The difficult balancing act of 'Fan Service'
And How Disney showed us both sides of the spectrum.
*BIG spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker and a little one from the Mandalorian.
So the final chapter in the Skywalker Saga opened before Christmas, and it's been decisive to say the least. While there are those who felt the film ended the series on a high note (not me), there are also those who feel the film was bogged down by a nonsensical plot and thin characters who make totally illogical decisions (me).
What surprised me more than anything though, was how Disney managed to make every element of fan service within Rise of the Skywalker feel forced and awkward. Given how well they weaved fan service into Endgame, it seemed a given that Disney would achieve a similar feat with the final adventure in a galaxy far, far away.
In Endgame for example, the easter eggs are countless. More importantly however, they are fun to spot and never distract from the plot. It's hard to choose just a few to mention, but I'll just go with the ones that stood out to me on my first viewing of the film. These included the original Ant-Man helmet in Hank's lab, the 'On your left' Falcon/Captain America moment and of course Captain America becoming frustrated with a past version of himself as he says 'I could do this all day.'
In Star Wars however, similar easter eggs and moments don't work quite so simply. Whether that be Han Solo repeating his famous line 'I know' after Ben declares his love for him, the armada of familiar ships in the final battle or even Luke raising an X-Wing from the water just as Yoda did, it was hard to appreciate any of these moments when so many of them just didn't make sense.
The reason these easter eggs are not very effective in Star Wars lies with the fact that the 'BIG moments' in the film just do not work. Again by comparison, it was these 'BIG moments' that got me most excited whilst watching Endgame. From Captain America finally wielding Mjolnir (Thor's hammer), finally seeing the complete team assemble (and hearing Captain America deliver the line), or the 'I am Iron Man' moment just before Tony's final sacrifice, these moments captivated fans, and in doing so, heightened the effectiveness of the easter eggs dotted throughout the film.
When it comes to The Rise of Skywalker's 'BIG moments', they just don't work. One reason for this is that they tend to be far too similar to Endgame moments. The Avenger's assembling is mirrored with Lando's armada of ships arriving for the final battle (not as exciting) and Iron Man's final line is mirrored with Rey's line 'I am all the Jedi', which quite frankly doesn't really even make sense given that the whole new trilogy has suggested that anybody can have the force, regardless of bloodline.
Then of course, there are the big moments of the film that simply just don't make sense. Ranging from Han Solo returning (not as a Force Ghost), Palpatine returning off-screen and between films, Snook being controlled by Palpatine the entire time, the Sith way-finder (nonsense), General Hux being a spy and the scene that made the entire audience laugh out of sheer awkwardness, the kiss between Rey and Ben (who thought that was a good idea?).
It's hard to believe that these films were made by the same company. Of course, there are many other reasons why The Rise of Skywalker has been such a controversial film, and I will write about this soon because there are so many elements of the film that just seemed lazy, but the forced fan service in particular really stood out to me.
At least the Mandalorian's decent though. The Blacksaber looked pretty cool, at least.