J.J. Abrams Explains Why He Wants Star Wars To Stay So Secretive

J.J. Abrams insists that he wants to maintain a strong sense of mystery regarding his Star Wars: Episode VII … proving he learned very little about the frustrations whipped up by the vagaries and misdirections that swirled around his Star Trek Into Darkness.

The Trek and Wars director opened up – a little – to the Times of London for a feature-length article (you need a subscription to read it in full), but THR breaks down the previous few details Abrams spills about his work on the beloved franchise. Specifically, Abrams talked about how he appreciated just how little fans knew about George Lucas’ universe back when they bought a ticket for A New Hope back in 1977. And he suggests that he’d like to somehow resurrect that aura of mystery when the series resets starting with Abrams’ new installment.

Says Abrams:

If you watch the first movie, you don’t actually know exactly what the Empire is trying to do. They’re going to rule by fear – but you don’t know what their end game is. You don’t know what Leia is princess of. You don’t yet understand who Jabba the Hutt is, even though there is a reference to him. You don’t know that Vader is Luke’s father, Leia is his sister – but the possibility is all there. The beauty of that movie was that it was an unfamiliar world, and yet you wanted to see it expand and to see where it went."

I’m not entirely sure what Abrams is hoping for with this sentiment, however. You can’t put the metaphorical toothpaste back into the tube when it comes to Star Wars. He’s correct that audiences in 1977 were blessed with an ignorance of the universe BECAUSE they hadn’t yet seen a single frame of footage. But audiences who will be turning up for Episode VII when it opens in 2015 (or, you know, whenever) will have obsessed over every minute of six Star Wars films, and Abrams better start figuring out how to cater to THAT crowd. If it’s nostalgia for pre-Star Wars days he’d like to tap into, dude better invent a time machine, not a Mystery Box.

It concerns me that Abrams is sticking to this notion of guarding everything from the fan base. He tried that with Benedict Cumberbatch’s identity in Into Darkness. So when he finally revealed that the character was Khan, it largely created resentment, not awe. I’m of the belief that Abrams needs to open up and share something with fans regarding Star Wars, because the more that the series gets bogged down in the director’s cloak-and-dagger horseshit, the more convinced I am that there is serious trouble behind the scenes. Do you agree?

The Times of London piece is also the source of a rumor that Chiwetel Ejiofor was seen auditioning for the film...and that remains a rumor because no one at Bad Robot or LucasFilm will bother to confirm anything about Episode VII. We don’t have a title, a release date or a cast. The project just lost a screenwriter. But Abrams hopes we all remember how great things were in 1977. I just don’t get it.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.