So now we have a title. Does this mean they’re retconning Rey’s heritage? Quite possibly given what we’ve just learned.
One of the many complaints I logged against The Last Jedi was that Rian Johnson seemed to be ignoring everything J.J. Abrams had planned for the trilogy, which is kind of fitting considering he ignored what George “I created Star Wars and should know the universe better than anyone regardless of how the prequels went” Lucas had planned. No twins for Han and Leia, you get a Darth Vader fanboy, who turns into a whiny emo kid in the sequel. Johnson also seemed to be forgoing the trilogy idea by ending a lot of story arcs. Finn’s arc is complete, Rose Tico’s arc came and went while not making a lot of sense, Poe was damaged as a character while our first lady general came off as a smug idiot, thus ruining her potential as well. How much of this actually was Abrams’ plan?
None of it as it turns out. According to a throwaway line in a recent interview J.J. Abrams gave about his company, Bad Robot, his plans were pretty much ignored, meaning his coming back at the last-minute came with none of the ideas he had and not a lot of time to fix the damage caused by Johnson’s take. Andre from Midnight’s Edge goes over how and why Abrams was left holding the bag, plus throws in some commentary on DisneyFilm’s approach to the planned expanded shared Star Wars Universe when they had another model in a fellow Disney acquisition and failed to learn from it.
Here’s the actual interview if you’re curious. I also have already given my review of The Last Jedi. It’s exciting when you’re watching but then you think about its place in the franchise as a whole and see something doesn’t quite work, which was also a complaint lobbed at the prequels. In that case it was tonal, but now we learn that Johnson ignored Abrams’s ideas the same way Abrams did with Lucas’s ideas. While we don’t know what Abrams planned (although we can guess from episode IX’s title, The Rise Of Skywalker, plus did anyone else think that sounded like Snoake laughing?) we may see it in some of the changes Abrams will make when it comes to the lore. That was the biggest failing of the movie, regardless of what else Johnson got wrong or even got right from a technical perspective or as its own film. Frankly I didn’t have a problem with Rey’s parentage. For all the trope subversion Rian Johnson shoved into his movie along with a willing ignorance of the franchise lore, Rey not coming from anything special was the only one I actually support. Why should every hero come from an immaculate conception or the offspring of a great but fallen hero? “Nobody special” gave Rey something different that kind of worked.
What ever George Lucas had planned in the original trilogy, Star Wars has become a shared universe and not just a series of trilogies, although the main story being done in trilogy form is still recommended. In addition to the original trilogy and the prequels you have the two made-for-TV Ewok movies and the two animated Clone Wars period adventures as official canon. (Or at least Lucasfilm’s own Clone Wars cartoon was, I’m not sure about Tartakovsky’s version even though it ended with the off-screen event that led into episode III.) While he may not have considered the Holiday Special cannon, or the books and comics, the Wookie homeworld and Boba Fett were introduced there, plus you had the Ewoks and Droids cartoons that may or may not be canon and a series of games that were considered canon on some level, or at least some games were. Even with the media DisneyFilm tossed out in favor of Abrams later-discarded vision you have those shows plus Rebels, Resistance, any new novels and comics that have come along after fellow Disney mate Marvel regained the comic license, and all the “A Star Wars Story” movies that weren’t trilogies. There’s also the upcoming The Mandalorian series being produced for Disney’s streaming service, which I believe is launching in November. This is as much a shared universe as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although for them only the movies, TV Series, and Netflix shows thus far are in canon. I have nothing against the “sidestory” movies or a running storyline like Rebels, but the series was built on trilogies, something Clone Wars and even Droids remembered with their multi-part tales.
The question is whether or not Abrams can “save Star Wars”, which was also the battlecry when Lucas was all but forced out of his creation by the fans. (I don’t buy the “toxic fan” narrative as aimed as critics of The Last Jedi but I have seen my share of them before all this. Just not for the reasons Johnson’s supporters have claimed.) Remember that Abrams tossed out Lucas’s plans, as well as the expanded universe, costing fans the Solo twins and Mara Jade, with Grand Admiral Thrawn alone being redesigned to fit in the new Universe. The Force Awakens came with its own problems. I don’t mean Han’s fate, since Harrison Ford has been asking for that since The Empire Strikes Back, so I don’t know why this one keeps getting tossed out of there. While Rian Johnson seemed to be doing The Empire Strikes Backwards, Abrams had already gotten too close to the original. It should have been the New Republic against a rising threat, rather than a bunch of Rebellion wanna-bes forming a “Resistance”. It would be a chance to do the prequels idea better and would have made more sense. As a whole however, Abrams did lesser damage than Johnson did.
I’m not celebrating until I see the actual movie for myself. I’m not even concerned with the fan response. Of course I still see only one way to truly “fix” what went wrong with the sequel trilogy.
As I’ve said before, bring in Rowan Freemaker! It would help explain Rey’s “superior” Force access and build on lore rather than toss it out.
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