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The Star Wars sequel trilogy is the third trilogy of the main Star Wars franchise, an American space opera created by George Lucas. It is produced by Lucasfilm Ltd. and distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The trilogy consists of episodes VII through IX, chronologically following the prequel trilogy (Episodes I-III; 1999-2005) and the original trilogy (Episodes IV-VI; 1977-1983), serving as the final act of the "Skywalker saga". Lucas had planned a sequel trilogy as early as 1976, but canceled it by 1981. He ended up producing only the first six episodes and for a time described these as comprising the complete story. The sequel trilogy concept was revived when The Walt Disney Company entered negotiations to acquire Lucasfilm in mid-2011. Lucas produced new story treatments, but according to him these were largely discarded. Both the acquisition and plans to produce the trilogy were announced in late 2012.
The trilogy follows a 19-year-old girl named Rey, and the plight of the Resistance against the First Order, which has risen from the fallen Galactic Empire. Rey learns the ways of the Force under Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa while searching for her parents (who mysteriously abandoned her as a child), and confronts Kylo Ren--the son of Leia and Han Solo, nephew of Luke, and grandson of Anakin Skywalker--who has fallen to the dark side. The first two received positive reviews from critics, while the third received mixed reviews. The trilogy grossed over $4.4 billion at the box office worldwide with each film surpassing a billion dollars worldwide.
It has been suggested that sections preceding the release of Return of the Jedi be split out and merged into the article titled Original Trilogy, which already exists. (Discuss) (December 2019)
According to Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker, Star Wars creator George Lucas told him in 1976 that he planned three or four Star Wars trilogies. Lucas suggested that Hamill could have a cameo role in Episode IX, which he imagined filming by 2011. A Time magazine story in March 1978, quoting Lucas, stated there would be ten Star Wars films after The Empire Strikes Back.[a]Gary Kurtz, the producer of the first two films, was aware of proposed story elements for Episode VII to Episode IX before 1980. At the time of the release of The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Lucas said there were seven further Star Wars films he wanted to make. He said he had "twelve-page outlines" for those films. In an interview with Jim Steranko in Prevue magazine published in late 1980, Lucas described how the expansive scope of Star Wars had started with an overlong screenplay:
So, I took the screenplay and divided it into three stories, and rewrote the first one. ... Then, I had the other two films, which were essentially split into three parts each, two trilogies. When the smoke cleared, I said, 'This is really great. I'll do another trilogy that takes place after this.' I had three trilogies of nine films, and then another couple of odd films.[a] ... It's a nine-part saga that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It progresses over a period of about fifty or sixty years with about twenty years between trilogies, each trilogy taking about six or seven years.
By the time of Episode V: The Empire Strikes Backs release, Lucas had written story treatments for all nine Star Wars episodes. In 1999, Kurtz revealed a brief outline of these treatments:
Episode I would have explored the methodology of the Jedi.
Episode IV had already seen Luke decide to become a Jedi and Obi-Wan's final confrontation with Vader.
Episode V was filmed essentially as written.
Episode VI was to feature Leia as an isolated monarch, Han's death, and Luke showing down with Vader before exiling himself. Luke and Leia were not related.
Episode VII was to be the first part of a trilogy continuing the story of Luke as a Jedi.
Episode VIII would have featured Luke's sister (unique from Leia).
Episode IX would introduce the Emperor and depict Luke's ultimate battle with him.
In late 1980, Lucas stated that he had "titles and ten-page story outlines for each of" the nine episodes. In an interview the same magazine, Gary Kurtz explained that the total number of films or their content might change as they were produced. Lucas similarly stated in an interview with Starlog magazine in September 1981 that he had the nine-film series plotted, but:
... it's a long way from the plot to the script. I've just gone through that with Return of the Jedi, and what seems like a great idea when it's described in three sentences doesn't hold together when you try to make five or six scenes out of it. So plots change a lot when they start getting into script form.
As part of his biographical research on George Lucas in the early 1980s, Lucas allowed author Dale Pollock to read the plot outlines of a 12-film saga on the condition of signing a confidentiality agreement. Pollock said these sequel trilogy drafts would "involve Luke Skywalker in his 30s and 40s" and that they would be "The three most exciting stories ... They had propulsive action, really interesting new worlds, new characters." Lucas's plans were drastically changed after The Empire Strikes Back was released, owing to the stress of producing the first three films as well as pressure from his wife to step back from this kind of filmmaking. By 1981, Lucas had decided to make only one Star Wars trilogy.
