Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo comment on the variety of opinions generated by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Released about a month ago, Rian Johnson's highly-anticipated sequel surprisingly became the most divisive tentpole since Batman V Superman due to some of the creative decisions made. While some praised the film for being a step in a bold direction for the franchise, others were turned off by how Luke Skywalker was handled, the introduction of new Force powers, and some of the comedic beats (among other aspects). There's even a circle of fans that wish to see Episode VIII removed from Star Wars canon.
Moviegoers found The Last Jedi to be quite polarizing, but professional critics and other filmmakers seem to enjoy it quite a bit. Recently, frequent Johnson collaborator Joseph Gordon-Levitt praised the director for taking risks with the storytelling, challenging audiences with a narrative few expected. Now, two directors who know a thing about dealing with a rabid fan base have weighed in with their own take on the controversy surrounding the new Star Wars.
In an interview with MTV's Happy Sad Confused podcast, the siblings offered their thoughts on development. Joe mentioned that the brothers are big fans of Johnson's work, before adding, "These fans are tough, can't please them all." Anthony then came in with his theory on how age played a role in reactions:
"It depends, though, on your age too. I watched the movie with my 11-year-old daughter who is very into serialized storytelling and novels primarily, but she loves the bigger story. And she was just thrilled throughout the movie, making connections to the larger Star Wars universe. And just to sit next to her and see that sense of discovery and excitement in her was an amazing experience."
There is some truth to this sentiment, as most of the dissenters seem to be people who grew up with the original trilogy and had spent the past several years building up their own ideas of what an older Luke Skywalker would be like. Joe agreed with his brother's thoughts by saying, "I think the fault line is between new fans and old fans, seems to be where it's lining up." Whereas younger audience members probably fell in line with Anthony Russo's daughter and were captivated by the spectacle and narrative, longtime Star Wars viewers were more critical of the more questionable plot points. This isn't to say these are mutually exclusive (plenty of older fans loved The Last Jedi), but that's where a significant portion of the divide lies. Star Wars has been immensely popular for more than 40 years, and revisiting legacy figures like Luke and Han Solo was bound to run some viewers the wrong way.
As the dust settles, it will be fascinating to see how perception of The Last Jedi changes over time. Johnson himself pointed out how Luke's new Force abilities have precedence in Star Wars publications (albeit, from Legends) and others have suggested the characters didn't really change personality to better fit the director's vision. Much of how Episode VIII is ultimately perceived will depend on what J.J. Abrams does in Episode IX as he looks to conclude the story in a satisfying manner. If the saga closes on a high note, people may be kinder to The Last Jedi, a necessary step to get to that point, in retrospect.
Source: Happy Sad Confused
- 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