Things only true fans noticed in The Last Jedi trailer

Between the movies, the comic books, the novels, the television shows, the video games, and all of the other material out there, there is a lot of Star Wars to keep track of. With The Last Jedi quickly approaching, there's about to be even more.

If you didn't catch everything in Episode VIII's jam-packed first trailer, don't feel too bad. Lucasfilm crammed so much information into the trailer's brief two-minute run time, there's no way you could've picked up on it all. So, don't worry about it. When it comes to Star Wars, the hardcore fans have you covered. They always do.

A triumphant return

The Force Awakens had its share of epic space battles, especially during the film's climax, in which Poe Dameron and other Resistance pilots lead the fight against the planet-sized Starkiller base. However, while classic Star Wars ships like the Millennium Falcon and X-wings were prominently featured throughout the movie, there wasn't much variety in the spacecraft, and many of the Star Wars series' most popular fighters were nowhere to be seen.

Thankfully, it looks like some of those fan-favorite vehicles will return in The Last Jedi. Eagle-eyed viewers noticed an A-wing in The Last Jedi trailer's big space battle, marking the first big-screen appearance of the ship in almost 35 years (in the screenshot above, it's the red and white ship over on the left). There's also an A-wing in the hanger when Poe Dameron's ship explodes. That's significant. The A-wing made its Star Wars debut during Return of the Jedi's Battle of Endor, and it went on to become a major part of Star Wars' Expanded Universe. In Star Wars lore, the A-wing is a high-speed fighter with limited offensive and defensive options, forsaking heavy weapons and shields in order to match the speed of the Empire's TIE Interceptors.

A-Wings play a big role on the Star Wars: Rebels animated series, and one member of The Last Jedi's cast has a very personal connection to the fighters, too. Poe Dameron's mother, Shara Bey, was an A-wing pilot who fought in the Battle of Endor, and who helped escort Luke Skywalker to safety after he redeemed Darth Vader and escaped the second Death Star (for more on Bey, read on or check out Marvel's Shattered Empire miniseries).

The walkers strike again

It's not out yet, but The Last Jedi is already drawing a number of comparisons to The Empire Strikes Back. Not only is The Last Jedi the second film in a proposed trilogy, but Adam Driver—AKA Kylo Ren himself—said that, like Empire, The Last Jedi will have a very different, and possibly darker, tone than its predecessor.

Judging from The Last Jedi's trailer, the similarities might be even deeper. In one series of shots, a squadron of new funky-looking ships speed over a barren landscape, expelling clouds of red dust behind them. But where are they headed? If you look carefully, you'll see a squadron of First Order Walkers looming in the distance, slowly making their way toward the battlefield.

It's not exactly like The Empire Strikes Back—for one, the planet (which is called Crait) is covered in rock-hard salt, not snow, and the Resistance's new skimmers look a lot more mobile than the Rebel Alliance's snowspeeders—but the similarities are hard to ignore. According to director Rian Johnson, the two sides are even fighting over "an old rebel base there that's now abandoned," similar to how the Rebels were fighting to escape a besieged base back during the Battle of Hoth.

Kylo Ren has seen better days

One of the big moments in the first The Force Awakens trailer—and, if we're being honest, the film too—is the shot of Darth Vader's crumpled and melted helmet. In The Last Jedi's first trailer, there's a similar moment. However, if you look carefully, you'll notice that the shattered headgear might belong to Kylo Ren, and not the former Sith Lord.

Fans seem split on whose mask that is, although there's a convincing case to be made for either. The twisted silver lining looks more like Kylo's metallic faceplate than Vader's all-black ensemble. The eye hole—or what's left of it—also more closely resembles the narrow visor found on Ren's helmet than Vader's larger, more bulbous design.

And then there's Kylo himself. In both the film's poster and the trailer, Rey's favorite punching bag has his face exposed, revealing a scar over his right eye. We're not sure if Kylo Ren is going mask-free for the whole film or not, but either way, it looks like Supreme Leader Snoke's protege has been having a pretty rough go of it lately.

Stop us if you've heard this one before

When Luke asks Rey to reach out with the Force and tell him what she sees, the young Jedi-in-training has a pretty simple response. However, if you listen carefully, you can hear some familiar lines of dialogue from the original Star Wars trilogy playing in the background as Rey answers.

Specifically, right before Rey says, "Light," Princess Leia whispers, "Help me, Obi-Wan" as now-General Leia appears on-screen. As Kylo Ren's shattered helmet fills the frame, Darth Vader's heavy breathing invades the soundtrack as Alec Guinness' Obi-Wan Kenobi utters, "Seduced by the dark side"—which is, you'll remember, how old Ben first described Darth Vader way back on Tatooine. Finally, as the trailer cuts to an organic bookshelf filled with weathered books, Yoda's scratchy voice says, "Surrounds us, binds us," setting the mood before Rey intones, "Balance."

Oh, and about that tree…

Getting back to the Force's roots

The woody bookshelf that briefly appears in the Last Jedi teaser might just be a regular old space tree, but we doubt it. In early Episode VIII photos, a large gnarled tree sat right in the middle of the set. Many fans assumed that the prop was a "Force tree," which is actually a fairly big part of Star Wars' backstory.

