By Kevin Sninsky
Two years. Two long years. That’s how long devoted fans waited to return to their galaxy far, far away. During their time in cinematic limbo, Star Wars fans took it upon themselves to become part-time detectives. Director J.J. Abrams had laced Episode VII with a myriad of mysteries: Who are Rey’s parents? Who (and what) is Supreme Leader Snoke? Fans saw it as their duty to uncover the truth.
Fans scrambled for two long years to find every piece of possible evidence. No matter how small the detail, whether it was a visual clue from the latest film or an obscure quote from the 41-year-old original, amateur Star Wars sleuths wasted no time picking up the breadcrumbs left by “The Force Awakens.”
In the end, most argued it was the months of convincing-enough theories and the expectations they created that would ruin many fan’s viewing experiences.
On Dec. 15, 2017, those two long years came to an end. “Episode XIII: The Last Jedi” was finally released and fans flocked to theaters around the globe. Moviegoers entered with high hopes, confident that their particular theory would be proven to be true. Rey was definitely going to be a Kenobi, or maybe even a Palpatine, and Snoke was Darth Plagius for sure.
In the end, every question was solved with one simple, divisive answer: “It doesn’t matter.”
Rey is a nobody; her parents were deadbeats. Snoke was basically a force sensitive Hugh Heffner—old and grandiose—who’s most defining feature by the time the credits rolled was that he was now sliced in two.
“The Last Jedi” has become one of the most polarizing films in the entire Star Wars franchise.
Critics have almost unanimously showered it with acclaim, with director Rian Johnson’s surprise riddled plot among the highest points of praise. But on the flipside, the movie has the Star Wars fan base split down the middle.
On one hand, plenty of fans have sung the same songs of praise as critics. On the other, there are those who claim “The Last Jedi” is the worst film in the series, a bold claim considering this series also includes the 1999 film, “The Phantom Menace.”
Many fan complaints revolve around Johnson’s disregard for the mysteries left by “The Last Jedi” predecessor. Fans had spent the past two years carefully curating their theories. Some were understandably let down upon discovering their seemingly airtight explanations were way off.
The internet’s role in “The Last Jedi” backlash cannot be understated either. Online communities such as Reddit and other chat room sites allowed fans to communicate their ideas with one another and break down the many theories that had been floating around.
YouTube was flooded with “fanswers” as well, with many channels posting theories of their own. Some went as far as to claim they had definitively found the answers. One of the most notable, The Film Theorists, posted videos like, “Rey’s Parents SOLVED!” and “How Luke will DIE (Star Wars: The Last Jedi ENDING REVEALED!)”
However, fan theories are not entirely detrimental to a movies enjoyment. On the contrary, these processes of pop-culture detective work can help keep fan interest afloat and bring communities together. But at the end of the day, it is important to remember that these theories are just that—theories. A film is simply the vision of whoever is at its helm.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is in no way a perfect film, but it is definitely not the worst Star Wars ever made (again, looking at you “Phantom Menace”). Rian Johnson’s decisions to defy expectations and try something new are commendable.
With Disney’s acquisition of Lucas Films, moviegoers are in store for a future filled with Star Wars movies.