According to Gary Kurtz, details of elements from the discarded sequel trilogy which were incorporated into Return of the Jedi include:
Luke Skywalker becomes a full-fledged Jedi knight.
Luke's sister, who was originally meant to be a new character, was revealed to be Leia.
The Emperor would first appear and Luke would confront him.
Through the 1980s, Lucas variously hinted at plot elements from his abandoned sequel trilogy, which he said would have revolved around moral and philosophical problems, including distinguishing right from wrong, justice, confrontation, and passing on what you have learned. Ideas which seem to have been used in Disney's sequel trilogy include:
Episode VII would begin 20-40 years after the end of Return of the Jedi (Lucas in 1980 and 1982).
R2-D2 and C-3PO would be the only characters to appear in all nine films (per Lucas in 1980, 1981, and 1983).
The key actors, Hamill as Luke Skywalker, Ford as Han Solo, and Fisher as Princess Leia, would appear in their 60s or 70s (Lucas in 1983).
Lucas stated in 1980 that "what happens to Luke ... is much more ethereal. I have a tiny notebook full of notes on that." Hamill said in 1983 that if his character were to return again, it would be "on another plane of existence, or not the same character."[b]
Ideas that were apparently not retained in Disney's sequel trilogy include:
The trilogy would deal with the rebuilding of the Republic (Lucas in 1980).
Luke would have a romantic relationship with a female partner (Lucas in 1988).
Timothy Zahn, who wrote the Legends non-canonical Thrawn trilogy of novels, was interviewed about the sequel trilogy after its development by Disney was announced in 2012. He confirmed that it was never meant to be based on his Thrawn trilogy nor the rest of the Expanded Universe, and said that he had been briefed years before on Lucas's plans for the sequels:
The original idea as I understood it--and Lucas changes his mind off and on, so it may not be what he's thinking right now--but it was going to be three generations. You'd have the original trilogy, then go back to Luke's father and find out what happened to him, and if there was another seventh, eighth, or ninth film, it would be Luke's children.
In 1992, Lucas announced his intentions to produce a prequel trilogy. When asked, he would frequently repeat that he had no plans to make the sequel trilogy and that he would not allow other directors to make it. At a press conference for the 1997 Special Edition of the original trilogy, Lucas stated, "I don't have scripts [for the sequel trilogy]. The only notion on that was, wouldn't it be fun to get all the actors to come back when they're 60 or 70 years old and make three more about them as old people." Also in 1997, he said: "The whole story has six episodes.... If I ever went beyond that, it would be something that was made up. I really don't have any notion other than, 'Gee, it would be interesting to do Luke Skywalker later on.' It wouldn't be part of the main story, but a sequel to this thing." He further stated, "When you see it in six parts, you'll understand. It really ends at part six."
On the possibility of someone else making Star Wars films, Lucas said, "Probably not, it's my thing." In August 1999, at a press conference to discuss The Phantom Menace, Lucas described the "nine-year commitment" required to make a Star Wars trilogy. In 2002, he said: "Basically what I said as a joke was, 'Maybe when Harrison and Carrie are in their 70s, we'll come back and do another version.' The thing I didn't realize then, and that I do realize now very clearly, is that not only would they be in their 70s, but I would be in my 70s too." He reiterated, "Ultimately, the saga will be six films, a 12-hour story. Then people can watch all six films together as they were intended to be seen."
In 2007, Lucas described making the films at that age as "an idea that seemed amusing at the time, but doesn't seem realistic now", and suggested that "off-the-cuff" comments he had made in earlier years had been misconstrued as absolute statements. In 2008, after all six films had been released, Lucas said: "The movies were the story of Anakin Skywalker and Luke Skywalker, and when Luke saves the galaxy and redeems his father, that's where that story ends." In another 2008 interview, Lucas ruled out anybody else making Star Wars films, and added that the Expanded Universe did not line up with his vision. Asked if he wanted new Star Wars films to be made after his death, he said: "I've left pretty explicit instructions for there not to be any more features. There will definitely be no Episodes VII-IX. That's because there isn't any story. ... The Star Wars story is really the tragedy of Darth Vader. That is the story."
