Star Wars: The Last Jedi was a polarizing film. While the vast majority of fans seemed to embrace it, the folks who disliked it…really disliked it. We’re talking “Petitions To Get It Stricken From The Star Wars Canon” levels of dislike. And, while every modern Star Wars film has been met with some semblance of backlash, there’s something particularly stinging about The Last Jedi‘s reception- as rather than nitpicking or critiquing the film’s perceived strengths and weakness, people are outright rejecting writer/director Rian Johnson’s entire approach to the Star Wars galaxy.
But Johnson seems to be a man of conviction, and it sounds like he’s going to be sticking to his guns as he starts mapping out his new Star Wars Trilogy.
In a chat with Fandango’s Erik Davis, Johnson was asked if the negative backlash against The Last Jedi was going to impact the way he approaches the next wave of films he’s working on. You can watch the video of this exchange here, and then join me after for some analysis:
From #SXSW 👉 Here’s director @rianjohnson on whether fan reaction to #TheLastJedi is influencing the way he’s approaching those new #StarWars movies he’s working on, via @Fandango
Full interview 👉 https://t.co/Qyrl85LAMn pic.twitter.com/LaUqWLvPEg
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) March 22, 2018
His answer is:
“No, not really. I mean, I feel like every Star Wars thing that ever gets made has a big loud response because Star Wars fans are passionate and that’s what them awesome. I don’t think it’s possible, when you’re really telling a story you care about and having it come from your heart- it’s just not possible to be intellectually processing, like, what everyone else wants. And nor would it be a good thing, a healthy thing. I don’t think that’s a good way to tell stories.”
Now, I’ve been an outspoken critic of Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I didn’t hate the film, mind you. I think it’s a B/B- movie. But I’ve had some pointed critiques, and I’ve had some long debates about the way Johnson approached this story and the direction he took the mythology.
And yet, Johnson’s thoughts here don’t trouble me one bit.
Because something to consider is that a lot of the perceived liberties he took only feel like liberties because he was working within an established story. He wasn’t asked to tell his own story. He was asked to add the latest chapter in the Skywalker Saga that George Lucas began for us forty years ago, and that’s what makes some of his decisions feel so jarringly “wrong” or “out of place.” I’ve said, from the beginning, that I wish he would’ve saved all of his new(ish) ideas for his Star Wars trilogy; That, while I felt he didn’t necessarily carry the baton passed to him by Lucas and J.J. Abrams, I would’ve been perfectly fine with his take on the Star Wars galaxy if it was some for a wholly new and fresh story that didn’t involve legacy characters.
So, personally, even as a detractor of The Last Jedi I’m glad to hear that he’s going to tell his stories his way when the time comes.
I just wish Lucasfilm had decided to give him his New Trilogy sooner so that he might’ve been more inclined to continue the story Lucas, Abrams, and Lawrence Kasdan (Empire Strikes Back, Return of The Jedi, and The Force Awakens) had been trying to tell.