Almost from day one, Star Wars has had one of the most dedicated fan bases around. Even years after the original trilogy, when that's all we thought we were ever going to see, people were in love with Star Wars in a way that they simply weren't to other parts of pop culture. Decades later, that passion has made things a bit heated, but J.J. Abrams doesn't see the fans of Star Wars as adversaries, because he still sees himself as one of them.
We find ourselves in a very dicey situation today, on the eve of the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The previous Star Wars film, it's safe to say, is the most contentious in the trilogy with some absolutely adoring Rian Johnson's film, and others hating the decisions it made with some of the characters. With the backlash that the franchise as a whole has been dealing with, it's easy to look at the angry fans more as an obstacle to be dealt with than an audience to be entertained. However, J.J. Abrams recently told Popcorn with Peter Travers that he doesn't view the fans in an adversarial way. He's just glad they care. According to Abrams...
You can’t look at fans of Star Wars as an adversary. They’re passionate, and certainly can be contentious, but the fact they care — I feel like I, as a Star Wars fan, understand that love for the series. So I feel blessed to be involved in something that matters so much to so many people.
Peter Travers compares Star Wars fans to an army, but Abrams tries to defuse that sort of description. At the end of the day, J.J. Abrams is right. Though dealing with the contentiousness can't be easy, it's probably better to have fans that care too much rather than not at all. It's still sort of amazing that this film franchise based in classic science fiction serials has become a part of the identity of so many.
Still, there has to be a feeling to some degree that Star Wars is gearing up for war. The response to The Last Jedi was so powerful, that it seems a foregone conclusion people are going to have a lot of opinions about Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
It seems essentially impossible that the movie will make everybody happy. J.J. Abrams acknowledges that it won't quite bluntly. If you were one of those that didn't love The Last Jedi, then The Rise of Skywalker will have to make a pretty significant course correction, but if it does that, the new movie could lose those that loved the fresh feeling that The Last Jedi brought.
One way or another, we'll know the answer soon. Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stops being theoretical and becomes an actual story, an end to the saga that has excited fans for four decades, in just a few days.