In May 2011, Lucas was in Orlando, Florida, to celebrate the opening of Star Tours - The Adventures Continue at Walt Disney World. He was invited to breakfast by Disney CEO Bob Iger, who asked Lucas if he would be willing to sell his company to Disney. Lucas had begun to consider retiring, but was not ready to do so at that time. Lucas considered directing Episode VII for a May 2015 release and then selling his company, but decided to leave the franchise in the hands of other filmmakers, announcing in January 2012 that he would step away from making blockbuster films.
In early 2012, after being disappointed by the weak performance of Red Tails, Lucas announced to The New York Times that he was planning to retire. While he was in New York, he asked Kathleen Kennedy to lunch. He asked if she would be a at Lucasfilm with him, with the intention of transferring leadership entirely to her after about a year. She began working for him on June 1, 2012; Lucas soon proposed that they work together on the sequel trilogy. They brought in Michael Arndt to write a draft of Episode VII based on Lucas's synopsis. Star Wars screenwriting veteran Lawrence Kasdan was hired to support Arndt.[c] After making an appearance at Star Wars Celebration VI in late August, Lucas took Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to lunch and asked if they would be willing to reprise their roles for the new films. They agreed, as did Harrison Ford after being promised that Han Solo would be given meaningful closure.
Details of his sequel trilogy treatments included the conclusion of the Skywalker family's story, with its third generation being portrayed in their twenties. Lucas hoped to explain concepts he had imagined when he originally drafted his saga in the 1970s. Most specifically he revealed the "symbiotic relationships" between the Jedi, the Force, midi-chlorians (microscopic lifeforms, first mentioned onscreen in 1999's The Phantom Menace), and the Whills (all-powerful creatures first mentioned in the title of the original outline of Star Wars, Journal of the Whills):
[The next three Star Wars films] were going to get into a microbiotic world. But there's this world of creatures that operate differently than we do. I call them the Whills. And the Whills are the ones who actually control the universe. They feed off the Force. Back in the day, I used to say ultimately what this means is we were just cars, vehicles, for the Whills to travel around in. We're vessels for them. And the conduit is the midi-chlorians. The midi-chlorians are the ones that communicate with the Whills. The Whills, in a general sense, they are the Force. ... But it's about symbiotic relationships. I think, personally, one of the core values we should have in the world, and kids should be taught, is ecology, to understand that we all are connected. (Lucas, 2018)
By June 2012, Lucas had agreed to sell his company, provided that Kennedy would replace him as president of Lucasfilm. Iger agreed, while insisting that Disney would have final say over future movies. Lucas's final stipulations before the sale in late 2012 were that his story treatments would be used and that the number of Disney employees who could read them would be limited. Lucas gave Kennedy the final draft of his story treatments during the October 2012 sale. The same month, the Disney sale and production of the sequel trilogy, as well as a 2015 release date for a new film, were announced to the public. Lucas stated, "I always said I wasn't going to do any more, and that's true, because I'm not going to do any more. But that doesn't mean I'm unwilling to turn it over to Kathy to do more." Both plot outlines, the one written in the 1980s and the one written in the early 2010s, were given to Iger around the time that Disney acquired Lucasfilm.
In January 2013, Lucas held the first story briefing about the as-yet untitled Episode VII at Skywalker Ranch. Related concepts stemming from these early briefings include the following story elements:
A 14-year-old female Jedi Padawan named Taryn. Lucas also considered Thea and Winkie as potential names for the character. The female Padawan was retained as the 19-year-old Rey.[d]
Another teenager named Skylar who befriends the protagonist and carries a blaster. He ultimately became the stormtrooper character, Finn. In at least one conception, Skylar was the son of Han Solo and Leia Organa, and ultimately fell to the Dark Side of the Force (these plot developments were retained for the backstory of Ben Solo/Kylo Ren in the final iteration). However, in some drafts, this character was not anyone's son, and in others it was not decided whose son he was.[e]
The older Luke Skywalker[f] would have exiled himself to a remote planet where the first Jedi temple was located.[g] Luke would have started off reluctant to train the female Padawan, but eventually have a change of heart and agree to train her. Lucas planned for Luke to die in Episode VIII. Conversely, in 2018, Hamill said that Lucas' original vision for the ending of Episode IX was to have Luke die then instead of making a simple cameo, leaving his sister Leia as a Jedi. Luke was going to appear with dialogue in the first film.[h]
One of the antagonists would be a character named Darth Talon (later revealed to be the female Sith lord from the Star Wars: Legacy comic book series), who served a powerful master (codenamed "Uber" by the production team) and was responsible (in some versions of the story) for turning the son of Han and Leia to the Dark Side of the Force. Talon's role in the story was eventually subsumed into the role of Kylo Ren, and "Uber" became Supreme Leader Snoke.
