Why Some Star Wars Fans Hate Disney’s Latest Instalment
Since The Last Jedi premiered in December, it has received a firestorm of criticism from lifelong avid Star Wars fans. In fact, with all the shots fired on social media, it would seem that the Star Wars community of fans has never been so divided. The anger The Last Jedi incites in many viewers is more palpable than what would happen if you said, “Greedo shot first.”
Watching this schism grow wider and wider, I wanted to see exactly how divided SW fandom had become so I recently ran a poll on twitter. Considering how vocal The Last Jedi haters have been since the movie’s release, I honestly thought the numbers would be cut nearly right down the middle, 50/50. 555 votes later, here are the results of that poll:
My first thought was, well maybe this isn’t as divided as I imagined. Then after careful consideration, I realized nearly 1 out of 5 Star Wars fans did not enjoy The Last Jedi. That is no small number. And half of those that disliked it said they actually hated the movie. That is certainly not a good sign for Disney, Rian Johnson and the future of the Star Wars industry. So I wanted to know why. Why did fans loathe this movie so passionately? I began to develop theories, and here are the three that I believed most likely:
1. Fans of an older generation – those who saw the original in theaters in 1977 – simply did not like the new movies.
2. Fans did not like how politicized Star Wars has become.
3. Diehard fans of the old EU could not stand how different the characters were from the ones they read about for so many years.
After receiving a sandcrawler’s worth of feedback, it seems I couldn’t have been more wrong. Age seemed to have nothing to with it, however one twitter user did remark, “Maybe my nostalgia is clouding my judgement of the movie.” Politics did appear from time to time, but not as much as you might imagine. Feminism caused a minor amount of angst, making one male viewer comment “that the whole feminism agenda that Kennedy is pushing feels like it’s being rammed down my throat.” The departure from the old Expanded Universe caused nearly no anger in viewers but it did cause one fan to ask, “Why didn’t Disney base their Sequel Trilogy after the proven Thrawn Trilogy? Or Dark Empire?”
Why then do some viewers hate The Last Jedi so much? Here are the big hitters, and they might surprise you.
VICE ADMIRAL HOLDO
First introduced in Leia: Princess of Alderaan, Vice Admiral Amilyn Holdo’s new character simply fell flat with many fans. Of the biggest concern was her relationship with the Maverick of the SWU, Poe Dameron. The fact that she refused to share her plan with him and the rest of the crew did not resonate well at all. One U.S. Navy veteran stated, “Vice Admiral Holdo broke almost all military protocol known to me and wasn’t portrayed as the badass leader she was supposed to be. Her behavior, matched with Poe’s bravado, almost killed the Resistance – I liked that dynamic! Yet it was done quite childlike. Sure, Poe was demoted, but I am pretty sure he was still a leader of the Ops department, and knowing how compartmentalization works, your leaders need to be in the know so their people do not do anything stupid.”
A significant amount of fans also did not like the use of her capital ship as a weapon of mass destruction. One fan said, “Weaponization of light speed doesn’t fit the physics of Star Wars and makes no sense given previous battles.” Another critic of the film elaborated on this sentiment. “My biggest complaint was how effective hyperspace as a weapon is. Snoke’s ship was multiple times larger than the Raddus and yet it cut through it and the 5/6 ships behind it like butter. Sam Witwer mentioned on a recent Twitch stream that the whole plot hole could’ve been avoided through just a little bit of additional dialogue explaining why Snoke’s ship was so vulnerable (shields were down, or something to that effect). But now we’re left wondering why this tactic wasn’t used against the Death Star (ramming down the primary weapon would at least render it inoperable if not completely destroyed), or why it wasn’t used during the battle of Coruscant, with so many tightly bunched ships. Why even build a Death Star? Build a large shell of a ship, strap a hyperdrive to it and have a droid pilot it.”
Supreme Leader Snoke said there was always a good reason to keep a rabid cur around, however Armitage Hux was the reason many fans could not stand The Last Jedi. Just like Phasma, numerous viewers thought Hux was a “wasted character.” One Facebook user commented, “Hux is too incompetent to be a leader in a fear-based organization.” The dialogue between Poe and Hux in the opening of the movie also did not sit well. “I felt like opening with Poe and Hux really minimized some of the abuse Hux has experienced in his life. I know he’s meant to be evil, but playing him off as Arnold Rimmer, instead of the competent genius he is really didn’t sit well with me.”
Those who dislike The Last Jedi apparently have not seen this level of military incompetence since Admiral Ozzel came out of lightspeed too close to Hoth. “I am so so so tired of the incompetent military goons. Hux has/had a brilliant father and it can be speculated was raised with Rae Sloane around. Why wouldn’t his battle tactics be better? I want to see competent fights and space battles from our bad guys too.” To put it bluntly, “General Hux had the opportunity to be a Shakespearian Villain, yet he became the butt of many jokes. He would have been a great supplement to Kylo. He would have been on the levels of Krennic or Tarkin. I understand there was animosity between them and that Kylo did not respect him, yet he was the leader of the First Order Army. Wasted Character.” Hopefully Disney hasn’t failed these fans for the last time.
