SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
One of the things that the recent Star Wars films have been sure to do is to pack the films with lots of references to previous Star Wars films, as a sort of “reward” to those devoted fans who really know a lot about the past Star Wars stories. We have spotlighted a few of these references in our look at the Easter Eggs in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but some of the references are not really “hidden,” in the sense that they are clear references — if you are a fan of Star Wars films, of course. If you aren’t, then they will fly over your head at hyperspeed.
So here, we will take a look at 15 great references to past Star Wars films in The Last Jedi that you would really have to be a fan of the Star Wars movies of the past to catch. See how many that you can identify; though, to be fair, there are a couple that are probably closer to being “Easter Eggs” than obvious references!
15. EVEN BB-8 HAS A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS
Perhaps the most famous line of dialogue in the Star Wars universe is the expression, “I have a bad feeling about this.” It was first said in Star Was: A New Hope and it has managed to appear in every Star Wars film since. In fact, it has become so noteworthy among Star Wars fans that there were a few that were quite disappointed when it seemed as though The Last Jedi broke the streak by having no one say it in the film.
However, some astute fans noticed that it seemed as though BB-8 was telling Poe that he had a bad feeling about their plan to attack the First Order’s Dreadnought early in the film and director Rian Johnson confirmed that that was, in fact, what BB-8 was saying in his droid language.
14. WHY MESS WITH A WINNING FORMULA?
The opening of The Last Jedi sees the result of Poe’s dramatic gambit. He planned to surprise the much larger First Order ship by using a turbo engine to speed himself on to the surface of the ship so that he could knock out all of the ship’s surface cannons. This then allowed the Resistance’s bombing squadron to have an open shot at the ship. They managed to destroy it, securing a much needed victory for the Resistance, but at the cost of many lives.
Leia then berates Poe, telling him that you can’t just “jump in an X-Wing and blow something up” all the time. This, of course, is a reference to how the Rebel Alliance succeeded in defeating the Galactic Empire in both A New Hope and Return of the Jedi (plus the First Order in The Force Awakens).
13. A LONG PLOTTED PLAN
One of the biggest shocks to the Resistance in The Last Jedi came when they discovered that the First Order were able to track them through hyperspace. This was a major game changer, as one of the only ways that the much smaller Resistance were able to combat the First Order is that they could, in effect, teleport away from the bad guys and regroup. If the bad guys could just follow them right away, they would be screwed.
As it turned out, however, in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, when Jyn Erso broke into the Imperial base to steal the plans for the Death Star, she also discovered early plans for none other than hyperspace tracking! Since they clearly knew the plot of The Last Jedi while filming Rogue One, that was a very clever piece of foreshadowing.
12. THE FALCON HAS SUCH GREAT TIMING
In the final battle in The Last Jedi, the remaining Resistance fighters have to use old ski speeders to take on the First Order’s forces to protect the Resistance in their base so that they could buy time for friendly forces to show up and help them escape from Crait. During the assault on the First Order, the bad guys unleash a bunch of Tie Fighters to destroy the speeders.
Rose was being targeted and was about to be destroyed when suddenly the Tie fighter who had the drop on her was destroyed! It was the Millennium Falcon, piloted by Chewbacca with Rey on the cannon, saving the day! This was an homage to how the Falcon saved Luke out of nowhere when Luke was making his final approach to destroy the Death Star in A New Hope.
11. GET THE SCUM RIGHT
Technically speaking, the Resistance in The Last Jedi is a different entity than the Rebel Alliance that were featured in the original three Star Wars films (beginning with A New Hope). However, they are certainly the spiritual successors to the Rebel Alliance, which was shown to great effect in Finn’s climactic battle against Captain Phasma of the First Order.
Phasma looked down upon Finn because he used to be one of the Stormtroopers under her command and she is aghast that he betrayed the First Order. She calls him scum during their battle when she thinks that she has killed him. When he reveals that he survived her assault, he corrects her that he is “Rebel scum.” That, of course, is the insult used by the Empire throughout the original trilogy.
10. IT IS SO HARD TO FIND GOOD X-WING PARKING
When Rey manages to track Luke down on the planet Ach-To in The Last Jedi, she discovers that he has parked his X-Wing underneath the water (and has re-used the door from his ship as the door to his hut). The purpose of showing the ship is likely to give fans a reasonable explanation for how Luke shows up on Crait at the end of the film (before we learn that he never left Ach-To).
This, of course, is a reference to Luke’s journey to Dagobah in The Empire Strikes Back, when his X-Wing sinks in the swamp while Luke is visiting with Jedi Master Yoda. Luckily, since they can survive in outer space, X-Wings are presumable pretty resilient to water damage. They might not smell too good, though, after being under water that long.
9. TWO STEPS FORWARD, TWO STEPS BACTA
The new Star Wars film trilogy might be starting a trend of its own. Each of the first two films have ended with one of the main characters in what looks to be a coma (first Finn in The Force Awakens and now Rose in The Last Jedi). However, when Finn wakes up in The Last Jedi, he is in a suit that might be familiar to longtime fans.
Finn is in a Bacta-suit. This is an improvement on the technology that we saw in The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke was badly injured on Hoth and had to be healed by being placed in a giant Bacta tank. Not a whole lot of other technology in the new Star Wars films seems to have advanced in 40 years, but at least bacta tanks have!
