The Last Jedi's diverse cast wasn't celebrated by everyone, but J.J. Abrams sees criticisms of the film as nothing more than veiled sexism. “Their problem isn’t Star Wars," Abrams told IndieWire, "their problem is being threatened.”
With Daisy Ridley’s portrayal of Rey, Kelly Marie Tran playing Rose Tico, and Laura Dern as Vice-Admiral Holdo, women were front and centre in the Star Wars sequel. And it wasn't just the presence of more women, either — female characters were depicted as leaders and heroes rather than damsels in distress.
While many women applauded the change, an alt-right group claimed responsibility for using bots to slash the movie's Rotten Tomatoes rating to just 48% (after the film was widely praised by film critics). The group's moderator told HuffPost: "I’m sick and tired of men being portrayed as idiots. There was a time we ruled society and I want to see that again."
Abrams, who's returning to write and direct Star Wars: Episode IX, told IndieWire the negative feedback wasn't about the quality of the film, but rather the prominent role it gave female characters.
“Star Wars is a big galaxy, and you can sort of find almost anything you want to in Star Wars. If you are someone who feels threatened by women and needs to lash out against them, you can probably find an enemy in Star Wars,” Abrams said. “You can probably look at the first movie that George [Lucas] did and say that Leia was too outspoken, or she was too tough. Anyone who wants to find a problem with anything can find the problem. The internet seems to be made for that.”
The goal is never to divide or make people upset, but I do think the conversations that are happening were going to have to happen at some point if sw is going to grow, move forward and stay vital.— Rian Johnson (@rianjohnson) December 21, 2017
The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson also addressed backlash to the film, writing on Twitter that the goal "is never to divide or make people upset." He said: "I do think the conversations that are happening were going to have to happen at some point if sw is going to grow, move forward and stay vital."
Abrams' assertion that Star Wars trolls feel threatened by powerful women on screen suggests Star Wars: Episode IX will continue to move the franchise forward.