The following post has been published to explain what the ‘Star Wars backlash’ is all about; it is not a post designed to stir up any further conflict amongst the Star Wars community. Star Wars is a hot topic right now, so this post is purely to detail what’s going on for those not in the loop.
If you want my feelings on the Star Wars backlash or you want to know why I think Solo struggled at the box office, then check out my posts: Some Star Wars fans can be utter tosspots – let’s stand up to them and Five reasons why Solo: A Star Wars Story is struggling. Both of these posts make it pretty clear what my feelings are towards the situation.
What is the Star Wars backlash?
The Star Wars backlash is a term being used at present to describe a negative reaction from fans regarding certain aspects of the sprawling saga. This backlash is related to recent movies and has caused a division within Star Wars fandom.
What caused the Star Wars backlash?
The source of the Star Wars backlash is currently up for debate. The most common belief is that the backlash began with the release of director Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi (2017) – a Star Wars movie that was a financial hit, but was not a critical hit with fans. There is currently a very vocal section of the Star Wars fan community who do not like the movie and will not accept it as a part of the franchise.
Others suggest that the backlash was caused when Walt Disney bought Lucasfilm, took over the Star Wars franchise and released The Force Awakens (2015). At the time of its release there was no noticeable backlash – in fact the commercial and critical response to the movie was very positive – but some claim they’ve been unhappy with the series from this point onwards.
How has the backlash developed?
So far, the backlash has developed into three very distinct ways:
Blame – Some corners of the Star Wars fan community have placed the blame for the backlash on the shoulders of director Rian Johnson as well as Lucasfilm President, Kathleen Kennedy. These fans claim that Johnson took the series in a direction they were unhappy with and that Kathleen Kennedy has facilitated. The claim is that Star Wars is becoming too much of a platform for ‘social justice warriors’ by introducing characters they feel are causing Star Wars to change too much (Rey, Rose etc).
Online abuse – The blame then moved onto online abuse, with fans targeting members of the cast and hitting them with a constant stream of negativity, critical comments and unacceptable posts. The online abuse has so far caused both Daisy Ridley and Kelly Marie Tran to quit social media.
Boycott – In addition to laying blame and creating online abuse, some fans also chose to boycott the theatrical release of Solo: A Star Wars Story, to demonstrate their frustrations over the current direction of the series. These fans felt that if they boycotted Solo it would send a message to Lucasfilm that they were not happy.
What has been the result of the backlash?
At present, there is a section of the Star Wars community who are remaining very vocal about their dislike for new entries in the series and who are presenting their views online. Some have even gone so far as to suggest they will remake The Last Jedi to replace Rian Johnson’s entry in the saga.
When he heard about this remake suggestion, Rian Johnson retorted with a tongue in cheek response which simply said: “Please please please please pleeeeeeeaaaase please actually happen please please please please please.”
Did the backlash affect Solo’s commercial success?
There are many reasons why Solo stalled at the box office. While the backlash/boycott certainly didn’t help, it wasn’t the sole reason the film failed to make an impact with audiences.
Has the backlash changed the way Disney/Lucasfilm make Star Wars movies?
At present it is too early to tell what will happen with the future of the Star Wars franchise. The tepid response to Solo has reportedly made Lucasfilm rethink its approach to standalone movies, but what this means remains unclear.
Has the backlash caused Kathleen Kennedy to step down as Lucasfilm President?
At the time of writing this post there are lots of rumours circulating about Kennedy’s place at the Lucasfilm table and whether she will remain as company President. Just to be clear, these are rumours only – nothing has been announced about Kennedy’s future with Lucasfilm.
Until an official announcement is made, presume this is just a rumour that could have been started by anyone to add more fuel to the fire.
Will the backlash achieve anything?
I’m trying to not offer opinions in this post (must resist the urge to sound off), so it’s difficult to say.
The backlash has caused a lot of negative chatter and ultimately no one wants this. At best, this chatter may help to shape and refine projects moving forward. At worst it could cause some projects to simply be taken off the slate – even if those projects are ones that fans want to see.
Ultimately it is up to Disney/Lucasfilm to decide what the best direction for Star Wars is. Some fans will be happy, others will not but that is how things are.
What happens next?
For now, until any announcements are made, Lucasfilm will concentrate on producing the as-yet-untitled Episode IX from director J.J. Abrams. In addition, in the coming months the company will promote the home video release of Solo: A Star Wars Story.