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Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams returned to direct Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, with Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi as the monkey in the middle. Abrams is now promoting Rise of Skywalker, and he's been talking a lot about The Last Jedi. Most of what he's said has been positive.
However, J.J. Abrams got candid about one big surprise of Rian Johnson's movie, and it's something that raised fans' eyebrows -- and ire -- right away in Star Wars: The Last Jedi:
I felt the biggest surprise was how dark Luke was. That was the thing that I thought: 'Oh, that was unexpected.' And that’s the thing The Last Jedi undeniably succeeds at, which is constant subversion of expectation. The number of things that happened in that movie that aren’t the thing you think is going to happen is pretty fun.
So he gave Rolling Stone a nice spin on one of Star Wars: The Last Jedi viewers' biggest complaints -- subverting expectations. It's a tough balance to create a film that has enough individuality to not be called a rehash of the original Star Wars movies while also not going so far off-the-beaten-path that fans are left shocked.
Luke Skywalker being jaded -- giving up on training future Jedis, sitting around milking thala-sirens -- it didn't sit right with a lot of Star Wars fans. And then he died. It also didn't sit right with Mark Hamill that Luke, Leia, and Han never got to reunite again in the new trilogy. So Hamill's concerns weren't just with Rian Johnson's story in The Last Jedi. He said he even pitched a reunion scene to J.J. Abrams for The Force Awakens.
J.J. Abrams said he laughed when he read the first draft of Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi script, including his Snoke twist. It sounds like the two directors kept in touch and had plenty of conversations about the Skywalker Saga storylines. Abrams even said watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi encouraged him to take risks with The Rise of Skywalker.
Some Star Wars fans are speculating on what the final trilogy in the Skywalker Saga might've looked like if J.J Abrams had directed all three films. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We still need to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and whether it's "good" or "bad" will depend, as always, on the individual viewer and not the loudest voices on the internet. After all, there are plenty of fans who did love The Last Jedi, which made more than $1.3 billion worldwide. Sure, that is down from the over $2 billion of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and I suspect the final film in the saga will end up somewhere in the middle.