[Editor’s note: Spoilers for “The Last Jedi” follow.]
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” has become quite the controversial entry for certain fractions of “Star Wars” fandom, so much so that an online petition is currently circulating asking Disney and Lucasfilm to remove “The Last Jedi” from official canon. The petition, started by Henry Walsh of Georgia, has well over 13,000 signatures and counting.
“Episode VIII was a travesty,” the petition reads. “It completely destroyed the legacy of Luke Skywalker and the Jedi. It destroyed the very reasons most of us, as fans, liked ‘Star Wars.’ This can be fixed. Just as you wiped out 30 years of stories, we ask you to wipe out one more, ‘The Last Jedi.’ Remove it from canon, push back Episode IX and re-make Episode VIII properly to redeem Luke Skywalker’s legacy, integrity, and character.”
“The Last Jedi” ends with the death of Luke Skywalker, something director Rian Johnson felt was necessary so that the next chapter could focus exclusively on the new batch of characters such as Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron. Fans clearly feel betrayed by the decision and have argued that “The Last Jedi” doesn’t feature enough Skywalker given that it’s his final “Star Wars” movie.
“I had huge hesitance,” Johnson told Entertainment Weekly about killing Luke. “I was terrified. It was a growing sense of dread when I realized this was going to make sense in that chapter. I think the hero’s journey of Luke Skywalker concluded in ‘Return of the Jedi.’ This [trilogy] is the hero’s journey of Rey, and Finn, and Poe.”
The petition concludes by saying: “Don’t take something so many of us loved so much and destroy it like this. Let us keep our heroes.”
While some fans are clearly not happy about the direction “The Last Jedi” takes the franchise in, Johnson has remained open to hearing all the negative backlash. The director says he accepted the gig for “The Last Jedi” because he is first and foremost a “Star Wars” fan, therefore he can relate to the disappointment that comes when fan expectations aren’t met.
“It’s because [the fans] care about these things, and it hurts when you’re expecting something specific and you don’t get it from something that you love,” Johnson said about the backlash. “It always hurts, so I don’t take it personally if a fan reacts negatively and lashes out on me on Twitter. That’s fine. It’s my job to be there for that.”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is now playing in theaters nationwide.