Fans are still debating a lot of the content from Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi. And they likely will continue to do so for the rest of time. But the director recently reiterated the very logical reasoning behind one of the more contentious moments.
Most of the major stories within the Star Wars franchise have revolved around the Skywalker family because of how strong they are in the Force. Because Luke inherited it from his father, it makes perfect sense that Leia would be incredibly powerful in a similar way. In many of the older (now non-canonical) extended universe books, Leia went on to master a number of strategic Force abilities like battle meditation that her brother never could. While General Leia doesn’t flex her battle meditation muscles to save her fleet in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, she does use her Force abilities for the first time on screen that’s equal parts majestic and terrifying.
After she’s sucked into the vacuum of space, Leia saves herself by using Force Pull to reel herself back to her spaceship before promptly passing out. Though the scene’s a touching tribute to the late Carrie Fisher, it threw some people for a loop—especially those confused as to how Leia, who we haven’t seen training to use the Force, could manage to pull off such a feat.
In a recent podcast interview with Empire Magazine, Last Jedi director Johnson once again recalled how Leia’s use of the Force in The Last Jedi came as a result of Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy wanting to dig into Luke’s assertion to Leia in Return of the Jedi that she has within her the same potential he does:
The idea behind that moment was that in a moment of that—first of all her use of Force in that moment is not incredibly powerful she’s in space which offers no resistance. So actually take much to pull her back in she is in zero gravity, but also [her use of the Force] is instinctual.
That was the bigger thing for me is that it’s the equivalent of like when you hear stories about parents who have a toddler trapped under a car and they lift the car up they get Hulk strength. It’s that idea “this is not going to end today. I’m not finished yet” and that she it’s almost like just a drowning person is clawing their way to the surface the way she pulls her way back.
After seeing literally all of the Force-sensitive men in Leia’s family pull off incredible feats with the Force, it was fantastic to finally see Leia getting in on the action. Will fans accept Johnson’s answer and move on? Nah. Probably not.