Darth Vader's castle, which Lucas had been developing since the preproduction phase of The Empire Strikes Back, would have been involved.
In an interview published in 2020, Lucas says he decided not to work on the trilogy because he was "about to have a daughter" at the time and decided to "enjoy life for a while." He also detailed more of his story treatments:
The trilogy would start a few years after the events of Return of the Jedi. According to Lucas, "we establish pretty quickly that there's this underworld, there are these offshoot stormtroopers who started their own planets, and that Luke is trying to restart the Jedi."
Darth Maul would return with robotic legs (as had been established in Star Wars: The Clone Wars) and train the female Darth Talon as his apprentice. According to Lucas, "She was the new Darth Vader and most of the action was with her. So these were the two main villains of the trilogy." Maul would become "the godfather of crime in the universe because, as the Empire falls, he takes over."
Leia is trying to rebuild the Republic and "get it under control from the gangsters." Lucas stated that "That was the main story."
Luke "puts the word out, so out of 100,000 Jedi, maybe 50 or 100 are left. The Jedi have to grow again from scratch, so Luke has to find two- and three-year-olds, and train them. It'll be 20 years before you have a new generation of Jedi. By the end of the trilogy, Luke would have rebuilt much of the Jedi, and we would have the renewal of the New Republic, with Leia, Senator Organa, becoming the Supreme Chancellor in charge of everything. So she ended up being the Chosen One."
In 2015, Lucas revealed (to his disappointment) that his outlines had been discarded in order to "make something for the fans".Episode VII writer and director J. J. Abrams later revealed that the same year, Disney had given him a mandate to discard Lucas's story and "start from scratch".[i]Episode VII: The Force Awakens was written by Lucasfilm veteran Lawrence Kasdan, along with J. J. Abrams and Michael Arndt.
Bob Iger's memoirs, published in 2019, recount that Lucas was upset after hearing the plot of The Force Awakens in meetings, specifically about elements that were derivative of the original 1977 film.[j] Lucas felt betrayed by Iger and Abrams because they discarded some of his sequel trilogy ideas.
As announced by Lucasfilm, the sequel trilogy meant the end of most of the existing Expanded Universe, so as to give "maximum creative freedom to the filmmakers and also preserve an element of surprise and discovery for the audience". Only Episodes I-VI would remain canon to the franchise, along with The Clone Wars animated film and series. Most everything produced after the announcement would also be considered canon.
Unlike the previous two trilogies, whose films were released approximately three years apart ahead of Memorial Day weekend, the sequel films were released two years apart from each other in December. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was released on December 18, 2015, and introduces the 19-year-old orphan, Rey, who is drawn into the conflict between the Resistance and the First Order, a ruthless military faction commanded by Kylo Ren--the son of Leia Organa and Han Solo. In The Last Jedi, released on December 15, 2017, Rey is trained by Luke Skywalker, the last living Jedi, while again facing Ren and the First Order. The Rise of Skywalker was released on December 20, 2019, and features the conclusion of the age-old conflict between the Jedi and Sith, with Rey confronting the resurrected Emperor Palpatine.
Fisher, Hamill, and Ford reprised their characters in supporting roles.
About 30 years after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker has vanished. The remnants of the Empire have become the First Order, which seeks to destroy Luke and the New Republic. The First Order is opposed by the Resistance, led by General Leia Organa. On the planet Jakku, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron obtains a map to Luke's location, but he is captured by First Order commander Kylo Ren--the son of Leia and Han Solo. Poe's droid escapes with the map and encounters a scavenger named Rey. Rey and team up with a defecting stormtrooper, Finn, along with Han Solo and Chewbacca, to deliver the map to the Resistance.
Episode VII began pre-production on October 30, 2012. The screenplay for the film was originally set to be written by Michael Arndt, but time management and creative differences contributed to his departure from the project.[n] On January 25, 2013, J. J. Abrams was officially announced as Episode VIIs director and producer, along with producer Bryan Burk and Bad Robot Productions. John Williams was hired to compose the music for the entire sequel trilogy. In October, it was announced that writing duties would be taken over by Abrams and Lawrence Kasdan, co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
George Lucas was set to provide Abrams with advice as a creative consultant; however, Lucas had no involvement, with his representative stating that he "ideally would love not to see any footage until he walks into the theater next December. He has never been able to be surprised by a Star Wars film before and he said he was looking forward to it." Production began in April 2014; it was released on December 18, 2015. In the US, the film received a PG-13 rating "for sci-fi action violence" and an M Rating In Australia, the second Star Wars film to receive that classification after Episode III - Revenge of the Sith.
