The Force Awakens supremo returns to the hot seat for Episode IX
It was recently announced that J.J. Abrams would be returning to the directors chair for Star Wars Episode IX, with Chris Terrio co-writing the script with him. This news came one week after Colin Trevorrow walked away from directing the movie. There were positive and negative reactions all over the internet as is usual with such announcements. I feel like it’s the perfect opportunity for me to explain why I think J.J. Abrams and Chris Terrio are the right choice for Episode IX.
Let’s start with Abrams. He is the one that Kathleen Kennedy had picked to do The Force Awakens, the first movie of the Sequel trilogy. J.J. had the tough job of bringing Star Wars back to the big screen. It had been ten years since the last Star Wars movie had been released — Revenge of the Sith in 2005. Ten years is a long time and even though Star Wars is a generational thing, something that resonates with people, it wasn’t going to be easy to reintroduce the saga to the general audience.
We could say that yes, J.J. Abrams played it safe in many ways with The Force Awakens and he didn’t bring a lot of new things to the Star Wars universe. But let me ask you this? What would you have done to bring back the general audience into this universe? “Playing it safe,” giving the audience something that looked familiar was the recipe to bring people back. Fans would be there, it wasn’t the question but it’s the general audience that really makes the huge box office numbers and The Force Awakens was playing with the future of Star Wars, it had to succeed.
Like Abrams said it was in a way a $4.05 billion movie (the price that George Lucas sold Lucasfilm to Disney), it was a heavy burden to carry on his shoulders. And doing it the way J.J. did it, it made a 2-billion-dollars box office movie so he had succeeded at his job. It defied all the odds, which other movie made that much at the box office? Not a lot, less than twenty. So yes, J.J. Abrams is the man who brought back Star Wars live action on the big screen for the general audience, with this, it was sure that Star Wars would have a bright future on the big screen for years to come.
Some people will say that The Force Awakens is not that much liked considering the backlash on the internet it had a few months later saying it was a copy of A New Hope. Star Wars had always had backlash reactions with every movie that was made. If you look at the original reviews for Empire Strikes Back, people didn’t say that much good about it, sometimes calling it a dull and boring sequel and other things. Mike Klimo, the Ring Theory expert had posted what the results would have been if Rotten Tomatoes was only using the original reviews at the time of release for each Star Wars movie and Empire Strikes Back only had 63%. We can also take the Prequel hate that came with the Red Letter Media videos. Star Wars had always faced backlash, hate with each movie released. But in the end, box office results showed us that every Star Wars movie is loved by people and every Star Wars movie has been a success. If people don’t like a movie, they say it to their friends who won’t go watch it and will say it to their friends and on and on and on and if people like a movie, they’ll say it to their friends who will watch it … it works by word of mouth a lot.
As of now, with 8 Star Wars movies released, none have failed at box office. In an article, not long before the release of The Force Awakens, Lucasfilm said both the success at box office and the company’s research proved that the Prequels were very popular and that “among the general population, the world loves both ‘Star Wars’ trilogies equally.” You could even take the appearance of Hayden Christensen at Star Wars Celebration this year, he got a standing ovation when he arrived at 40 years of Star Wars panel and his autograph and photo sessions there were sold out in a record time. All of this, to say that The Force Awakens is a movie that people love, just like the other Star Wars movies.
No matter what, you can’t please everyone and there’ll always be hate towards the saga.
The J.J. Effect:
Let’s really take a look at what J.J. Abrams gave us with The Force Awakens. J.J. created a new set of characters — Rey, Poe Dameron, Finn, General Hux, Phasma and Kylo Ren. He launched a new set of adventures in the saga for a new generation. Star Wars are movies made for kids that also appeal to the whole family and each Star Wars trilogy is made for a generation. The Prequel trilogy was my generation and today the Sequel trilogy is today’s generation, the kids who were born in the 2010s, it’s their moment of introduction to Star Wars.
There are so many kids out of there today who see Rey as an inspiration, she’s their hero, the same way as kids in the 70s’ saw Luke, Leia, Han as their hero and my generation saw Anakin, Padmé and Obi-Wan as our heroes. And that is thanks to J.J. Abrams, he created a host of new characters for this generation and that is the work of someone who has talent. Of course, The Force Awakens has flaws, every movie has flaws but it’s a great Star Wars movie nevertheless. And who better person to choose to complete the trilogy than the one who created these new characters. J.J. knows them, he understands them and giving him Episode IX will just let its creator finish their story on his own terms.
Let’s go back to that thing The Force Awakens is a copy of A New Hope. I’m gonna use the words of George Lucas himself when describing his movies:
“You see the echo of where it’s all gonna go, it’s like poetry so they rhyme.”
