I’m writing this largely in reaction to the reaction a lot of folks have had to The Last Jedi. Way too many people are mad on the internet because writer/director Rian Johnson did not go with wish fulfillment of any of the multiple fan fiction speculation theories that were out there for the last two years. From Rey’s parentage to Snoke’s background to Finn’s coupling situation, Johnson chose not to go there and a lot of people feel like their hopes have been dashed all out once. Then you throw in the way he chose to with Luke’s characterization and the butthurt cycle is now complete. To which I have to say…..just stop it already, people. Save us the YouTube videos where you explain how fatally flawed the movie was to you and how Johnson ‘ruined’ everything. You’re only making yourselves look bad.
Creative people, be they movie writers and directors, comic book writers and editors, recording artists, or wrestling bookers, do not owe you all of that. They are not beholden to whatever angles, storylines, or characterizations you say you want or should happen. And they shouldn’t be, because most of the time you don’t what the hell you really want anyway. You say a character needs some shaking up but when it happens you cry ‘That’s not my Superman/Luke/Captain America!” in response. You want certain characters to get together then if it happens you point to it as the day the series lost its mojo, or if it doesn’t you scream bloody murder for being denied. You ask for certain characters to get more shine, and then if it happens you don’t appreciate it enough. Seriously, why should they listen to you? Because the customer is always right? Really?
Empire Strikes Back is now generally regarded as the best movie of the original trilogy, and Darth Vader’s reveal that he is Luke’s father is now one of the seminal moments is movie history. And yet if left up to fans it would have never occurred. It was completely out of left field at the time, and was not taken well when it happened. It flipped the entire story on its head and revealed the noble Obi-Wan Kenobi to be a damn liar. Six year old me refused to believe it until Yoda reluctantly confirmed it in Return of the Jedi three years later. But now we look back on it as a twist that made everything better. It turned Vader from a typical fantasy big bad into a character with real meaning and purpose, and added a layer of struggle to Luke’s hero journey as well.
There was an article on a clickbait site saying that Last Jedi is 2017’s Batman vs Superman. I didn’t read it because I’m trying to avoid clickbait at all costs but without comparing the actual movies (I’m know I’m in the internet minority on BvS so I won’t bother to debate that), some of the reactions to how the idealistic beacons of hope were treated in both films are similar. In both instances the filmmakers looked to add some degree of struggle and doubt to what were normally perpetually sunny characters, in order to make their journeys as heroes more substantive. And in both cases a segment of the people who didn’t care for that choice took to hyperbole about ruining characters and/or repetition of every movie review cliche that they learned on the internet to voice their disapproval and delusions of intellectual superiority.
As for me I do not want a world where the next writer or director of a long existing character simply reads message boards or Reddits and regurgitates the posts and ideas there in the name of writing, booking, or film making. That would get really boring really fast. Entertainment is better when we are challenged to grapple with something that doesn’t follow the formula, and the occasional deviation from status quo does not ruin a character. The Superior Spider-Man comic run did not ruin Spider-Man, HydraCap did not ruin Steve Rogers, and one movie of struggle to regain his hope after losing it due to epic failure does not ruin Luke Skywalker. Three previous films, countless books, comics, etc to build him up have not been eliminated by one movie no more than losing one match did not ruin Hulk Hogan or John Cena or the Rock. It doesn’t work that way.
Unless you’re an aspiring writer trying to get into the business yourself there’s a reason Rian Johnson gets paid to do it and you don’t. Quite frankly he’s better at it than any fanboy tweeting about how it should have gone. Dan Slott is a better Spider-Man comic writer than you’ll ever be, and Vince McMahon is better at choosing which angles and wrestlers to run with than we are. You can deny it all you want but that doesn’t make you correct. My advice? Come up with your fanboy theories all you want, but when it’s time for the real show or movie or book just take in what they did, judge it on its own merit and spare us and yourself the needless comparisons to your incomplete ideas. I mean seriously if Finn and Rey got together, Luke was Rey’s father, and Snoke was kept in as the big bad for this trilogy then what? What did you have in mind after all of that? Oh, you got nothing? That’s Johnson’s job? I figured as much.
And just in case you’re wondering, Luke Skywalker and Batman are my two favorite characters ever. Seeing Luke struggle with his failure and walk away from everything until he finds his way back while trying to explain to Rey what true heroism and hope is all about was refreshing. Not because I have a desire to see icons get some blemishes but because it added substance and was realistic in a movie series that is about spaceships, space wizards and morality lessons for young people. 43 year old me welcomes what little maturity they can inject while maintaining the original focus that George Lucas intended. It’s doesn’t wipe away the Luke Skywalker who blew up the Death Star or who didn’t give in to everyone else’s cynicism about his father’s potential for redemption.
The sense of entitlement and ownership that too many of us are showing over our entertainment has gotten beyond disturbing. We grew up in a world where the creators just made their stories and we didn’t have an outlet to tell them what they should do, and we enjoyed it a lot more. Now in the age of ‘you need to do what I say with your $200 million dollar movie’ it sure seems like a lot of you just don’t seem to be having fun anymore. This stuff is supposed to be a diversion and not so serious, be it Star Wars, superheroes, or wrestling. I think we should all treat it as such, as a fun thing to do and not content. Our lives will be a lot better for it if you ask me.