After finding Luke Skywalker in self-imposed exile, Rey attempts to convince him to teach her the ways of the Force. She also seeks answers about her past and the conflict between Luke and his nephew Ben Solo (now Kylo Ren). Unbeknownst to Luke, Rey starts using the Force to communicate with Kylo. Meanwhile, Leia leads the Resistance as they are pursued by the First Order, led by Supreme Leader Snoke. Rey leaves Luke in an attempt to redeem Kylo and achieve peace. After Kylo kills Snoke, Rey is forced to choose between ruling the galaxy with him, or helping the outnumbered Resistance survive.
On November 20, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg would write and produce Episodes VIII and IX, but were later confirmed to be writing standalone films. On June 20, 2014, Looper director Rian Johnson was announced as writer and director of Episode VIII; he confirmed in August that he would direct. On March 12, 2015, Lucasfilm announced that Johnson would direct Episode VIII with Ram Bergman as producer.
In March 2015, Oscar Isaac confirmed he would reprise his role as Poe Dameron in Episode VIII. In July, it was reported that Benicio del Toro was being considered for a villain; he later confirmed that he had been cast. In September, it was reported that Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tatiana Maslany, Gina Rodriguez, Olivia Cooke, and Bel Powley were on the shortlist for two separate parts.Jimmy Vee was cast as R2-D2, succeeding Kenny Baker, who would die the next year. Some pre-production filming took place in September 2015 on the island of Skellig Michael, Ireland to take advantage of better weather conditions. Abrams revealed that the film's script was completed in a November 2015 interview with Wired. In December, Hamill, Isaac, Christie, and Boyega were confirmed to reprise their roles as Luke Skywalker, Poe Dameron, Captain Phasma, and Finn, respectively. Kennedy announced at the December 17 London premiere of The Force Awakens that most of its cast would return for Episode VIII.
On January 20, 2016, Lucasfilm and Disney announced that the release of the film would be delayed from May to December 2017. Three days later, the release date of December 15, 2017 was confirmed, as well as the title Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Principal photography began in February 2016; additional filming took place in Dubrovnik from March 9 to March 16, as well as in Ireland in May. Principal photography wrapped in July 2016. Carrie Fisher died on December 27, 2016, but had completed filming her role as Leia. Much of the filming took place at Pinewood Studios near London. Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman were the producers and J. J. Abrams executive produced.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
The Rise of Skywalker is the final film of the Skywalker saga, featuring a climactic clash between the Resistance and the First Order, and the Jedi and the Sith. The film is set a year following The Last Jedi and depicts the return of Palpatine, who has been secretly controlling the First Order from the Sith planet Exegol. Palpatine orders Kylo Ren to find and kill Rey, who is revealed to be Palpatine's granddaughter. Palpatine unveils an armada of Star Destroyers to reclaim the galaxy. Rey and the Resistance learn of Palpatine's return and embark on a quest to find him. They eventually locate Exegol; Rey confronts Palpatine, while the Resistance attack Palpatine's fleet.
In June 2014, Johnson was announced as writing a story treatment for Episode IX, but later stated he had not been involved with writing the film. In August 2015, Colin Trevorrow was announced as the director of Episode IX, and he, with Derek Connolly, began writing a script. In February 2016, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that pre-production of Episode IX had begun.
Following the death of Carrie Fisher in late December 2016, media outlets speculated on whether her role would be recast for Episode IX and whether the absence of her character would affect the film's plot. A few weeks later, Lucasfilm stated that they would not digitally recreate Fisher's performance for the film. In April 2017, Kathleen Kennedy stated that Fisher would not be in Episode IX, but it was later announced that Fisher would in fact appear using unreleased footage from The Force Awakens. In August, it was reported that Jack Thorne would rewrite the script.
John Williams, composer of the scores for the film trilogies, has stated that The Rise of Skywalker will be his last involvement with the franchise.
In September 2017, Lucasfilm announced that Trevorrow had stepped down as director, and a week later, it was announced that J. J. Abrams would return to direct Episode IX. He the script with Chris Terrio, in addition to producing the film through Bad Robot Productions with Kennedy and Michelle Rejwan. Disney had originally scheduled the film's release for December 2019, in keeping with the previous two sequel trilogy films, but then moved it up to May 24, a time of the year more common to the first six Star Wars episodes. However, after Abrams' return, its release date was moved back to December.
