It is finally here. After two full years of waiting, the next episode in the Star Wars series, The Last Jedi, hits theaters Thursday. Because hype is at an all-time high — and because we just can’t wait to talk about Star Wars — we’ve decided that the moment calls for an entrance survey. Below, The Ringer’s most devoted Star Wars fans (well, mostly) discuss their expectations for the movie, the future of Rey and Kylo Ren, and, of course, porgs.
1. What are you most hyped for heading into The Last Jedi?
Andrew Gruttadaro: No cinematic universe is easier to immerse yourself in. Beyond anything specific, I’m genuinely just hyped to sit down in a movie theater and lose myself for two and a half hours. (Two and a half hours?! OK, wow, that’s a pretty long time.)
Amanda Dobbins: I like good fun movies!
Chris Almeida: I want to believe that the franchise is going to make a bold and lasting decision in having a character turn to the dark side. We never really believed in Luke’s potential to go bad, and we always knew Anakin was headed there anyway. But there’s enough mystery surrounding every character in the new trilogy to make for a committed, permanent conversion. I want to see Rey or Luke turn. I want to see Captain America kill Iron Man. I want to see something real.
Kate Knibbs: Definitely most hyped for when Rey and Kylo Ren kiss.
Shaker Samman: Everyone else is really into bitcoin these days. Me? I’ve sunk everything I own into porg stock. I don’t know what the bottom half of a porg body looks like, or how they move, or what they really sound like, but goddamnit I cannot wait to see them run (or skip or hop or screech) their way into my heart.
Ben Lindbergh: Would you believe me if I said … the soundtrack? Look, I like “Rey’s Theme” as much as the next guy, and last-minute addition Michael Giacchino did a credible composing job under difficult circumstances in the four and a half weeks he had to write for Rogue One, but we’re still waiting for the first standout song of the Disney Star Wars era. (“March of the Resistance” didn’t do it for me.) Exhilarating theme songs are as central to Star Wars as starfighters and lightsaber battles, and I want to believe that 85-year-old John Williams has another all-timer in him.
Williams’s soundtracks to the prequels were one of the only things about those movies that measured up to the original trilogy; an antagonist as empty as the Trade Federation didn’t deserve “The Droid Invasion,” and the Anakin-Padmé puppy-love trainwreck definitely didn’t deserve “Across the Stars,” but Williams’s work stood on its own, transcending the on-screen source material. Star Wars’ journey to the Disney side won’t be complete until Williams or one of his successors gives us a track that can compete with “Duel of the Fates,” “Battle of the Heroes,” or “Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant.” I need something to hum when I’m leaving the theater that lasts a little longer than a menacing five-second snippet of “Kylo Ren Arrives at the Battle.”
Miles Surrey: Luke saying something and giving us some much needed details on what, I assume, was a traumatic ordeal post–Return of the Jedi, considering he now looks like The Dude shot through a wind tunnel.
Michael Baumann: I think it’s going to look very, very cool. Rian Johnson’s got the most interesting eye of any Star Wars director, probably ever, and I’m interested to see what he does with George Lucas’s toys.
Alison Herman: Amy. Jellicoe. In. Space.
2. Who will be the MVP of this movie?
Knibbs: Rey and Kylo Ren’s smooch.
Lindbergh: Luke. Not only is the nostalgia strong with him, but Mark Hamill is a much better actor today than he was in his 20s. The original trilogy’s leads will clear the stage soon — too soon, in the case of Carrie Fisher — but there is another Skywalker starring role to relish before the tykes take over.
Herman: An unfair question gets an unfair answer. DESTROY MY TEAR DUCTS, CARRIE FISHER.
Samman: Rey. She was the MVP of The Force Awakens, she’ll probably be the MVP of the unnamed ninth installment of the franchise, and she’ll be the winner of this film, too. Rey over Luke. Rey over Kylo. Rey over Snoke. Rey over porgs. Rey forever.
Surrey: Have you ever seen anything so wonderful in your entire life?
Almeida: I’ll go with Kylo Ren. It feels like he can only go up.
