There are two things that are really working against Rian Johnson when it comes to Star Wars, and neither of them are the fans. These factors did manage to upset the fans, but they’re still not about the fans. One is the direction he took Luke Skywalker in, as he took a legendary character that has been deemed one of the greatest Jedi masters ever, and turned him into a lonely old hermit that cut himself off from everyone, even the Force. Then he, and possibly Kathleen Kennedy as well, created such a strong feminist lean to The Last Jedi that it almost felt like ‘girl power’ moment and it kind of killed the vibe (at times). Apart from that, Rian Johnson is a great storyteller and really didn’t have much choice of what direction the movie was going to go in since it had already been established, and all that was left was to direct the movie and make it fit with The Force Awakens. But the backlash he suffered from TLJ has been undeniably horrible. As far as keeping everything cloistered in nostalgia and only examining a tiny corner of the universe as Kayleigh Donaldson of ScreenRant is talking about, that has nothing to do with Johnson, as Disney seems to want to open things up, but they took away the best chance to do that by stating that the expanded universe canon was no longer needed. Does anyone get this point at all??
It wouldn’t have mattered who was directing had the EU been kept, as the books that were written after Star Wars might have suffered a few continuity issues but had nothing in them that couldn’t have been fixed with a few creative tweaks. And the books went across the galaxy and back several times, crisscrossing the galactic map so much that it could have made for years and years of material had Disney possessed the foresight to make it happen. Then Disney’s little mix-up with TLJ wouldn’t have mattered in the least bit since many people might have figured there were many more movies to come.
The idea that no one can see this and that people would actually argue against it is mind-blowing since there was so much material to work with there that the writers would have had an easy job to simply adapt it to the big screen while making sure that the characters were kept in a continual state of evolution and allowed to grow and mature as the stories went along. Johnson could have flourished and been lauded as a genius in that case, not threatened and catcalled and jeered at up and down. Likely as not there would still be fans stating that things weren’t quite right, but at the very least the Star Wars franchise would have been able to push forward and expand the galaxy in a way that didn’t require them to nearly destroy so much of the story that already existed. Anghus Houvouras of Flickering Myth has more to say on this matter.
At this time Johnson seems as though he might be better off not coming back to Star Wars even though there are plans to bring him back for another project, another trilogy even, oy vey. But Knives Out proves that he does have a type of movie that he’s best at and it’s not the science fiction/fantasy genre since he’s done his bit there and fans were ready to crucify him simply for what he did to Luke Skywalker. Even Mark Hamill was taken aback at what had been done to his character and had something to say about it.
Think of this way, it’s almost like someone took the Godfather and brought back Vito Corleone, somehow, and made him a wuss and a crybaby at the same time for everything he’d let happen in his family. That’s the impact that many people felt from TLJ and it was highly disappointing since many were hoping that Luke would come back and throttle Kylo and Snoke or at least one of them with the greatest of ease. He’s a Jedi MASTER for crying out loud, and yet Disney and Johnson decided to make him a joke, albeit without much of a punchline.
Want to know how big of an opportunity Disney passed up on? Well here we go. Luke, Leia, and Han all engaged in several different conflicts across the galaxy, from planetary skirmishes to full-on galactic conflicts. The Empire remained a power, albeit a lesser one. More aliens were introduced and fought, welcomed, or became a part of the story. Luke met Mara Jade and had a son with her, Ben Skywalker. Han and Lei had three kids, Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin. Jacen became Darth Caedus and was killed by his twin sister Jaina, who became the Sword of the Jedi, while Anakin died in the Yuzhaan Vong war, which enveloped the ENTIRE GALAXY. That’s just a small amount of what we’ve missed out on thus far with the EU. Still think Disney made the right choice? Jonathan Morales of Fansided has more to say on this matter.