: Chirrut's ability to avoid blaster bolts and fight blind in Rogue One or Han Solo's famous luck.
The concept of midichlorians may have been another example of Jedi control. By explaining to the citizens of the galaxy why some people could use the Force and some couldn't, they can more easily control the number of Force users in the galaxy.
21 The Resistance Is Weak
The Resistance is not a loose Alliance of military assets and senators working in the shadows to bring down the Empire. They are a very small, almost secret organization working against the powers of the First Order, a fascist, populist militant group also working from the shadows.
In Rogue One, the Rebellion is able to field a full fleet of cruisers, frigates, and fighters, and in Return of the Jedi, the fleet has expanded to go toe-to-toe with most of the Imperial Starfleet. The Resistance fleet, in its entirety, is present in Last Jedi: One cruiser, a frigate, a corvette, and a mixed X-Wing/A-Wing fighter wing. And they're all gone by the end of the movie. They can't even get their supporters to bail them out on Crait. Going into Episode IX, the Resistance fleet is pretty much just the Millennium Falcon.
20 Rebels Aren't Born
Rebels does a good job of showing the formation of the Rebel Alliance through the eyes of a group of resistance fighters from different walks of life, but the truth is most of the Rebels were defectors from the Imperial military, who were able to see past their brainwashing and propaganda at the truth of the Empire. Wedge Antilles, aka the best character in Star Wars, is one of many pilots who was originally trained at the Imperial Academy, something even Luke talks about wanting to do in A New Hope.
Right after he goes to Toshi Station to pick up those darn power converters!
While Finn's betrayal in Force Awakens is seen as a major deviancy, presumably due to the First Order's improved conditioning, Star Wars is full of former Stormtroopers and TIE Pilots. We'll see if Solo keeps Han's original origin story: he trained at the Academy too.
19 Ren Was In Bad Shape For That Lightsaber Duel
I think the lightsaber fight at the end of Force Awakens is awesome if only because of all the things we got to see that had only been hinted at: steam boiling off the snow when the blades touch the ground, trees getting cut in half, and Finn's shoulder being burned by Kylo's crossguard. If you were annoyed at Kylo constantly pounding his side or the fact that he lost against two untrained fighters, keep reading.
Come at me, snow!
Kylo is punching his bowcaster wound, a weapon we see launch Stormtroopers in the air and it barely knocked him down. He's channeling his anger, using the Dark Side to keep himself able to fight. It's a wonder he's still able to stand. Rey does the same thing, in reverse, to win the fight: she channels her serenity and uses her calm to defeat Kylo.
18 Canto Bight Is Vital
The sequence on Canto Bight is one of the weaker elements of the new film, no argument here, but it is the purest example of the major themes of the The Last Jedi: that you must look beneath the surface, and that you must discard symbols that have become more important than what they represent. It was necessary to show a planet in Star Wars that is a fancy Mos Eisley and to give us a scoundrel character who really is just in it for himself in Benicio Del Toro's DJ.
According to Rian Johnson in The Art of The Last Jedi, DJ means "Don't Join."
We've already discussed the desperate situation of the Resistance, showing that they bought their weapons from the same people as the First Order muddies the waters of this movie about a Star War.
17 The First Order Already Won
The destruction of the Hosnian System is a major event in the Star Wars canon and, despite JJ Abram's use of classical music and terrified crowds washed out with red light, it doesn't have much of an impact in the film itself. (Also, it drives me nuts that they can see it happening from the surface of Takodana.) I really don't get why they didn't put the New Republic on Coruscant, that's where it is in the old Expanded Universe, and even people who only know the films have seen it a ton in the prequels.
Clear or not, that act wins the war for the First Order. While Leia discusses the allies of the Resistance in The Last Jedi, they don't respond to her message. The galaxy at large has been cowed into submission by the existence of Starkiller Base and probably doesn't even know it was blown up.
16 Poe Gets What He Deserves
Look, I love Poe Dameron, I love Oscar Isaac. Making the new Wedge a main character in the new trilogy is a-ok with me. Now, Poe might be a great pilot and tactician but he doesn't see the larger, strategic picture. He shouldn't have to, either: his job is to jump into an X-Wing and blow things up, after all. The problem with Poe is that he doesn't listen to the people who do see the bigger picture.
One dreadnought vs. all your bombers.
Holdo is an Admiral with command of the entire Resistance fleet to worry about, she has no reason to keep him in the loop. While I've seen some critiques of Poe's storyline as telling the audience not the question authority, I think it's this: don't follow someone just because they're eager for a fight.
15 It's Okay To Fill In The Blanks Yourself...
Sometime in the last few years, vocal minorities of the audience have started to demand answers to every question, especially in genre fiction. Star Wars is supposed to be mysterious, especially the use of the Force, and the best thing about the galaxy is how huge and deep it is.
Remember, Snoke doesn't matter!
