When The Force Awakens reignited everyone’s love for Star Wars four years ago, fans (us included!) were beside themselves.
And for the most part, J.J. Abrams and his team delivered a compelling sequel to Jedi, all the while teeing up the next chapter in this most beloved saga. Doing so required the introduction of new heroes (and villains!) along with a narrative throughline that would truly hook its audience.
But for many, The Force Awakens felt too similar to A New Hope. There was the all-powerful regime, the desert planet… it even featured a spherical WMD capable of wiping out entire star systems in the blink of an eye. So it’s small wonder why Episode VII attracted some criticism for retreading old ground.
Be that as it may, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker won’t repeat the same mistakes. But don’t just take our word for it; here’s J.J. Abrams himself on what sets Episode IX apart.
Working on nine, I found myself approaching it slightly differently. Which is to say that, on seven, I felt beholden to Star Wars in a way that was interesting — I was doing what, to the best of my ability, I felt Star Wars should be. It felt slightly more renegade; it felt slightly more like, you know, f**k it, I’m going to do the thing that feels right because it does, not because it adheres to something.
Whereas Abrams felt beholden to the Star Wars legacy of old, this time around he’s prepared to experiment with the tried-and-tested formula – a tactic inspired, in part, by Rian Johnson’s own approach to The Last Jedi, which is a bold expansion of the Star Wars universe in and of itself.
There is, of course, a limit to Abrams’ experimentation, given he’s still responsible for the final chapter in Lucasfilm’s Skywalker Saga. This, coupled with the small matter of General’s Leia final appearance, calls for a deft balancing act between the old and the new if The Rise of Skywalker is to met (and potentially exceed) expectations.
Is Episode IX up to the task? We’ll find out on December 20th.