Rian Johnson Responds to Extreme 'Last Jedi' Backlash from 'Star Wars' Fans

Director Rian Johnson attends the 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' press conference at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo. Christopher Jue/Getty Images

Every Star Wars film incites passionate reactions from fans, but Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi is arguably tearing this fan base apart. Some fans dubbed it the best Star Wars since Empire Strikes Back, others signed a petition demanding the "travesty" be struck from the official canon and remade. Some passionate fans even made death threats.

Luckily, the new Star Wars writer/director didn't take the threats to heart. In fact, he may even feel encouraged by them. When asked by a Twitter user if Johnson thought the polarizing response was "good," Johnson replied that he thought it was a way to get people talking about the movie.

"The goal is never to divide or make people upset," Johnson wrote, "but I do think the conversations that are happening were going to have to happen at some point if sw [sic] is going to grow, move forward and stay vital."

So, essentially, the death threats are only feeding Johnson's ego.

Without getting into spoiler-y details, many original Star Wars fans were upset with Johnson's choices for Star Wars icon Luke Skywalker. The petition to remake the film demanded Disney "redeem Luke Skywalker's legacy, integrity, and character."

In J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens, we learned that Luke had chosen to remove himself from fighting the First Order. Johnson built on that in The Last Jedi, and the result was an anti-social, cranky and rude Luke. This clearly didn't fly with some fans—including actor Mark Hamill.

"Mark—this character's been part of his life for the past 40 years," Johnson told Newsweek in an earlier interview. "There's no way that what I came up with was going to line up with what he had in his head. So we got into it, we talked about it, we argued, we went back and forth. I had to justify the choices I made to him."

'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' reactions are in
Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” “I almost had to think of Luke as another character,” Hamill said in a press-junket video. “He’s Jake Skywalker. He’s not my Luke Skywalker.” Lucasfilm/Disney

In the end, Johnson said his choices were the only path forward from The Force Awakens: Luke "was a hero. That meant he has to believe he's doing the right thing by removing the Jedi from the equation."

Johnson's Twitter response doesn't go into specifics, but within the context of Luke, it sounds like he wasn't interested in retracing steps George Lucas already took with that character.

Ironically, retracing those steps was the biggest criticism of J.J. Abrams' The Force Awakens. So it could just that you can't please Star Wars fans all the time.

Love it or hate it, one thins is undeniable: With over $500 million at the global box office, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is a financial powerhouse.