It’s never been quite clear to me how or why JJ Abrams has managed the career he has. None of the projects he’s been involved with over the years since he hit the big time have left much of a mark on me – including Star Wars, a franchise, if anything, I am biased in favor of. I don’t think he’s a particularly gifted storyteller and I don’t don’t think he is a noteworthy director by any standard. Indeed, the enormous amount of power and influence he currently wields in Hollywood seems built almost entirely on aping the works of better directors and storytellers that came before him. The resulting works are almost (I’ll refrain from hyperbole since I haven’t seen all of Abrams films and TV projects) all soulless, hackneyed, or forgettable. Some, maybe the majority, are all of these things.
But Abrams comes across as a nice guy in interviews. A humble guy. And he at least seems sincere in whatever it is he thinks he’s striving for. And it’s hard to criticize someone who seems to have genuinely good intentions.
But I gotta call bullshit on his latest comments in the lastest issue of Empire Magazie about his decision to bring back Emperor Palpatine for the upcoming final film in the Skywalker saga, Star Wars Episode 9: The Rise of Skywalker.
“Some people feel like we shouldn’t revisit the idea of Palpatine, and I completely understand that. 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 set-ups of what we’re doing in IX are there in plain view.”
The first thing that occurred to me when I read Abrams’ comments is: The man doesn’t actually understand the franchise that has been put in his care.
It should be obvious to anyone what the connective tissue is here. Lucasfilm has only beaten us over the head with it in interviews and in the marketing for this film for at least the past year, but just in case we managed to miss it, they went ahead and put it right in the title: Skywalker. The through-line for all nine movies, according to Disney and Lucasfilm, is the Skywalker family and its legacy within the galaxy far, far away. Luke, Leia, and Anakin are the threads that weave these three trilogies together.
Now, you could argue that this trilogy seems to have very little to do with the Skywalkers at all, and I won’t argue with you. But, whether it comes down to mismanagement of the franchise or a marketing ploy meant to sell more Star Wars to eager fans like myself, the line we’ve gotten from Star Wars Inc (perhaps more so since The Last Jedi divided the fanbase, Solo tanked, Hasbro’s Star Wars toy sales plummeted, and Galaxy’s Edge shit the bed) is that this trilogy is the trilogy that will conclude the Skywalker saga. How Abrams and co plan to do that is anybody’s guess, but I guess we’ll all find out this December 20th when The Rise of Skywalker lumbers into theaters.
But what’s your take on JJ Abrams’ comments? Do you think bringing Palpatine back for Episode 9 is a good idea? Do you buy that Abrams thinks it was necessary to bring Palpatine back to tie the nine films together or do you think he’s using that as cover for bad storytelling or nostalgia bait meant to lure disgruntled Original Trilogy fans into the theater this holiday season?
Let us know in the comments below, Wasteoids.