8. THE FAT SHAMING OF STAR WARS CONTINUES
When you’re an X-Wing pilot in a Star Wars film, your mortality rate is exceptionally high. However, not only are you likely to die, but you also get very little screen time to establish any sort of characterization before you inevitably get blown up in an attack to show off how much better Luke and/or Poe are at flying than you. Thus, very often the films have chosen to go for extreme short hand.
Hence, in A New Hope, one of Luke’s fellow X-Wing pilots is a fat guy who is named…. Porkins. Keeping the tradition of fat-shaming among the Rebels/Resistance going, in The Last Jedi, one of Poe’s fellow X-Wing pilots is a fat guy who is named….Tubbs. Porkins and Tubbs sounds like it could have been a cool 1980s TV cop show, doesn’t it?
7. IS THIS WHAT THEY MEAN BY DRAMATIC IRON-Y?
In an out-of-nowhere moment of levity in The Last Jedi, we see what we assume to be a First Order ship land, but then the camera pulls out and we realize that it is not a ship at all, but instead a First Order steam iron being placed on some First Order uniforms! The hilarious moment is a reference that goes beyond the official Star Wars films (so, okay, it might be a bit of cheat to count it here).
It is referring to Hardware Wars, a Star Wars parody film that was released just a year after A New Hope that recreates the original film with household power tools in place of the futuristic technology of the original film. Rian Johnson was a big fan of the film, so he included an homage in The Last Jedi.
6. YODA HAS THE SAME PROBLEMS WITH LUKE
A major fan favorite returns in The Last Jedi, as Frank Oz returned to play Jedi Master Yoda, who appears to Luke as a Force ghost while Luke is pondering his future on Ach-To. When he sees Luke, Yoda pokes a little fun at how, even now, Luke is busy thinking about the future and not the present.
This calls back to The Empire Strikes Back, when Yoda told Luke, “A Jedi must have the deepest commitment, the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing.” However, like all things Yoda did, it was probably designed to just push Luke in the right direction.
5. REY’S DARK JOURNEY
Before Luke headed off from Dagobah and abandoned his training with Master Yoda to go save his friends in The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda had him do a number of different training sessions. One of them involved Luke entering a cave that was strong with the Dark Side’s power (why a cave that was “strong with the Dark Side’s power” was just sitting around on Dagobah is anyone’s guess).
In the cave, Luke sees a vision of Darth Vader and Luke beheads him, but sees that the person he beheaded was actually himself! In The Last Jedi, Rey gets similar treatment on Ach-To, when she enters a dark cavern and also hallucinates. She, too, has a vision that warns her that her greatest enemy is herself.
4. LUKE’S SOLO FLASHBACK FAREWELL
Kylo Ren has quite a streak going in the new Star Wars films. He has had three different father figures in the two films so far, and he has managed to kill two of them (his actual father, Han Solo, and his mentor in the Dark Side, Supreme Leader Snoke) and probably would have killed the third (his former Jedi master, Luke Skywalker) had Luke actually shown up on Crait.
When Luke leaves Kylo (after successfully distracting the First Order forces long enough to allow the Resistance to escape imminent death), he tells him “See you around, kid,” which is an homage to the way that Ren’s father, Han Solo, used to talk to Luke. Luke likely knows that Ren would be as irritated by being called “kid” as Luke was back in A New Hope.
3. ANOTHER SIDE OF FAILURE
One of the most famous sequences in Luke’s training with Yoda in The Empire Strikes Back comes when Yoda asks Luke to lift up his X-Wing using the Force. Luke says he’ll try and Yoda explains, “Always with you what cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say? You must unlearn what you have learned. Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
When Luke fails, Yoda then lifts the ship up himself. A shocked Luke says, “I don’t… I don’t believe it,” to which Yoda calmly retorts, “That is why you fail.” It’s a powerful moment. In The Last Jedi, though, Yoda follows up his original comments by noting that failure is useful. He explains, “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Even as a ghost, Yoda has the goods when it comes to teaching.
2. SUNNY SIDE OF THINGS
After Luke has successfully held off the First Order forces and allowed the Resistance to escape via his tremendous achievement of projecting himself to Crait from Ach-To using Force Projection (something we have never seen a Jedi ever do in any of the films before), he collapses back on Ach-To and gets ready to die.
It is unclear if he is dying because it is his time or if the power he exerted to do the Force Projection took too much out of him. In any case, before he passes away, Luke is shown seeing two suns in the sky, which is what he got to see every day while growing up with his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Whether he Force Projected himself briefly to Tatooine is unclear.
1. LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Luke holding off the entire First Order on Crait not only allowed the Resistance to escape, it also gave the Resistance a huge victory in the realm of propaganda, as Luke’s heroics soon spread throughout the galaxy, allowing the Resistance survivors to spark the flame of the next era of rebellion. We see this with the stable boys that Finn and Rose encountered earlier in the film. They are clearly ready to someday join the Resistance.
When one of the stable boys goes out to sweep up (using the Force to get his broom), he looks out to the sky and poses just like Luke did in A New Hope, where he, too, dreamed of a life in the stars that would take him away from his monotonous existence on Tatooine. It’s a beautiful end to the film.
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