The creators of Star Wars have spent a lot of time making the world feel authentic and real, and a lot of that means giving the illusion of depth where there isn't any, due to the film moving too quickly to linger. If you're filling in the blanks, take that as a partnership with the creators. They're letting you fill in details they don't have time to expand on because they have their own story to tell.
14 ...But That Doesn't Mean You're Right
However, don't start thinking you know a movie better than the people who made it. Something as complex as Star Wars takes years of discussion, prototyping, sketching, and drafting, before it's even announced to the public. Lucasfilm has a whole department of people, just like us, who know Star Wars inside and out. They're writing the book, we get to read it.
They owe you nothing.
Storytelling is a time-limited contract. Lucasfilm presents us with a movie, we pay for it, the movie ends, contract over. The filmmakers are thinking about you but they can't read your mind. Even if they could, fans are, at best, advisors to the throne. If you think The Last Jedi ruined Star Wars, you're wrong: you did, by thinking that you own something you didn't make.
13 Force Awakens Is Not A Copy
It was very fashionable, after the release of Episode VII, to say that it didn't do anything original and it just copied the plot of A New Hope. Using the words 'copy' and 'rip off' in an argument about art is like invoking Hitler in a political argument: it immediately invalidates whatever point you were trying to make. Art is iterative, especially something like Force Awakens which had to evoke a movie from 1977 with thirty years of products behind it, while still being fresh.
Force Awakens is a hero's journey, as defined by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Almost every movie is, especially 'fairy tale' stories like Star Wars and the Marvel films. Calling Force Awakens a rehash of A New Hope is missing the forest for the trees and cynically discarding all the new stuff FA does.
12 Krennic Doesn't Know What Vader Is
Rewatching Rogue One a few weeks ago, this one struck me like a ton of bricks: when Director Krennic travels to Vader's castle on Mustafar to protest Tarkin being put in charge of the Death Star, he has no idea what he's getting into. In Krennic's mind, he's basically going to complain to the Empire's Secretary of State. It's very in-character for Krennic to see that Mustafar is a 100% lava planet, and that Vader lives in a castle, and double down on his decision to confront him.
This is still a good idea.
Krennic has no idea Vader is a Sith Lord. Nobody does- most people probably think he's a Mandalorian due to his armor. When Vader chokes Krennic with the Force, Krennic probably still doesn't really get it.
11 Cassian Has Feelings Too
We need to dive into the Rogue One novelization for this one, but Cassian Andor isn't the hard victory-at-any-cost soldier he's presented to be in the film. On the Ring of Kafrene, Cassian shoots an Imperial informant in the back when he becomes a liability. I think Diego Luna does a really great job showing his internal conflict in this scene. A few times in the film, Cassian hints at what he's had to do to survive, even telling Jyn that she's not the only one who's done things they regret.
I regret his winter jacket not being a real thing I can buy.
What really works about Rogue One is giving so much character to the regular troops, in the most desperate times of the Rebellion, when only those who have experienced tragedy are fully committed. Cassian's hardness makes his reluctance to end Galen an even bigger turn.
10 Phasma Isn't Important Either
Captain Phasma is an unfortunate casualty of character bloat. Force Awakens introduced too many characters for the trilogy to handle, and Last Jedi introduced even more. Even less time is spent on the First Order this time around and Phasma ends up getting even less screen time than in FA. While it could have been interesting to have the perspective of a strong believer Stormtrooper to counter Finn's traitorous character, Phasma ends up ultimately serving as a plot device to move Finn's story along.
Cool armor doesn't always result in cool character.
The deleted scenes on the Last Jedi home release hint at the lengths Phasma will go to protect herself, shooting the stormtroopers who hear the truth about who lowered the shields on Starkiller Base, but it's not much. There is a Phasma novel that fills in her backstory, so dedicated Gwendoline Christie fans be sure to go check that out.
9 Rey's Power Level Is Fine
A common complaint of the new trilogy is how fast Rey develops her Force powers, as if Star Wars is an RPG with a linear progression system.
Put points into DEX!
Her being able to mind trick the stormtrooper to release her restraints (Played by Daniel Craig, by the way) makes sense to me: she's heard about this power, even references it in The Last Jedi as something all Jedi can just 'do,' and it takes her a few tries to get it right. For Rey, the Force is about faith: when she just expects it to be there, it isn't, but when she concentrates and really needs it, it answers to her.
8 The Last Jedi Was Supposed To Make You Angry
The biggest complaint about The Last Jedi, other than vague non-arguments about it being too hard on its male characters or 'too funny,' is that it ruins the legacy of the original trilogy and isn't a worthy follow-up to Force Awakens.
A lot of these same people complained Force Awakens was too similar to the original trilogy.
If The Last Jedi annoyed you with its cynical, broken Luke and rejection of the easy morality of Star Wars, that was the point of the whole movie! When Luke is mocking Rey's naivety and surety about the power of the Force, he's mocking you. When Kylo says to leave the past behind, he's talking to you. When Anakin's lightsaber is torn in half, that's the movie telling you that you can't hold onto the past and to move forward. It's brilliant, if you'll let it be.
