Will ‘Star Wars’ Fans Ever Forgive Rian Johnson for ‘The Last Jedi’?

No, some Star Wars fans will never forgive Rian Johnson for The Last Jedi. But they might be able to forget him. 

News has come out this week that Marvel impresario Kevin Feige will be producing at least one Star Wars movie. If Feige can apply the same magic touch to Star Wars as he has to Marvel and make a movie that pleases most people and makes ten mints of money, fans may be able to at least let their disdain for Johnson subside.  It’s even possible, though we don’t know for sure, that Johnson may be bowing out. 

Some Star Wars fans can’t let go

Rian Johnson at The IMDb Studio
Rian Johnson | Rich Polk/Getty Images for IMDb

A not so long time ago, in our very own galaxy, Star Wars fandom wasn’t in such a schism. When The Force Awakens came out in 2015, generally everyone seemed to be happy with it. It’s still the most successful movie of all time in the United States. Yes, there were complaints that it was too much like the 1977 Star Wars, but by and large, most people seemed happy with it. 

Then The Last Jedi came out in 2017, and to hear some fans tell it, writer-director Johnson ruined everything. He turned Luke Skywalker into a grumpy coward. He introduced lame comedy.

He made Leia fly. And worst of all, he dared to tell audiences that Rey wasn’t really part of the Skywalker dynasty, as many fans had predicted. Fans even started petitions to have The Last Jedi declared non-canon. Unfriendings multiplied the world over. 

Johnson also had his defenders. Some fans loved that his theme was “Let the past die,” because pro-Last Jedi fans saw the anti-Johnson folks as children who were unrealistically insisting the movies make them feel like they were 10 again.  One writer agreed that Johnson didn’t care to honor the past – and that’s what made The Last Jedi great

Star Wars has struggled somewhat recently 

Perhaps Johnson’s best defense is the box office. Far from being a failure, The Last Jedi made $620 million here and $1.3 billion worldwide. That’s considerably less than The Force Awakens, true, but it’s far from embarrassing. Disney’s shareholders were surely happy even while fans were fighting with each other. 

Then the bloom started to fall off the Star Wars rose to some degree. Solo: A Star Wars Story, went through a well-publicized change in directors, with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller being fired and Ron Howard taking over. The bad publicity played some part in Solo being a legitimate box office disappointment, with only $205 million in the bank here and $392 worldwide. For the first time, a Star Wars movie lost money. 

Plans to make a Boba Fett movie with Logan director James Mangold were canceled. Crowds at the new Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland were much smaller than many expected, and some fans said even that was Johnson’s fault.

Whatever the future of Star Wars is, Disney clearly wasn’t going to go the Marvel route of one or more movies a year.

Is Rian Johnson out of Star Wars?

Lucasfilm had announced that Johnson was going to make a new trilogy after the Skywalker saga wrapped with JJ Abrams’ The Rise of Skywalker. Disney has not announced that Johnson’s trilogy has been canceled, but we also learned  Game of Thrones masterminds David Benioff and DB Weiss were making their own movies. Was it three movies? One movie? Fans seem confused. Exactly which Star Wars movie comes after Rise of Skywalker? Benioff/Weiss? Johnson? Feige? Something else? 

Johnson, who is promoting his new murder mystery Knives Out, has been very coy about the status of his trilogy. Asked about it by Uproxx, Johnson said, “I’m where I can’t say anything about it. Still completely in process with it.” Meanwhile, he had so much fun with Knives Out that he’s hoping he gets to do more movies like it. 

While some people would find it unfortunate if angry fans made Johnson not want to continue with Star Wars, it might be better for him if he sticks with making more adventurous movies like Knives Out and Looper, where he doesn’t have to worry about riling up a fanbase. Perhaps then, once and for all, fans can’t let go of their anger, as Yoda would surely advise them.