On January 10, 2018, it was reported that John Williams will return to compose and conduct the music for Episode IX. The next month, Williams announced that it would be the last Star Wars film music he would compose.
According to J. J. Abrams and Chris Terrio, the trilogy's core theme is about learning from the previous generation, akin to the Americans in the War of 1812, who preserved what was fought for in the American Revolutionary War. On the inspiration for the First Order formed "from the ashes of the Empire", Abrams spoke of conversations the writers had about how the Nazis could have escaped to Argentina after World War II and "started working together again."
Polygon considers that The Last Jedis portrayal of Luke Skywalker as a pacifist Jedi master reflects the Jedi's beliefs as being inspired by the Buddhist religion due to the character's inner conflict towards using a lightsaber and seeing it as a weapon of destruction.The Last Jedi features scenes recalling Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950), utilizing the Rashomon effect when Luke tells Rey that he considered murdering his nephew, Ben Solo, due to sensing his inevitable fall to the dark side. Later, Kylo recounts his perspective, which prompts Luke to tell a third, combined perspective of the event.
According to Adam Driver, Kylo Ren is "morally justified in doing what he thinks is right".The Rise of Skywalker depicts Kylo Ren having his helmet repaired following its destruction in The Last Jedi. Abrams compared the fractured mask to Kintsugi, a Japanese ceramic art of repairing broken pottery which accentuates the breakage. While the helmet obscures his vulnerabilities in The Force Awakens, its fractured form in The Rise of Skywalker instead communicates the fractured nature of his character. Kylo overcomes and kills his father in The Force Awakens before reconciling with his memory of him in The Rise of Skywalker; according to Terrio, this reconciliation represents the "Atonement with the Father" stage of the hero's journey, which the Star Wars films are heavily patterned on.
Rey's journey mirrors that of Anakin and Luke in the prequel and original trilogies. The final scene of The Last Jedi depicts servant children playing with a toy of Luke, with one boy using the Force to grab a broom. According to Inverse, this symbolizes that "the Force can be found in people with humble beginnings." A writer for the same website interprets the end of The Rise of Skywalker as seeing Rey "bury the past" and rejecting "any power her grandfather held over her" in a completion of the hero's journey.
The Force Awakens was released in theaters on December 18, 2015 and was made available on Disney+ upon the service's launch on November 12, 2019. The Last Jedi was released on December 15, 2017 and was made available on United States Disney+ accounts on December 26, 2019. The Rise of Skywalker was released on December 20, 2019 and was added to Disney+ on May 4, 2020.
It has been suggested that sections about Rise of Skywalker reception be split out and merged into the article titled Rise of Skywalker, which already exists. (Discuss) (December 2019)
The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi received a positive reception from critics, while The Rise of Skywalker received mixed reviews. Fan criticism has surrounded aspects of The Force Awakens being too similar of previous films in the franchise, and The Last Jedi for subverting conventions of the franchise without a compelling reason. Critical opinions of The Rise of Skywalker have been polarizing; while some praised its celebration of the entire saga, its tribute to Carrie Fisher, and return of many longtime characters from the original trilogy, many were divided on the film's perceived retconning of The Last Jedi, as well as its heavy fan service.
Some critics and fans have alleged that Lucasfilm lacked sufficient planning for the trilogy's overarching story, feeling that the films appear inconsistent and contradictory as a result of the supposedly opposing visions of directors J.J. Abrams and Rian Johnson. Said criticism has been directed at the consensus that Johnson had essentially been given a blank slate for The Last Jedi with no clear guidelines or direction from Lucasfilm, and in doing so either controversially handled or ignored many of Abrams' decisions for The Force Awakens. For The Rise of Skywalker, Abrams allegedly chose to further deviate from plot points raised in The Last Jedi, while attempting to introduce his own that were never mentioned or alluded to during the previous two films. Some critics felt many of the narrative choices for The Rise of Skywalker had been raised in an effort to appease dissatisfied fans. Others disagreed with the decision not to use a "showrunner" to helm the sequel trilogy, akin to other individuals in projects undertaken by Disney, while Insider acknowledged Lucasfilm's strict creative control over the franchise, highlighting how a number of film directors had been hired and later forced to leave their projects.
