It was recently revealed that Star Wars: The Force Awakens actually had a slightly different ending because of the intervention of Rian Johnson. Originally, R2-D2 wasn’t supposed to make the journey with Rey in her quest to find Luke Skywalker. As reported by ScreenRant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams had someone else in mind entirely to tag along with Rey.
— TVshow.me (@TV_Movies_News) May 4, 2017
The Rise And Fall Of BB-8
For virtually everyone seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the most exciting and surprising new characters in the film was the rolling robot, BB-8. Many people – when they first saw the trailers for the movie – thought that BB-8 had to be entirely CGI. It came as a shock to find out that the clever folks at Lucasfilm had actually worked out a way to have a practical rolling robot on-set interacting with the actors.
In fact, some of the highest selling merchandise items – and particularly toys – before and after the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens were the ones based on BB-8. Perhaps J.J. Abrams himself saw this droid as the natural successor to the much more clunky R2-D2. And for the purposes of his film, this new character worked out fairly well.
But when it came time for Rian Johnson to start working on his own Star Wars movie, the follow-up to Star Wars: The Force Awakens, entitled Star Wars: The Last Jedi, he ran into a bit of a plotting problem that required asking a favor of Abrams.
Rian Johnson Changed Force Awakens Ending | Screen Rant. https://t.co/W4IksvQxVJ
— Steven Sparks ??? (@scubasteve4289) May 4, 2017
The Return Of R2-D2
As cool as it might have been to see BB-8 rolling around on that island that Luke Skywalker has clearly been living on for decades, it would fail to provide the rather touching reunion between Luke and his favorite droid that Johnson was hoping for.
This is why Abrams changed the end of Star Wars: The Force Awakens so that R2-D2 would suddenly spring to life – after being in hibernation for so long – and join Rey as she flew off into space to find the legendary – and apparently last – Jedi Master.
Johnson revealed the discussions he had with Abrams on the subject, asking him for a “favor.”
“Yes … The big [favor] was, I asked if R2 could come with Rey, and if BB-8 could stay behind with the Resistance. Originally it was BB-8 who went with Rey, which makes sense for the story in a way. But I asked, ‘Can you do me this solid and switch the droids?’”
The interesting thing about this is that it shows just how committed Abrams was to helping get the newly invigorated Star Wars franchise up and running, even if he had to make a small, but significant change to his own film. Perhaps Lucasfilm has learned from its sister studio Marvel the importance of ensuring that its film universe flows smoothly from one movie to the next.
Certainly, when the new Star Wars films were first announced under the Disney umbrella, it was made very clear that the goal was to ensure a consistent canon across all the media presenting Star Wars, whether it was the movies, the animated series, the novels, or the comic books.
As challenging as such a goal is, Disney’s other goal of maintaining a highly profitable and long-term Star Wars franchise necessitates this kind of nitpicking. As the director of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Abrams had made things difficult for Johnson by refusing to make this change, it might have soured the entire franchise in the future. Of course, this means we’re likely to see a lot more of R2-D2 in the future instead of BB-8.
[Featured Image by Lucasfilm]