– written by HypersonicHarpist
Honoring Episode VIII…and Episode VII
In The Last Jedi one of the most memorable and emotionally impactful lines of the movie comes during Luke’s duel with Kylo Ren: “The Rebellion is reborn today, the War is just beginning, and I will not be the Last Jedi.” His statement here is a refutation of Kylo’s statement earlier in the movie: “Let the past die, kill it if you have to.” Originally Luke and Kylo felt similarly, with Luke, in his depressed state, wanting the Jedi to end and for the light to arise from somewhere else. This line shows that Luke has moved past his depressed state and that he has regained hope and decided to once again be a symbol of hope for the galaxy. Referring to the new order of good Force users as Skywalker instead of Jedi takes some of the emotional punch out of Luke’s statement because it would no longer be completely true, 1000 generations of Jedi would end with him and something different would take its place.
In The Force Awakens the opening lines of the film are “This will begin to make things right. I’ve traveled to far and seen too much to ignore the despair in the galaxy. Without the Jedi there can be no balance in the Force.” Star Wars movies often use opening scenes and opening lines to establish tone and theme. Obi-Wan’s first line in The Phantom Menace is “I have a bad feeling about this…It’s not about the mission, Master. It’s something… elsewhere. Elusive.” A fitting opening for a movie and a trilogy of movies about the Sith scheming behind the scenes. The first scene where we see Luke in the Empire Strikes Back, he gets clobbered by the Wampa which sets the tone for things not going so well for the heroes throughout the film. The opening lines of The Force Awakens sets the themes for the Sequel Trilogy: Making things right and restoring hope to the galaxy and balance to the Force by bringing back the Jedi.
What are the Jedi in the context of the Sequel Trilogy? They are hope bringers. For all of his subversion, Rian Johnson doubled down on this theme in a big way by making Luke the “Spark of Hope” and by having his sacrifice spread hope across the galaxy. For J.J. Abrams to rename the good guy Force users from Jedi to Skywalker would be and odd diversion from the theme that he set up in The Force Awakens that Rian Johnson built on in The Last Jedi.
This is the elephant in the room that no one who voices this theory seems to be mentioning. Jedi as a noun can be both singular and plural. Skywalker as a proper noun is strictly singular. Words in the English language that end in -r are typically pluralized as -rs. Using the singular noun Skywalker rather than its plural form Skywalkers to refer to a group of people would come across as very discordant to native English speakers.
If the movie was about the historical Templar Knights it wouldn’t be called the Rise of Templar, because that makes no sense. It would be The Rise of Templar Knights, The Rise of Knights Templar, or The Rise of Templars to emphasize that the title referred to a group of people. (Also more likely than not there would be a the after the of in each of those potential titles.) If the title for Episode IX was The Rise of Skywalkers or The Rise of the Skywalkers, I would concede that there was at least the possibility that it refers to a new order of Force users, but referring to a group of people collectively as Skywalker just doesn’t sound right, especially when it would have been so so easy for J.J. to simply add an -s to the end of the title if that was the meaning he intended it to have. J.J. Abrams left the title singular for a reason, it refers to a singular Skywalker.
It is possible that the title could have multiple interpretations. Return of the Jedi can be interpreted to refer to the rebirth of the Jedi order in Luke and the return of Anakin to the Light. It may end up being that the Rise of Skywalker refers to multiple events as well. Potential interpretations could include: Rey learning that she’s a Skywalker, Luke rising from the dead, Leia rising to lead the galaxy, and Ben Solo rising from the darkness and returning to the light. But in all of these cases the “rise” in question is individual not collective so the singular title could be accurately used to describe each event individually. Which Skywalker the title referred to would just depend on the audience member’s point of view.
For nearly 42 years movie going audiences, even those only marginally aware of the series, have known two things: the good guys with the laser swords are called “Jedi” and “Skywalker” is the last name of several of the good guys. Switching that around when you are almost half a century, 11 movies (12 if you count the Clone Wars movie), and multiple shows into the franchise is going to cause a lot of confusion, especially among people that aren’t hardcore fans.
If future movies had new good guy Force users that were referred to as “Skywalker” instead of “Jedi” it would be perfectly understandable for the average non-fan moviegoer to get confused and assume that the new “Skywalker” character was somehow related to Luke and Anakin. Most non-hardcore fan audiences members would also likely still continue using “Jedi” to refer to the new Force users, because that’s the term they are familiar with. This problem would only be amplified by the fact that Lucasfilm is likely to make films, shows, books comics, games, etc. that go both forward and backward in the timeline. So there would be some new media where the good Force users are Jedi and Skywalker is a surname and some new media where Skywalker refers to a good Force user and the term Jedi is no longer used. Straightening out this confusion would require marketing that wouldn’t be necessary if the name switch hadn’t been made. Lucasfilm knows all of this so they are unlikely to do a name switch and cause unnecessary confusion that could potentially hurt their bottom dollar.
The Trailer Itself
The trailer opens with Luke saying “We’ve passed on all we know. A thousand generations live in you now.” The first part is a reference to Return of the Jedi and The Last Jedi where Yoda tells Luke to pass on what he has learned. The second line references Obi-Wan in a New Hope saying that the Jedi had been the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy for a thousand generations. Saying that Rey is the embodiment of those thousand generations and the one that has received all of their knowledge sure doesn’t sound like the set up for a story about her breaking from the Jedi to form a new order of Force users. It sounds like the set up for a story about her carrying on that legacy and perhaps perfecting it.
TLDR: The teaching of the Jedi might grow and change from the what we have seen in the previous trilogies, but the name is likely to stick around for as long as the franchise does.