Star Wars Producer Howard Kazanjian Decimates Rian Johnson, J.J. Abrams And Lucasfilm’s Sequel Trilogy: “They Didn’t Understand The Story”

Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi (2017), Lucasfilm

Star Wars producer Howard Kazanjian completely decimated The Walt Disney Company’s handling of the sequel trilogy noting that the filmmakers behind The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi “didn’t understand the story.”

Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) moments before he throws his old lightsaber away in Star Wars Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017), Lucasfilm

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For those unfamiliar with Kazanjian, he produced The Empire Strikes Back, The Return of the Jedi, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Rookie, Demolition Man, and more.

In the late J.W. Rinzler’s Howard Kazanjian: A Producer’s Life, Kazanjian says, “Generally speaking, I think that the filmmakers on The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi didn’t understand the story.”

He elaborated, “They didn’t understand what a Jedi Knight was all about. That’s the simplest way to put it. Skywalker’s the story, and I think that’s what they failed at. I’m not talking about just Mark Hamill as Skywalker. It’s the overall psychological story of Skywalker, and of course, the Jedi Knights. The ardent fans know more about the storyline than the filmmakers.

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Kazanjian is not alone in his opinion. Marcia Lucas, George Lucas’ ex-wife and one of the editors on A New Hope shared a similar opinion.

She said, “I like [Lucasfilm President] Kathleen [Kennedy]. I always liked her. She was full of beans. She was really smart and really bright. Really wonderful woman. And I liked her husband, Frank [Marshall]. I liked them a lot.”

However, she then noted, “Now that she’s running Lucasfilm and making movies, it seems to me that Kathy Kennedy and J.J. Abrams don’t have a clue about Star Wars. They don’t get it. And J.J. Abrams is writing these stories—when I saw that movie where they kill Han Solo, I was furious. I was furious when they killed Han Solo. Absolutely, positively, there was no rhyme or reason to it.”

Kylo Ren kills Han Solo in Star Wars: The Force Awakens #5 (2016), Marvel Comics

Lucas continued, “I thought, ‘You don’t get the Jedi story. You don’t get the magic of Star Wars. You’re getting rid of Han Solo?’ And then at the end of this last one, The Last Jedi, they have Luke disintegrate. They killed Han Solo. They killed Luke Skywalker. And they don’t have Princess Leia anymore. And they’re spitting out movies every year. And they think it’s important to appeal to a woman’s audience, so now their main character is this female, who’s supposed to have Jedi powers, but we don’t know how she got Jedi powers, or who she is. It sucks. The storylines are terrible. Just terrible. Awful.”

Lucas added, “You can quote me—J.J. Abrams, Kathy Kennedy—talk to me.”

Daisy Ridley as Rey in The Force Awakens (2015), Lucasfilm

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George Lucas made it clear that The Walt Disney Company also took the Star Wars movies in a very different direction from the films that he made.

In October 2020, he stated, “I kind of lost control of Star Wars, so it’s going off in a different path than what I intended. But the first six are very much mine and my philosophy.”

What do you make of Kazanjian’s opinion about The Walt Disney Company’s sequel trilogy?

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