Rey looks over her shoulder in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Let’s Unpack J.J. Abrams’ Comments on Having a Plan for the Sequel Trilogy

When will we stop talking about this?

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I am personally beyond tired of this conversation. I’m tired that we’re going back to directors after the movies are over and done with and dissecting it to death. We did it with Avengers: Endgame, we did it with The Rise of Skywalker, and it’s still happening with every single blockbuster that comes out, and while I understand the need to criticize these properties and hope for better, I’m also exhausted. I just want to love my silly space dramas in peace.

But today, the conversation surrounding Rise of Skywalker continued. J.J. Abrams spoke with Collider about the anniversary of Super 8, and the conversation was steered towards Star Wars and the divisive sequel trilogy.

When prompted, Abrams essentially said that plans can hinder a creative process and plans change.

“I’ve been involved in a number of projects that have been – in most cases, series – that have ideas that begin the thing where you feel like you know where it’s gonna go, and sometimes it’s an actor who comes in, other times it’s a relationship that as-written doesn’t quite work, and things that you think are gonna just be so well-received just crash and burn and other things that you think like, ‘Oh that’s a small moment’ or ‘That’s a one-episode character’ suddenly become a hugely important part of the story. I feel like what I’ve learned as a lesson a few times now, and it’s something that especially in this pandemic year working with writers [has become clear], the lesson is that you have to plan things as best you can, and you always need to be able to respond to the unexpected. And the unexpected can come in all sorts of forms, and I do think that there’s nothing more important than knowing where you’re going.”

Which is fine, but then it became a conversation online about Lucasfilm not having a “plan” for the sequel trilogy and not only am I exhausted but I’m also fed up. First of all, the original trilogy wasn’t planned out no matter how much Lucas likes to pretend it was. He had siblings kissing each other. SECOND, if Disney had Kathleen Kennedy plan the future of this franchise and she didn’t use the EU (where my babies Jaina and Jacen Solo exist with Luke Skywalker married to Mara Jade), I would have ripped my hair out.

What’s, I guess, interesting about it all is that the series was up to the directors. That we know. And they got to have fun with this franchise in the same way that Jon Favreau and Dave Filoni are with the Disney+ series. The difference there is that they talk with each other and plan things out together instead of all trying to make their own separate stories work as one.

Abrams went on to say that he knows, in retrospect, they should have had a plan for the franchise.

“You just never really know, but having a plan I have learned – in some cases the hard way – is the most critical thing, because otherwise you don’t know what you’re setting up. You don’t know what to emphasize. Because if you don’t know the inevitable of the story, you’re just as good as your last sequence or effect or joke or whatever, but you want to be leading to something inevitable.”

Again, fine. Yes, have a plan. Yes, we all agree they should have spoken to each other. Yes, I hated the Palpatine storyline and yes, I will always have my problems with The Rise of Skywalker but I’d also love to stop being forced to talk about it. I hated what they did with Finn. I hated that they were too chicken to give me Stormpilot and I don’t like Leia’s storyline at all. These are things that are known because this movie came out over a year ago and yet here we are.

What I would love is to be able to talk about and focus on the future of the Star Wars universe. We recognize what didn’t work with the sequel trilogy. We know that fans were absolutely horrendous to the cast (mainly John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, and Kelly Marie Train) and we know now what needs to be done to make it a safer place for actors as well as fans who have been attacked and doxxed online.

It’s why I’m positive about the future of the Disney+ series. Why I can’t wait to see how Taika Waititi tackles Star Wars or what The Book of Boba Fett has in store. I’d like to focus energy there and how those stories are coming from diverse creatives and they’re working hard to make the galaxy far far away as inclusive and inviting for audiences as possible. I’d just like it if we could please stop going back to the sequel trilogy for a while. I’ll gladly embrace the love of it years later (like everyone did with the prequels) but right now, I’m exhausted.

(image: Lucasfilm)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.