Star Wars movies mirror each other, The Phantom Menace mirrors A New Hope, Attack Of The Clones mirrors Empire Strikes Back, Revenge Of The Sith mirrors Return Of The Jedi. That’s the beauty of it. And The Force Awakens just follows the same pattern of the opening movie of a trilogy like The Phantom Menace did before. It’s part of how Star Wars works and J.J. Abrams understands it. If you look at Han Solo’s death in The Force Awakens, it was just following the death of the father figure/master in the opening movie of a Star Wars trilogy, just like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s death in A New Hope and Qui-Gon Jinn’s death in The Phantom Menace. Star Wars is poetry so it’s normal that it rhymes, it’s how it works.
With Star Wars, it’s the second huge franchise J.J. Abrams has worked on. He had previously worked on Star Trek where he brought it to a new generation of people. He is a man who knows how to make things appealing to the general audience. He knows how to handle big franchises. He has proved it twice. J.J. Abrams is a genius, just look at his work on television and all the brilliant T.V. series he has helped bring to life — LOST, Fringe, Revolution, Person Of Interest.
The Terrio Factor:
So now let’s talk about the co-writer — Chris Terrio. He won an Oscar for his work on Argo and he co-wrote Batman v Superman and its upcoming sequel, the Justice League movie.
It’s not his work on Argo that matters here, to understand why he is the right choice for Episode IX, let’s take a look at what he did on Batman v Superman. This movie is a true masterpiece by Zack Snyder and is so much more than just a superhero movie. Terrio with his script has been able to deliver a story that is true to the comics. The Batman in Batman v Superman was the Batman from The Dark Knight Returns comics by Frank Miller, a darker and older version of the character, if you know the comics, you can even spot moments and lines that mirrors it.
The team behind the movie even took inspiration from the Death of Superman comics with the death of Superman by Doomsday. And that’s interesting because Chris Terrio knows how the mirror and poetry works, he used it with the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) and this means he will be able to use these skills for Star Wars as Star Wars is also poetry and a lot of rhyming.
All the characters in Batman v Superman were taken inspirations from different comics and they were put in this movie in a way that would resonate with today’s audience. You see, Chris Terrio is someone who masters the universe of DC Comics, he really knows the characters and at the same time he is able to bring something new and if he can do that with DC, he can definitely do it with Star Wars. Look at what he did with Lex Luthor, it was utterly brilliant, a complex villain with inspiration taken directly from a particular comics in which too he had longer hair and adding something to it. And Kylo Ren is a complex villain, Terrio would know exactly what to do with him. Terrio knows what it’s like to write complex characters and Star Wars loves complex characters.
The DCEU and Star Wars are extremely similar, in many, many ways. It’s both movies that are from a certain genre but that are also so much more than that and have a much deeper meaning. It’s movies that resonate with the audience, that criticize the society of our time and reflects on it. And with Batman v Superman’s script, Terrio did exactly that. Superman’s story is the ultimate immigrant story and really reflects upon American culture and how they view their immigrants nowadays. Superman’s story is a story that means something to a lot of people and he is this beacon of hope that people need.
Characters who reflects on society’s problems and characters who are a model and inspiration for people is what you also find in Star Wars. When after a year there are no more discussions about Superhero Marvel movies, Batman v Superman is still the subject of lots of discussions on the Internet and it’s because of this exactly, because it reflects on world, the way Star Wars does it as well.
Chris Terrio is also great at writing dialogue, with Batman V Superman he crafted some of the best dialogues and monologues in the history of cinema and what he made the characters say are exactly the kind of things they would say in comics and that’s understanding a character. Just take this line of Bruce Wayne at the end of the movie for example:
“Men are still good. We fight, we kill, we betray one another, but we can rebuild. We can do better. We will. We have to.”
It’s powerful and it’s also something that sums up what humanity is all about and by saying this Bruce doesn’t only say it to Diana Prince but he tells it to the audience as well — that we have to do better, and that we can. This line said by Bruce is also the sign of a character development, at the beginning of the movie he didn’t feel that at all but Superman’s death inspired him. When you have someone working on a Star Wars movie who can do such a masterful work, you just know that he is the right choice. I can only understand why Terrio was chosen for Star Wars.
So in the end, Chris Terrio and J.J. Abrams put together are going to give us a brilliant Star Wars movie without any doubt I’m sure. It was surely a surprise to see them picked up for Episode IX but when looking at it, it just makes sense. Choosing them to close out the trilogy is the best choice that could have been done and this shows once again that Kathleen Kennedy knows what she is doing and that she is right to have chosen them!
May The Force Be With You