Star Wars Episode VIII is currently shooting under the code name Space Bear. More than that the production company established to produce Space Bear is called Space Bear Industries UK. Why name the sequel to The Force Awakens, Space Bear? Well I have a theory in this week's Star Wars Insights...
Space Bear is most like (all though not necessarily) a reference to Ewoks. They were the little space bears we all loved to hate in Star Wars Episode VI The Return Of The Jedi, even though kids and Warrick Davis seem to like them. Honestly I didn't really have much of an issue with the Ewoks. I understood the space bears were stand ins for the Viet Cong, who represented an uprising of sorts, as a simple and beaten people rise up to defeat the superior force. Not a terrible sentiment and one that worked well in the final (little did we know) Star Wars movie.
So why are space bears back now, even as a fun, tongue in cheek working title for Rian Johnson's The Force Awakens follow up? Could there be a narrative reason for the naming choice? Is there perhaps a sly nod to the events of Episode VIII? Let's speculate.
A major component of The Force Awakens was Kylo Ren's obsession with his long dead grandfather, the Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader. In fact Kylo's obsession runs so deep he keeps his beaten and burnt helmet in his private quarters. More than that Kylo appears to have some of the ashes from Vader's funeral pyre as a place to park his own helmet. It's those artifacts that I believe hint at two possible story elements that would inspire a Space Bear title for VIII.
One thing that cannot be denied is at some point someone went to Endor to collect Vader's helmet and ashes for Kylo Ren. Now I'm willing to bet that Kylo went himself as a sort of pilgrimage. Just look at the reverence with which Kylo stores these artifacts. One can one speculate but I'm willing to bet that Kylo Ren stores his own helmet in Vader's ashes in the hopes that he might be inhaling his remains, and perhaps a few extra mediclorians, every time he places the helmet on. There is also a neat little theory that Kylo's triple bladed lightsaber may in fact have some of Vader's ashes in the hilt. So this is what I'm speculating:
I'm wondering if Luke will recount the tale of Vader's redemption and subsequent death to Rey as he trains her on Ahch-to. He may tell her about leaving the Death Star with his fathers body and the Viking style burial on the forest moon of Endor. I imagine Rey having a Force vision of Kylo arriving on Endor, keen to seize something he considers his birthright, the helmet, and by extension the mantle of Darth Vader. Luke could provide a voiceover as we see shadows of the past play this story out in a Force vision of some kind.
This would be a nice neat way of communicating some of the events that took place between Star Wars Episode VI The Return Of The Jedi and The Force Awakens. This theory relies on Luke having knowledge of Kylo's obsession and the fact that he went to Endor to claim the prize, but I think I might just prefer my second theory.
What if Luke isn't aware that Kylo Ren, who he will remember as Ben Solo, his fallen student, has possession of Vader's helmet and ashes. It'd be very interesting to hear Rey recount her tale of facing Kylo Ren, both during the interrogation and in lightsaber combat. During her tale she could mention the ashes she witnessed Kylo dump his helmet into and the fact that she read his mind with her nascent Force powers, and taunt him over his Darth Vader complex. This might lead Luke to a realization that Kylo has pillaged his grandfather's grave in order to surround himself with these Sith artifacts. I like the idea that this motivates Luke to leave Ahch-to with Rey and head to Endor (where he will encounter Ewoks) in order to inspect his fathers remains.
I imagine Luke reading between the lines and realizing that Kylo would have had to get the Darth Vader information from someone who was there, or at least watching events from the shadows. This could lead to the inevitable Luke and Leia reunion, with Luke asking her what she told Kylo about Vader, their father. In turn Leia, who may not be aware of her son's gruesome collection, could tell Luke about Snoke and her supicions that it was he who seduced her son.
This might be enough to set Luke and Snoke on a collision course. I like the idea of seeing Luke back on Endor, where we last saw him in action. I also like the idea of Warrick Davis reprising the role of a aged Wicket, now a clan leader perhaps. It would the first time in a long while that we see a Jedi Master and his Padawan on a mission. A mission that would take us on a tour of the Star Wars universe we know and love and tie into events from the original trilogy and the missing years between those and the new movies. It might also give Luke a chance to explain to Rey who she is and where she came from.
What do you think? Do you think the name Space Bear is a hint at something narratively important in VIII? Is it just a cheeky name? Would you like to see the Ewoks again, even in an extended cameo? leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you for reading,