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Star Wars: J.J. Abrams wasn't sure where Episode VIII would go when he made The Force Awakens

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Oct 3, 2019

We're a little more than two months away from the release of Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker, and returning director J.J. Abrams is finally able to talk about how he'll bridge the gap between his movie and Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi.

Some fans of the long-running franchise were let down by Episode VIII, as they felt it undid some of the groundwork laid by Abrams in 2015's The Force Awakens. That being said, it turns out Abrams wasn't entirely certain of how the next movie's story would pan out. Whether that uncertainty extended to the topics of Rey's parentage or how Luke's lightsaber made its way into Maz Kanata's basement, we don't know.

"When I was working on VII, I'd be lying if I said I knew everything that was gonna happen in VIII and IX," the Bad Robot filmmaker told Empire Magazine for the outlet's November issue. "I had some ideas, but we had a release date that required us to work on VII!"

Last Jedi Rian Johnson

Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

While some might not like the direction Johnson took the franchise during his tenure at the helm, Abrams isn't looking to play repairman for IX.

"I never found myself trying to repair anything," he added. "If I had done VIII, I would have done things differently, just as Rian would have done things differently if he had done VII. But having on [a] television series, I was accustomed to creating stories and characters that then were run by other people. If you're willing to walk away from the thing that you created and believe it's in trustworthy hands, you have to accept that some of the decisions being made are not gonna be the same that you would make. And if you come back into it, you have to honor what's been done."

One idea that Abrams will be revisiting, however, is The Knights of Ren, a group of merciless thugs led by Adam Driver's Kylo Ren, who is now Supreme Leader of the First Order after murdering Snoke in The Last Jedi. Per Empire, the group is "armored in disparate styles — one sports a cowl, one an angry welder's mask, another a checkered draughtboard faceplate — they pack a similarly eclectic arsenal, from [a] multi-barreled assault cannon to oversized, anime-style sword, poleaxe, and a wicked-looking mace."

And of course, we can't talk about Rise of Skywalker without talking about the return of Ian McDiarmid's Emperor Palpatine, who was killed (or so we thought) by Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi. Is he coming back as a Force/Sith Ghost to push Kylo even further to the Dark Side? That's just a guess, but Abrams is an ardent defender of bringing back the iconic villain via the screenplay he wrote with Chris Terrio (Justice League).

"Some people feel like we shouldn't revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that," he continued. "But if you're looking at these nine films as one story, I don't know many books where the last few chapters have nothing to do with those that have come before. If you look at the first eight films, all the setups of what we're doing in IX are there in plain view."

Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker opens in theaters everywhere Friday, Dec. 20.


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