Honestly the amount of hate Hux received surprised me. The amount of hate Rey received REALLY surprised me. Yes the term “Mary Sue” was used multiple times. Obviously the revelation of her parentage – or lack thereof – was the cause of a substantial amount of animosity. “Why tease us with Rey parentage until the point of a big reveal, to be absolutely nothing?” The belief that Rey’s lineage was a huge missed opportunity by Disney was echoed repeatedly. “Had Rey been a Skywalker it would have made sense why we see a vision of Starkiller Base as well. Also we see Rey’s parents fly away in a shuttle, not selling her for drinking money. I strongly believe JJ left us hints about her parentage only to have it thrown away.”
Yet there was something elsewhere – elusive – that annoyed fans even more about Rey. If she was in fact “a nobody,” why was she so damn powerful? “I’m starting to think she is just overpowered for no reason. Keep in mind I was a huge fan of Rey before the movie. Bought all her toys and spent $400 on Daisy’s autograph, but now she is just boring now that I know the Force just made her powerful for an equal to Kylo. I didn’t care that she wasn’t connected to the older generations, but at least say she had training and got her mind wiped or something. Maybe Kylo was lying to her about her parents, but I honestly don’t care anymore.”
Simply put, there is seemingly no definitive Hero’s Journey for Rey since she is already at the height of her powers. “Rey is still a Mary Sue and wholly lacking in meaningful character development/arc. She has powers out of nowhere that Luke slowly developed with training over three films.” In summary, “I wanted more for Rey. If you think about it, her arc went nowhere. She’s now stronger, better with a lightsaber, calls them at will, beats Praetorian guards and lifts tons of boulders, but she’s faced no challenges, failures, obstacles… and has no training. We just have to accept as an audience that she is successful without growth or evolution.”
Without a doubt, the treatment of Luke Skywalker was the #1 reason some fans for over forty years say they no longer care about Star Wars. Opinions on this character ranged from “very disappointed by treatment of Luke” to “They ruined Luke. He risked his life to save his murderous father based on a shred of hope, but moved to kill his innocent, sleeping nephew based on a shred of darkness? This is the worst offense of the movie, and unintelligent and cruel stab at OT and EU fans.”
The idea that Luke Skywalker would even consider murdering his nephew in cold blood was unfathomable. “Luke saw good in the Dark lord of the Sith but his nephew had no redeeming qualities? Too neat, too pretty of a package for me to chew on.”
“I believe it destroyed the character of Luke Skywalker. It is hard for me to believe that the man who believed that there was good in one of the most destructive force of the galaxy would also snap on his confused, troubled padawan AND nephew. I understand that people change, but they took it too far. Luke was the man I saw as a role model. Always believed in good even in the worst of times, and even in the worst of people. He never started a fight, yet was able to finish it. For example, Luke walked into the lair of Jabba to talk, a place where everyone would harm/kill him and his friends, with the intention to negotiate. Yet, he enters the Ben’s hut ready to end him without talking? Terrible character development in my most humble opinion.”
One viewer succinctly summed up the overwhelming feeling on what became of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker. “I hated the movie for what it did to Luke’s character. Luke Skywalker, the guy who saw good in Darth Vader, was ready to murder his innocent nephew in cold blood? Like absolute hell he was! Yeah, it made Kylo Ren’s personal story more believable, but who cares? That’s a terrible trade, sacrificing the soul of one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history so you’ve got a convenient plot device to advance the personal arc of some boring emo twit. TLJ wasn’t just a garden variety shitty movie (though it was definitely that too). It was the desecration of a cultural icon.
So there you have it. Those are the top four reasons why 20% of Star Wars fans are outraged by The Last Jedi. There were definitely other reasons – Leia going Superman, Canto Bight, Snoke’s empty history, forced attempts at humor – but these were the most prevalent thoughts. Here are just a few other notable quotes before I theorize once again why this movie caused such a backlash:
– “Leia, a proven hero in the original three movies, points the group to mutinous, hot-head Poe for leadership?”
– “Terrible plot development, no character development, poor story line, second rate acting…”
– “Why should low-skill Finn defeat highly skilled Captain Phasma in one-on-one combat?”
– “Kid with broom at end was far too wishy-washy, ham-fisted childish moral sap.”
– “Where do they get these spinning Resistance rings? Why aren’t they putting those funds into better training, leadership, weapons, etc?”
– “If Disney did the Iliad they would have had Achilles getting a beat down by Helen of Troy and dying from exhaustion after doing a Pyrrhic dance with a Hector.”
In the end, it wasn’t age. It wasn’t politics. It wasn’t even in the differences between the Sequel Trilogy and the Expanded Universe. Star Wars fans that hate The Last Jedi do so because they feel Disney and Lucasfilm have destroyed the characters they have loved their entire loves and in doing so have created a void that cannot be filled the shallow characters now being featured in the films. Finn is no Han. Hux is no Tarkin. Kylo is no Vader. Snoke is no Palpatine and Rey is certainly no Luke.
Opinions matter. Even those in the minority must be heard and must be given the chance to be understood. What do you think of the thoughts presented in this article? Could there be any truth, any validity to them? Let us know what you think!
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JFK historian and assassination researcher. Member of Citizens Against Political Assassinations and Assassination Archives Research Center.