It’s been an oddly contentious day in the Star Wars fandom. Alongside the growing excitement for a new The Last Jedi trailer that would air during Monday Night Football that evening, a debate raged over whether fans should watch it at all. A tweet from director Rian Johnson—repeated out of context and blown a bit out of proportion—was the source of the dust up. “I am legitimately torn,” he wrote to a fan wondering if they should avoid all marketing leading up to the film. “If you want to come in clean, absolutely avoid it. But it’s gooooood.....” Johnson later smacked down some of the disproportionate reactions to his original tweet calling it all “clickbaity jiggery pokery.” In other news, I’ve named my new stuffed Porg Clickbaity Jiggery Pokery.
But skittish Star Wars fans shouldn’t have worried that this latest trailer would give the whole game away. Lucasfilm and Disney are, at this point, absolute masters of the slow, controlled roll out—as evidence by the reveal of a new The Last Jedi poster just a few hours before the trailer dropped.
Squint as closely as you like, you are only seeing what they want you to see. (Remember how we didn’t know Daisy Ridley’s Rey would be the one fighting with the blue lightsaber in The Force Awakens?) All that’s to say that while the new trailer may have TK TKT TKTK TKT TK, it isn’t here to spoil you December moviegoing experience. Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens on December 15, 2017 and select tickets went on sale today.
That being said, perhaps we should take a closer look at Rey’s lightsaber in this particular trailer.
There was a massive coordinated effort around the marketing for Star Wars: The Force Awakens to keep the new bearer of that famous blue Skywalker lightsaber a secret. In the trailers and on the poster, it was John Boyega’s Finn, not Daisy Ridley’s Rey, wielding the Skywalker family heirloom. That bait-and-switch meant that Episode VII audiences could feel the full impact of the pivotal moment when the blue-bladed weapon flew into her hand.
What a difference two years make. By the end of The Force Awakens, Rey looked eager to unload the blue lightsaber on Luke, but, judging by an early Last Jedi poster and this stunning portrait shot by Annie Leibovitz for the Vanity Fair Summer issue, Rey’s connection to Anakin Skywalker’s weapon is far from over. Lucasfilm Story Group creative executive Pablo Hidalgo talks about the weapon’s loaded past and its future with Rey.
As far as we know in Star Wars lore, there are two Skywalker lightsabers. There’s the blue one Anakin built for himself somewhere between giving his opinions on sand in Episode II and massacring a group of younglings in Episode III. After Anakin loses that blade—and most of his appendages—in a fight, Obi-Wan Kenobi plucks the weapon from the lava sand beach and holds on to it for as long as it takes for Ewan McGregor to turn into Alec Guinness. He then gives the blue blade to Luke, who uses it until he loses it—along with just one appendage—during The Empire Strikes Back.
But while the blue weapon that once belonged to Anakin meant a good deal to Luke, the blade that can truly be called “Luke’s lightsaber,” according to Lucasfilm, is the one he builds himself in a cut scene from Return of the Jedi. The green weapon impresses Vader—lightsabers are much harder to come by after the Jedi are wiped out—who acknowledges that Luke is, in Hidalgo’s words, “not a pretender to this legacy.” Hidalgo explains that Luke’s blade was also originally blue—in the first Return of the Jedi trailer and poster—but was changed to green for a very practical reason.
“The intent was the lightsaber was going to be blue,” Hidalgo explains of the story that has passed into Star Wars lore. “In that universe, at that time, as far as anyone knew, lightsabers were red or they were blue.” But Luke’s weapon was changed to green so it would stand out against the bright blue sky and yellow sand, in scenes such as the Jedi’s daring rescue of Han, Leia, and the rest. “As much as we like to mythologize why it’s green and what that all signifies,” Hidalgo explains, “sometimes there are very pragmatic filmmaking reasons behind these things.”
“George [Lucas]’s rule of thumb was bad guys get red, good guys get blue—or, eventually, green,” Hidalgo explains. But Star Wars rules are made to be broken, and when Samuel L. Jackson insisted he get a purple lightsaber so he could pick his character, Mace Windu, out of a Jedi-heavy fight scene in Episode II, Lucas relented. “Lo and behold a purple one came into existence.”
And though there have been some fan-generated attempts over the years to make the various lightsaber colors mean something about a Jedi’s purpose, Hidalgo cautions against the notion that the color of a lightsaber blade is indicative of morals or character—like the Sorting Hat in the Harry Potter world.
So we know why Windu’s blade is purple and Luke’s is green, but why does Rey have that blue one? How did it get from Cloud City to Maz Kanata’s castle in The Force Awakens and why was it calling out to her? Some fans theorize that the lightsaber’s connection to Rey confirms that she is somehow related to the Skywalker line. Otherwise, why would it fly into her hands and not the eager grasp of Anakin’s grandson, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)?
“In general,” Hidalgo explains, “a lightsaber belongs to the person who constructed it.” Obviously not the case here with Rey. “In The Force Awakens, Maz says that the saber is calling to Rey now. Whether or not it’s literally calling to her to become hers or it’s calling to her because she knows it will be taken back to Luke—we’ll see,” Hidalgo hints.
Either way, the blade is no longer considered Anakin’s lightsaber by the Lucasfilm marketing department. It has now officially been dubbed “Rey’s.” As for that green lightsaber Luke made for himself, it has yet to resurface in any of the marketing materials surrounding the current trilogy. Has Luke abandoned it along with, potentially, his faith in the Jedi way? Will we see Luke wield it again in The Last Jedi?
Hidalgo says vaguely yet reassuringly: “We take to heart the lesson that Obi-Wan tried to impart to Anakin: ‘This weapon is your life.’ We’re not ones to lose track of lightsabers.”