Based on some reactions from certain sections of the Star Wars fanbase, J.J. Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker seems to have outdone Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi in terms of triggering the diehards. The backlash that greeted the previous installment was nothing short of borderline-fanatical, with online hate campaigns targeting both Johnson and even the movie’s cast.
It seems that fans these days just can’t handle or accept it when sweeping changes are made to an established mythology that they care about, especially one that’s become so ingrained into popular culture as Star Wars. However, some of the reactions to both The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker have been a little over the top, but Abrams has managed to handle the criticism coming his way in an incredibly diplomatic fashion.
Like the filmmaker himself predicted, The Rise of Skywalker was never destined to please everyone, especially those hoping that it would retcon some of the more controversial aspects of The Last Jedi. And while the ninth and final chapter does double down on the nostalgia and fan service, it doesn’t exactly remove the eighth installment from continuity.
In a recent interview though, Abrams admitted that he worked closely with Rian Johnson in the early stages of developing The Rise of Skywalker, in an effort to make sure that the two movies didn’t feel too different, despite the hope from some fans that it would be an exercise in course-correction for the franchise.
“We had conversations with Rian at the beginning. It’s been nothing but collaborative. The perspective that, at least personally, I got from stepping away from it and seeing what Rian did, strangely gave us opportunities that would never have been there, because of course he made choices no one else would have made. In a way it felt kind of like a gift, though of course there were challenges in every direction [too]. It was actually weirdly more helpful than not, having that other energy to the story. There was an alchemy because of the things that he did.”
Of course, there’s a vocal section of Star Wars fans that wouldn’t describe Rian Johnson’s contribution to the franchise as a gift, but Abrams clearly disagrees – even despite admitting they presented challenges, too. But in the future when the Sequel Trilogy is being re-appraised, there’s every chance that each installment will stand out as being wildly different from the last, which has more to do with negative reactions and studio mandates more than anything else. Now that Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is finally done though, perhaps it’s time for the franchise to take a break from the big screen for a while.