WARNING: This will contain plot spoilers for The Last Jedi and the single player campaign of Star Wars Battlefront II
I have never seen the Star Wars fan community as divided as it has been on The Last Jedi! Critics love it, but the Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes was 47% (though this does appear to have been influenced by people creating multiple accounts to mark the company down). Many of the fan complaints I have seen centre around one of 2 things: the Canto Bight section, or things not going as they wanted or expected. While I agree that the Canto Bight section was not a strong point, I can look past this as I can see the importance of this to Finn’s development – and it is no worse than Jar Jar stepping in poo or some of the cringey romance scenes in Attack of the Clones! However I cannot understand the argument that the film is bad because things have not gone how we expected.
A lot of people complained about The Force Awakens because the story was too similar to A New Hope, all the way through the build-up people were commenting that it better not be a repeat of Empire Strikes Back. Now the film is out and it is too different? I can understand that people wanted answers to who Snoke is and who Rey’s parents are, but Snoke’s backstory has never really been hinted as being a huge secret, in much the same way that we have not asked where Jabba the Hutt came from and how he became one of the most notorious crime bosses. As to Rey’s parents, we got an answer and everyone went crazy. The decision to say that Rey’s parents were nobody important is in my opinion perfectly understandable, if she was a Skywalker or a Solo (or my preference, a Kenobi) then the galaxy continues to feel small as everything continues to link back to just a few human families despite all the other species and planets. With Episode 9 still to come, we don’t even know for certain that we have been told the truth about Rey’s parents, it could very easily be a lie that Kylo has told her to try tempting her to join with him (George Lucas had to include Yoda confirming Vader’s story as many people felt Vader was lying to turn Luke to the Dark side). There are also people who accuse Rey of being a Mary Sue, and yet these arguments never appeared to be brought against Anakin Skywalker! In these days of social media, everybody wants to know everything right away, and as a result I don’t think some fans realise how spoiled we are to be getting a movie every year, a TV series and a number of books and comics.
There were also a lot of complaints as to how Luke is portrayed in The Last Jedi as it is not their Luke Skywalker. Their Luke Skywalker: a character they have created over the years since watching Return of the Jedi by imagining how his life would continue and also perhaps by reading some of the other stories that now make up the Legends continuity. There is very little in canon at the moment that would suggest how Luke’s life would continue after the Battle of Endor, so fans are upset as a character is different to what they wanted as opposed to what has been previously suggested. People are also angry with the decision to kill the character off, especially given Han Solo has already been killed and Carrie Fisher’s death makes it unlikely Leia will play a big part (if any) in Episode 9. I can understand this and would have understood them changing their finale to keep Luke alive, but he can still appear as a force ghost so the character is not completely gone, while the Sequel Trilogy is really the story of the new characters, with the old heroes playing mentoring roles much as Ben Kenobi was to Luke in A New Hope.
While I admit that some of the decisions made in the film shocked me on first viewing, I have no argument with these decisions as I understand that I have my own ideas that will likely be completely different to other people, whereas the film now gives us a confirmation of how things go. Personally, I was also expecting Tallie Lintra to have a larger role in the film – despite having heard very little about her in the build-up – because of her A-Wing being added as a Hero ship on Battlefront II, so I was shocked after she was killed off with very little screen time. There was nothing to suggest that she would be a bigger role and with the number of characters returning from The Force Awakens and new characters like Holdo and Rose it was already going to be hard to fit in decent screen time for everyone, yet I assumed Tallie would be a bigger role and that was my mistake, not Rian Johnson’s.
That said, sometimes there are cases when we perhaps do have more reason to be unhappy at how a game goes. Star Wars Battlefront II’s campaign was marketed as the Imperial story and the rise of the First Order. Watching the trailers on the EA Star Wars YouTube account, the video descriptions include phrases like “take part in a thrilling single-player story as Iden Versio fights to avenge the Emperor” or “Ignite the inferno and burn the Rebellion to the ground in Star Wars Battlefront 2’s single-player campaign”. Yet despite this, Iden and Del leave the Empire probably no more than a third of the way into the original campaign and are helping the Rebellion and joining them permanently not long later. While I don’t mind this from a story perspective – both Iden and Del had legitimate reasons to defect, though I think it would have made more sense if Del had taken the lead in joining the Rebellion – this was not the story that we were marketed and after characters like Cienna Ree and Rae Sloane who have been loyal Imperials without being real villains, I was looking forward to seeing an Imperial story in this game. And as for the rise of the First Order, the entirety of the story campaign takes place in the first year following the Battle of Endor, finishing at the Battle of Jakku. All we get relating to the First Order in the original campaign is an epilogue set years later once the First Order are formed, shortly before the events of the Sequel Trilogy, while the story in the Resurrection DLC appears to be happening concurrently with The Force Awakens. EA marketed the campaign in a specific way that was not backed up by the game, and for that reason I think it is more understandable for people to be unhappy with that story.
While I understand that people will speculate and imagine what is going to happen in a story, I think it is important that people remember to speculate responsibly and remember that their predictions are simply that: a prediction. If the director decides to go down a different route, that is not always going to be a bad thing. After all, I doubt many people were expecting Vader to be Luke’s father and I don’t think anyone would argue against that decision in hindsight.
So guys, as Solo: A Star Wars Story gets near, let’s enjoy the trailers and promotional material, let’s feel free to discuss what we’d like to see, but let’s not get angry if we’re completely wrong in our guesses.
Thanks for reading and May the Force be with you…