For a second, it felt like we may have cause to worry about Rian Johnson's proposed Star Wars trilogy, which is set to kick off following the completion of JJ Abrams' Episode IX.
As our own James Emanuel Shapiro laid out in his analysis of The Last Jedi's seemingly manipulated Rotten Tomatoes scores, and Andrew Todd detailed upon discovering a "well-adjusted" fan's re-edit of the picture "for men" (author's note: sheesh), The Last Jedi rubbed a particular brand of Star Wars fan the wrong way. As Andrew also put it in his superlative essay on the film Unlearning What We Have Learned, even for mentally stable fans of Lucas' famous space opera, there was some adjustment required when approaching Johnson's somewhat radical vision:
"...The Last Jedi is less a refutation of The Force Awakens’ specific mystery-boxes than it is a necessary adjustment in how we watch Star Wars movies. Two years ago, I wrote that Darth Vader's parental revelation and the Darth Sidious 'mystery' had turned fans into backstory sleuths incapable of watching a story play out on its own terms. Predictably, that attitude ended up colouring or completely subsuming fan anticipation for The Last Jedi. Many were less interested in what would happen next than in what happened before - especially where it came to Rey's parentage and Snoke's backstory. Snoke’s 'true identity' drove fans positively mad with speculation, despite it never having been presented as a mystery to begin with."
Though the movie was a financial success, the blowback it received gave everyone - including Johnson, who's gone on record as being shaken by certain negative criticisms - a moment of pause, wondering if Disney and Lucasfilm would put some restrictions on the filmmaker when it came time to craft his next set of adventures in a galaxy far, far away.
Well, according to the writer/director, that's not going to be the case. In a recent interview with Fandango (while appearing at SXSW for the premiere of the BTS doc The Director and the Jedi), Johnson very diplomatically said:
“I feel like every Star Wars thing that ever gets made has a big, loud response, because Star Wars fans are passionate, and that’s what makes them awesome. I don’t think it’s possible when you’re really telling a story you care about, and having it come from your heart - it’s just not possible to be intellectually processing, like, what everyone else wants, nor would it be a good thing, a healthy thing. I don’t think that’s a good way to tell a story.”
First off, let's just take a breather to pat Johnson on the back. The guy's received a lot of flak from the very same fans he just championed, and the fact that he's able to look them in the (digital) eyes and say "hey man, I still love you all" is such a heartwarming thing. This dude's just incredibly warm and endearing. Secondly, Johnson's got a point about the creative process. He's got to be able to make his movie, his way, and listen to his artistic instinct when sitting in that giant director's chair. Otherwise, the pictures are just not going to be his, and nobody (well, nobody who enjoys idiosyncratic, fascinating tentpole cinema, that is) wants that.
Check out the full video of the interview below, and get ready to revisit The Last Jedi when it hits Blu-ray Tuesday. Lord knows I can't wait.