SPOILERS for Star Wars: The Last Jedi ahead
Star Wars: The Last Jedi writer and director Rian Johnson has opened about how J.J. Abrams initially reacted to his story for Episode VIII, saying that the Force Awakens director actually dug what he was up to for the sequel.
Abrams revived the Star Wars saga by introducing us to new characters such as Rey, Finn, Poe and Kylo Ren. Couple that with the nostalgia that our iconic old timers like Han, Leia, and Luke (albeit a very small part) bring, and you've got Star Wars: The Force Awakens - a great return to the franchise set in the galaxy, far, far away. Abrams is now set to wrap up the trilogy with Star Wars: Episode IX , after the original director Colin Trevorrow exited the project.
Speaking with CinemaBlend, Johnson talks about writing The Last Jedi and how the conversation with The Force Awakens director went down, knowing that he would not really follow through with some of the narrative beats established in Episode VII. It's important to note that at this time, Abrams presumably didn't know yet that he would be back for Episode IX, as this was early on Episode VIII's development. Here's what Johnson recalls:
"He was into it. And I remember that I pitched him the story at the very beginning, and he had notes, but he wasn't like, 'Oh my God, what the hell are you doing?' [Laughs] No, he was into it because I think he was into the storytelling. He's a great storyteller himself and he saw the potential of each one of these beats. I think he saw it for what we were going for, which is not... we weren't going for, 'Let's subvert a Star Wars movie.' We were going for 'Let's make a great Star Wars movie that has things in it that will push the limits of what we can do.'...
"He was really gracious, in just stepping back and giving us a blank slate to work with. The starting point was The Force Awakens script, which is quite a big, expansive, wonderful starting point. In that way, we are drawing directly from his work. But from that point forward it was a blank canvas."
How Abrams will close out this new trilogy remains to be seen, especially with the slew of new concepts and ideas that Johnson incorporated in Episode VIII. Much of the things that he set up in The Force Awakens including Supreme Leader Snoke posed to be the trilogy's new big bad and Kylo Ren possibly coming back to the light are thrown out of the window. In hindsight, The Last Jedi felt like a complete story than part of a trilogy, so it will be interesting how Abrams will continue the three-film arc and eventually close it out in 2019.
While it's not necessarily a blank canvas, considering all the monumental things that happen in it, The Last Jedi leaves us at a place where anything can happen. The obvious route appears to be Rey building the new Jedi Order and Kylo Ren continuing to lead the First Order with General Hux begrudgingly following his orders, but it's very much possible that both of these will not pan out the way we expect it to.
Admittedly, The Last Jedi is driving a wedge among Star Wars fans (critics or not). There are those who appreciate its boldness, especially since The Force Awakens was accused of borrowing too many story beats from Star Wars: A New Hope. Johnson has found a way to shake things up by crafting a film that challenges everything that we think we know about the lore. As much as that is a great way to invigorate the series, some are not quite happy with it especially with the myriad of unexpected moments that we have never seen in a Star Wars film. We'll see how Abrams continues the lore in Episode IX and it appears he already has an idea what lies ahead.
- Star Wars 8/Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) release date: Dec 15, 2017
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) release date: May 25, 2018
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019