Make no mistake about it: modern cinema just wouldn’t be the same without the Star Wars franchise. For decades it has dazzled audiences with cutting-edge special effects, wowed cinema-goers with its fantastical tale of good versus evil and bowled over fans with all that otherworldly lore. Ultimately, in fact, it’s redefined what it means to be a big blockbuster movie.
Given such an enduring legacy, it’s no surprise that there are tons of hidden references and other secret messages in the epic sci-fi franchise. And things are no different in the latest installment. Entitled The Last Jedi, the film has proven a runaway success; and it also included one of the most ingenious and well-crafted Easter eggs ever to grace the series. What’s the deal? Well, it all leads back to Rogue One.
At the end of 2017, fans of the Star Wars franchise clamored to see the latest installment in the film series, entitled The Last Jedi. The movie – which saw the return of Luke Skywalker, played by Mark Hamill – served as the follow-up to 2015’s The Force Awakens.
The film chronicles Rey’s battle against the nefarious Kylo Ren as she looks to restore balance to the galaxy. With the help of Leia and the Resistance, Rey must face the First Order under the tutelage and guidance of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, using the mysterious Force to bring them down.
The Last Jedi marked the second part in the third trilogy of Star Wars movies, with production beginning on it after the acquisition of the franchise by Disney in 2012. The latest film also features the last ever acting performance by Carrie Fisher, who sadly passed away in December 2016 after filming had concluded.
Upon release, the movie was met with widespread critical acclaim. Many reviewers were impressed by the way in which the film evolved the franchise while still respecting what came before it. Praise was also heaped upon director Rian Johnson for the artistic vision and emotional gravitas that he added.
However, some fans of the Star Wars universe were less forgiving with their assessment of the movie. Some even labeled it directionless and clumsy. And currently the blockbuster has a user score of 4.6 on Metacritic despite boasting a critical average of 85.
It’s safe to say, then, that the jury’s still out on the film. But one thing that can’t be denied are the many Easter eggs scattered throughout its whopping 152-minute running time. Yes, The Last Jedi keeps with tradition and follows its predecessors with the placement of various plot hints and lore referrals.
Such trickery has indeed been a constant throughout the franchise’s history, with the hidden references found in the movies numbering in the dozens. Whether it be Led Zeppelin’s logo showing up below the astro droid well in The Phantom Menace or a cameo appearance made by The Millennium Falcon in Revenge of the Sith, Star Wars is a gold mine for Easter eggs.
Other neat Easter eggs include George Lucas’ secretive on-screen appearance in Revenge of the Sith, the busts of the film crew visible in Attack of the Clones’ Jedi Archives and the placement of Luke Skywalker’s land speeder in The Phantom Menace.
The movies have even gone so far as to include references to other motion pictures. Take, for example, the appearance of the E.T. species in The Phantom Menace or a brief cameo in the same film courtesy of the EVA Pod from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Still, the unlikely manifestation of Mickey Mouse in The Empire Strikes Back probably tops them all.
But while all of these Easter eggs are amusing, relatively few seem to actually hint at plot points or story arcs. And that’s where The Last Jedi is different. You see, the latest release in the franchise links up with prequel Rogue One in a very ingenious way.
Here’s the thing. Super-attentive fans may have noticed Jyn Erso stumble upon a certain file in Rogue One when she’s searching through the Empire’s Death Star plans. What she finds is research for hyperspace tracking.
Spoiler alert! Incredibly, the First Order in The Last Jedi use this very information to pursue the rebels after they’ve destroyed the dreadnought. Yes, that means the concept of hyperspace tracking was first mentioned one year earlier in Rogue One.
This stunning revelation is enough to leave the most ardent Star Wars fan speechless. Why? Because it’s an example of an Easter egg so cleverly designed that it took two movies to fully unravel it. And best of all, it arguably plugs a plot hole that would otherwise have audiences up in arms.
The fact that the technology was being worked on decades before the time period covered by The Last Jedi makes perfect sense of its usage in the latest installment. However, it was such a seemingly inconsequential moment in Rogue One that many people simply ignored it at the time.
Think it’s just a huge misunderstanding? Think again. Writer on the movie Pablo Hidalgo took to Twitter in December 2017 to confirm the Easter egg’s legitimacy – taking it out of the realm of fan fiction and into the realm of fact. The new film is, in many eyes, fantastic for a variety of reasons – but this recently uncovered secret just makes it that much better.
However, as always, fan reaction was mixed with regard to the plot discovery. One fan reacted positively on Twitter, saying, “My mind is blown.” Another said, “I appreciate these Rogue One tie-ins. Like the ship being named after Raddus.”
Other users on the social media site were less impressed, though – albeit more broadly, it seems, with the movies themselves. One stated, “Wouldn’t have known cause it requires another viewing of Rogue One, still cool though,” while another wrote, “TLJ is absolute s**t. But hey, it made reference to ANOTHER SW movie from a year ago so yay.”
But however you feel about this elaborate Easter egg, you can’t fault the people behind it for effort. If the prequels taught us anything, it’s that coherence and continuity – elements they lacked – are the most important aspects of a long-standing series such as Star Wars.
Meanwhile, the Force is strong with this one as far as box office sales are concerned. Yes, The Last Jedi grossed an incredible $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing motion picture of 2017 in the process.
Throw in the fact that it’s the second-highest-grossing Star Wars movie ever and the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time, and you’ve got a franchise that’s arguably as healthy as it’s ever been. The final entry in the trilogy is slated to drop on December 20, 2019, by the way. We, for one, can’t wait.