Though Star Wars: The Last Jedi was an unqualified financial and critical success, there was still a small (yet loud) section of the fanbase that lashed out against it. J.J. Abrams, the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (as well as the upcoming Episode IX) makes it clear in a new interview that the issues these fans are experiencing have nothing to do with lightsabers or Han shooting first.
To be clear, the fan outcry that we're talking about is not based around viewers who think that the Canto Bight sequence was unnecessary, were hoping that Rey's father would turn out to be Ki-Adi Mundi, or had issues with astral projection. A certain subset of fans based in the alt-right trolled the film for months, and claimed responsibility for sabotaging the film's audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Their stated reasons had to do with Star Wars including more women and more diversity, and, well, they didn't like that. In a new interview with Indiewire, Abrams specifically addresses the reaction of those people.
"Their problem isn't Star Wars, their problem is being threatened," Abrams said, before adding, "If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars." He goes on to say that people likely had a problem with the strength of Princess Leia in the very first movie, possibly finding her "too tough." As he says, "Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that."
Will these reactions affect how Abrams makes Episode IX? On this he is very clear: "Not in the least." He goes on to say that the story of Rey, Finn, Poe, and Kylo (3 men and 1 woman, as he points out) will continue "in a way that I couldn't be more excited about and cannot wait for people to see."
Though some change-resistant fans lamented the addition of certain new characters in the film, others were overjoyed and empowered by the inclusion of characters such as Laura Dern's Amilyn Holdo and Kelly Marie Tran's Rose Tico. Abrams knows well enough to armor himself in case the same backlash happens again come Dec. 20, 2019 — when Episode IX drops (a year and half after Solo: A Star Wars Story ); he says that he is aware that "everyone is going to have a point of view" and that Star Wars has an "incredibly passionate and vocal fan base."
But Abrams seems undaunted, and diversity and representation (in front of the camera, at least) are staying put in the galaxy far, far away. If someone's going to try and change things back, that person certainly won't be named J.J. Abrams. In terms of the other side of the camera, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Always in motion is the future.