Rian Johnson the last jedi

Now that we’re past the halfway point of the sequel ‘Star Wars’ trilogy, a few things are becoming clear about Disney’s approach to this franchise. One of those is that in contrast to Disney’s other large scale genre venture, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the current cycle of ‘Star Wars’ has not been plotted out in advance, except in perhaps the loosest sense.

To some extent, this was already clear prior to the release of ‘The Last Jedi’, as writer/director Rian Johnson made a point of mentioning the degree of creative freedom he’d been allowed, even with regard to significant revelations like the identity of Rey’s parents. While Johnson has said that he spoke with ‘The Force Awakens’ director (and co-writer) J.J. Abrams about his choice on that subject, this nonetheless raised questions about how much of the trilogy’s arc was preplanned and how much was left to the individual filmmakers.

The subject was raised with regard to Rey’s backstory, at least, in a recent interview Le Magazine Geek conducted with Daisy Ridley. While Ridley didn’t have an answer, she did reveal that a greater degree of advance planning had taken place than fans realized, though it seems that “plan” is more a set of guideposts or suggestions than a roadmap. Per Ridley:

“J.J. wrote ‘Episode VII’, he also wrote drafts of ‘VIII’ and ‘IX’. Then Rian arrived and re-wrote ‘The Last Jedi’ entirely. I believe there was some sort of general consensus on the main storylines that would happen in the trilogy, but apart from that we agreed that every director should probably make his movie his own way. Rian and J.J. Abrams met many times to discuss ‘The Last Jedi’, although ‘Episode VIII’ is very much mostly Rian’s and I do believe Rian didn’t keep anything from the first draft of the ‘Episode VIII’ script.”

This ad-hoc approach to storytelling isn’t exactly new to ‘Star Wars’. While the prequel trilogy was clearly mapped out ahead of time to some degree, the original trilogy was much more freeform (exactly how much so depends on the extent to which you buy into George Lucas’s often revisionist narrative of the early years of ‘Star Wars’). Indeed, while that trilogy has a very definite arc, some of its major plot twists were very clearly decided upon late in the game.

Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on this and other upcoming ‘Star Wars’ films as it becomes available!

‘Star Wars: Episode IX’ will arrive in theaters on December 20, 2019.