J.J. Abrams returns to Star Wars this December with Episode IX: The Rise of Skywalker. The director has made his mark before in a different space epic, directing and producing two Star Trek films. What can we glean about Episode IX from Abrams’ handling of the Star Trek universe?
J.J. Abrams first came to Star Wars in the highly anticipated and overall well-received Episode VII, The Force Awakens in 2015. Abrams proved adept at balancing a large, diverse cast with plenty of character moments to balance out large action pieces, while still bringing the look and feel of the previous Star Wars films to bear.
This was not the first time Abrams had taken on a beloved space franchise. He brought his signature style and pacing to the 2009 reboot/alternate timeline version of Star Trek. Though not the screenwriter, he did break the story with the writers and had creative control over the outcome.
The fresh look at the 1960’s TV series recast those original roles, and created a rather clever time-travel loophole that allowed them to basically reboot the concept while still acknowledging the previous 43 years of Star Trek history was in place. Abrams followed that up in 2013 with the more controversial Star Trek Into Darkness, which reframed the events of one of the classic Original Series episodes “Space Seed” and the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
The reaction to STID was far more mixed, but for those who did appreciate the film, it again featured Abrams’ signature action and character moments, and demonstrated to many that he was far more suited perhaps Star Wars more fantasy-like setting than the hard science fiction of the Trek universe.
How Abrams generally treated the source material, and specifically choices he made in the series’ second outing might give us some clues as to what we may find thematically in his second Star Wars outing, The Rise of Skywalker.