Rogue One: A Star Wars Story may have proved that spin-off Star Wars movies can be blockbuster hits, but fans are still eager for the continuation of the Skywalker Saga. As we draw ever-nearer to Star Wars Celebration, we're getting whispers and hints of what's to come.
In March, StarWarsNews.net — a very reliable source with strong connections in Lucasfilm — broke some exciting news. It seems that The Last Jedi and the as-yet-untitled Episode 9 will actually revisit three classic Star Wars planets! In the wake of D23, fans are revisiting these rumors with excitement, as we got a tantalizing hint that they were right.
Now, it's worth noting that StarWarsNews.net don't know which film these worlds will appear in, and they don't know exactly how or why; in fact, they speculate that they may appear in Force-inspired flashbacks (which they call Forcebacks) in the manner of Rey's vision in The Force Awakens. Whether that's the case or not, here are the planets in question, and how they may figure into the ongoing story of our beloved Galaxy Far, Far Away...
Considering that Tatooine is supposed to be a bit of a galactic backwater, it's been one of the most commonly-visited planets in the Star Wars franchise. On the one hand, it's understandable; Tatooine plays a pivotal role in galactic history, as the birthplace of Anakin Skywalker and the world Luke Skywalker grew up on. What's more, as fans of #StarWarsRebels now know, its shifting sands are also the final resting place of Darth Maul.
StarWarsNews.net actually speculates that we've already had a glimpse of Tatooine; they posit that the desert world may well be the home of Luke Skywalker's Jedi Temple. Whether that's the case or not, the wider Star Wars canon has already explored some of the post-Return of the Jedi history of Tatooine, with hints that Boba Fett may have survived the Sarlacc, and glimpses of a mysterious hero in Mandalorian armor taking down Tatooine's criminal gangs. Now, it seems this may well be setup for something we'll see in the ongoing Skywalker Saga.
As a Star Wars fan, though, I have to confess that I'm wary of this particular location. Back in the days of the old Expanded Universe, writers kept revisiting the desert planet so frequently that it began to feel like Tatooine was the center of the galaxy. It had the strange effect of making the galaxy feel shrunken and diminished, and given how much effort Lucasfilm has put into creating new worlds so far, I don't want that to happen again.
It's likely that #TheLastJedi will explore some of Kylo Ren's personal journey to the Dark Side, likely through Forcebacks, so nobody's surprised at the idea we'll see Endor. After all, Kylo Ren is obsessed with Darth Vader, and he's got to pick up that charred mask somehow.
The Aftermath trilogy has introduced us to a Vader-worshiping cult known as the Acolytes of the Beyond, who venerate Sith artifacts such as masks. It's clear that the young Ben Solo will somehow wind up influenced by the Acolytes, but I don't see how they could have been the ones to retrieve Darth Vader's mask. We learned in Claudia Gray's novel Bloodline that Luke and Leia kept events at the Death Star secret, with Leia managing to hide the fact that she was Darth Vader's daughter for years after Return of the Jedi. I can't see any reason Luke will have publicly disclosed the fact he burned Darth Vader's body.
To my mind, the only one who could learn about that is Ben Solo. He only learned who his grandfather was when Leia's political opponents eventually exposed her tie to Darth Vader, and it's likely that this was when his dark obsession began. Given he went on to train with Luke, Ben was perfectly positioned to learn the full story of the Second Death Star. In my view, Endor is pretty much guaranteed to appear in a Forceback, with Ben Solo seeking out his grandfather's secrets.
Perhaps the most exciting of these three worlds, Mustafar has just become more important to the story of Star Wars than ever before. In #RogueOne we were introduced to Darth Vader's home on Mustafar, and Lucasfilm has since revealed just how much thought was put into that design. It seems that Darth Vader rebuilt an old structure, one designed to focus the power of the Dark Side, and actually built on top of an ancient Sith cave. Mustafar, it seems, is a very Dark world indeed. Intriguingly, the behind-the-scenes featurette released at D23 2017 included what appears to be lava...
Again, I can fully understand why this world would crop up once more. If Ben Solo became obsessed with Darth Vader, wouldn't he seek out the Sith Lord's home? Of course, this hints at just how dangerous that quest may have been; in visiting Mustafar, Ben Solo would expose himself to the seductive power of the Dark Side.
Where Tatooine has been extensively explored, Mustafar remains a mystery. It's exciting to imagine that some of that world's secrets will be exposed over the course of the next two films; the glimpse of Vader's home in Rogue One was a tantalizing one, and I'm definitely up for exploring the site. That said, I'd caution to be wary of assuming Mustafar will only appear in Forcebacks; I can easily imagine Kylo Ren establishing his home in Vader's castle, making the world important to the First Order.
So there you have it! We can be pretty confident these three worlds will all appear in the ongoing Skywalker Saga, but what part will they play? Will we see all three locations through Forcebacks, was the Jedi Temple based on Tatooine, has Kylo Ren made his home in Darth Vader's foreboding castle? The secrets of The Last Jedi and Episode IX are still shrouded in mystery. We'll just have to eagerly await the films themselves in order to get answers to our questions...