Fans were elated to see Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill return to their iconic roles for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. However, now that Episode VIII The Last Jedi has officially wrapped filming, the time has come to start speculating on how the next film will continue to tie the saga together. We’ve already speculated on some fan-favorite characters who could make a comeback in Rian Johnson’s installment of the franchise but wanted to focus a bit more on a certain diminutive Jedi Master.
When moviegoers first met Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back, he was presented as the living embodiment of the light side of the Force, a role he continued to play in the prequel trilogy. These films — divisive as they are — portray Yoda as the wisest living Jedi, the one that even senior members of the Jedi Council such as Mace Windu and Ki-Adi-Mundi would seek advice from. His position as the direct contrast to the absolute evil of Palpatine/Darth Sidious was made most apparent when the two locked lightsabers and ultimately ended their duel in a stalemate, leading Yoda to enter self-imposed exile for fear that his knowledge of the Force might be lost if he couldn’t triumph over the Sith.
Now that the most recent film has established that Rey and Kylo Ren represent the latest incarnations of the duality of the Force, it stands to reason that Yoda might have a role to play. After all, following his death in Return of the Jedi, the Jedi Master appears before a young Luke, implying that the Force ghosts of he, Obi-Wan and Anakin would be around to provide Luke with guidance. If this is indeed the case, what’s to stop Yoda from reaching out to Rey in the same way?
During a key sequence in The Force Awakens, Rey has an extended vision upon touching Luke’s original lightsaber. She sees images of Luke, flashbacks featuring the Knights of Ren and briefly hears the voices of both Obi-Wan and Yoda himself. Perhaps more than any other moment in the film, this one establishes that those two characters — who have appeared in nearly all of the Star Wars films to date — will continue to make an impact on the story at hand, a fitting move since they have literally become one with the Force following their deaths.
The narrative logic in Yoda’s return aside, the character is one of the easiest to include in the new films since he can be brought to life via either puppetry or CG. There’s also no reason to have to explain away 30 years of aging or recast to maintain continuity, provided that Frank Oz is available to record the dialogue. Longtime fans and relative newcomers alike have kept Yoda one of the most popular figures in the canon for decades, and much of the excitement surrounding the announcement of standalone anthology-style Star Wars films has centered on the possibility of more Yoda. His appearance in Episode VIII could even hint at events previously unexplored and set the stage for a solo film centering on the character.
We’re sure that Johnson will bring his own spin to Star Wars and are excited to see this new trilogy develop, but the filmmaker and the creative minds at Lucasfilm would be remiss to leave out such a beloved character as Yoda. Even if he makes only a brief appearance, Yoda could be a key ingredient in uniting these three trilogies, and his connection to the Force leaves ample room to circle back around to how his character could assist Rey and Luke in taking on the First Order. Here’s hoping we get some more of his signature backwards speech when Episode VIII The Last Jedi hits in December 2017.
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