When the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker press tour officially kicked off, things began rather inconspicuously with a silly story about a leaked script ending up on eBay. Yet things quickly turned when the subject of the previous film, Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, came up. As you’re probably well aware, some louder corners of the Star Wars fandom have been adamant about their distaste for the film, and with The Force Awakens‘ J.J. Abrams helming The Rise of Skywalker, some have hoped for “course corrections.” Hell, even Abrams and actor John Boyega have dissed the film and Johnson.
Well, just as the early — and decidedly mixed — reactions to The Rise of Skywalker began pouring in following Monday’s premiere, comments Johnson made in an interview from December 13 about not catering to fandom went live. “I think approaching any creative process with [making fandoms happy] would be a mistake that would lead to probably the exact opposite result,” he told Radio.com in the interview, which was first noticed by IndieWire:
“Even my experience as a fan, you know if I’m coming into something, even if it’s something that I think I want, if I see exactly what I think I want on the screen, it’s like ‘oh, okay,’ it might make me smile and make me feel neutral about the thing and I won’t really think about it afterwards, but that’s not really going to satisfy me.”
“I want to be shocked,” Johnson added. “I want to be surprised, I want to be thrown off-guard, I want to have things recontextualized, I want to be challenged as a fan when I sit down in the theater”:
“What I’m aiming for every time I sit down in a theater is to have the experience [I had] with Empire Strikes Back, something that’s emotionally resonant and feels like it connects up and makes sense and really gets to the heart of what this thing is and in a way that I never could have seen coming.”
Obviously, neither Boyega’s comments in the press — which the actor later apologized for (though for reasons having nothing to do with Johnson) — nor Abrams’s opinions about what surprised (re: disappointed) him most about The Last Jedi, were brought up by the director. Though considering the recent back-and-forth via Lucasfilm’s own public relations push, as well as the recent premiere reactions, it’s difficult not to read Johnson’s comments as a rebuttal of sorts.