Rian Johnson Says He Didn't Care About Snoke's Identity
Here's His Reasoning
Rian Johnson is a very talented screenwriter and director, when he is given the freedom to create his own original stories, with movies like Looper, Brick, or Knives Out being popular both with critics and audiences.
When Lucasfilm hired Johnson to write and to direct Episode VIII of the Skywalker saga, they also gave him the freedom to do whatever he wanted, because they didn’t have an overarching plan for the sequel trilogy. Unfortunately, with a history of nearly 40 years, the sandbox that Johnson got to play in was far from empty, and the possibilities to create a truly original story were limited just by the foundations that The Force Awakens had laid two years earlier. Although Episode VII had made a ton of money and reignited the Star Wars flame, it was criticized for being a mere copy of A New Hope.
Johnson, on the other hand, didn’t want his sequel to be a mere copy of The Empire Strikes Back.
In an interview from a few years ago, he said that his main motivation when writing the story was to put the main characters into situations that were hardest for them to cope with, in order to explore how they would develop from there. So, his answer to Rey’s question of where she comes from and who her parents are was making her parents literal nobodies. He took Luke’s passion for becoming a Jedi and turned it into sheer disgust for the Order and the Force itself. And he had Poe Dameron, who was bound to become the new military leader of the Resistance, face utter failures and even degradation from General Organa.
Apart from Rey's lineage, fans had wondered since the release of Episode VII who Snoke was. Johnson's response to that was simply killing the Supreme Leader halfway through the movie without giving him any backstory.
After The Force Awakens, there were many theories about the origin of a giant, shadowy figure who led the First Order and was kind of a mentor and tormentor for Kylo Ren at the same time. One of the more popular theories was that Snoke was actually Darth Plagueis, Sidious’ master who might have found a way to resurrect himself after being killed by his apprentice.
In a recent interview with Sariah Wilson, author of several young adult romance novels and a self-proclaimed Reylo, Johnson admitted that he actually didn’t care too much who Snoke actually was or where he came from. For him, Snoke was merely a tool that was necessary to shape the character of Kylo Ren and his ascent to power:
What would it do to the young man to have to kill the person who had been his guide and his punisher since he was a teenager, who had supported and belittled him, who owned everything he was and whom he despised at the same time? These question follow the same pattern that Johnson also used for Rey, Luke, and Poe: put a character into an impossible situation and see how they deal with it. Snoke’s murder by the hands (or better the mind) of his apprentice not only serves as a means of emancipation from his bad-father-figure, but also to prevent the sequel trilogy from getting too similar to the original trilogy, with Snoke being an Emperor-like being that has to be defeated in the third movie.
These are the tweets that Wilson has written about this matter after her talks with Johnson:
Johnson’s approach of dealing with Kylo Ren’s relationship to Snoke is interesting and maybe refreshing from a pure storytelling perspective, but having characters face very unfamiliar and unwelcome situations and making them do things that are far-fetched, unsatisfactory, and hard to believe, also means a risk of estranging the audience for just this behavior. This might work well if it is an original story without a prequel or a sequel, but in this case, it is the middle part of a trilogy that Johnson had not started and was never planned to finish. Many weren't able or willing to follow Johnson's train of thought.
Ultimately, Johnson’s explanation for making Snoke just a catalyst for Kylo Ren’s story will serve both the point of view of those who defend The Last Jedi and those who just loath it and its director. For the first group, it is further proof that he did put a lot of thought into how to drive the story and the main characters forward and create something original. For the others, it will be just another bit of evidence that Johnson didn’t care about the 101 of Star Wars storytelling and the overall saga at all.
Written By Gerald Petschk
Source(s): The Direct
Syndicated From Culture Slate