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Sure, Sony and Disney just made up over Spider-Man. And Dwayne Johnson even ended his beef with Vin Diesel. But it may be asking too much for Star Wars fans to stop fighting. We're only human. After Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi came out, the conversation quickly turned to what J.J. Abrams must've thought, since the story took such a hard turn from what he set up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. When Abrams was announced to direct Star Wars: Episode IX -- taking over for Colin Trevorrow -- some fans assumed/hoped he might ignore or even "repair" the story after The Last Jedi.
But no. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker co-writer/director J.J. Abrams has spoken about respecting the choices The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson made, and in a new interview Abrams reiterated that respect.
I never found myself trying to repair anything. If I had done VIII, I would have done things differently, just as Rian [Johnson] would have done things differently if he had done VII. But having worked on television series, I was accustomed to creating stories and characters that then were run by other people. If you’re willing to walk away from the thing that you created and you believe it’s in trustworthy hands, you have to accept that some of the decisions being made are not gonna be the same that you would make. And if you come back into it, you have to honor what’s been done.
Granted, J.J. Abrams told Empire he would've done things differently if he made Star Wars: Episode VIII, but he's acknowledging that Rian Johnson also would've done things differently for Episode VII, because two filmmakers are never going to make the same choices. I know some people are going to focus on Abrams saying he would've made different decisions and turn it into a slam because that's how they feel themselves. But you could put any director you do respect in the scenario above and Abrams' quote about different decisions would still stand.
Nearly two years ago, right after Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi came out, Rian Johnson told CinemaBlend about J.J. Abrams' reaction to the movie:
He was into it. And I remember that I pitched him the story at the very beginning, and he had notes, but he wasn't like, 'Oh my God, what the hell are you doing?' [Laughs] No, he was into it because I think he was into the storytelling. He's a great storyteller himself and he saw the potential of each one of these beats. I think he saw it for what we were going for, which is not... we weren't going for, 'Let's subvert a Star Wars movie.' We were going for 'Let's make a great Star Wars movie that has things in it that will push the limits of what we can do.'
One year after that, and one year ago from now, there were rumors that J.J. Abrams' work on Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker was a course correction at Lucasfilm to "fix" Star Wars after Solo failed to meet expectations and The Last Jedi was met with divisive feedback.
But J.J. Abrams is saying no, he wasn't there to fix or repair. That's not to say he won't do the same thing Rian Johnson did and add some new twists after the previous installment. (Like for Rey's parents? Please?) Twists aren't exactly new for the Star Wars franchise. Don't pretend you knew from day 1 that Luke and Leia were twins and Darth Vader was their daddy.
I like J.J. Abrams' comparison to the world of television; he was co-creator of Felicity with Matt Reeves, created Alias, and also co-created Lost. He's been a writer, executive producer, and director on various shows. Lately he just has a ton of executive producing credits, helping to set up the pieces of shows like Westworld and Castle Rock but not acting as showrunner.
So he gets it. This isn't just his baby. It's not even just Lucasfilm's baby or George Lucas's baby. It's the fans' baby. (Pity any baby raised by this feverish fandom.)
J.J. Abrams gets to close out the Skywalker Saga and he is taking that responsibility very seriously. The stars have talked about fans being satisfied by The Rise of Skywalker, but of all the teases the one I'm most excited by is Kevin Smith's random story about the mind-melting last shot. I'm very curious about that.
Plenty of fans have been waiting for The Knights of Ren and we know they are showing up in The Rise of Skywalker. We just got a great new shot of them in the same Empire interview with J.J. Abrams' latest comments on Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker won't be repairing the Star Wars franchise but it will be arriving in theaters on Friday, December 20, 2019. Here's what else is still to come this year.