Star Wars Fans Prepare for Opening of The Last Jedi

Superfan Talks Movie Theories and Growing Up With Star Wars

On December 14, the hotly-anticipated release of the second installment of the new Star Wars trilogy hits theaters.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi will continue the story left off by 2015’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The movie successfully rebooted the franchise after it was acquired by the Disney company, and several spin-off movies have been created, like A New Hope prequel Rogue One (2016) and next year’s Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Self-described superfan Beth Spindler of Marshfield will be among the devoted fans staking a place in the line that will form outside the theater on opening night.

“I do like the new trilogy,” she said. “I think [The Force Awakens] was kind of a thank-you to the fans. They gave the fans what they wanted.”

For the release of The Force Awakens, Spindler managed to be the second person in line and spent the day watching the 1978 Star Wars Christmas special, a lesser-known release in the franchise due to its extremely negative reception.

Like other fans, she strongly dislikes the prequel trilogy, and had a plan to ensure the success of the new trilogy.

“We were going to do a ritualistic burning of Jar Jar Binks to ‘cleanse’ the franchise,” she said. Rain prevented the ritual from taking place, so the character remains on death row.

While she opted to wear a Star Wars shirt on the night, her sons dressed up as Darth Vader and new villain Kylo Ren.

“They like the dark side, what can I say?” Spindler joked.

While she won’t be dressed up in costume for the next movie (the theater prohibits masks and lightsabers), Spindler only has to choose from her Star Wars-related apparel for the special night, whether it’s an R2D2 stocking cap or ugly Christmas sweater.

Besides apparel, her status as a major fan of the franchise is evident in her home and office. The spaces are decorated with Star Wars-themed items, like canvas prints of the movie posters and various memorabilia like Lego sets, a ceramic Kylo Ren, a BB-8, spaceships, cell phone cover, and even an R2D2 flash drive.

Although too young to see the movies in theaters, the franchise was already a cultural phenomenon in the 80’s during her childhood.

“The first experience I remember is watching Return of the Jedi on HBO,” she said. “I knew every line.” Later, she watched them on VHS.

With multiple movies in the Star Wars universe, Spindler’s chosen favorite has evolved.
“I always said it was the Return of the Jedi. I thought the Ewoks were so good,” she said. “The older I got, the more I liked The Empire Strikes Back.

But out of all of the movies, Star Wars spinoff Rogue One takes top place. “That’s my new favorite one,” said Spindler. “It was perfect. They couldn’t have changed anything.”

Fan Theories

Two years has spawned plenty of anticipation for the new release, as well as theories about what will happen in The Last Jedi.

“I have some pretty solid theories on what I think is going to unfold in the movie,” Spindler said.

One of the biggest theories concerns Rey’s parentage. At first, Spindler entertained the idea of Rey being related somehow to Obi Wan Kenobi, which for the trilogy would allow an love interest between Rey and conflicted villain Kylo Ren. But a few observations pulled her in a different direction.

The first observation comes from the trailer, which hints that Rey is entertaining the idea of joining Kylo Ren on the dark side.

“The Skywalker family has been pretty up and down with their loyalty to the Dark and Light sides. They have tendency to pull both ways,” she said. “Luke even had the tendency to do what he shouldn’t be doing. That brings me to believe that Rey might be a Skywalker.”

Spindler also noticed that Rey’s skills are similar to the Skywalkers. “The fact that she is a superb pilot and just good at mechanic work, that’s a pretty good trademark. Both Luke and Anakin were good at those things.”

As for Rey’s loyalties, Spindler predicts that the character will make a third choice.

“My theory is that she’s going to be the first Gray Jedi,” she said. A Gray Jedi walks the line between light and dark without giving into the dark side. “I read an article where they said the movie will have a new color lightsaber, which would be the gray.”

While Kylo Ren appears to hold out his hand to Rey to join him, Spindler predicts that the opposite will happen. “I think she’s going to convince Kylo Ren about what Han Solo said, that Snoke is using him,” she said. “He’s going to join forces with Rey, and they’re going to be the Gray Jedi.”

The identity of supervillain Snoke also remains a matter of debate, from whether he’s the survived Palpatine from the first trilogy or someone completely new.

“I thought that maybe he could have been Palapatine, that he had survived the fall,” she said. “But his mannerisms and way of doing things is not the same. I think he’s some other Sith that fell to pieces.”

The trailer teases a tense moment of decision for Kylo Ren when he has the opportunity to destroy the ship his mother General Leia is on to further cement himself on the dark side. Spindler believes that this moment could officially bring the end to the iconic character Leia, and that the decision was written even before the actress unexpectedly died last December.

“My reasoning is that after Carrie Fisher died, the directors and producers said they didn’t have to re-script anything. I think she was already set to die,” she said. “They’ve indicated that they would never get another actress [for the role].”

If Leia does not die in The Last Jedi, Spindler predicts the character will die off-screen immediately in the final installment in lieu of using CGI. If Kylo Ren does pull the trigger and murder his mother, she believes the regret from this action could turn him against supervillain Snoke.

“That might be his turning point,” she predicts.

She thinks it would be neat for Finn to turn out to be the son of Lando, who first appeared in The Empire Strikes Back, but the actor who played Lando has not been publicly slated to return. Though Finn’s parentage is a mystery, Spindler thinks it will stay that way.

“I’m thinking as far as Finn goes, they’re not going to go into it,” she said.

As for the other characters, Spindler does not have any predictions other than that their roles will somewhat parallel The Empire Strikes Back the way the last movie paralleled A New Hope. In The Last Jedi, she hopes to learn more backstory about Maz and how the character acquired the Skywalker lightsaber, and find out more about Finn and Captain Phasma’s upcoming battle.

“I would like to hear how she got out of the trash compactors,” Spindler said.