Gruttadaro: Give me Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren. I can’t wait to see him continue his emo journey of self-discovery, (maybe) team up with Rey, and (maybe) abandon his loyalty to the dark side out of a sense of familial duty. Even if he merely slips further into the grasps of evil, that’ll be awesome, too.
Dobbins: I’m a Rey fan, and also pro-porg, but I’ve been thinking a lot about these “dinosaur nuns.” Excited to learn more! Hope they don’’t eat the porg.
3. If one thing about The Last Jedi worries you, what is it?
Herman: That there are no evident plans to build on Finn and Poe’s blatant sexual tension.
Knibbs: That Rey and Kylo Ren won’t kiss on the lips.
Gruttadaro: Aside from the extended runtime? The cult of the porgs.
Dobbins: I guess I’m concerned about what happens when there are no more Jedi.
Surrey: How The Last Jedi handles Carrie Fisher. What I mean by that is, how it’ll affect the final film in the series, since Lucasfilm has said it won’t re-create her character in CGI form. Leia’s exit in The Last Jedi makes narrative sense; either way, we should all bring tissues for Fisher’s end-credits tribute.
Samman: Leia’s exit has me feeling uneasy. After we lost Carrie Fisher last December, I’ve been consumed by the way Leia’s arc on the franchise will come to an end. Princess/General Leia Organa was one of the original heroes in the Star Wars universe, and the first summer blockbuster heroine ever. Anything less than a legend’s passing would be a disservice to her character and the millions of fans she’s earned since 1977. I have faith that Rian Johnson found a way to properly handle the moment, but that doesn’t mean I can’t worry about it for now.
Lindbergh: The 152-minute runtime. Much as “more Star Wars” sounds like a good thing, the previous longest Star Wars movie, Attack of the Clones, is also the worst one. I expect to love The Last Jedi, but I won’t be surprised if even after extensive pre-release trimming, there’s an extraneous scene or two that would have been better off frozen in carbonite alongside all of that footage removed from Rogue One.
Baumann: I went back and rewatched The Force Awakens recently, and was floored by how much of the dialogue is just a blur of unexplained proper nouns that never get explained or explored. I hope The Last Jedi lets us live in this universe a little more, but I worry there’s so much story to move forward it won’t have that chance.
4. Finish the sentence: “By the end of the movie, Rey will …”
Dobbins: … be the last Jedi?
Almeida: … still be the hero of the story.
Herman: … BE A MOTHERFUCKING JEDI. (And by the end of this promotional cycle, Daisy Ridley will have taken approximately 837,294,832 photos with lightsaber-clutching little girls that gut me emotionally each and every time I see one.)
Surrey: … know who her parents are, a truth that will alienate some fans.
Samman: … have beaten the everloving snot out of a half dozen Stormtroopers, a handful of Imperial officers, and, just for fun, Luke, during some sort of elaborate remote island training montage.
Gruttadaro: … ask Luke if his mossy island gets Seamless.
Lindbergh: … be powerful enough to pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky. In Episode VII, she flies the Falcon like a pro, mind-tricks Daniel Craig, out-interrogates, out-Force pulls, and outduels Kylo, and gets sensed by Snoke from afar, all on raw instinct and (sigh) midi-chlorian count. There’s no telling what she’ll be capable of after giving Luke piggyback rides around the Ahch-To obstacle course.
Knibbs: … kiss Kylo Ren on the lips.
Baumann: … I dunno, probably be turning to the dark side? I guess if you’ve got three movies, you’ve got to add some twists, even if the journey is only ever going to end one way.
5. Be a fortune teller: Where is the relationship between Snoke and Kylo Ren going?
Baumann: Hopefully to a place where we know who Snoke is and/or care about him. Maybe it’ll be something other than a shot-for-shot remake of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Herman: I’m a defender of this new trilogy when it comes to the “blatantly replaying the hits” charge, but even I know where this is going, i.e., a Vader/Palpatine-esque betrayal at a critical moment. I will cry anyway.
Samman: At the end of The Last Jedi, Kylo is going to kill Snoke and assume his position as Supreme Leader of the First Order. This, of course, will happen after Kylo kills Leia, because if someone doesn’t kill both of their parents, are they really that evil?
