The stars are hyping it. The director has been teasing it. It’s really not that far off. Written and directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: Episode VIII will be going into production very soon, and as that date approaches, we’ve already started thinking about what we’d really love to see in the movie come December 2017.

1. A New Structure

One of the biggest complaints about The Force Awakens is how liberally it borrowed from A New Hope. Story beats, character arcs, even the ending are pretty much straight from the original movie. Hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? That suggests Star Wars: Episode VIII could mirror The Empire Strikes Back, especially since our main hero, Rey, has already gone to her own version of Dagobah.

Well, we don’t want that. We don’t want to have any idea what major strokes the story could explore. If a big surprise ending is inevitable, it would take away from its emotional impact. Obviously the film can’t totally avoid similar tropes, but we’d love to be put off-guard by it. Fake us out with “Empire” and give us something fresh. One great idea came from the gang at /Film—to make it like The Godfather Part II, half flashback, half new. Whether that happens or not, Rian Johnson’s movies are anything but conventional. He’ll nail this one.


2. New Environments

The Force Awakens took place on a desert planet, a jungle planet, a snow
planet and a weaponized planet. Pretty familiar stuff in the realm of Star Wars. In Episode VIII, we’d love to see environments unlikes we’ve seen before. What does that mean? Well, anything really. It’s hard to totally avoid everything Star Wars has ever done before, but there are surely twists to be made. We just want Episode VIII to look different.


3. Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

In the original Star Wars trilogy, Luke Skywalker is a full-fledged Jedi Knight for all of... 10 minutes? Maybe? The whole point of those films was for him to reach that status, which he did at the very end. Then when The Force Awakens started, he vanished. Now that he’s back, we really hope we get to see Skywalker not just as the mentor figure, but as the full-fledged Jedi badass he know he is. We don’t know for sure, but odds are he’s now the most powerful being in the entire galaxy. What does that power mean? How does it affect him? We want to see all of that and more.

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We want to see Luke showdown against an entire armada of Stormtroopers and wipe them out with no effort whatsoever. Throw his nephew, Kylo Ren, aside like he’s nothing. Solve every problem in this universe in the first act, and then things really get started. The one danger in this is that if Luke becomes too powerful, it could take away from Rey, and no one wants that. On that note, we’d also love to see...


4. The Dark Side Within Rey

When Rey defeated Kylo Ren in The Force Awakens, it appeared she gave into anger and tapped into the Dark Side. Letting that seed grow could be a fascinating storyline in Episode VIII. Patience is a Jedi virtue, and yet Rey was picking up the ways of the Force very quickly in the last movie. Was it too quickly? Will she trust Luke’s methods? Any of these things could start a path to the Dark Side. From there, she could either go all the way bad setting her up for an Episode IX showdown with Finn, or maybe she falls in VIII and gets redeemed in IX. Rey is simply too good a character for her to go the easy route to saving the galaxy. Something we firmly believe she’ll do. Eventually.


5. Finn and Poe, BFFs

Rey is off training to be a Jedi, Kylo Ren and Snoke are licking their wounds, where does that leave our other two favorite new characters, Finn and Poe? Hopefully becoming the bestest of friends. Tumblr memes aside, these two wise-cracking Resistance soldiers need to spend more time together in Episode VIII. Each is heroic, hilarious and purposefully thin when it comes to an on-screen backstory. No matter how Johnson decides to split up the film’s characters, Finn and Poe not being together would be a tragedy.


6) More BB-8

BB-8 is a vital part of the story in The Force Awakens but, after the first act, we don’t really see him do much. Hopefully in Episode VIII we can see more of what makes BB so special. What other gadgets does he have under all those panels? Can he fly? How deep do his emotions and understanding of this conflict go? And how can all of that be used to assist Poe, Finn and whomever else to further their journey?


7. The Redemption of Captain Phasma

Before The Force Awakens, few characters were as anticipated as Captain Phasma. Then she gave up everything she stood for in a heartbeat. It was a weak showing for the First Order leader, so Episode VIII has to redeem her. Whether that means she gets a full storyline to herself, or if she just plays a more crucial, powerful side role, we have to see Phasma as a frightening force. On the other hand, we heard a theory we really love from a friend on Twitter, who suggested Phasma gets ousted by the First Order and becomes a bounty hunter with a vendetta for Finn. Now THAT’s a movie we’d be interested in.


8. A Deeper Understanding of the Dark Side

It goes without saying we want to know more about Supreme Leader Snoke in Episode VIII. So to add onto that, we hope to learn more about the nature of his, and Kylo Ren’s, interactions with the Force. As they’re neither Sith nor Jedi, their mere existence raises questions about who can use the Force and how they tap into that. Learning more about those issues could illuminate why Luke Skywalker went into hiding as opposed to confronting them, how Kylo Ren can stop a blaster bolt with the Force, what the Knights of Ren are and so much more.

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Star Wars Episode VIII will open on December 15, 2017.


Contact the author at germain@io9.com.