The Great Untwist of The Last Jedi

You’d be amazed at what a good night’s sleep can do for you.

No, really. You would. The need to throttle an entire fandom just kind of… disappears after a good night’s sleep.

So today, I want to talk about how The Last Jedi is almost certainly going not going to have any major, ‘shocking’ twists in it.

Join me under the cut!

But The Marketing For TLJ Has Been Stating That This Movie Is Going To Be The One That Changes Everything!

Yeah, let’s talk about the complete and utter failure that is the Lucasfilm Marketing Department for a minute.

Look, we can quibble about Rian Johnson’s decisions all day. We can argue back and forth about the choices J.J. made. We can bitch and complain about how favourite actors, characters, or concepts aren’t in the movies. We can tear our hair out about Kathleen Kennedy. Or go down in flames defending her. You know, whatever floats our individual boats. The only real question, the one that has consequences, is did they succeed at what they wanted to do? That is, did J.J. and Rian make movies that were entertaining and enjoyed by a general consensus of both the public and critics? And did Kathleen Kennedy make Lucasfilm shitloads of money? J.J. certainly succeeded on that front, and so far so has Kathleen Kennedy. Rian’s an unknown so far.

But when we look at it that way, there’s no plausible defence for the Lucasfilm Marketing Department:

  • First off, they’re completely redundant. As Mark Hamill said, there’s not a whole lot of people who don’t know a new Star Wars movie is coming out, and their promo work is pointless. Given that Mark loves hanging out with fans (and trolling the shit out of us), Lucasfilm’s marketing must be really redundant.
  • Their trailers are terrible. It wasn’t until we got trailers for Finn, funnily enough, that we got a trailer that was chock full of obvious lies and click bait. Of course, before that Finn was largely absent from the trailers. And that’s not counting how terrible their trailer schedule was or how the behind the scenes stuff was better at showcasing the film and what it wants to be then the trailers where. Or the fact that Finn, Poe and Rose have gotten decidedly less screen time than Kylo, Rey and Luke. I suspect it’s the kind of bait and switch that was involved in TFA’s marketing but, well, see below.
  • Continuing on from that, there’s the constant tease that Rey’s going to turn Dark or that Kylo’s going to redeem himself. HA! Yeah, not in act two. Give me a break.
  • They’ve managed to stir up yet another controversy, this time involving accusations of racism, after the debacle with Rey the last time ’round. Personally, I suspect that they’re just doing another bate and switch like they did with TFA, but that’s two major controversies in a row. And whether or not the bait and switch is a good idea… is questionable, to say the least.
  • Sales of Star Wars merch is down, and that’s in large part to Marketing totally misreading the audience and assuming Kylo Ren would be way more popular than he was. So they’ve actually managed to do the exact opposite of their jobs. Congratulations?

I’m less frustrated with the marketing for Lucasfilm than many others. Partially because my expectations for it were so low to begin with. But you really can’t defend them.

And I would not, if I were you, put much stock in anything they say. Their track record here isn’t great.

The Killing Joke

Straight up, I hate Alan Moore. He’s a rape fetishist, an ageist, and his magnum opus is filled to the brim with a complete lack of anything resembling research. Seriously, ask a Dracula fan of what they think about what he did to Jonathan Harker. And batten down the hatches.

But his opinion on The Killing Joke and how it was a complete and utter failure is telling. He points out that in an ongoing narrative, like Batman or Star Wars, you can’t fundamentally change anything. The Joker is still The Joker, he can’t be cured. Evil, in the form of people who think the Dark Side is the-end-all-be-all, will continue to keep rising in Star Wars. And the Skywalkers will probably be at the centre of it, somewhere.

So anybody thinking that Rian’s is going to really change Star Wars is in the wrong franchise. And for that matter, in the wrong storytelling format.

Also, there’s the fact that Kathleen Kennedy has repeatedly fired people who haven’t upheld the Star Wars vision. Given that Rian’s been given a whole trilogy to himself, I’m more inclined to think that we should be worried about this being too much of repeat rather than anything that breaks with Star Wars tradition.

But Vader!

Right. Vader. The only actual shocking swerve in Star Wars.

First off, in order to avoid being too much of a repeat of ESB (which TLJ already borrows heavily from), Rian’s going to want to avoid having anything that mimics that particular scene.

Secondly, like I said before, that’s the only real major twist in Star Wars. There’s a couple of minor ones (the clones are on the side of the Republic, Leia’s Luke’s twin) and that’s about it.

Star Wars isn’t a twist-heavy franchise; it’s not like we’re dealing with M. Night Shyamalan here. And the fact that you can only quote Vader as a twist is proof enough of that.

Straight Up, Big Shocking Twists Are Bad Writing.

Rian Johnson is a big fan of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammet. And Chandler had some rules about writing:

5) It must have enough essential simplicity to be explained easily when the time comes.

6) It must baffle a reasonably intelligent reader.

7) The solution must seem inevitable once revealed.

Yeah. I mean, again, I don’t think Rian’s perfect. His failure to include Lando is a mistake, and I’m sure there’s hundreds of others we’ll find out when we get to see the film. That’s just part of life.

But he isn’t stupid. And a big, shocking twist would be stupid.

There Will Probably Be Some Misdirection In The Film

But that’s different from a big twist. And, whatever direction Rian decides to go in, it has to be set up within the context of the film.

So, What Do I Think Will Happen?

We’re going to get a bog-standard Star Wars film. The ending will be bittersweet, Rey will become a Jedi, Finn will probably be set up as one for IX, Rose and Poe will kick some ass, and whatever victory Snoke and the FO achieve will be hollow at best.

It’s ESB 2.0, more or less. And expecting anything different is a waste of time.

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