Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in Star Wars (1977), and Daisy Ridley as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Both hold Anakin's lightsaber, ignited.

J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy Address George Lucas’ Alleged Disappointment With the Star Wars Sequel Series

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The recently released memoirs of Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed that George Lucas has been disappointed with the Star Wars sequel series, namely for the unoriginality of The Force Awakens, and a recent interview with Rolling Stone has allowed Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Force Awakens/Rise of Skywalker director J.J. Abrams to respond.

As reported by IndieWire, the memoirs reveal that Iger was privy to Lucas’ criticism of The Force Awakens, and the Star Wars creator did not hold back in letting those now leading the franchise know he did not feel as if the new installment really brought anything new to the Star Wars series: “There’s nothing new,’ [Lucas] said. In each of the films in the original trilogy, it was important to him to present new worlds, new stories, new characters, and new technologies. In this one, he said, ‘There weren’t enough visual or technical leaps forward.’”

One of the things people both praised and criticized TFA for was its similarity to A New Hope. While I am still slowly unpacking my own feelings about the Star Wars series as a whole, I think it’s hard to consider anything about Star Wars inherently original, considering how much it borrows from so many different elements: Greek mythology, The Hero’s Journey, and multiple Eastern philosophies.

What made Star Wars special was the way it mixed together all of these elements and technological vision to create something that inspired others to think, create, and enjoy Star Wars. Now, when that comes to The Force Awakens, while repetitive, it did help create a new generation of Star Wars fans who are deeply invested in this series and exploring how it has changed since the original.

Both Abrams and Kennedy have taken the criticism in stride, showing respect for Lucas and what he has built while also expressing why this new incarnation of Star Wars is so valuable. According to Kennedy, despite these comments, she believes that Lucas is proud of how the series has continued to grow and expand: “(…) he just continually tells me how astounded he is by how far things have come and how, now, whatever comes into your mind can be achieved… I can’t really speak on behalf of what George is feeling all the time. But I know that he’s very, very proud of what he created. And to see people go on and enjoy this now into almost 2020 is pretty remarkable.”

Abrams says he gets the criticism and also thinks that Lucas has been extremely gracious considering that he had to let go of his “baby” and put it in the hands of people whom he might not have chosen himself. For Abrams, the intent was to play with the traditional elements of Star Wars and flip them for a new generation:

“The idea was to continue the story and to begin with this young woman who felt like Luke Skywalker was a myth,” Abrams sad. “And to tell a story that was not just history repeating itself, but a story that embraced the movies that we know as the actual history of this galaxy. So that they are still living in a place where there is good versus evil, they’re still living in the shadow of what has come before, still grappling with the sins of the father and the people who have preceded them. This was not about a nostalgia play. It felt, to me, like a way of saying, ‘Let’s go back to a Star Wars that we know, so we can tell another story.’”

Until the final installment ends and we get a break from a constant stream of Star Wars films, it will be hard to fully judge the entire series, but what I can say as a Star Wars fan is that, despite my own personal disappointments, the series will continue to survive and thrive because we, as fans, spent so much time and energy building this universe. I enjoy the movies a lot, but I love the lore, especially the “Legends” stories that allowed themes to breathe differently than they could in a 2-hour film.

When I was a kid and I watched the final installment of the prequel trilogy, I remember leaving the theatre and feeling a mixture of some disappointments, but also excitement to go back and watch the others. I didn’t love the ending for Padmé and others, but I loved watching everything come full circle to the story we knew. Rise of Skywalker needs to make you leave the theater wanting more, to truly be a Star Wars movie.

(via IndieWire, image: Lucasfilm)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.