The filmmaker recently said on his Fat Man on Batman podcast that the real reason there is so much hate for Rian Johnson's entry in the Star Wars universe is unrealistic fan expectation -- especially regarding Luke Skywalker.
"I think at the end of the day audience expectation plays into that," Smith said. "Like when, you know, you're like 'alright the next movie is going to be all about Luke and I've seen Luke in the trailer and I know exactly who Luke Skywalker is and now he looks like Obi-Wan so he's going to be like this version of Obi-Wan,' and then they give you a version of Luke that even Mark Hamill reportedly was like 'I don't know, is this really supposed to be Luke Skywalker? He's not the one I remember.'"
Smith went on to explain that that simply didn't sit well with fans once they saw the film and, in response, had a very strong reaction.
"Some people, it hit them the wrong way in a big way," Smith said. "I've seen, it's not just people going like, 'oh, I didn't like it,' when they don't like it. It's vitriolic, as if somebody f--cked up their childhood."
And Smith's Luke-centric assessment of why people dislike The Last Jedi has some significant merit. While the film was divisive for several reasons -- use of humor and the lack of answers as to Rey's parentage being among them -- both the characterization of Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and the characters fate at the end of the movie has drawn ire from fans. And even though Luke technically did follow the same path Obi-Wan did in the end -- fans may recall that, in A New Hope, Obi-Wan confronted Darth Vader as a way to distract him while Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewbacca escape then simply vanished when Vader struck him down with a lightsaber, a scenario not that different from the end of The Last Jedi -- some were not happy with the outcome, something that Smith further attributes to nostalgia and unrealistic expectations for The Last Jedi as a film following The Force Awakens.
"With Force Awakens you get the nostalgia rush, like, maybe we weren't as judgy about that movie as people are being about Last Jedi because like we're going to give you, we're going to make three Star Wars movies, here's the first one and there ain't a hint of Jar Jar in it, enjoy and so the audience is 'oh god it's f--cking back' and now that they've had that moment the next one had a tall order because you lose the joy of surprise and like your childhood is back and sh-t and now you just have to tell a real story," he said.
Of course, even though The Last Jedi has its haters, the film has still been a massive success. The Last Jedi recently knocked Marvel's Iron Man 3 out of the #12 spot on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time with an estimated $1.29 billion total worldwide box office take during its first full month of release. It's also done nothing to slow down the future of the Star Wars universe, with the third film in this trilogy expected in theaters in 2019 while Johnson is also moving forward with a whole new Star Wars trilogy in development.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi is in theaters now.