Star Wars Icon Mark Hamill Responds To ‘Contentious’ Fandom And Rise Of Skywalker Backlash

Luke in Rise of Skywalker

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Star Wars is arguably the most popular film franchise of all time, with generations of moviegoers brought up on the galaxy far, far away. The main narrative of George Lucas' franchise came to an end with J.J. Abrams' Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, which wrapped up the nine-film story that began with A New Hope. Finding an appropriate ending was no easy task, and there are plenty of fans out there who weren't happy with how Episode IX wrapped up. Now Mark Hamill has addressed those concerns, and how fandom has changed throughout the years.

Given the massive popularity of Star Wars, Mark Hamill has been dealing with the franchise's rabid fanbase for decades. This obviously increased with the sequel trilogy, as Hamill reprised his role as Luke Skywalker. The 68 year-old actor was recently asked about the response to The Rise of Skywalker, saying:

I don’t know when, over the period of time, fandom became so contentious. But people are really opinionated, and you can’t help but be opinionated yourself, because you’ve lived with the character so long. So whether it was on Episode VII, VIII or IX, I’d have disagreements, and I would say to whoever it was, ‘Well, I don’t know if that’s right.’ But everyone shares the same goal: you want to make the best movie you can.

Well, that's certainly one perspective on how fandom has changed throughout the years. Star Wars' popularity means that the fans feel personally connected to George Lucas' beloved space opera, so the expectations and opinions are very strong for each new entry. Although Mark Hamill does have a hopeful message: everyone involved in the franchise is just trying their best.

Mark Hamill's comments address the conversation around toxic fandom that has been going on for the past few years. While fans keep franchises like Star Wars at the top of pop culture, the ugly side of this devotion to the property has also reared its ugly head. Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi is perhaps the best example of this, as certain fans took umbrage with the director's bold narrative choices and subversive twists. The director and cast member Kelly Marie Tran got the brunt of the backlash, with the actress eventually leaving social media altogether as a result.

Star Wars fans can re-watch the Skywalker Saga in its entirety on Disney+. You can use this link for a free 7-day trial to the streaming service.

Later in his conversation with The Daily Beast, Mark Hamill went on to speak to his experience working on the sequel trilogy, which kept Luke largely separate from the main action of the story. He said,

I love the new cast. I think the characters are great and all the actors are just perfect. I wish I’d gotten to work with them more, obviously, because I was so isolated. But you know, I never expected to come back at all. It was bittersweet, but I was able to enjoy it from a different perspective than years ago when I was in my twenties. So it was just fun to be a part of it, and it was sad in a way, because I knew it would be the last time I’d ever play Luke.

Fans were eager to see Luke Skywalker return to the big screen in the Star Wars sequels, but Mark Hamill's role was pretty limited. He only appeared in the final moments of The Force Awakens, and had just a few brief scenes in The Rise of Skywalker. The Last Jedi gave him a meaty role, but he spent the entirety of the movie on Ahch-To, and only shared scenes with Rey and Kylo Ren.

It should be interesting to see what's next for the Star Wars franchise. The beloved space opera will continue to be expanded with Disney+'s shows like The Mandalorian, although there's no telling when the property will return to theaters. Taika Waititi recently signed on to direct and write his own Star Wars flick, and Rian Johnson is also expected to helm his own movie. Although it looks like Knives Out's sequel might happen first.

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is currently available on DVD, Blu-ray and Disney+. Check out our 2020 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.