7 Where Are U-Wings After Rogue One?
Introducing the U-Wing into Rogue One was tricky, as it appears to be a major mainstay of the fledgling Rebellion but never appears later in the canon. Rebels worked it into their stories too, which made it even more problematic. Where was this thing after the Battle of Scarif?
Star Wars Explained has a great explanation: the U-Wing, with its retractable s-foils and distinctive round intakes, is an Incom design and one of their last products before being nationalized by the Empire. While the Rebels had the plans for making their own X-Wings, they never got the ability to manufacture U-Wings. I'd expect that, after Scarif, the small number of surviving U-Wings were eventually used for X-Wing parts.
6 Vader's Scene In Rogue One Blew The Rebel's Minds Too
We take Darth Vader for granted. Lucasfilm has made him the de-facto symbol of the entire franchise, with his cool samurai helmet and distinctive breathing. That fact that he's a former Jedi is one of the biggest twists in movie history. Everybody knows that he's Luke's father!
Everyone in our world, that is. Vader's awesome, shot-at-the-last-minute massacre is even more breathtaking when you think of it in the context of the poor soldiers who have to face him: nobody knows he's a Sith. It's not just Krennic, most of the galaxy assumes he's just Palpatine's bodyguard. When that lightsaber ignites, it's likely the first time anyone in that corridor has ever seen one, and when the Force powers start flying it's no wonder they panic.
5 It's Better That Rey Is Nobody
Here's another example of the truth being better than fan theories. One of the best things about Last Jedi is tearing down the strange elitism of Star Wars. In A New Hope, Luke is just a plucky farm boy with dreams of glory who manages to take out the Death Star by trusting his feelings. In Empire, it turns out he's the son of the chosen one and it's his DESTINY to save the galaxy.
No one emphasizes the word DESTINY like James Earl Jones.
Star Wars has been trapped in the elitism of that twist for decades. The image of Luke dreaming towards the sunset was fully wrecked by midichlorians, but had been tainted by the Skywalker destiny since Empire. Rey being a nothing from nowhere, and the stable boy on Canto Bight, bring the power back to the regular folk, which is what the Resistance is all about.
4 Rey Has The Jedi Texts
As much as time as Luke spends trying to convince Rey, and us, that the Jedi are obsolete and need to waste away, he sure does complain when Yoda nukes that cool tree from orbit. Luke's belief that the Jedi need to be forgotten is a bit extreme, though he's right that their complacency and elitism definitely need to go.
How can someone who's forbidden to love be asked to sacrifice themselves?
Luckily, Rey seems to agree: in a very brief shot right at the end of Last Jedi, it's revealed that Rey stole the sacred Jedi texts from the tree before leaving on the Millennium Falcon. Luke was the last Jedi, and now Rey has the benefit of his teaching, the lessons in the books, and the needs of the galaxy as it stands now to decide what the next generation of Force users will be.
3 Rose Should Have Let Finn Perish
Finn's arc is complete. While we don't see the beginning of his losing faith in the First Order, we certainly see the moment he decides he wants out. The consequences of that decision kick off the entire trilogy and he's almost ended for it. In Last Jedi, his trust in Poe and need to save Rey leads to Rose convincing him that the Resistance is worth fighting for. Beyond the people who make up the movement, the movement itself is vital.
Finn fully embraces this when he knocks out Phasma and proudly proclaims himself "Rebel Scum." Sacrificing himself to the battering ram cannon is the perfect end to his arc: the Resistance has earned his respect, rather than demanding it like the First Order did, and he's willing to give his life to protect it.
2 ...Or Maybe Not
Rose saving Finn seems to cut the rug out from the completion of his arc and it's easy to dismiss her speech to him as being trite. Truth is, Rose saving Finn teaches him that sacrifice isn't the ultimate gift to a cause you believe in. Continuing to fight, persevering in the face of overwhelming odds, protecting the things you love: that what takes real courage.
Rose kissing Finn isn't a romantic gesture, it's a wakeup call for the former stormtrooper. She's trying to make him see, as she has for the entire film, that running away isn't the answer. It's a shock to the system and a hail-mary pass that survival isn't enough, integrity and trust matter more than destroying your enemies.
1 Rey Is Not A Mary Sue
If you're not familiar with this argument consider yourself lucky. It's the main complaint people have against the new trilogy that most of the other arguments spring from: everyone loves Rey, she never makes mistakes, and, worst of all, that she's a woman.
How dare she!
The Mary Sue argument is lazy, a pop psychology magic wand that encapsulates the unintelligible anger of a so-called fan base that is steeped in misogyny. This Forbes article does a good job of taking it apart. The biggest knock against the idea is this: the Resistance doesn't win, Rey doesn't turn Kylo Ren, in fact, Luke saves the day at the end of Last Jedi, the old Mary Sue from the original trilogy.