Infinity Wars directors defend Rian Johnson and The Last Jedi


Rian Johnson’s contemporaries at Disney are beginning to come to his and Star Wars: The Last Jedi’s defense.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi has been in theaters for a month and ten days, and since the film’s opening night,  fans have been vocal and adamant in their displeasure or defense of its director Rian Johnson and his directorial decision concerning the overall plot and character development (among other things).

To call The Last Jedi the most divisive film in the Star Wars cinematic universe, would be an understatement. Whether you’re a fan or in the business yourself, it seems if you’ve seen it, you have a strong opinion. To that end, the brothers Russo — directors of Avengers: Infinity Wars — have come to the defense of Rian Johnson and Episode VIII.

Joining the Happy Sad Confused podcast with Josh Horowitz, Joe and Anthony Russo revealed they sent an email to Disney, when they heard Johnson had been pegged to write and direct The Last Jedi, singing their fellow director’s praises.

JOE: “It’s interesting because he’s a brilliant filmmaker, and the response has been really fascinating. [These fans] are tough, can’t please them all.

He has a point, with such a massive fanbase, it is quite literally impossible to please everyone. With the 2015 release of The Force Awakens, many fans complained it was a rehashing of A New Hope (thematically), Rey was a Mary Sue and Kylo Ren was too much a whiny vanilla bad guy, Finn was a token minority, and how dare J.J. Abrams kill Han Solo because that just ruined everyone’s childhood. Sound familiar?

Anthony Russo continued his brother’s thought, noting the difference in the younger Star Wars fans versus the older “Old School” fans.

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ANTHONY: “It depends, though, on your age too. I watched the movie with my 11-year-old daughter who is very into serialized storytelling and novels primarily, but she loves the bigger story. And she was just thrilled throughout the movie, making connections to the larger Star Wars universe. And just to sit next to her and see that sense of discovery and excitement in her was an amazing experience.

To quote Master Yoda, “Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.” This is also a great point, as Rian Johnson’s storytelling connected the much larger universe and new canon Disney established when it acquired Lucasfilm from George Lucas, and started making new Star Wars movies.

Joe later added that Rian Johnson took a risk with how he handled Luke Skywalker’s story in The Last Jedi, since Luke is one of the most beloved characters in the franchise’s 40-year history. Choosing to make Luke a hermit who turned his back on the Force and the galaxy as a whole, then having him give his life to save the badly beaten and depleted forces of the Resistance was a bold move on Johnson’s part.

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Whether that decision will pay off, in the long run, will not yet be decided until the credits roll on Episode IX in December of 2019.

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