Despite the divisive response to the film from fans, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” writer and director Rian Johnson has no regrets about his approach to the 2017 sequel. In fact, he says he’s even more proud of the film now that more time has passed.
“I’m even more proud of it five years on,” Johnson told Empire. “When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.”
The “Knives Out” filmmaker added that he crafted “The Last Jedi” as not just a “Star Wars” movie, but a movie about “Star Wars.”
“The ultimate intent was not to strip away – the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of ‘Star Wars’ in our lives.”
When “The Last Jedi” was released, the film received glowing reviews from critics and many “Star Wars” fans sparked to Johnson’s challenging approach to the story, which depicted Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker as a jaded Jedi instead of the unflappable hero many were expecting. The story also pushed new central characters like Rey (Daisy Ridley), Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and Finn (John Boyega) to difficult places while shockingly dispatching with Andy Serkis’ General Snoke, whom many assumed would become the new trilogy’s Big Bad after his introduction in the J.J. Abrams-directed “The Force Awakens.”
But a certain subsection of fans took Johnson’s storytelling twists personally, launching attacks at the filmmaker online and decrying some of the choices he made – chief among them the decision to have Luke Skywalker begin the movie throwing his lightsaber away and to end it with his death.
“The final images of the movie, to me, are not deconstructing the myth of Luke Skywalker, they’re building it, and they’re him embracing it,” Johnson told Empire. “They’re him absolutely defying the notion of, ‘Throw away the past,’ and embracing what actually matters about his myth and what’s going to inspire the next generation. So for me, the process of stripping away is always in the interest of getting to something essential that really matters.”
Johnson’s experience on “Star Wars” — at least from Lucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy’s perspective — was a positive one, with Kennedy enlisting Johnson to develop a brand new trilogy of “Star Wars” movies. Unfortunately, there’s been no update on those films in years and Johnson is currently busy crafting his “Knives Out” trilogy for Netflix (the second film, “Glass Onion,” opens this fall).
At the very least, unlike the closing chapter “The Rise of Skywalker,” fans are still passionately discussing and debating “The Last Jedi” half a decade after its release.