Some reports indicate that, contrary to popular belief, some plot points across the trilogy were planned in advance. The idea of Luke Skywalker living on an island following his failure to stop the murder of his Jedi students and then training an apprentice who would help him overcome his self-doubt was first pitched by George Lucas in 2013 during creative meetings between himself and Lucasfilm as part of story discussions for Episode VII (these ideas would later be used in The Last Jedi). Several plot points of The Rise of Skywalker were pitched in an early 2014 story meeting between Lucasfilm executives (including Dave Filoni, Pablo Hidalgo, Doug Chiang, John Knoll, and Kiri Hart) after the plot of The Force Awakens had been finalized, including the notion of Leia as a mentor figure to Rey, Leia breaking through to her son Ben Solo (Kylo Ren), and the notion of Rey as "the Skywalker" of the trilogy by metaphor rather than blood connection. The return of Emperor Palpatine in Episode IX was planned as far back as the earliest development phase of the trilogy. Similarly, Abrams hinted that Palpatine being Rey's grandfather was an early idea he and Lawrence Kasdan had while working on The Force Awakens, although Daisy Ridley later claimed that ideas for Rey's lineage changed throughout filming of The Rise of Skywalker.
From Star Wars filmmakers
George Lucas agreed with critics who considered The Force Awakens too derivative of the original trilogy. In an interview with Charlie Rose, Lucas likened his decision to sell Lucasfilm to Disney to a divorce, and outlined the creative differences between him and the producers of The Force Awakens. Lucas described the previous six Star Wars films as his "children" and defended his vision for them, while criticizing The Force Awakens for having a "retro feel", saying: "I worked very hard to make them completely different, with different planets, with different spaceships ... to make it new." Lucas also likened Disney to "white slavers", which drew some criticism. He subsequently apologized for this remark. In 2016, the Disney-produced Star Wars anthology film Rogue One was released, and it was reported that Lucas liked it more than The Force Awakens. In 2017, Lucas described the sequel The Last Jedi as "beautifully made". In a 2019 memoir, Disney president Bob Iger wrote that Lucas felt "betrayed" after learning that Abrams, Kennedy, and Iger were not using his ideas for the sequel trilogy.
In 2016, responding to complaints that The Force Awakens was too derivative of previous films,[j] Abrams said, "What was important for me was introducing brand new characters using relationships that were embracing the history that we know to tell a story that is new - to go backwards to go forwards".[o] Abrams apologized for how he handled Chewbacca and Leia's meeting after Han Solo's death, noting that Han Solo's best friend and widow ignore each other, with Leia instead hugging Rey (whom Leia is meeting for the first time). Johnson's sequel included Leia hugging Chewbacca at the end of The Last Jedi as a way to apologize for the previous film oversight. After being confronted about The Force Awakens, Abrams further apologized about it, saying he "wished it would have been Lucas' favorite movie", and that he was "grateful for Lucas", while understanding his complaints about the film being highly derivative of A New Hope. Abrams also said the scene of Starkiller Base destroying a solar system would have had a similar emotional impact to the Death Star destroying planet Alderaan in the original film, had he not chosen to delete scenes of a character who Leia interacted with, prior to the deleted character dying on one of the exploding planets.
Johnson's initial response to the script of The Force Awakens included the suggestion of minor adjustments to the ending. According to Abrams, these improved the movie and made it line up more with The Last Jedi. Abrams intended for BB-8 to help Rey search for Luke, which Johnson changed to R2-D2 (due to being Luke's droid, as well as BB-8 belonging to Poe and not knowing Luke). Additionally, Abrams' ending featured Rey finding Luke lifting rocks with the Force, which was changed due to Johnson's plot of Luke having disconnected himself from the Force. Johnson stated he saw the Mortis Trilogy of episodes of The Clone Wars, due to a recommendation from the animator of the series Dave Filoni, and that it influenced his portrayal of the Force in his film.
In 2019, Abrams said that he liked Snoke's death in the sequel. He also said that the boldness of The Last Jedi inspired him to be more original on The Rise of Skywalker and that its plot did not derail his plans for the film, adding that in response to criticisms of The Force Awakens, Johnson advised him "not to just do something that you've seen before." Abrams also affirmed his dedication not to retroactively release alternate versions of the films, saying, "I feel like [when] you're done with a thing, ... that's what it is."
Unlike the previous trilogies, the sequel trilogy experienced diminishing box office returns with each succeeding film. Nevertheless, it is the highest-grossing trilogy overall, with The Force Awakens ranking as the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time.
