Star Wars is a franchise built entirely on continuity and the ongoing legacy of what has come before. Star Wars fans treasure the iconic characters and the sense of history and myth in perfect balance. This is one of the principal reasons there was such a backlash when The Last Jedi seemed to disregard so much of what has come before. “The past must die” became the mantra and now the man responsible has said it can also be applied to his own work.
Star Wars 7 knowingly and ruthlessly built up the mystery surrounding Rey’s lineage. The filmmakers knew which way fans were being led and encouraged it.
The big reveal in Star Wars 8 that she was “nothing”, the abandoned child of drunk lowlives felt like a slap in the face to many. As well as pulling the rug on the speculation she would be a secret Skywalker, Kenobi or even Palpatine, it also continued to fail to explain how she could have so much power and such instant skill, with no training and no lineage.
In a shock new interview this week, Episode VIII director Rian Johnson just said it can all be changed and he doesn’t care.
Asked if he minded if JJ Abrams completely retconned the Rey family storyline, Johnson shook his head and told MTV: “I want to be thrilled. I want him to do stuff that I wasn’t expecting him to do and just go along for the ride. For me, that’s why I go to the movies.”
This is great news for fans still hoping for a big Reyvelation (sorry).
However, Rey’s parentage isn’t actually the issue. It simply continues to illustrate what many see as the major issue with the Sequel Trilogy. How can one continuous storyline be split into three movies where each director has complete autonomy to make any changes and switches he likes to the previous film? Why allow a director with a clear commitment to subvert existing expectations to handle the middle film in a franchise?
Johnson is a filmmaker who firmly believes in bringing something new to every filmgoing experience and who is not interested in being constrained by existing frameworks.
He has never hidden this and these are fine attributes in a director. Unless, perhaps, you are making the eighth movie in a continuous nine-movie cycle.
The fact he is happy if JJ Abrams undoes some of The Last Jedi’s key plotlines is why so many fans were so unhappy with The Last Jedi in the first place.
Of course, Kylo Ren might have been lying to Rey or have received false information about her parents from Snoke or some other source. However, the entire hall of mirrors fake out followed by Kylo’s revelation intentionally trolled fans who had been eagerly following cues deliberately laid down by the franchise itself.
For any of the filmmakers to claim otherwise is disingenuous.