A Franchise Steeped In Controversy
After The Last Jedi inspired fan arguments for years after its release (still to this very day), many had hoped that The Rise of Skywalker would bring peace to the Star Wars galaxy once again. Sadly, that was not the case, as critics and viewers are once again divided. While The Last Jedi boasted a 91% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes with a 43% audience score, The Rise of Skywalker has gotten bad to middling reviews, coming in a 57% rotten but with an 86% audience score.
Twitter is blowing up with reactions, and at a post-screener discussion on Friday, director J.J. Abrams was asked about how he handles the backlash.
Abrams Addresses The Backlash
During the Q&A discussion, Vanity Fair’s Anthony Breznican asked Abrams "How does it make you feel or what would you say to people who don’t like what happens or wish it was something different? Is there a problem with the fandom?"
Abrams gave a very measured reply.
"No, I would say that they’re right.The people who love it more than anything are also right. I was asked just seven hours ago in another country, ‘So how do you go about pleasing everyone?’ I was like ‘What…?’ Not to say that that’s what anyone should try to do anyway, but how would one go about it? Especially with Star Wars…"
You Can't Please Everyone
Abrams continued, explaining that he thought much of the criticism was void of nuance.
"We knew starting this that any decision we made — a design decision, a musical decision, a narrative decision — would please someone and infuriate someone else, and they’re all right.
There is an MO of either: ‘It’s exactly as I see it, or you’re my enemy,'” he added. “It’s a crazy thing that there’s such a norm that seems to be void of nuance and compassion — and this is not [a phenomenon] about Star Wars, this is about everything."
He Claims It Was Collaborative
Much of the backlash stemmed from the feeling that much of Rise of Skywalker seemed liked a pointed retcon of a lot of The Last Jedi's more daring choices -- we won't spoil the recently released film here, but Rose Tico deserved so much better -- but Abrams denies it. He claims that Last Jedi director Rian Johnson fully set him up for the chosen endgame.
"We had conversations with Rian at the beginning. It’s been nothing but collaborative. The perspective that, at least personally, I got from stepping away from it and seeing what Rian did, strangely gave us opportunities that would never have been there, because of course he made choices no one else would have made."