^ abThe figure of twelve films discussed by Lucas in 1980 included "a film about robots, with no humans in it" and "a film just about Wookiees, nothing else".
^According to Hamill, Lucas told him in 1976 that Luke would make a cameo appearance in Episode IX, in which he would "be like Obi-Wan handing the lightsaber down to the next new hope."
^Kasdan would also support Lucas in developing a Han Solo prequel, finished under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy.
^This character was described by screenwriter Michael Arndt as a "loner, hothead, gear-headed, badass."J. J. Abrams initially gave her the placeholder name of 'Sally' during pre-production, but as development on the film continued, her name was changed to Kira (which was retained as a production code for the character), then Echo, and finally Rey. The phonetically similar name Qi'ra would be used for the girlfriend of a young Han Solo in the anthology film Solo: A Star Wars Story.
^Michael Arndt described the character as "pure charisma." J. J. Abrams initially gave him the placeholder name of 'Harry' during pre-production, but as development on the film continued, his name was changed to Sam and then, ultimately, to Finn.
^Luke was going to be a "Colonel Kurtz type, hiding from the world in a cave". Luke was going to be in a self-imposed exile, haunted by the betrayal of one of his students, and spiritually in "a dark place".
^The first Jedi temple concept art was bell-shaped, and designed by VFX art director James Clyne. This would be reworked as the temple on .
^After Lucas's departure, Michael Arndt had the idea to make Luke's first appearance a speechless cameo at the end of the first film.
^Disney was faced with the challenge of pleasing devoted Star Wars fans more so than with the company's other franchises.
^Also known as Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens or simply The Force Awakens
^Also known as Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi or simply The Last Jedi
^Also known as Star Wars: Episode IX - The Rise of Skywalker or simply The Rise of Skywalker
^Concept art possibly based on Arndt's draft shows Kira (Rey) searching for the underwater remnants of the second Death Star. This idea may have been repurposed for The Rise of Skywalker, as it depicts Rey in the remnants of the second Death Star, which rest in a watery environment.
^In 2017, Abrams said he would not do more remakes or reboots, to instead focus on his own creations, saying: "You know, I do think that if you're telling a story that is not moving anything forward, not introducing anything that's relevant, that's not creating a new mythology or an extension of it, then a complete remake of something feels like a mistake."
^"George Lucas Speaks on 'The Force Awakens'". YouTube.com. Tribeca Film Festival. April 21, 2015. Archived from the original on April 5, 2019. Retrieved 2019. What are your hopes for the new Star Wars movies...? / ...The original saga was about the father, the children, and the grandchildren. That's not a secret to anybody, that's even in the novels and everything. And the children were in their twenties, so it wasn't Phantom Menace again. And they [Disney] have taken it in a different direction. And I'm hoping, I'm excited to see, since they didn't use my stories, I have no idea what they're doing.
^Randall Frakes; Brooks Peck; Sidney Perkowitz; Matt Singer; Gary K. Wolfe; Lisa Yaszek (2018). James Cameron's Story of Science Fiction. Insight Editions. pp. 109, 114. ISBN978-1-68383-497-7.
^Leonard, Devin (March 7, 2013). "How Disney Bought Lucasfilm--and Its Plans for 'Star Wars'". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on September 30, 2017. Retrieved 2019. In May 2011 ... Iger inquired whether Lucas would ever consider selling his company. Lucas replied that he'd recently celebrated his 67th birthday and was starting to think seriously about retiring. ... Lucas had paid close attention to how Disney had handled Pixar ... He calls Disney's decision not to meddle with Pixar 'brilliant'. If he sold Lucasfilm to Disney, he figured there might still be a way to retain some influence over his fictitious universe. Much would depend on who ran Lucasfilm after he retired. He invited Kathleen Kennedy to lunch in New York. ... Lucas asked if she was interested in taking over Lucasfilm. ... In June 2012, he called Iger. ... Still, Iger wanted to make sure that Lucas, who was used to controlling every aspect of Star Wars, from set design to lunchboxes, understood that Disney, not Lucasfilm, would have final say over any future movies. ... Lucas agreed, in theory.
^"How George Lucas' Star Wars 7 Ideas Were Used By Disney". Cinema Blend. 2015. Archived from the original on December 11, 2015. Retrieved 2015. The ones that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn't really want to do those. So they made up their own. So it's not the ones that I originally wrote [on screen in The Force Awakens.]