Rian Johnson has a message for any “Star Wars” fan who has complained about the bits of comedy in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”: “Slightly goofy humor” has always been an element of the franchise, dating back to George Lucas’ 1977 original. Johnson recently took part in a career retrospective interview for GQ and defended a much-debated bit of comedy in “The Last Jedi.”
The scene in question finds General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) threatening Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) by yelling, “You and your friends are doomed. We will wipe your filth from the galaxy.” Poe, stalling for time, cracks a joke and pretends he can’t hear Hux over the intercom. Poe says, “Ok, I’ll hold.” Many “Last Jedi”-detractors have criticized the scene for being too silly for “Star Wars.”
“For me, everything in the movie is ‘Star Wars,’ and everything in the movie I can trace back to deeply, in a deep way, what ‘Star Wars’ is for me,” Johnson said. “Everyone has a different take. I know there are ‘Star Wars’ fans who somehow think that ‘Star Wars’ was a serious thing, like the Batman movies or something. I was so young that when I watched ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ it had this deep, profound impact on me, because it was terrifying, because I was just young enough to not experience it as watching a ‘Star Wars’ movie, but to have it feel like too real.”
“Anyone who thinks that slightly goofy humor does not have a place in the Star Wars universe, I don’t know if they’ve seen ‘Return of The Jedi,'” Johnson continued. “There’s literally a scene where Han Solo is like a cartoon… tied up to a pole and a torch goes by him and he [tries to blow it out repeatedly].”
Johnson cited another scene in Lucas’ original “Star Wars” where Chewbacca comes across a droid on the Death Star and scares it. The droid screeches in a high pitch and wheels away.
“The slightly self-aware element of gleeful humor is something that is part and parcel to ‘Star Wars,'” Johnson said. “We get very serious as well. That balance is also something that is very ‘Star Wars.'”
It’s been five years since Johnson’s “The Last Jedi” opened in theaters and strongly divided the “Star Wars” fandom. The director told Empire magazine in August that he remains “even more proud” of the film on its fifth anniversary, saying, “When I was up at bat, I really swung at the ball.”
“I think it’s impossible for any of us to approach ‘Star Wars’ without thinking about it as a myth that we were raised with, and how that myth, that story, baked itself into us and affected us,” Johnson added. “The ultimate intent was not to strip away — the intent was to get to the basic, fundamental power of myth. And ultimately I hope the film is an affirmation of the power of the myth of ‘Star Wars’ in our lives.”
Watch Johnson’s full GQ retrospective interview in the video below.