Star Wars: The Last Jedi was definitely a contentious film, with people from all different sides of the fandom weighing in. There was an outspoken and vocal portion of fans that wanted the characters of Rey and Kylo Ren to expand into something more during the film. Now, director Rian Johnson has stated that this was always his intention.
Per The Direct, Johnson chatted about the Rey and Kylo Ren dynamic in an interview with USA Today bestselling author Sariah Wilson. Wilson tweeted that “Rian absolutely saw them [Rey and Kylo Ren] as a romance”, and that, “there was more to their stories and growth and arcs, but he saw them as romantic and intimate.”
While the film never specifically calls the pair a couple, the arc towards a romance is definitely heightened in the next film, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The film ends with Rey and Kylo Ren (now the redeemed Ben Solo) sharing a kiss. Clearly, this was something that Rian Johnson was aiming for all along with The Last Jedi.
The exact details of what Johnson means by these statements are unknown. Perhaps his wanting for a romance blossoming between the two meant that there were originally going to be more scenes that expanded on the pair. It could just as easily mean, however, that Johnson simply wanted the audience to infer that the relationship between Rey and Kylo Ren was meant to be taken as more than just a budding connection.
It is hard to say for sure what the original plans for the two characters were, whether it be in The Last Jedi or the other sequel trilogy films. The trilogy has famously undergone a series of changes and retcons, especially from The Last Jedi to The Rise of Skywalker. It is definitely possible, though, that Johnson’s push towards having Rey and Kylo Ren seem romantic was a key plot element in deciding where the story would go for Episode IX.
Johnson has not further expanded on the story arcs of the two characters at this time. He has also not stated much regarding his opinions on The Rise of Skywalker. Given what he said in this interview, though, it can probably be assumed that Johnson was quite happy that his push for a romance in The Last Jedi was rewarded in the next installment, if only for a brief second.
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