Screenwriter Max Landis is no stranger to controversy. The creator and showrunner behind the hit BBC America series Dirk Gently has drummed up more than his share of squabbles in the online community in the past thanks to his candid words on the state of Hollywood and his involvement in (cancelled) adaptations of beloved properties like Power Rangers and Pokémon. But perhaps the biggest backlash he’s received to date came about as a result of his comments on Rey, the lead character of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
In a series of tweets following the film’s release in December of 2015, Landis offered up his take on Rey, calling her a “Mary Sue” and the “worst f***ing Star Wars main character to date.” The internet didn’t take kindly to his opinion, with many leveling accusations of sexism at the Chronicle screenwriter. The debate was reignited to a degree a few months back, when he appeared on Screen Junkies’ Millennial Falcon web series and revealed what he would like to see from future Star Wars films. (For what it’s worth: his pitch for a Logan-style Old Man Jar Jar Binks film could just be the stroke of insanity that the universe needs.)
Screen Rant sat down with Landis at a New York Comic Con press junket for Dirk Gently season 2, and asked if he truly held any interest in jumping into the Lucasfilm machine with his own big screen spin on Star Wars:
I’ve dug a pretty deep hole with myself and that property online as it is. Honestly, I am a fan of Star Wars, I’d rather be a fan…Those are movies I’d rather watch. I’d rather be a fan of Star Wars, but if they said, ‘go make something, make whatever you want’, something they would never say to ANYONE, I would, yeah. F*** it, I would do the Jar Jar movie.
After detailing his Jar Jar pitch a bit further, Landis dove into the backlash to his ‘Mary Sue’ comments and why he doesn’t feel that the criticisms were fair.
Just so we’re clear: one of the things the Mary Sue thing did when that came out was they assumed, number one, I didn’t want there to be a female character in Star Wars, and number two, that I didn’t like Star Wars. I f***ing LOVE STAR WARS. And Leia is my favorite character in the first three movies, and I know that’s weird to say, but she’s so cool…And, you’ll notice in all of my movies and my dumb TV show, if there’s ever a woman who needs to be rescued, ultimately, not only do they rescue themselves, they end up rescuing the people that were sent to save them. Farah Black, Phoebe in American Ultra, Martha in Mr. Right…that’s like a spoiler for everything I write. And I don’t do that intentionally, that was pointed out by my girlfriend, and the reason I do that is Leia!…It’s such a reliably rewarding twist.
Star Wars praise and self-deprecating jokes aside, Landis himself has admitted that the criticism he’s received about his Rey reaction is fair — to a degree. As he told Newsweek, “It’s very easy to take dumb and horrible sh** I said six years ago, and trot it out every time there’s a new article about me,” before adding, “I regret framing it that way. I didn’t understand that the term ‘Mary Sue’ had been co-opted. I deserve the scrutiny I’m getting, but engage me. Don’t make me a figure. I’m not a cartoon.”
Regardless of your personal stance on Landis, he continues to be one of the most sought after writers in Hollywood. The second season of his BBC America series Dirk Gently is set to premiere on October 14th, his screenplay for the highly anticipated Netflix movie Bright (starring Will Smith) will finally hit screens on December 22nd, and he’s currently plugging away on a remake of An American Werewolf in London. He’s certainly not hurting for work, that’s for sure.
Do you think Landis’ criticisms of Rey (Skywalker? Kenobi?!) hold any weight, or did he take things a step too far? Will you be tuning in to Dirk Gently season 2? And most importantly, would you be first in line to see an Old Man Jar Jar movie? Sound off in the comments.
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