Look, I’m not here to pretend The Last Jedi is without flaws. I’m not even here to shame you for not liking it; after all, what the hell was going on with the now infamous “milking” scene? As much as I love the film (and it may be my favourite Star Wars film), it’s not without its less favourable moments. But it doesn’t really matter if you liked the film or not. You do you. Plenty of functioning adults don’t like the film, have politely said so, and moved on with their lives. I’m not angry at them, I’m angry at a particular group of haters.
It seems the way The Last Jedi deals with the history of the franchise has hit some kind of nerve. Die hard fans of the franchise seem to be in uproar about its treatment of Luke Skywalker, who is as much of a mythic figure in our pop culture as he is in the world of the film. He’s a legend and a symbol of hope for people to cling to, but the Luke of Episode IX is jaded, and about as far from that stature as you can get. One of my favourite parts of the film is the way it deals with that; the intergalactic fable of Luke Skywalker versus the man himself. It seems there are those out there who don’t feel that way, however; a petition has been making the rounds to have the film struck from the official canon.
I couldn’t find a satisfying way to represent a long, exasperated sigh in print, but you should know that that’s my official response to this idiocy. Come on, people. Star Wars fans more than anyone should know that if you strike something down in anger, it will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.
How anyone came to the conclusion that this was the reasonable reaction to have is beyond me. Are we saying that filmmakers shouldn’t ever dare to take new directions? Did people want these new Star Wars films to just be remakes of Episodes IV, V and VI? Apparently not, because one of people’s major gripes with The Force Awakens was that it relied too much on past entries to the franchise.
Ironically, Star Wars has become to these fans what Luke has become to the Galaxy; a set of grandiose expectations that they can’t possibly hope to meet. Whatever they might have wanted or expected from this new trilogy, it seems as if they weren’t ever going to be pleased unless they got the original trilogy over again. They would be wise to take the advice of Kylo Ren: ‘Let the past die’.
When Rian Johnson set out to make The Last Jedi, he didn’t much care about what people thought Star Wars should be. He set out onto Luke Skywalker’s secluded island the same way George Lucas set out to the frozen wastelands of Hoth for The Empire Strikes Back; without precedent or expectation, with no lore to adhere to or fanboys expecting a certain quota of lightsaber fights. Johnson loved the franchise to understand that his film shouldn’t be a love letter to what came before it, and should instead be as bold and courageous as Empire was in its day. Johnson loved Star Wars enough to try something new with this film. Therefore, rather than be up in arms that it’s not we were expecting, what we should just be grateful that the creative spirit that drove those much beloved original films is alive and well in the team behind this new trilogy.