This past weekend we were treated to some incredible Star Wars content at Disney’s D23 Expo. Updates on projects like the upcoming Disney Plus series’ The Mandalorian and the untitled Cassian Andor series, the announcement of an Obi-Wan series, and of course another sneak peek at The Rise of Skywalker.
Following the Go Behind the Scenes with The Walt Disney Studios panel, the cast and crew of Episode IX spoke to a variety of media outlets at the event. During an interview with IMDb, Anthony Daniels may have hinted at something many of us have been wondering about; whether or not J.J. Abrams would subvert or ignore what Rian Johnson established in The Last Jedi.
When speaking to IMDb, Daniels stated, “When you see The Rise of Skywalker, you’ll see somebody did a magic trick, you almost won’t be aware of some of the things that happened before.” Then one can only imagine what the beloved actor means by this statement. I believe the direction that Rian Johnson had taken in Episode VIII didn’t coincide with the course Abrams had initially plotted in The Force Awakens. Daniels appears to be commenting on Abram’s efforts to undermine The Last Jedi, and conclude the trilogy as he envisioned before.
The sequel trilogy has been criticized heavily by many for not having a cohesive story arc, that each installment has stood alone with very little connective tissue. While Abrams was credited as an executive producer on The Last Jedi, it seems like he had no major creative input based on certain remarks he has made. Earlier this year at Star Wars Celebration Chicago Abrams stated, “I was grateful to Rian Johnson for so many things that he did, but the greatest for me was casting Kelly Marie [Tran].” His statement feels like a backhanded compliment as to praise the actress, while dismissing Johnson’s involvement in the franchise. Abrams continued to tiptoe around The Last Jedi during an interview with ABC News at Celebration when addressing Rey’s parents, “I don’t want to say what happens in Episode VIII [doesn’t happen], we have honored that, but there’s more to the story than you’ve seen.” His response is made with caution, and is quite political. It plays to the theory that he is going to attempt to carry out what he had originally planned for this era of Star Wars by reinterpreting the events of Episode VIII from a certain point of view.
If Daniels is discussing course correction for the final installment of the Skywalker Saga, to what extent will The Rise of Skywalker supersede the material set up in its predecessor? Most controversy surrounds the decision to kill off both Luke Skywalker and the enigma that is Supreme Leader Snoke, as well as making Rey’s lineage appear to be completely unimportant in The Last Jedi. However, we do not fully understand what Force wielders are capable of, so it is not a stretch to say Skywalker could pull a Gandalf and return in the flesh. Afterall, Yoda demonstrated Force ghosts had the ability to interact with the natural world when he conjured up a lightning bolt to strike a tree. Based off Abram’s words, maybe he plans to utilize Rey’s vision and conversation with Kylo Ren in Episode VIII as a misdirect to reveal a more satisfying conclusion in regards to her origins. To what extent remains to be seen.
Will J.J. Abrams pull off a magic trick in The Rise of Skywalker? Perhaps. However, this final chapter in the Skywalker saga is shrouded in mystery, but I believe it’s safe to say we are in for some surprises when the film hits theaters on December 20th.
This article was guest written by Fantha Tracks contributor Joey Clark.