Rian Johnson speaks on Star Wars: The Last Jedi fan backlash

Ben Arnold

Rian Johnson, the director of The Last Jedi, has broached the growing backlash amongst fans over the latest movie in the Star Wars series.

While many fans hailed the arrival of J.J. Abrams’ The Force Awakens, the first Star Wars movie to emerge following Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm, they’ve not been quite so gushing about this latest instalment.

There are spoilers ahead for those yet to see the movie…

Chief among fan complaints is the killing off of Mark Hamill’s Luke Skywalker, and even the despatching of Supreme Leader Snoke, leaving Daisy Ridley’s Rey and Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren likely to engage in another similar face-off as seen in The Last Jedi once the final instalment comes around.

There’s also concerns among fans over Lucasfilm’s decision to give Johnson his own brand new trilogy once J.J. Abrams has completed Episode 9.

While critics have offered The Last Jedi glowing notices, with Rotten Tomatoes reporting 93% of its reviews as favourable, its audience score on the same site is a lowly 55% ‘fresh’.

Meanwhile, a petition to have the movie officially removed from the Star Wars canon is quickly gathering support, with over 31,000 signatures at the time of publishing.

Johnson reckons this may simply be a (very) vocal minority, however.

Speaking to Business Insider about the ferocity of the backlash, he said: “Having been a Star Wars fan my whole life, and having spent most of my life on the other side of the curb and in that fandom, it softens the blow a little bit.

“I’m aware through my own experience that, first of all, the fans are so passionate, they care so deeply — sometimes they care very violently at me on Twitter. But it’s because they care about these things, and it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love.

“It always hurts, so I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That’s fine. It’s my job to be there for that. Like you said, every fan has a list of stuff they want a ‘Star Wars’ movie to be and they don’t want a Star Wars movie to be. You’re going to find very few fans out there whose lists line up.

“And I also know the same way the original movies were personal for Lucas. Lucas never made a Star Wars movie by sitting down and thinking, ‘What do the fans want to see?’ And I knew if I wrote wondering what the fans would want, as tempting as that is, it wouldn’t work, because people would still be shouting at me, ‘F**k you, you ruined Star Wars’ and I would make a bad movie. And ultimately, that’s the one thing nobody wants.

“And let me just add that 80-90% of the reaction I’ve gotten from Twitter has been really lovely. There’s been a lot of joy and love from fans. When I talk about the negative stuff, that’s not the full picture of the fans at all.”

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is out now across the UK.

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