In The Clone Wars' fifth season finale, a giant Force-sensitive tree grows in the middle of the Jedi Temple and watches over young Jedi as they train. In Marvel's Shattered Empire miniseries, Luke Skywalker learns that two small twigs from the tree survived the Emperor's reign. Luke gives one plant to Shara Bey, Poe Dameron's mother, and keeps the other for himself. It seems quite likely that Luke planted the sapling on Ach-To, the planet where he's training Rey in the trailer, and that it grew up during Luke's exile.

There's another, wilder option, too. In the Star Wars Rebels cartoon, an ancient creature named Bendu—who just so happens to have bark-like skin—helps the exiled Jedi Kanan Jarrus and his apprentice, Ezra Bridger, learn the ways of the Force. Interestingly, while Bendu is an extremely powerful Force user, he isn't loyal to either the light or the dark side. Instead, he says, he's "in the middle," and represents the Force's "center."

Given that Rey utters "balance" right as the wood appears, it's easy to see how some fans are connecting the giant tree to Bendu and not the Jedi Temple. Of course, there's the pesky fact that Bendu seemingly died (or at least disappeared) in Star Wars Rebels' third season finale, but death is hardly the end in Star Wars. Obi-Wan Kenobi's ghost shows up all the time, and Darth Maul found a way to survive after he was cut in half and dropped into a pit. In a galaxy far, far away, pretty much anything is possible.

Shades of gray

It's safe to say that The Last Jedi teaser doesn't make Luke look like the Jedi's biggest fan. For one, when Rey lays out the basic tenets of the Jedi's philosophy—there's a light side and a dark side, and they both need to be kept in balance—Luke replies by saying "It's so much bigger." At the end of the trailer, Luke claims that it's "time for the Jedi to end."

Still, Luke spends most of the brief video training Rey how to use the Force, so he obviously sees some value in the Jedi's teachings. This dichotomy—as well as Bendu's debut in the last season of Star Wars Rebels, which paves the way for a neutral Force-wielder—is leading some to surmise that Luke has become a "Gray Jedi." Unlike a regular Jedi, Gray Jedi aren't actually part of the Jedi order, and are able to tap into both the dark and light sides of the Force without being corrupted.

Beyond Bendu, there are actually quite a few Gray Jedi in Star Wars' history, although most of them were thrown out of official canon when Disney reset the Expanded Universe following its purchase of Lucasfilm. Jolee Bindo, a former Jedi Padawan, was a major character in the Knights of the Old Republic video game who described himself as a Gray Jedi. The Jedi Academy Training Manual, a source book for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars role-playing game, contains quite a bit of information about the Gray Jedi order (or lack thereof), as does the comic book series Star Wars: Legacy, which is set in the Star Wars Universe's far, far future.

The Jedi's diary

During the trailer, someone runs their hands over a crusty, beat-up book. We don't know exactly what that book is, but fans have one very good guess: the old tome might be the Journal of the Whills, an object that's been part of Star Wars lore since the very, very beginning.

After all, the Journal is a book that chronicles the Jedi's ancient history, and the book featured in the trailer is clearly emblazoned with the Jedi Order's insignia. In addition, Disney and Lucasfilm have been teasing the Journal of the Whills for years. Alan Dean Foster's prose adaptation of Star Wars begins with a brief recount of the Emperor's rise to power, which is credited to the Journal. The Force Awakens' novelization opens with a quote from The Journal as well (one that adds some credence to those Gray Jedi theories). The Temple of the Whills on Jedha plays a major role in Rogue One, as do two of its Guardians, Chirrut Îmwe and Baze Malbus, who are also getting their own spin-off novel.

Basically, the Whills has been getting a lot of attention since Disney started its brand new Star Wars saga, and it's hard to imagine that this isn't leading to something. If so, it'd be the culmination of a plot line over 40 years in the making. When George Lucas sat down to write Star Wars, he called it "The Journal of the Whills," although that didn't last for very long. Still, the Journal persisted. Early drafts of the Star Wars screenplay used passages from the Journal of the Whills instead of an opening crawl to set up the story, and Lucas says that, originally, A New Hope was supposed to be a story in the journal, which was being "told" to the audience via an unknown narrator.

Back to the past

In the trailer, a hooded Luke and R2-D2 watch as a building burns in the distance, decimated by Captain Phasma (we think) and a group of First Order Stormtroopers. If that looks familiar to you, there's a reason: we've seen this scene before.

When Rey touches Luke's lightsaber for the first time, she has a "Force Vision," which shows her glimpses of both the past and the future. In one shot, Luke puts his gloved hand on R2-D2 while flames rage in the background. From the way the new footage is presented, it looks like we're seeing the same scene from a different angle. That's not the only link between Rey's vision and The Last Jedi's trailer, either. During the flashback, as Luke reaches out to touch his trusty droid, you can hear Yoda say, "Its energy surrounds us and binds us"—a line that's repeated in The Last Jedi's preview.

If that's not enough evidence for you, the scene was also featured on a special IMAX-exclusive The Force Awakens poster. Clearly, the burning building marks a pivotal moment in Luke Skywalker's history (the going theory is that it's the moment when Luke's new Jedi school is destroyed, although that's mostly speculation), and it's something that Lucasfilm has been setting up for a quite a while. Hopefully, we'll learn a little bit more before The Last Jedi makes its big debut.