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 forever a hot topic of conversation, so this post is purely to detail what’s going on (and what has been going on) for those not in the loop.
You see, for every critical success story, like The Mandalorian and The Clone Wars, there’s huge divisions in the fan base, including increasing disappointment surrounding the sequel trilogy. This post is to explain the divisions and the backlash that has been created.
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 mostly related to recent movies and has caused a divide amongst the Star Wars community.
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 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 direction of the series. These fans felt that if they boycotted Solo it would send a message to Lucasfilm that they were not happy – and it kind of did, as Lucasfilm heard them loud and clear.
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 even went so far as to suggest they would 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.”
Has the backlash changed the way Disney/Lucasfilm make Star Wars movies?
Yes. The tepid response to Solo made Lucasfilm rethink its approach to standalone movies, and all non-Skywalker films were put on hold.
In addition, due to the overwhelmingly negative chatter regarding The Last Jedi, Disney/Lucasfilm rethought its approach to The Rise of Skywalker (2019). Ideas were abandoned and more ‘fan-pleasing’ material was brought in.
However, this revised approach for The Rise of Skywalker (which meant the film mostly ignored the events of The Last Jedi) caused even more backlash and the problem continued. Fans could see cracks in the story and it was clear that Disney/Lucasfilm had fumbled its way through the movie and chucked a bunch of ideas into the story just to appease audiences.
Has the backlash caused Kathleen Kennedy to step down as Lucasfilm President?
For a long time there were lots of rumours circulating about Kennedy’s place at the Lucasfilm table and whether she would remain as company President. Just to be clear, these were rumours only – Kennedy remains in charge of Lucasfilm.
Has the backlash achieved 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 has shaped and refined projects, but this has not always been in the best way.
The backlash has also caused some projects to simply be taken off the slate – even if those projects are ones that fans wanted to see.
Ultimately it is now up to Disney/Lucasfilm to decide what the best direction for Star Wars is. Some fans will be happy with the choices that are made, others will not, but hey, you can’t please everyone!
What is clear, is that Disney/Lucasfilm do want to appease fans as much as possible. So, because everyone has fallen in love with The Mandalorian, then this is a show that will certainly be given more focus over the coming years. The same can be said of any future project that gets embraced in a similar way.
What happens next?
The Rise of Skywalker was touted as the final entry in the Skywalker saga, so don’t expect any more films from Luke, Rey or Vader for the foreseeable future. In terms of movies, expect Disney/Lucasfilm to try out a new direction, with new characters.
However, don’t rule out seeing many of the classic characters at some point in the future. TV shows will play a big role in the coming years, with established characters such as Obi Wan Kenobi leading the way via new series on Disney+.
I hope this information has proved useful to you. For more informative posts, check out one of the recommended reads below.