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At the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker press conference, J.J. Abrams said that Rian Johnson had set up “wonderful things” in The Last Jedi for him to run with in Episode IX. The New York Times got to speak with Abrams in more depth, and one thing he said about Johnson’s film as turned Twitter into Team Abrams vs. Team Johnson. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker director and co-writer J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abrams | Christopher Jue/Getty Images for Disney

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker stars Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Kelly Marie Tran. Abrams promises it concludes not only the new trilogy but the entire saga of nine Skywalker films. The film opens Friday, December 20. 

Here’s what J.J. Abrams said about Rian Johnson

The New York Times proposed the notion that Rian Johnson’s tone was so irreverent, it suggested that the answers to the questions J.J. Abrams asked in The Force Awakens didn’t matter. They pointed out Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) tossing the lightsaber Rey (Ridley) brought him and the unceremonious answer of who her parents were.

Here’s the part of Abrams’ interview that has Rian Johnson fans bristling.

J.J. Abrams and the Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker cast
(L-R) J.J. Abrams, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley, Oscar Isaac and Anthony Daniels | Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

“On the other hand, it’s a bit of a meta approach to the story,” Abrams said. “I don’t think that people go to Star Wars to be told, ‘This doesn’t matter.”

Still, Abrams stood by his statement that Johnson gave him a good setup for the finale. 

“I think needed a pendulum swing in one direction in order to swing in the other,” Abrams said.

Team J.J. Abrams defends the ‘Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker’ director

It’s no secret The Last Jedi was a divisive film in 2017. Angry fans drove Kelly Marie Tran and Daisy Ridley off social media. Rian Johnson stuck it out with good humor, but even some of the more measured J.J. Abrams fans like what he said to the Times.

@JohnnyHooey wrote, “The irony is the irrational Rian Johnson fans attacking JJ Abrams will try to tear down TROS, which is what they defended TLJ against. You became the villain of fandom, congrats. What a twist ending. I could not be rooting harder for JJ than I am right now.” 

@metaplexmovies reminds fans how complimentary J.J. Abrams has been towards Rian Johnson. One quote doesn’t change that.  

“JJ Abrams has done nothing but praise Rian Johnson and THE LAST JEDI for the last 4 years,” he wrote. “In the New York Times, JJ is praising THE LAST JEDI, acknowledges what didn’t work (for some) and emphasizes, as he has *for months*, that it laid the groundwork for THE RISE OF SKYWALKER.”

Team Rian Johnson defended the message of ‘The Last Jedi’

Some of the Last Jedi fans out there think the Times and J.J. Abrams oversimplified, or missed the point, of Rian Johnson’s film. 

The Last Jedi writer/director Rian Johnson
Rian Johnson| Christopher Jue/Getty Images for Disney

@tfeatherston12 thinks Abrams missed the point of The Last Jedi. “The idea that the message of The Last Jedi, a movie that ends with young children mesmerized by the story of Luke standing alone against the First Order, is telling audiences “Star Wars doesn’t matter” is infuriating.” 

@clarkjosephf has another interpretation of The Last Jedi. “Johnson didn’t use ‘THE LAST JEDI’ to say ‘This doesn’t matter,’” he wrote. “He used it to say ‘This isn’t true but it still matters. We need inspiring stories to grow, but another part of growing up is learning the reality behind our stories is always more complicated than we realized.

Team Rian Johnson defended the art of ‘The Last Jedi’ 

If they can’t agree on the message, The Last Jedi fans at least hope the J.J. Abrams fans can see what a magnificent Star Wars movie Rian Johnson made. 

Dana Schwartz had some strong words, many NSFW, but here’s one clean tweet she wrote defending Johnson.

Critic Scott Tobias advocated for embracing the chances Rian Johnson took with The Last Jedi.

@bpwarsh said, “nothing jj abrams does can take The Last Jedi away from me.” 

Alexis Nedd is already looking forward to Rian Johnson’s own Star Wars trilogy.

@AgeofIrony thinks it’s in poor taste for the cast of Star Wars to play Team J.J. Abrams on this. “This new strategy of the main cast of #TheRiseofSkywalker — with the notable exception of Adam Driver, a true professional and king — gaslighting Rian Johnson for THE LAST JEDI five days before the world premiere of the end of the sequel trilogy is definitely a CHOICE.”