This won’t be the first or last time we write an article about this. Let’s talk about the Star Wars sequel trilogy lack of planning, again.
As the years passed after the end of that sequel trilogy, more and more of the creatives are opening up on the process. The lack of any kind of plan is a plain as the nose on your face. Previously we have heard the timeline of when it was decided to bring Palpatine back, and we have heard from stars who moaned that different directors went it strange directions. Whether that is Rian Johnson following J.J. Abrams or vice versa. All that is clear is Abrams and Johnson didn’t seem to be making the same story.
Now Abrams himself has had his take on events within a recent interview with Collider. Abrams does not come right out and blame the sequel trilogy’s failures on a lack of planning. Though, I think you’ll agree he does certainly lean towards that logic. However, for me, I think a lot of that blame falls on his own shoulders. Ladies, Gentlemen and whatever other pronouns you choose to use, I give you the world’s greatest writer/director/s.
“I’ve been involved in a number of projects that have been – in most cases, series – that have ideas that begin the thing where you feel like you know where it’s gonna go, and sometimes it’s an actor who comes in, other times it’s a relationship that as-written doesn’t quite work, and things that you think are gonna just be so well-received just crash and burn and other things that you think like, ‘Oh that’s a small moment’ or ‘That’s a one-episode character’ suddenly become a hugely important part of the story.”
“I feel like what I’ve learned as a lesson a few times now, and it’s something that especially in this pandemic year working with writers [has become clear], the lesson is that you have to plan things as best you can, and you always need to be able to respond to the unexpected. And the unexpected can come in all sorts of forms, and I do think that there’s nothing more important than knowing where you’re going.”
Well duh! Of course with any movie or series you have to go in there with an idea of how it all wraps up. Even an unsuccessful creative writer like me knows that. What is your story about ultimately, what are the themes you wish to explore? Where do you envision the characters ending up and will it feel interesting to get to that point. But with a trilogy, I feel like you need to have that mapped out for the end of the third movie as well. It seems, a little too late now, that Abrams agrees.
“There are projects that I’ve worked on where we had some ideas but we hadn’t worked through them enough, sometimes we had some ideas but then we weren’t allowed to do them the way we wanted to. I’ve had all sorts of situations where you plan things in a certain way and you suddenly find yourself doing something that’s 180 degrees different, and then sometimes it works really well and you feel like, ‘Wow that really came together,’ and other times you think, ‘Oh my God I can’t believe this is where we are,’ and sometimes when it’s not working out it’s because it’s what you planned, and other times when it’s not working out it’s because you didn’t [have a plan].”
“You just never really know, but having a plan I have learned – in some cases the hard way – is the most critical thing, because otherwise you don’t know what you’re setting up. You don’t know what to emphasize. Because if you don’t know the inevitable of the story, you’re just as good as your last sequence or effect or joke or whatever, but you want to be leading to something inevitable.”
Wait a Minute!
Wait a minute, did Abrams not get a crazy amount of control over The Force Awakens? To the point where we have Bob Iger quoted as saying it was ultimately Abrams decision to abandon George Lucas’ outline. So, far as I can tell, the only thing Abrams asked for and didn’t get, was more time, which Iger says was on him. So surely if there was a lack of an overall plan, it falls most predominantly on the shoulders of Abrams? Truthfully, Abrams never intended to come back, so I think he just did his usual mystery box with no end game. But to begin with it worked and it got Star Wars fans in theatres in huge numbers.
Maybe Abrams did leave some suggestions for Rian Johnson? Though, if he did Johnson was told he could ignore them. We also have Abrams quoted as saying he wished he could make The Last Jedi once he had read the script. Instead there was a fan reaction to The Last Jedi which seemed to split the fan base in the middle. By the time Abrams was brought back on board for Nine, he and Lucasfilm had probably seen all the bad press. So what did Abrams do? Abrams for the most part ignored The Last Jedi and gave us a sequel to his first film The Force Awakens. Now I am one of those fans who got off the ride at The Last Jedi. However, even the fans I know who loved The Last Jedi can’t stand the sequel trilogy because of how Abrams chose to end it.
We cannot go back and change it now. That sequel trilogy will always be what happened to these characters and this Universe canonically. That’s a damn shame, because Lucasfilm since then has actually begun to improve. Instead of rushing ahead with a cash in on the original Skywalker Saga and killing it in the process, they could have been patient. Take time to plan where that story should go next, before hiring writers and directors. Movies, TV shows etc. all have to able to adapt to what is happening on screen like Abrams also says. However you also need a plan. It’s evident now that once Abrams chose to abandon Lucas’ ideas, there was no plan.
Despite being a decent director, but a very average writer, Abrams is making bank. His deals are out of this world and he is probably one of the most powerful figures on Hollywood. I just keep wondering why? One of life’s great mysteries I suppose?
We just gotta move on now and hope Star Wars carries on in the same vain it has most recently. Just as long as they keep Jar Jar Abrams well away, things might be ok? Share your thoughts as Abrams discusses the Star Wars sequel trilogy lack of planning. Or any Star Wars thoughts you have.