News broke yesterday morning that J.J. Abrams would be returning to the Star Wars franchise to direct Episode IX. Many fans were not surprised considering that he was probably the safest choice to lead the ending of the trilogy he started. However, his name was not the first to come to many minds when Collin Trevorrow and Lucasfilm parted ways last week. The tide seemed to be in Rian Johnson’s favor. Not only has Abrams stated in the past that he would not return, but numerous reports have claimed that Johnson has a healthy relationship with Lucasfilm and that the company is very happy with the current cuts of The Last Jedi. He has also been very vocal about his artistic freedom within Star Wars and his enjoyment working on the film. Fans were just waiting for the announcement of his return to drop. According to Deadline, this was almost the case.
Johnson was indeed offered the position before anybody else. His return would have made sense for a few reasons besides the ones already discussed. Being the writer of TLJ, he would probably already have had a set path in mind on where to take IX. Trevorrow parted ways with Lucasfilm over creative differences. One can assume these differences arose when the film had to be almost completely reworked without Carrie Fisher. Considering that Johnson was one of the last people to work hands on with Fisher- he could have probably seen eye to eye with executives on the future of the franchise. These are only hard assumptions as to what could have been. The fact that one can make such assumptions did make Johnson a solid choice, but he declined the offer.
Before one starts typing their angry tweets at Johnson- he has recently commented on why he would not return to direct the sequel. These comments were made last week at a press conference in Japan. When asked about returning he replied with:
It was never in the plan for me to direct Episode IX, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. For me, I was entirely focused on Episode VIII and having this experience. Now I’m just thinking about putting the movie out there and seeing how audiences respond to it. So, no, I’m not really thinking about that right now.
The man obviously still has a lot on his plate right now. His focus is right where it should be. After all, his name is attached to arguably one of the most anticipated films in Star Wars history. Being offered to end one of the biggest modern film trilogies while still trying to finish the middle piece of it must have brought a lot of pressure. Did he make the right choice? No one can say because his shoes must be extremely hard to fill right now. His decision must be respected as the journey to TLJ is almost over.
Check back soon for more updates on the future of the Star Wars universe!- Andrew J. Salazar (@yokis101)