‘The Rise of Skywalker’ Would Have Had a Controversial Ending No Matter What

Trying to please everyone in the Star Wars franchise was perhaps one of the most thankless jobs in the known universe. No matter who Lucasfilm picked as director, they likely would have had to experience the wrath of fans for the rest of their careers.

Then again, some diehard fans still think that a different path was needed for the character outcomes in the new trilogy. If this burden fell mostly on Rian Johnson for taking the story in surprising new directions, J.J. Abrams was stuck in the same fan torture chamber.

Both had to deal with severe online bile. Yet, The Rise of Skywalker was still heading toward a divided opinion if looking at all the alternative scenarios.

Exterior shot of the marquee of "Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker" at the El Capitan Theater
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker | JC Olivera/Getty Images

Was ‘The Rise of Skywalker’ really doomed to fan divide?

It goes without saying the Star Wars franchise is quite a bit different from any ordinary movie franchise ever made. Considering an official religion exists around Star Wars, according to CNN, lore shows the crazy levels people have gone to in assimilating it into their lives.

For a good majority, it simply was a nostalgic sci-fi movie franchise. Those from Generation X grew up watching the first trilogy as kids with their parents. When the new prequels and the sequels came out, Gen X took their kids to see the new films.

Putting that together over a 42-year span, fans realizing the franchise would end created some palpable emotions. And so it was with The Rise of Skywalker last December. Depending on one’s point of view, it was either a fulfilling emotional conclusion or a complete letdown.

Fans question what was really wrong with ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

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When someone started a thread on Reddit recently asking what was really wrong with The Rise of Skywalker, it brought out the usual fan dividing lines. From the thread starter’s view, they found the final film a thrilling ride and emotionally satisfying. However, they noted they jostled opinion around in their heads after reading so many bad things about it first online.

As someone else noted in the comment section: “Forget the internet. Just watch movies like you did back in the day, when it seemed like everyone enjoyed everything, because they weren’t influenced by this weird mass opinion”.

Others jumped in and gave more specific plot points to why they despised the final movie. One could argue it did give an overly pat ending, even if still falling in line with the narrative style of the original trilogy. After all, even Mark Hamill was once convinced by George Lucas they were telling a fairy tale for kids through an adult frame of reference, according to Heroic Hollywood. Ending it the same way with an overly neat ending truly did take it full circle.

What if it had a different director?

Chances are good that, had the final trilogy been done by others, it might have stayed traditional as the original trilogy did. Or, someone could have taken it in even crazier directions than Johnson did. Because the first films created a precedent for its particular narrative approach, the fan divide was almost written in stone. Johnson shaking things up was either great or anathema based on how one cherishes tradition.

J.J. Abrams managed to steer it back to the feel of the original films, pleasing some purists, while still angering those who expected a little more. Not many movie franchises experience a creative tug-of-war like this. It might offer a little lesson in perhaps holding on to one’s media property (as George Lucas did not) so it prevents any internal creative fight for retaining its original soul.