Star Wars: The Last Jedi had its fair share of ups and downs, and twists and turns - and that's partly what makes the film so divisive amongst Star Wars fans. Continuing an established narrative can offer a great pay off for fans of whichever movie came before, but that can also be detrimental to a sequel, which then isn't given enough breathing room to strike out on its own. That's not exactly what happened with The Last Jedi.
Rather than clean up all the loose ends from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Episode VIII takes audiences on a new journey, one that's filled with several of its own stories. The fact is, a lot of plot points that were set up in The Force Awakens were either thrown out or completely ignored in the sequel. Still, even though The Last Jedi is a bad Force Awakens sequel, by developing a relatively standalone story allowed the film to branch out on its own. And by doing so, The Last Jedi was able to avoid The Force Awakens' pitfalls.
This Page: Last Jedi Moved On From Snoke & Maz Kanata
Last Jedi Killed Off Supreme Leader Snoke
Supreme Leader Snoke was propped up being as the galaxy's new emperor in The Force Awakens. His command over the First Order (formed out of the Empire's remnants) and his expertise in the dark side of the Force (which Kylo Ren wanted to learn himself) sealed the deal, but audiences had already gone through all that with the original trilogy. What the saga needed was something new and refreshing to differentiate the overarching story in Disney-owned Lucasfilm's sequel trilogy compared to George Lucas' original trilogy - and that's where Snoke came into play. It was believed that he would have an integral role in The Last Jedi and the forthcoming Star Wars: Episode IX, but that didn't happen. Instead, he was killed off shortly after being introduced in the flesh... by his own apprentice, nonetheless.
By removing (read: killing off) Snoke, The Last Jedi gave Kylo Ren a story worthy of a villain and turned him into a character that can be remembered for his actions more than just his motivations. In The Force Awakens, all he wanted to do was be like his grandfather (Darth Vader), but in The Last Jedi, Kylo came into his own by ridding himself of everything that's "holding" him back. Snoke was no longer the Emperor, and Kylo succeeded to the title of Supreme Leader. While The Last Jedi contained several similarities to The Empire Strikes Back, altering the First Order's hierarchy starkly differentiated Episode VIII from Episode V. And now, fans can somewhat see what would've happened if Vader had overthrown the Emperor.
Maz Kanata Was Barely In The Last Jedi
If fans think Captain Phasma is the most useless character that's been introduced in the Star Wars sequel trilogy so far, then they've clearly forgotten about Maz Kanata (Lupita Nyong'o) - and for good reason. She doesn't do much at all. At least she served somewhat of a purpose in The Force Awakens, but her screen time was whittled down so much that that purpose itself was rather pointless. She was used to explain the history of the First Order and the Jedi (as well as Luke's past and Rey's future) to Rey and Finn, with her castle also serving as the first battle location between the Resistance and the First Order in the movie. A lot happened at Maz's castle on Takodana, but Maz's role itself wasn't necessary to the story. Han Solo could've easily done her job, as he started to do so aboard the Millennium Falcon.
In The Last Jedi, however, Maz Kanata's role was cut down so much that she didn't even make a physical appearance in the movie; she was shown via a moving hologram instead (so, that's a thing, now?). While that's better than giving her plenty of screen time with little to no payoff (or, even worse, if Maz introduced yet another major plot hole/unanswered question), her role in The Last Jedi was necessary to kickstart Finn and Rose's subplot. But that solidified her status as an exposition device for the sequel trilogy. The sad thing is, she was almost a very different character, someone with an actual purpose. If she returns for Episode IX, then, hopefully, she's given a proper story arc. Otherwise, there's no point in bringing her back.
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- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019