'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Director Explains Why the Knights of Ren Never Appear

Friday, 19 January 2018 - 7:47PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Friday, 19 January 2018 - 7:47PM
'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Director Explains Why the Knights of Ren Never Appear
< >
Spoilers for Star Wars: The Last Jedi below.

There are a lot of contradictory opinions of the Disney Star Wars movies floating around the internet, but regardless of whether you think these movies are the triumphant return of a once-beloved franchise, or a sterile and heartless machination from the Disney machine, one fact is hard to argue: Lucasfilm doesn't seem to have planned things out in advance very well.

Sure, some elements of The Last Jedi felt like a deliberate attempt to build off what came in The Force Awakens, but there is an air to the whole Disney Star Wars endeavor that suggests that the company is winging it. Why else, for example, would The Force Awakens have teased the existence of the Knights of Ren if the sequel didn't actually let us see Kylo Ren's mysterious followers?

The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson, who deserves respect for not having completely abandoned Twitter following the somewhat complex audience reaction from his latest movie, has been doing his best to challenge a lot of the complaints that certain elements of the Star Wars fanbase have expressed about The Last Jedi. On The Empire Film Podcast, Johnson was asked about where the Knights of Ren were during The Last Jedi

His answer is fascinating, as it reveals a lot about the thought and attention that went into crafting the various set pieces within the movie:

Opening quote
"We have a very full movie already. There literally was just no room for another element. I guess I could've used them in place of the Praetorian guards, but then it would feel like wasting them, because I knew all those guards had to die. And if Kylo had some kind of connection to them, it would've added a complication that wouldn't have helped the scene... Truth is, I just didn't see a place for them in the movie."
Closing quote

Johnson makes a fair point - The Last Jedi is already probably a little on the long side, and could probably have done with fewer noteworthy characters. Throwing in the Knights of Ren would mean having to establish them, set up their relationship with Kylo, and give them something to say about his betrayal during the climactic fight scene that followed the death of the ersatz-Emperor Palpatine that is Snoke.

That said, it also sounds as if Johnson really didn't give these characters much thought at all while building the movie; it's as if they were invented as a throwaway line in The Force Awakens, without any set plan for how they might function in future stories.

This makes sense, as Johnson seems utterly disinterested in following up on a lot of the plot threads that J.J. Abrams established in The Force Awakens, not caring about Snoke, or Rey's parents, or even Kylo Ren's mask. Anything from The Force Awakens that Johnson wasn't interested in seems to have been quickly jettisoned from The Last Jedi in order to make room for the kind of story he does want to tell.

This is a challenge that would always logically have arisen from the current Star Wars trilogy not having a clear plan. Either George Lucas deserves more credit for keeping Lucasfilm on track during the prequels, or this is the natural result of building an entire studio out of Yes Men.

Either way, this does mean that there's hope for Johnson's own upcoming Star Wars trilogy. If Johnson is able to plot out an entire three act story over the course of a trilogy, we might get a more focused, nuanced narrative with a genuine pay-off.

It remains to be seen whether Abrams will find room for the Knights of Ren in Episode IX, now that he's back in the director's chair, but with everything else that the next movie needs to do, it wouldn't be too surprising if these characters only ever appear as a weird reference from Snoke that's never spoken of again.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Last Jedi