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Rian Johnson Understands What Star Wars Needs to Do in Order to Survive

Producer Ram Bergman, Rian Johnson, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Producer Ram Bergman, Rian Johnson, and Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy on the set of Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Image: Disney/Lucasfilm

In the last three years, we’ve had three Star Wars movies come out—and a fourth is just months away. Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm has presented a huge boon in terms of new Star Wars material, but when is it all too much? Rian Johnson, at least, has some heartening thoughts about how to avoid Star Wars overload.


We’ve previously discussed how the new wave of Star Wars material’s reliance on the timeframe of the original trilogy, only choosing to slowly eke out the world after it with the arrival of each sequel episode, has lead to a sameness pervading the current books, comics, and general Star Wars ephemera. Yes, it’s all mostly been very good, but it barely stretches the boundaries of what we know the stories of the galaxy far, far away can do. The Last Jedi, whether you love it or loathe it for doing so, at least pushed the main saga in a direction that passes a torch to a new generation, widening up and offering the chance for the movies to push Star Wars in new and fascinating ways.

Speaking at SXSW recently as part of publicity for the movie’s home release, Rian Johnson said that that’s something Lucasfilm understands it needs to start doing more of to avoid a dreaded Star Wars fatigue:

When people ask me, ‘Don’t you think people are going to get sick of Star Wars movies?’ to me that question indicates that they’re thinking of Star Wars movies as a museum exhibit that is wheeled out once a year so you can say, ‘Oh, I loved that thing. Oh, I remember that thing!’ And yes, if Star Wars is that, people are going to get sick of it really quickly.

But if Star Wars are great new movies that are exciting and fresh, and that challenge you and surprise you and make you feel things and engage you the way that those original movies did—but always taking you to new places, both in the galaxy and emotionally—that’s never going to get old. That’s what it’s all about.


We’ve known Johnson himself is already working on a movie saga that promises to uncover Star Wars tales in parts of the galaxy previously unexplored, asking the challenging question of what defines the very essence of Star Wars when you strip away the familiarity of the Skywalker saga. That’s the sort of question that’ll need answering soon—Star Wars cannot simply get by on exploring the lives of familiar faces and the stories surrounding the fringes of events we’ve already seen if it’s going to keep up this heady pace of movies and TV shows and trilogies upon trilogies. To have a director who understands that in charge of part of that future gives us a lot of hope.

[LA Times]

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!

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He may understand it, but he doesn’t know how to execute it. The middle movie of a trilogy is not the time to kick out the foundations and set of in a bold new direction.