J.J. Abrams’ Editor Still Feels Very Strongly About ‘Last Jedi’ Consciously Undoing ‘Star Wars’

Zack Sharf

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The outrage over Rian Johnson’s “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” just won’t go away. On a recent episode of the “Light the Fuse” podcast (via CinemaBlend), J.J. Abrams’ longtime editor Mary Jo Markey shared her belief that “The Last Jedi” made conscious storytelling decisions that undid the narrative setups made in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which Abrams directed and Markey co-edited with frequent collaborator Maryann Brandon. Abrams returned to direct last year’s “The Rise of Skywalker,” which Markey defended against claims it retcons Johnson’s “Last Jedi.” Markey did not edit “Rise of Skywalker,” but her career with Abrams also includes “Mission: Impossible III,” “Star Trek,” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” Markey was Oscar nominated for her work on “The Force Awakens.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Markey said when the conversation turned to Johnson’s “Last Jedi” script “undoing” Abrams’ “Force Awakens” story. “It’s very strange to have the second film so consciously undo the storytelling of the first one. I’m sorry that’s what it felt like. I don’t even feel that’s true about the third film. It took where the second film ended and just tried to tell a story. I didn’t feel like it was consciously trying to undo — it just didn’t feel that way to me.”

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Markey was joined on the “Light the Fuse” podcast by her “Force Awakens” co-editor Maryann Brandon. When Brandon tried to say she enjoyed some parts of “The Last Jedi,” Markey chimed in to say her collaborator wasn’t telling the truth. Brandon added about “Last Jedi,” “It’s a completely different take on the Star Wars saga. To Ryan’s credit, he stuck to what he wanted to do. He wanted to deconstruct the saga and open it up to go a different direction. That is the film he made. I know it’s controversial. Isn’t that kind of good in a way? You bring in new elements. That’s why I say I feel very much in hindsight that the trilogy, the last part of the trilogy, needed one vision.”

“It’s really polarizing,” Brandon continued. “It was hard I think for J.J. and the co-writer to decide what to do [after] with it. It’s like if someone wrote the middle of your novel. Now how do you get the end of the novel?”

Abrams’ “Rise of Skywalker” was mostly panned by critics when it opened last Christmas. The alleged tension between Abrams and Johnson’s “Star Wars” entries has been a talking point for fans for years now, but Abrams was adamant during his “Skywalker” press tour that he wasn’t trying to end the Skywalker saga by negating “The Last Jedi.” As the director told the Associated Press, “The story we’re telling, the story that we started to conceive when we did ‘The Force Awakens’ was allowed to continue. Episode VIII didn’t really derail anything that we were thinking about.”

“The Rise of Skywalker” is now available to watch via digital, VOD, and home video. Visit the “Light the Fuse” podcast to hear more from “Force Awakens” editors Markey and Brandon.

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