The latest episode of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker introduced some key revelations for fans of the saga, especially when it came to mysteries surrounding Kylo Ren, Emperor Palpatine, Supreme Leader Snoke, and of course the last Jedi known simply as Rey. There were a lot of developments that many fans believe the film was a course correction from Star Wars: The Last Jedi, as J.J. Abrams made a lot of changes that fans were expecting after Rain Johnson's entry in the saga. But Abrams himself disputes the fact that he retconned the events of Episode VIII.
While answering questions for a recent event for The Academy, Abrams explained that he loved Johnson's movie and that he wasn't trying to backtrack any choices the filmmaker was making.
"It will be a much more interesting answer if there were conflict. The truth is that I was getting [The Force Awakens] up and running, I was nothing but grateful that a director and writer I admire as much as Rian was coming in to do that. Not expecting to come back to this, it was just fun to watch what was happening and get to respond to it. When I was called to come on to this movie, of course I wish we had that time that we didn't."
Abrams explained that he worked with his co-writer Chris Terrio and had many discussions with Johnson while writing The Rise of Skywalker, and that the choices he made with Star Wars: The Last Jedi provided new opportunities.
He added, "It's been nothing but collaborative in a way, the perspective at least personally I got stepping away and seeing what Rian did, strangely gave us opportunities that would never have been there. Because, of course, he made choices that no one else would have made. Just as we all do, as any of us in this room do. In a way, it felt like a gift. And though there were challenges in every direction — some logistical, some narrative, everything — it was actually weirdly more helpful than not having that other energy, it felt like a sort of alchemy, because of the things that he did."
As far as Abrams using the opportunity to reverse the events of The Last Jedi, he pointed out a specific criticism that he's heard about being blatantly disrespectful toward Johnson.
"Another thing I'll say is I think that people who say, 'Oh, this film is flipping off The Last Jedi when Luke says the thing he does about the lightsaber.' If the scene in The Last Jedi where Luke tosses the saber over his shoulder were immediately followed by Luke saying 'A Jedi's weapon deserves more respect,' I'd think it was insane. But one of the many brilliant things that Rian did in Last Jedi is give Luke an arc. He learned something. He got somewhere. At the end of that film, he committed - recommitted - to the thing that at the very beginning of the film he was rejecting."
Fans can see how Abrams picks up from Johnson's plot threads with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker now playing in theaters.