My title may be a bit misleading. “Religious fiction” usually means a specific literary genre which is overtly Christian and conservatively evangelical. I suppose stuff like Touched by an Angel was religious fiction. I don’t mean it in that way, but I can’t really think of another phrase. My basic point is that The Last Jedi is, and reminds the audience that Star Wars has always been, about a speculative, magico-religious way of life. I’m talking about the Force, of course. TLJ isn’t just about Force-users; it’s about Force-believers. And it is totally necessary for this movie to investigate the ideas underlying this religion in Star Wars.
Hoo boy. Yeah, I saw Force Awakens. It’s a common argument online already: is Rey, one of the new characters, a Mary Sue or not? I can say, spoiler-free, that through the first third of the movie I kept rolling my eyes because “gee, those assholes on the internet sure don’t want a girl to matter in Star Wars.” And then… the rest of the movie happened, and I sure did wonder some things. Please don’t click through unless you either: A sort of want to read about Star Wars not having seen Force Awakens or B already saw the damn movie. Spoilers ahoy.