The Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams was asked about criticism of his latest Star Wars film and gave an answer Master Yoda would approve of.
At a post-screening interview Friday in Hollywood, Abrams weighed in on the debate surrounding his new film, which has scored high marks from audiences, mixed-to-negative critical reviews and the usual intense fandom debate.
“No, I would say that they’re right,” Abrams said of the film’s critics. “[But] the people who love it more than anything are also right. I was asked … ‘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. I don’t need to tell anybody here, we live in a moment where everything immediately seems to default to outrage. There’s an M.O. where ‘it’s either exactly as I see it or you’re my enemy’ … It’s a crazy thing that there’s such a norm that seems to be devoid of nuance and compassion — and this is not about Star Wars, this is about everything … we knew every decision we made would please someone and infuriate someone else.”
Indeed, only a Sith thinks in absolutes.
Abrams also clarified that his portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the new film — The Rise of Skywalker spoilers to follow — wasn’t criticizing director Rian Johnson’s take in The Last Jedi, nor did he have a conflict with Johnson.
In The Rise of Skywalker, Force ghost Luke (Mark Hamill) appears on Ahch-To when Rey (Daisy Ridley) tries to throw her lightsaber into a fire. He grabs it and says, “a Jedi’s weapon deserves more respect” — which seems like a direct callback to, some thought subtweet of, Luke throwing away his lightsaber at the start of TLJ. He also declares that he was “wrong” to have hidden away on Ahch-To for so many years. As we pointed out in our story on all the ways The Rise of Skywalker comments or revises The Last Jedi, this could be read as revising the previous film or as character development — that Luke simply evolved due to the events in The Last Jedi.
Abrams confirmed the latter is the case. “One of the many brilliant things that Rian did in Last Jedi was give Luke an arc,” Abrams said. “He learned something. He got somewhere. So at the end of that film he recommitted to the thing at the very beginning of the film he was rejecting. So the idea that even Luke Skywalker can learn something. I think for a kid to hear Luke Skywalker say ‘I was wrong,’ I think is a beautiful thing. And I think it’s something we could all probably do with a little bit.”
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