Pockets of the Star Wars fandom are expecting a desperate Lucasfilm to retcon the most controversial parts of Star Wars: The Last Jedi out of existence with Star Wars 9, but it's pretty safe to say that won't happen. After all, you only need look at how Disney handled the much more roundly reviled Star Wars prequels in their new canon.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi released almost eight months ago, but we're still very much in the first wave of debate over Rian Johnson's continuation of the Skywalker Saga. Like the Resistance and First Order at the heart of the new trilogy, conflict is locked in a stalemate of unclear balance; complaints and defenses over all aspects of the film - from the recharacterization of Luke Skywalker to the balance of bathos - have become more crystallized in that time, yet reevaluation from either side is a long way off. What is unavoidable from wherever you sit, though, is that the mood around the continuation of Star Wars has certainly changed.
Of course, it's like poetry, it rhymes. Like the Resistance and First Order are echoes of previous Galactic forces, so too is this debate; it may take place in a new age of the internet over a shorter period of time, but Star Wars has been here before, with audiences equally irate and divided by the prequel trilogy. And that's also true of the expectation that Lucasfilm will, in some narrative form, attempt to overwrite Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
- This Page: Star Wars 9 Isn't Retconning The Last Jedi
- Page 2: What Disney's Handling Of The Prequels Reveals
- Page 3: Why Star Wars Won't Retcon Any Of Its Movies
No, Star Wars Isn't Retconning The Last Jedi
Although a handful of extreme fans have floated doing a complete remake of Star Wars 8 that overrides Johnson's version, in most cases the suggestion to "retcon" Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes in the more classical sense: to retroactive change the story. Many are looking for clues or theorizing plot turns that essentially sidestep the defining aspects of Lucasfilm's released movie. The problem with all of these cases is that the evidence is non-existent.
Basically, any development in J.J. Abrams Star Wars 9 is coupled with the suggestion that it's been done to address complaints from or alter the narrative of The Last Jedi. Most recently, the return of Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian, Mark Hamill as the (now dead) Luke Skywalker and repurposing of Star Wars: The Force Awakens footage to bring back the late Carrie Fisher as Leia has been cited as an attempt to placate the fans, but each is separate from The Last Jedi: Abrams pitched his story for Star Wars 9 to Disney the day the previous film released, with no time for any backlash influence (on a related note, Johnson's script was written before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, meaning he was likewise not responding to mystery box expectations). Luke's return is hardly unestablished by Johnson, while the reuse of Fisher's footage was surely on the cards for a long time.
There's also the inexplicably lingering question of Rey's parents, which Johnson answered pretty resolutely in The Last Jedi: they were no one. This was evidently unsatisfying to some due to the barrage of theories regarding the scavenger-turned-Jedi's parentage that originated from before Star Wars: The Force Awakens' release. This, despite the fact Abrams dropped no clear clues and stated pretty resolutely by "The belonging you seek is not behind you. It is ahead." That's right: Abrams' movie most overt addressing of Rey's parentage is the same conclusion as Johnson's, with the only thing suggesting he had anything more planned being a vague statement from Simon Pegg. The current situation expecting Keri Russell or a canon-impossible Qi'ra to be a shock-reveal mother isn't dissimilar to the debate of whether Vader lied to Luke in 1980.
But while these are examples for a far-off movie, you can already see the suggestions of a retcon in the reaction to current materials. The Star Wars: The Last Jedi comic adaptation is a pretty straight telling of the movie's events, with added internal monologues for some of the more pensive scenes; this includes extended dialogue on Luke's exile and Leia's Force flight. These cases are all extensions of the screenplay, yet some fans and outlets have claimed they're evidence of Lucasfilm changing the story (something writer Gary Whitta has roundly rebuked).
Plainly, there's nothing to support the suggestion of any degree of Star Wars: The Last Jedi retcon. And why would there need to be? After all, we've already seen how Disney-era Star Wars handles controversial topics...
- Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019