I want to be honest with you: I feel for J.J. Abrams. The guy's been through a lot since he signed on to direct 2015's The Force Awakens. Like, I don't know: the wrath of Star Wars fans. Remember when Abrams subtly dissed Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi and faced a week of Internet shame for it? Then, of course—the man had to swoop in to direct the Skywalker Saga's final film, The Rise of Skywalker, when Lucasfilm booted Colin Trevorrow to the curb. That movie? Met with a big meh! At best.
Now, if I were J.J. Abrams (no one asked, but writing it anyway), I would either, 1) Own the hell out of every single decision I made involving any star and every war, or 2) Never, ever talk about Star Wars again. That said, Abrams is doing something in the middle of those two options. In a new interview with Collider timed to the 10th anniversary of the criminally-underrated Super 8, Abrams talked a little bit about the planning of the Skywalker Saga. Or lack thereof. If you're unfamiliar with the carousel of directors behind the final trilogy, the original plan was to have Abrams direct The Force Awakens, Rian Johnson direct The Last Jedi, and Trevorrow direct The Rise of Skywalker, with each director putting their own spins on the series. With all the changes behind the scenes, the final product didn't exactly resemble a seamless narrative. Just look at how Abrams put it:
There are projects that I’ve worked on where we had some ideas but we hadn’t worked through them enough, sometimes we had some ideas but then we weren’t allowed to do them the way we wanted to. I’ve had all sorts of situations where you plan things in a certain way and you suddenly find yourself doing something that’s 180 degrees different, and then sometimes it works really well and you feel like, ‘Wow that really came together,’ and other times you think, ‘Oh my God I can’t believe this is where we are,’ and sometimes when it’s not working out it’s because it’s what you planned, and other times when it’s not working out it’s because you didn’t [have a plan].
For the record, I am with Abrams on this part—of course the making of a billion-some-dollar film doesn't always go smoothly! And sometimes spontaneity is a good thing. You've gotta roll with the punches sometimes. But he kept talking.
“You just never really know, but having a plan I have learned–in some cases the hard way–is the most critical thing, because otherwise you don’t know what you’re setting up. You don’t know what to emphasize. Because if you don’t know the inevitable of the story, you’re just as good as your last sequence or effect or joke or whatever, but you want to be leading to something inevitable.”
Oh no. J.J., why? You learned that having a plan is the most critical thing in all this? Are you implying that Lucasfilm legitimately shot The Force Awakens with only a rough idea of how the Skywalker trilogy would end? If so, I quit. Either way, a comment like this explains why The Rise of Skywalker threw such an alarming amount of space shit on the wall: Grandpappy Palp, Rey nearly killing Chewbacca via Force oopsie, and the Google Maps dagger. This one broke me today. Our Baby Yoda plushies can only console us so much.
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