Earlier this week, the world got its first look at Star Wars: The Last Jedi. The first image featured central trio Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac in action mode, with Ridley wielding her lightsaber. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an image from the set or a promotional still from the film, but a tiny snippet of picture showing an empty toy box. By any accounts, this shouldn’t have made news when it popped up on the official Star Wars Twitter account on Thursday.
— Star Wars (@starwars) February 16, 2017
This is Star Wars though and, perhaps inevitably, the internet went completely mental. Virtually every movie news site on the web was quickly filing news copy about how exciting it was that we had seen a series of new head-and-shoulders shots of the three main characters we knew would appear in Rian Johnson‘s upcoming The Last Jedi. Social media lit up as millions of fans quickly dissected every pixel of the new images, desperate for the no doubt limitless clues it held.
As we have grown to expect from online movie writing, the response was a combination of straightforward reporting that acknowledged the ridiculous of the situation and bonkers clickbait headlines promising the reveal of hundreds of secrets from The Last Jedi.
In short, the only thing the Star Wars toy box really tells us is that Rey will wear her hair down for at least a bit of The Last Jedi. She’s also wielding Anakin Skywalker’s blue lightsaber that she tried to offer to Mark Hamill at the end of The Force Awakens. This isn’t a huge surprise.
The whole surreal furore just goes to show how desperate we all are for information about the new Star Wars movie. Disney succeeded in making the franchise exciting again with The Force Awakens and last year’s excellent Rogue One did a stellar job of keeping that momentum going. Fans will gobble up any tidbit of news about the upcoming film and movie websites – this one included, incidentally – will happily gorge on the clicks that any article about Star Wars inevitably receives.
Disney has placed themselves in a position of extreme power, where the briefest act of fanning the flames can lead to days of social media buzz. Yesterday, the act of releasing foreign translations of the new film’s title led to thousands of column inches of speculation as to whether The Last Jedi refers to one Jedi Knight or several. It remains to be seen whether Disney will use this power for good… or turn to the dark side.
There is an oasis amongst all the silliness, though, in the shape of the brilliant Twitter account @FilmClickbait, which systematically picks apart the ridiculous clickbaiting that abounds on Twitter when any major movie story breaks. They have gone into overdrive over the last few days in the midst of all of the Star Wars carnage caused by the appearance of a fairly nondescript bit of toy box packaging.
Not all heroes wear capes…
What did you think of the Star Wars toy box hysteria? What does the box tell us about The Last Jedi, if anything? Let us know in the comments section.