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Rian Johnson responds to The Last Jedi fan reaction and expectations

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Dec 18, 2017

Rian Johnson was a part of the Star Wars fandom well before he ever became involved in working on the films, and he knows better than anybody that Star Wars fans are not shy about voicing their very strong opinions. 

Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi abound in this article. Sound the klaxons.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a critical and financial smash, and though the "major fan backlash" that is being reported (all based on a Rotten Tomatoes audience score which has almost certainly been manipulated by a group of irked fans) is not really taking place, there is no denying that the new film is fairly divisive. A lot of fans love it, but some fans hate it -- there seems to be little balance in between.

Johnson understands this and expected it, as he makes clear in a new interview with Business Insider. Where fans criticized Star Wars: The Force Awakens for being too much of a retread, Johnson's new installment is being criticized by some fans for being too different. When asked about this, Johnson 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." He is fully aware of the passions of the fan base, as he goes on to say, "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."

Does he take it personally when fans lash out on him through Twitter? He says that he doesn't, and makes it clear that he believes that it is part of the job. He also knows that no two fans are going to want the same things, saying, "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."

That much is certainly true, as one fan might have hoped for a podrace in The Last Jedi, and another may have wanted Mara Jade to show up at the last minute. A third fan may have wanted Mara Jade to show up driving a pod for all we know -- many fans have huge imaginations. A film can't be made purely to meet fan expectations, however. Just as the original movie was a personal experience for George Lucas, this one was personal for Johnson. 

"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 ... I would make a bad movie," says Johnson, before adding, "ultimately, that's the one thing nobody wants."

He is aware of some of the more severe fan reactions to his film, and, for lack of a better way to say it, some of the "hot takes" that are floating around -- but he is also quick to point out that 80-90% of the reaction that he's gotten on Twitter "has been really lovely." There's some negativity, but there is a great deal of joy as well, and as he says, "when I talk about the negative stuff, that's not the full picture of the fans at all." 

Johnson doesn't leave things there, not by a long shot. He makes it clear that he didn't just throw the mystery boxes left over from The Force Awakens over the cliff just for trollish fun ... it was all in service of the greater characters arcs. Whether it is Kylo Ren taking the throne of the First Order, or Luke Skywalker's grand "act of mythmaking" at the end, character advancement always beats a mystery box for Johnson.

Love it or loathe it, The Last Jedi is here. May the endless cycle of life, hot takes, and new life born from hot takes bring balance to the Force, and to Rian Johnson's Twitter as well. 

Via: Business Insider

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