There has been an awakening—have you felt it? It’s not the reveal of the new Star Wars movie title, Star Wars: The Last Jedi. It’s the internet’s excitement over the logo in the teaser. This time, it’s red, not yellow. And that could be a big deal.
It’s unclear whether the new color is for the teaser image only, or if it’ll actually appear in the movie’s opening titles. If it’s the latter, Episode VIII will be the first film in the Skywalker saga to forego the familiar yellow logo. (And just one year after Rogue One ditched the Star Wars title card altogether.) That would make it the franchise’s biggest break from its classic intro in four decades. You don’t make that kind of change haphazardly. Plus, even if it is just for teaser imagery, the color choice still sends a message to ardent fans.
Red is a significant color in Star Wars mythology. Sure, it was the identifier for Luke Skywalker’s X-Wing squadron in the original film, but the color’s overtones are typically insidious. It’s the color not only of many a Sith’s lightsaber, including Darth Vader’s and Darth Maul’s, but also the livery of the Imperial Guard from Return of the Jedi (arguably the most colorful costumes in the entire series to date). Even a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, red tends to signify danger—at least for the good guys.
Red’s menacing connotation applies to logos, as well. Lucasfilm has used red logos three times before: The official promotional logo for 1983’s Return of the Jedi (or, as it was first known, Revenge of the Jedi, as can be seen from the video below), and in the on-screen title cards for the 2012 Star Wars: The Clone Wars episodes “Brothers” and “Revenge.”
Two of these three uses traced the rise of villains. “Brothers” and “Revenge”, a two-episode arc from the fourth season of the animated Clone Wars series, tell the story of the return of Darth Maul, presumed dead after the events of Star Wars: Episode I—The Phantom Menace.
Obviously, that’s not true of Return of the Jedi, the happy ending of the original trilogy. Yet Jedi shares a thematic bond nonetheless, in that it’s a movie wherein good guys die. Return of the Jedi sees not only the death of Darth Vader (whose ghostly appearance at the film’s conclusion suggests he has somehow gone back to being a Jedi rather than Sith) but also the more peaceful demise of Yoda.
All of this might be clutching at color-coded straws, and have no significance for director Rian Johnson’s movie. But, taken together with that title (and assuming that Lucasfilm knows exactly what it’s doing by changing the color of a logo that fans know is supposed to be yellow), one thing becomes increasingly clear about the follow-up to The Force Awakens: It’s probably time to have a bad feeling about this.