Lucasfilm Boss Defends Challenging Fans In Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Two years on from its release, and the Star Wars community is still recovering from the division created – or at least enhanced – in the fandom by Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Rian Johnson’s movie stands as easily the most controversial entry in the saga – and that’s saying something, given the prequels – due to its bold reinvention of Luke Skywalker’s character, unexpected twists and developments and darker tone. Since then, many have speculated that Lucasfilm must regret the movie.

In a new interview, though, studio president Kathleen Kennedy staunchly defended The Last Jedi. Rolling Stone asked the producer whether the studio deliberately set out to challenge the fans with Episode VIII and Kennedy confirmed that they did, and she remains proud of what they accomplished.

“We definitely did. We’re talking all the time about how we move Star Wars forward and how we keep it relevant. Obviously, we don’t want to just keep making the same movie over and over again. So I agree with you. I mean, I love what [writer/director] Rian [Johnson] did. It’s an absolutely wonderful movie. I think he’s an extraordinary filmmaker. And I really appreciated the bold moves that he did make.”

Kennedy continued her defense of the film by pointing out that TLJ‘s storytelling approach and place in the center of the sequel trilogy mirrors the shape of Lucasfilm’s two most beloved movie trilogies – the original Star Wars movies and the first three Indiana Joneses.

“I think people forget that, especially when you’re doing a trilogy structure, the first movie is setting things up, the second is usually the conflict, and the third is the resolution. So you’re bound to have that second movie, much the same way [Star Wars: The] Empire Strikes Back was probably the darkest and most dramatic of the three. We talked about it with Indiana Jones! You know, we did Raiders of the [Lost] Ark and then we did Temple of Doom, which was dark and created a lot of controversy, and people were surprised at where it went with the storytelling, but, frankly, that’s the whole point!”

Of those two comparisons, Temple of Doom is probably more apt than Empire Strikes Back. While Episode V is widely acclaimed for its more mature take on the SW saga, Temple of Doom is generally considered the second weakest Indy flick due to its darker nature (not to mention the unfortunate racism, but that’s a discussion for another time). But still, you can see what Kennedy’s getting at and why the studio had – and continues to have – complete faith in Johnson’s vision.

Whether he’ll ultimately end up helming his own trilogy, however, is something that seems up in the air right now. Following The Rise of Skywalker this December, there’ll be a three-year gap on Star Wars movies until the next one arrives in 2022. It won’t be a film from Johnson’s series, but maybe in time he’ll be able to extend his unique take on the franchise that he set out in Star Wars: The Last Jedi and challenge the fans again.

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