Surrey: Snoke will at least try to do the classic Sith move where you replace your current apprentice (Kylo) with someone better (Rey), and if that better person doesn’t pan out, you kill them instead. It worked so well for the Emperor!
Almeida: I wouldn’t want to be a guest in that house for Christmas.
Knibbs: I’m hoping it’s a Looper situation and Kylo Ren is Snoke.
Lindbergh: [Meditates.] Difficult to see.
6. Talk about the porgs. Just … talk about ’em.
Herman: “[INCOMPREHENSIBLE SCREECHING NOISES]” — a porg
“[INCOMPREHENSIBLE SCREECHING NOISES]” — me, seeing a porg in action for the first time
Samman: [Deep breath.] OK, HERE WE GO. Look at their eyes. Look at them. Look how disproportionately large they are. Now look at the mouth. Look how it howls. Do you understand how cute this thing is? I don’t think you understand how cute this thing is. Remember Ewoks? Those were adorable, but compared with porgs they might as well be a dumpster species. LOOK. AT. THE. PORG. AND. HIS. WINGED. ARMS. OR MAYBE THEY’RE FLIPPERS? I DON’T KNOW AND I’M SO EXCITED TO FIND OUT HOW THEY WORK.
Dobbins: If you make a sad face and ask him nicely, my coworker Chris Ryan will do a porg impression for you. I am grateful for the millions of dollars of market research and development that led to this joke.
Gruttadaro: Let’s just say that after the months-long hype festival for these weird-looking little bird things, no character has more expectations to live up to than the porgs.
Almeida: I’m out on the porgs. I’ve already had too much. Good job, Disney. I’m sure you’re going to sell a lot of toys.
Lindbergh: As I said in September, “Historically, Star Wars has had a high correlation between cuteness and crappiness.” If Rian Johnson’s writing and directing overcomes the cutest Star Wars characters created to date, we’ll know why he’s Kathleen Kennedy’s Chosen One.
Knibbs: The porgs are an unnecessary distraction from the romantic subplot between Kylo Ren and Rey.
Baumann: I don’t get why everyone hates on George Lucas’s affinity for filling his movies with children’s toys ; these movies are for kids, for cryin’ out loud. The Ewoks were adorable, and crucial to the plot, and the most emotionally moving moment of the original trilogy was when the one Ewok tried to wake up his dead brother. I hope the porgs get 40 minutes of screen time, and their own spinoff movie, and sell a billion stuffed animals.
Surrey: “Thy soul is by vile fear assailed, which oft so overcasts a man, that he recoils from noblest resolution, like a beast at some false semblance in the twilight gloom.” — Dante Alighieri, Inferno
7. Do you think The Last Jedi will eclipse The Force Awakens?
Gruttadaro: I’ve never been more sure of anything.
Almeida: I do! There are so many unanswered questions about the world of the new trilogy that we’ll have to get some key answers in this movie. The Force Awakens built the world, and The Last Jedi gets to tell us about it. That’s a big advantage in my book.
Knibbs: Yes , Star Wars sequels tend to be better than the initial installments.
Herman: The best sequels amplify their predecessors; they don’t replace them. So, I hope not!
Surrey: Since Lucasfilm is giving Rian Johnson the reins to a whole new Star Wars trilogy, I’m gonna assume — and hope — this is a great movie.
Samman: If the early returns are to be believed, then yes. I’m treating this film the same way I treated the Alabama Senate race: with cautious optimism, and a lingering worry that people are getting ahead of themselves.
Baumann: Yes. Now that we’re back into this universe, we can afford to stop and play around a little. Besides — and not to damn him with faint praise — Rian Johnson is by orders of magnitude more visually curious and a better storyteller than J.J. Abrams.
Lindbergh: Based on the buzz, it certainly seems that way. But we shouldn’t forget that The Force Awakens had a heavier burden to bear: establishing a new cast of characters, killing Han Solo, and restoring the luster of Star Wars after the the prequels. Episode VIII couldn’t complete the alley-oop without a strong feed from Episode VII.