EVER since Luke Skywalker turned and removed his hood in the cliffhanger final moment of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, fans have been speculating wildly about what will happen in the next instalment.
Now, the saga’s followers have a bit more to go on after The Last Jedi actors and director dropped some juicy hints at the official Star Wars Celebration in Orlando, Florida, on Friday.
Fans were also given plenty of intriguing clues in the teaser trailer released overnight Australia time, which offers the first glimpse of the new movie.
Here are the five biggest hints that have been dropped over the past two days at the fan convention.
1. EXPECT TO SEE A LOT MORE OF LUKE SKYWALKER
Mark Hamill’s appearance as Skywalker in Episode VII amounted to a matter of seconds in screen time. And he did not utter a word. It’s become a running joke among fans that Skywalker may be mute. Hamill even joked at the Star Wars Celebration that Skywalker had “taken a vow of silence but communicates telepathically”.
Speaking to fans on a panel, Hamill said he seriously wondered himself what role his character would have after barely appearing in The Force Awakens. “To a certain extent, it’s not Luke’s story anymore,” Hamill said. “But I think he’s an important part of the overall arc of the saga and, again, there’s a lot of mystery about him even within the film.”
But fear not, fans. The president of Lucasfilm, Kathleen Kennedy assures us that Skywalker will be front and centre in the new movie.
“I’m just going to break in here and make sure everybody out there realises, he is so significantly important to this next film,” she told fans, to cheers of approval on Friday.
Skywalker’s prominent placement on the first poster for the film seems to back up that comment.
2. BUT SKYWALKER ‘MIGHT NOT BE WHAT YOU EXPECT’
Although we will see more of Luke Skywalker, the suggestion from star Daisy Ridley, who plays Rey, is that he may not be the hero that we all remember.
“What is very apparent from where we left off in The Force Awakens and where we begin in The Last Jedi is Rey has a certain expectation as to what she might (learn) from Luke and what that might entail,” Ridley told the audience.
“And as a lot of people know, it’s difficult when you meet your heroes because it might not be what you expect.”
The final cryptic line in the teaser trailer fits this theme, with a shadowy Skywalker saying “I only know one truth, it’s time for the Jedi to end”.
3. THE BAD GUYS WILL STRIKE BACK
The new trilogy’s arch villain, Kylo Ren, was weakened by the end of Episode VII, with his scary new weapon, the Starkiller Base, destroyed.
But The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson says the bad guys, The First Order, will be back with a vengeance.
“The Starkiller Base (was a) big loss, big loss, but they did mange to take out the seat of the Republic and that’s turned the galaxy into chaos,” Johnson said. “The First Order are jumping on that … very aggressively, not sitting on their hands, and making some big moves at the start of our movie.
“Things are going to get dire.”
4. FINN WILL BE BACK IN ACTION
Stormtrooper-turned-rebel Finn was left battered and bruised at the end of The Force Awakens and the teaser trailer shows him asleep, possibly in a coma.
If you were concerned that the new favourite may be too incapacitated to take on The First Order in the next film, worry not.
Actor John Boyega has told fans that his character will return, and he will be tested like never before.
“He’s in recovery and he will be back in The Last Jedi and he’s not playing this time,” Boyega said. “In The Last Jedi, it’s a test for all the characters but specifically for Finn. He wants to find his place now.
“Is he gonna be part of the Resistance or is he gonna keep running away from the First Order? We’ll see.”
He also confirmed that Finn would get into more scrapes with starfighter pilot Poe Dameron, played by Oscar Isaac.
“Poe’s my boy. There’s always a new adventure for us to go on,” Boyega said.
5. CARRIE FISHER WILL KNOCK YOU OUT IN HER FINAL PERFORMANCE AS LEIA
The death of Carrie Fisher in December shocked the world, but the filmmakers say her extraordinary legacy will be enhanced by her final, as-yet-unseen performance.
Kennedy said it was “extraordinary” to have the opportunity to develop and continue the character of Princess Leia, who is known as General Leia in the new movies.
“Carrie is remarkable in the movie. I mean, what Rian wrote and the performance she ends up giving, I think you guys are going to find that an amazing tribute to her talent,” she said.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi will be released in Australia in mid-December.
This reporter travelled to Orlando, Florida, courtesy of Disney