'The Last Jedi' director Rian Johnson says it's a 'mistake' not to challenge fans

Rian Johnson, writer/director of the film "Knives Out," poses for a portrait at the St. Regis Hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, in Toronto. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Rian Johnson (Credit: Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Rian Johnson reckons that giving fandom exactly what it wants is 'a mistake'.

The director of The Last Jedi would perhaps know a thing or two about that – his movie split fans on its release in 2017.

He told Radio.com (via Indiewire): “I think approaching any creative process with [making fandoms happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result.

“Even my experience as a fan, you know if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like ‘oh, okay,’ it might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.

Read more: JJ Abrams on his one Force Awakens mistake

“I want to be shocked, I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater…

“What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with Empire Strikes Back, something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”

Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill seen on the black carpet during the photo call for Star Wars: The Last Jedi held in Mexico City, Mexico on November 20, 2017. (Photo by Liliana Ampudia/Sipa USA)
Rian Johnson and Mark Hamill (Credit: Liliana Ampudia/Sipa USA)

Johnson's comments come at a particularly apt moment in the Star Wars saga.

Reviews for the final movie in the series, The Rise of Skywalker, have landed, with some accusing director J.J. Abrams of doing just that.

In a brutal review from Slate, Abrams is accused of ‘capitulating to the franchise’s most toxic fans’.

“Rather than making a movie some people might love, Abrams tried to make a movie no one would hate, and as a result, you don’t feel much of anything at all,” critic Sam Adams writes.

Read more: Rise of Skywalker characters could ‘spin off’

It's among a slew of lack-lustre reviews for episode IX.

Vanity Fair has said that the movie is 'too desperate to be loved to take any real risks', while Vox has branded it merely 'a bummer'.

Thus far, the movie has only managed 59 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 91 percent for Johnson's The Last Jedi.

So maybe he's onto something.

Starring Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Anthony Daniels, Naomi Ackie, Domhnall Gleeson, Richard E. Grant, Lupita Nyong'o, Keri Russell, Joonas Suotamo, Kelly Marie Tran, Ian McDiarmid, and Billy Dee Williams, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker is out across the UK on December 19.