Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams says he would've made Star Wars: The Last Jedi differently than Rian Johnson. Abrams joined the Star Wars franchise several years ago to direct Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which he thought was going to be his one and only movie in the Skywalker Saga. As a result, Lucasfilm hired Johnson to write and direct The Last Jedi and take the story J.J. set up with The Force Awakens in unexpected directions.
Through J.J.'s mystery box approach to The Force Awakens, viewers had many questions they hoped would be answered in The Last Jedi. Rey's parents, Snoke's backstory, what Luke has been doing, and who are the Knights of Ren are all pieces of the new trilogy that fans thought would be revealed and incredibly important to the ongoing story. However, Johnson subverted expectations with the quick death of Snoke, Luke becoming a hermit, the Knights of Ren nowhere to be seen, and Rey's parents said to be nobodies.
Now that Abrams is returning to this story with The Rise of Skywalker, he addressed the different path Johnson set the trilogy on in an interview with Empire. He admits that The Last Jedi took the story in directions he would not have. But, Abrams did not approach The Rise of Skywalker as though he had to fix the story.
I never found myself trying to repair anything. If I had done VIII, I would have done things differently, just as Rian would have done things differently if he had done VII. But having worked on television series, I was accustomed to creating stories and characters that then were run by other people. If you’re willing to walk away from the thing that you created and you believe it’s in trustworthy hands, you have to accept that some of the decisions being made are not gonna be the same that you would make. And if you come back into it, you have to honor what’s been done.
One of the biggest questions that Star Wars fans have had since Abrams was brought back is if he would attempt to retcon aspects of The Last Jedi to fit the plans he previously had. Even though he is saying that Johnson did things differently than what he would've done, Abrams has been consistent in his comments on honoring the choices that The Last Jedi made. For what its worth though, Rian says he doesn't care if The Rise of Skywalker does retcon his movie.
At the end of the day, the matter of Abrams and Johnson having different ideas on what direction the Skywalker Saga should go in is the byproduct of Lucasfilm's planning (or lack thereof) on the new trilogy. They allowed J.J. to tell his story and walk away, while Rian was then given the freedom to do whatever he thought was best. Even before J.J. took over Episode IX, it did not appear as though the overall story for the trilogy was mapped out. The good news is that nothing in The Last Jedi contradicts The Force Awakens. Abrams may have made some different choices if he directed Star Wars: The Last Jedi, but that only makes how he is going to continue the story all the more intriguing.
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019