Episode VII – The Force Awakens was JJ Abrams’ successful launch of the most recent Star Wars trilogy, which grossed over $2 billion worldwide, and received an overwhelmingly positive critical response. However, what happened later can only be described as shaky storytelling – the movie’s sequels, Episode VIII – The Last Jedi and Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker felt like a continuous course-correcting narrative, rather than a thought-out story. And the importance of having a plan is now finally addressed by JJ Abrams.
In his interview with the Collider, JJ Abrams admitted that he didn’t have a plan for Star Wars, as he was never meant to direct anything more than Episode VII – The Force Awakens. Though he initially declined to direct Episode VII, JJ Abrams said, at a later time, that he’s excited to create a foundation for the new narrative. And doing so wasn’t an easy task – the latest entry in the franchise featured new characters along with some old favorites while setting an entirely new trilogy and ending Han Solo’s story arc, all in one take. Still, Lucas film didn’t wait for Abrams to wrap the story up and decided to build upon unfinished foundations – which is precisely why the story collapsed at specific points.
Lucasfilm didn’t really have a solid narrative for the new trilogy. Instead, as JJ Abrams’s The Force Awakens was still in the works, the company decided to get the following two films in the trilogy of the ground. However, instead of creating a solid, error-proof storyline for all three films, Lucasfilm hired Rian Johnson to write and direct Episode VIII, building upon the foundations set by Abrams, and Colin Trevorrow to write and direct Episode IX. And that’s where the proverbial house went down. The lack of a solid plan reared its ugly head when Johnson made decisions that didn’t sit well with the story’s expected, albeit uncharted narrative. His creation, The Last Jedi, was a critical success but created some unfavorable reviews among the audience.
JJ Abrams returned to direct the next entry in the franchise, Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, when its director, Colin Trevorrow, left the project over the narrative disagreements. This gave Abrams an unenviable task – finish the story he started by, unfortunately, taking some alternate routes in Johnson’s chapter. The result was similarly divisive among the fans, but at least it brought the narrative to its correct course. Some fans enjoyed the creative hand-offs among the new trilogy’s directors, making the movies seem like distinct entries, each following its own bread crumbs. Others believe that Abrams and Lucasfilm should’ve had a plan and stuck with it from the very beginning.
When asked about the importance of having a plan and whether the new trilogy would’ve benefitted from one, JJ Abrams admitted that he didn’t have a plan for Star Wars, but that it’s better to have a plan and be willing to change it, than not have one at all.